Astrobioloblog is now dead!

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I’ve had a lot of fun writing this blog, and have been very surprised by its modest level of popularity, thank you to everyone who’s ever read a post and/or commented.

However, due to work, study and various other demands I’ve not posted anything for ages. My scientific interests have drifted a bit now too, so I’ve decided to officially shut the blog down, I’ll no longer be posting or replying to comments, but will leave all content online.

All the best!

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 310,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 6 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

Why Ducks are better than Dinosaurs

Most people prefer a good Tyrannosaur to a lowly duck. It’s a matter of choice of course, but when thinking about dinosaurs you probably have visions of ruthless predators with teeth the size of meat cleavers, or titanic herbivores bigger than small buildings, whereas ducks tend to float around in ponds inquiring after handfuls of bread.

However palaeontologists and biologists have revealed evidence that the humble duck may have triumphed over the mighty dinosaurs.

Continue reading ‘Why Ducks are better than Dinosaurs’

How the Earth was born

In a previous post I wrote about how we discovered the age of the Earth, and I mentioned that our planet formed at the same time as the other rocky bodies in our Solar System.

I didn’t say HOW this happened though. So now I will.

Happy now?

Continue reading ‘How the Earth was born’

First Contact Scenarios – Confusion

Imagine that an intelligent alien species has discovered us, and that they have the ability to journey to Earth to make first contact.

It may sound like a fantastical scenario better suited to fiction than to science, and for more than two centuries this has largely been the case, but over the last few years a number of scientists have begun to debate first contact scenarios, both in scholarly domains and in the mass media.

What do you think first contact would be like?

I’ve had a few ideas of my own, inspired heavily by sci-fi I admit, and in previous posts I’ve looked at scenarios in which the aliens may not even be interested in us, or that they may make first contact with us, but covertly. In this post I’ll look at the idea that they do try to make an overt first contact, but that we may have a mutual problem in understanding each other.

Continue reading ‘First Contact Scenarios – Confusion’

How old is the Earth? And how do we know?

In 1650 the Archbishop James Ussher announced that the Earth was thousands of years old.

Almost six thousand years old in fact. He had discovered that the world had been created on the 23rd of October 4004 BC. At lunchtime.

This was a pretty momentous conclusion. Not only had Ussher calculated the age of our world to a superhuman degree of precision, he was also lending credence to the idea that the Earth had a beginning (many cultures believed the Earth has always existed, and always will) and that it was pretty damn old, 6,000 years-worth of old.

Today, most people are comfortable with the idea that the Earth hasn’t existed in perpetuity, and most people are OK with the fact that the Earth is billions of years old. But this is a pretty recent mindset. Up until about one hundred years ago, no one really had any idea how old the Earth was.

Here’s what happened…

Continue reading ‘How old is the Earth? And how do we know?’

First Contact Scenarios – Espionage

Imagine that intelligent alien life exists, that its discovered humanity, and that it has the technology to reach us. What would first contact between humanity and aliens be like?

In the first post in this series I looked at the idea that advanced alien civilisations might be totally indifferent to our existence and would simply choose to ignore us.

In the other scenarios in this series I’ll assume that they are interested in us, and in this post, that they arrive on Earth, but in a rather covert fashion.

Continue reading ‘First Contact Scenarios – Espionage’

Goldilocks, and other Habitable Zones for Life

Heard of the Goldilocks zone?

It’s the idea that an area of space around a star will be at the right temperature for life to exist. Not too hot, not too cold, hence Goldilocks.

It’s a bit like standing around a campfire on a very cold night. Stand too far away and you freeze, stand too close and you catch on fire and burn to death.

It’s the same with planets orbiting stars too, if they’re too far away then water freezes and life can’t emerge, and if they orbit too close the planet is roasting hot and nothing can live.

It gets a bit more complex than this though, but complex in a fun way. Oh and its also got some pretty big implications for the search for extraterrestrial life…

Continue reading ‘Goldilocks, and other Habitable Zones for Life’

In defense of ‘Abrams Trek’


A lot of people don’t like the 2009 Star Trek re-boot directed by J.J. Abrams. A lot of these people are Star Trek fans.

I think they’re insane though. It’s a great film and a great way to revitalise a frankly tired franchise.

There’s a lot to like about Star Trek, but Abrams realised what its best asset was, and consequently hit the nail square on the head when he made his film…

Continue reading ‘In defense of ‘Abrams Trek’’

First Contact Scenarios – Indifference

I’m planning on writing a series of posts on different scenarios for first contact with intelligent alien life. I’ve been inspired by some insightful comments from this post and have taken lots of my ideas from those who commented there. Thanks everyone who commented.

It’s feels as though this topic has been treated as a fanciful distraction by much of the serious scientific community until quite recently, and has very much been delegated to science fiction authors, fringe scientists and assorted lunatics. But as of late some big-name scientists have joined in the fun, and this topic is gaining an air of credibility. This isn’t to say that science fiction hasn’t made contributions to this field; I think Sci-Fi has provided some intelligent and very creative first contact scenarios and much of what I’ll be writing has been inspired or explored by Sci-Fi.

So lets assume that intelligent alien life exists, that its discovered humanity, and that it has the technology to communicate with us, either face-to-face or using an alternative method.

The first of my proposed scenarios is that the aliens will be totally indifferent.

Continue reading ‘First Contact Scenarios – Indifference’


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