If anybody has a question or an interest in a particular topic that’s something to do with astrobiology then let me know by commenting below, I’ll most likely write something about it.

This does not extend to doing school or university/college papers for you though. I’ll need paying for that.

24 Responses to “Will do requests”


  1. 1 hartm242 February 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    How about panspermia? Not just microbes possibly hitching rides on meteorites, but maybe something as simple as a discussion of the potential for prebiotic chemicals being delivered to Earth by comet impacts. Perhaps even a discussion of our unintentional panspermia; stowaway microbes hitching rides on our space tech or something as far-out as an intelligent spacefaring species deliberately seeding the galaxy with life.

  2. 2 Dan G Swindles February 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Nice ideas, I was planning to do a post on organic molecules being delivered to Earth, but you’ve given me a lot more to think about

    Thanks

  3. 4 Adrian J. Ebsary March 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Hey there,
    So I think your blogging is very cool – but what I was saying that is you should really change and get a Tumblr. I know it can be a lot to ask to just give up wordpress, but right now Tumblr has a much greater potential for virality than wordpress because of its easy follow feature (like twitter) and its reblogging code.

    Tumblr will get you more exposure, more hits and increase your ability to communicate science to an especially young portion of the population. But also, you can link it easily to your facebook and twitter, such that it becomes another easily integrated addition to your social media.

    I’m big on getting people who talk about science seen by as many others as possible. I hope I’ve convinced you of Tumblr’s power! 🙂

    Regards and keep on blogging 🙂

  4. 6 Peter Manos November 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Hey Dan –

    As I’ve thought through the fascinating issues raised here my main topic for discussion is this: Isn’t the most likely answer to the Fermi Paradox or the Great Silence that there is a fundamental contradiction between what it takes to become a Type I civilization, and what it takes to become a Type II or beyond?

    I’d suggest the alternative to the Fermi Paradox being answered in most cases by intelligent life being rare and tending to lead itself to its own extinction on nasty, overly-competitive planetary environments is what I would call The Mellow Bubble Effect. It’s the idea that to even be interested in leaving your planet or communicating with other ETIs you have to have been evolving in a very competitive environment yet somehow succeed in colonizing space, but as soon as you start living in the artificial environment you have created in order to leave your planet, your exo-civilization gets mellow and soon stops expanding, becoming internally focussed.

    The alternate that you somehow bio-engineer or borg-engineer your inter-planetary civilization to survive in other environments leads back to square one in a way–evolving in your new environment. You stay where you are in your new environment if it is comfortable, or get expansive and aggressive again if it is not, and if again you do not self destruct, you don’t bother to continue expanding if you don’t have to, and when you expand, you find yourself hit by The Mellow Bubble Effect in another incarnation.

    It seems to me in much of the debate on this we get too focussed on intelligence of life rather than expansiveness and aggressiveness as a function of environment. Due to their being water-based for example, dolphins will not be likely to have expansive Type I civilizations since they cannot build fire, smelt iron and go outward technically from there, even if they are more intelligent than humans, and very aggressive in what they do.

    Thanks for your thought-provoking work.

  5. 7 Peter Manos November 12, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Along these lines Dan, what I’ve suggested above creates a set of layers similar to the slices taken in the Drake Equation. So it does not preclude that other ETIs in our galaxy have met one another. It just makes it less likely.

    Finally along these lines, another “slice” cutting down the odds of an intergalactic communications network of ETIs would be to apply the same Mellow Bubble Effect considerations to what happens if two ETIs meet each other. If their relationship is symbiotic they get mellower and would tend to have less motivation to expand outward from there. I will leave the other scenarios of such encounters to our future considerations….

    Thanks again!

    • 8 Dan G Swindles November 21, 2011 at 11:06 am

      Hi Peter

      Great idea & sorry its taken me so long to reply, manically busy at the moment!

      I love the hypothesis, and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything similar to this. The closest idea I’ve seen to this is the sophism hypothesis that suggests that intelligent alien races become inward looking as they invent realistic virtual realities. Why explore reality when you can make your own paradise? etc

      But your Mellow Bubble idea is certainly different and sounds like a viable explanation. From what I know, all expansion of a species range is driven by competition/avoidance of environmental change, so you’re right, if a species can adapt to living in space, then competition and environmental change will be removed as motivators for much further expansion.

      Still I’d like to believe that even if an alien civilization didn’t need to expand that maybe some of them would want to do some exploration, but maybe this would be a very small number of individuals

      Nice idea

      • 9 Peter Manos November 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

        Thanks Dan! It also did not occur to me until writing it, that our own starting planet is our first “mellow bubble”.

        I share your hope that there should still be some explorer types in any typical advanced civilization…perhaps evolutionarily the drive to become an astrobiologist is rather like the way some of us feel like outsiders looking in when it comes to society anyhow.

        I would probably have been one of those who hung around the outskirts of the neolithic watering hole asking “is this all there is?”

        Best regards,
        Peter

  6. 10 Fraser Baird May 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Did you do anything considering Methanogens living inside Titan’s hydrocarbon lakes as there is a cycle of gases on Titan, if not that would be a very interesting topic.

    • 11 Dan Swindlehurst May 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      Hi Fraser

      This is a great topic, and I absolutely love Titan! I’ve stopped writing my blog for the time being due to work and study commitments, but if I start it up again in the near future then I’ll definitely write about this

      Thanks

  7. 12 Peter Manos May 25, 2012 at 1:53 am

    Best of luck with your work Dan!

    Just as a follow-up FYI to my November post above, after several attempts on my part sending a similar “Mellow Bubble Effect” type of question to Dr. David Morrison at NASA he posted an answer you will find of interest.

    http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/ask-an-astrobiologist/question/?id=19825

    Poor Dr. Morrison! He has to spend way too much of his time, as a voice for NASA, debunking a flood of conspiracy theories about how 2012 will be the end of the world and planet Niburu will crash into us.

    Carl Sagan was prophetic when he wrote in the 1980s in his book Cosmos, that anti-science attitudes and ignorance of science are one of the greatest threats to our species’ survival.

    • 13 Dan Swindlehurst May 28, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      Cool, I do feel sorry for Dr Morrison, but I love his passion for his subject and his willingness to engage with the public, he deserves much more recognition

  8. 14 Monique July 23, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Is there any other like life out in the Universe? What if there was a replica of me? Ahhh! = O

  9. 15 Johnny K September 10, 2012 at 5:55 am

    Hi Dan! Thanks for your thoughtful perspective on astrobiology. In terms of search for life beyond our planet’s surface, what do you think about SETI’s use of antenna’s to scan the EM spectrum? I would be fascinated to hear your thoughts about SETI in general to search for intelligent biology elsewhere in our universe (EM spectrum, opitcal telescopes for extrasolar planetary imaging).

    When I was younger, I was a big proponent of listening for transmissions. Now, after years of electrical engineering education and years of pondering, I’ve concluded that transmissions are not worthwhile. As technology advances, the power of inadvertent broadcasts into space rapidly diminishes (both through better antenna design as well as through more advanced communication system design -> e.g., people speaking to each other across the globe on cell phones only need to send a cell phone signal to their local tower, then fiber optic or essentially a line of sight satellite link). This would be true of any other civilization’s technology.

    In sum, what are your thoughts on the prospect for SETI? What is the best way of going about it?

    Thanks!

    • 16 Dan Swindlehurst September 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      I’d love to write in more detail about this, but I don’t have nearly enough time at the moment unfortunately. I do agree that scanning the skies for radio transmissions probably has a very small chance of success, but if its relatively cheap to do, then why not keep doing it? Just in case. But generally I’m much more interested in the search for alien artifacts, such as Dyson-Sphere like structures in space, using telescopes like Kepler.

  10. 17 Dan O January 10, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Hi Dan, just thought I’d leave a message saying how awesome I thought your stuff was – i’m really enjoying the wit along with the science!

    I’m a science teacher, and your articles are so tidy and tie in so well I’m going to use them as reading material to get the kids started/extended. Thanks heaps! And how is your uni coming along – still loving it?

    If you have any time/inclination, would you be interested in putting something together about tectonic plates in general, and more specifically, how volcanoes have fostered life on earth over geological time? Reading your articles on “life on earth” and “an introduction to life,” I thought it would be great to show the evolution of the planet influencing the evolution of life.

    • 18 Dan Swindlehurst January 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      Thank you very much 🙂

      And I’m honoured you’re thinking of using some of my posts, please plunder at will!

      Unfortunately I’ve not written anything for ages as I’m working and studying so much at the moment that I don’t have the time. But if I do get the chance then they both sound like fertile topics, in fact I’m surprised at myself for not writing anything on tectonics, as its one of my favourite theories and I love the way it was born from a combination of old ideas and a sudden flurry of activities.

      What kind of science do you teach by the way? From the topics you mentioned it sounds like you’re kids will be exposed to a lot of the fun stuff? (Although I find just about all of science fun to be honest)

  11. 19 Paul March 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Hey Dan, just kind of stumbled upon this blog of yours while searching for missions to Callisto on Google (and I really think they should focus on Callisto rather than Ganymede but that’s just me), and I must say it’s great and pretty informative. Don’t mind me if I share it!

    On another note, I was reading one of your posts, specifically this one (https://astrobioloblog.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/some-big-implications-of-evolution/), and at the end of it there was that picture of a huge dinosaur-like thing stomping on some whale-like thing, so I was thinking that maybe you could make a post about gigantic lifeforms, if they are possible in our planet or maybe that there could exist one where they would be possible and how. This subject has always fascinated me, and I guess a lot of people as well considering the fascination human beings have with big, and sometimes unreachable, things such as the Universe.

    Cheers!

  12. 20 J U April 6, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Hello I would like to make a reply to your “Why humans are NOT more important than other animals, apart from to ourselves”.

    “Human intelligence can hardly be said to have benefited the majority of the species we share the Earth with, it’s mostly just benefited humans, and rats.”

    This statement may stand for today, but as we know it, life on Earth will inevitably go extinct in the future, no other organism has the ability to escape the fate of the Solar system, except humans. We are the only ones capable to save life and propagate it elsewhere. Also we may produce a lot of pollution, had caused species to die, but we are only ones to consciously change our behavior, we are only ones who are able to go against our instincts, and may do thing that don’t benefit us at all.

    Every other organism on the planet literally doesn’t give a damn, the so called balance of nature only exist through death. For instance a large herd of herbivores eat everything they can find, then die, and the plants grow back again, then the cycle starts over, however not all situations can be solved this way in nature, sometimes these can lead to extinction waves that can depopulate continents or even the planet.

    “You could very easily argue that humanity, and our intelligence, is actually the most damaging evolutionary innovation nature has spawned, we are after all, making quite a big mess of our planet’s biosphere, and show no signs of stopping.” Well actually I can name a few extinctions, that outscore the works of humanity, for example: Great Oxygenation Event, “Free oxygen is toxic to anaerobic organisms and the rising concentrations may have wiped out most of the Earth’s anaerobic inhabitants at the time. From their perspective it was a catastrophe. Cyanobacteria were therefore responsible for one of the most significant extinction events in Earth’s history. Additionally the free oxygen reacted with the atmospheric methane, a greenhouse gas, reducing its concentration and thereby triggering the Huronian glaciation, possibly the longest snowball Earth episode. Free oxygen has been an important constituent of the atmosphere ever since.”

    Define to me what is damage and mess, and how a biosphere is damaged or messed? The Cyanobecteria destroyed the entire biosphere, and created a new one in the process. There is no objective morality. From the perspective of the Universe right and wrong doesn’t exist, these are artificial human constructs, just as the terms nature, balance and harmony. These concepts contain as much arrogance and bias as human superiority.

    P.S.: Humans are the only ones capable to worry about them survival and not about their extinction, see WHEMT or Church of Euthanasia. Would any other organism consciously aim for extinction to “better” the lives of other organisms?

    P.S.2: Eventually the Universe will end too, but if we are able survive up to that point (for trillions of years), we would have the technology to create “ways” to other Universes, thus (since currently we are the only known space faring species) only we have the potential to save the whole Universe (maybe grandiose and inflated self-worth, but it’s still cool).

    I would like a reply.

    Thanks

    • 21 Dan Swindlehurst April 11, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      I think I can best summarise my position by saying that Homo sapiens is not objectively more important than any other species, despite the fact that many people assume so. You can argue that humans are positive or negative, more important for x reason, but these are subjective judgements, not objective truths

      Because we are ourselves human, I think we are biased, and mistakenly assume that humans are objectively more important

      • 22 J U June 11, 2013 at 10:15 am

        In it’s objective sense I have never said that humanity is better or more important than any other species. My point was to counter these statements (it also contains a little sarcasm):

        “Why humans are NOT more important than other animals, apart from to ourselves”.
        “Human intelligence can hardly be said to have benefited the majority of the species we share the Earth with, it’s mostly just benefited humans, and rats.”
        “You could very easily argue that humanity, and our intelligence, is actually the most damaging evolutionary innovation nature has spawned, we are after all, making quite a big mess of our planet’s biosphere, and show no signs of stopping.”

        And that overall thread. And in some way my point was exactly like your, with the extension to everything else, not just humans. If we view things your way, than every reasons why we bash humanity today goes out of the window.

        You can’t say that pollution is objectively bad, you can’t even objectively state what constitutes as damage, let alone damage to the biosphere. There is no such thing, what is good or bad to Earth or it’s biosphere because these are inanimate objects. Same with what is natural and what isn’t. From an objective point of view the molten radioactive mess what Earth was in the begginning is just as “desirable” as it became billions of years later.

        You can’t objectively oppose or support any kind of action humans take whatsoever.

        Read my post again.

  13. 23 Peter Manos August 27, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Thanks for your post JU but to me, in terms of my personal frame of reference, it is a co-opting of Einsteins theory of relativity to say “there is no objective reality.” Einstein’s theory includes a relativistic correction factor that adjusts traditional Newtonian predictions between two different frames of reference EXACTLY so that all measurements are corrected.

    In other words Newton had things right for a single static frame of reference, and Einstein’s theory adjusts for warping in an exact fashion with regard to measurements such as physical dimensions, mass, etc.

    It is only among people ignorant of this basic fact of science who continue to focus on what they think of as “weirdness” in physics who co-opt the beauty and truth of both Newton’s and Einstein’s work, and make statements like “there is no objective reality.”

    In fact the statement “there is no objective reality” as applied to this discussion of human cultures and human opinions is self contradictory and proves my point.

    Here’s why:

    There is no frame of reference from which any mere human could make the statement “there is no objective reality, these are all mere human constructs.” Instead, the ACTUAL frame of reference from which that statement is made is one of ignorance of the truth, harmoniousness and beauty within nature, which scientific and mathematical findings describe.

    The formula takes the Newtonian prediction (e.g. for length of an object) and multiplies it by the following factor, which is basically equal to unity (one) except when the relative velocity (v) between the two frames of reference approaches a significant portion of the speed of light (c):

    correction factor =1/((1-v^2/c^2)^0.5) or in english 1 divided by the square root of one minus the ratio of v squared over c squared. Sheer beauty!

    If you are math illiterate but know how to use excel, put velocities in cells a1 and a2 and put this formula into any other cell, and see the results when you play with v (in a1) and c (in a2): =1/((1-A1^2/A2^2)^0.5). Put the speed of light for C, and various speeds (car, airplane, spaced shuttle) and the warp is so tiny until you get some really high speeds, you should recognize the appropriation of Einstein that you are doing is a mistake.

    I hope this helps!

    • 24 Peter Manos August 27, 2013 at 11:57 am

      I should add an addendum that I misquoted your statement and I should have written what you said, which was what I was addressing–you said “there is no objective morality.” Not reality, morality–but my intent was to argue against that very claim you made, about there being no objective morality…Thanks.


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