TED Talk: The story of ‘Oumuamua, the first visitor from another star system | Karen J. Meech

In October 2017, astrobiologist Karen J. Meech got the call every astronomer waits for: NASA had spotted the very first visitor from another star system. The interstellar comet — a half-mile-long object eventually named `Oumuamua, from the Hawaiian for “scout” or “messenger” — raised intriguing questions: Was it a chunk of rocky debris from a new star system, shredded material from a supernova explosion, evidence of alien technology or something else altogether? In this riveting talk, Meech tells the story of how her team raced against the clock to find answers about this unexpected gift from afar.

Missing Hydrocarbons

Cosmology, origin of life, and astronomy are topics about which I read quite a bit. Any NASA and JPL discovery makes me stop whatever to read more about it. This is not something new as one of my school science fair projects was on O-Rings and Challenger. Before that I even attended Space Camp. (This was all so I could post this cute photo.)

The Saturn Group


Carl Sagan discusses the presence of hydrocarbons other than Earth in The Varieties of Scientific Experience. Materials vary in the distance from the Sun at which they condense. Water condenses at the distance of Earth. Methane condenses out at the distance of Saturn. This makes perfect sense for Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, who has lakes of methane. How hydrocarbons formed on Earth if they are not readily available is the problem.

Then I made the mistake of seeing this, Life Could Have Hitched a Ride to the Moons of Jupiter and Saturn, which discusses the idea that lithopanspermia, microbes catching a ride on meteoroids, could have helped life on Earth or Mars reach the outer planets or their moons. Perhaps it worked the other way around? I have heard similar ideas that comets or panspermia from Mars or planets outside the solar system could be the origin of life on Earth. The latter is an extraterrestrial.

If one finds Earth-style cellular life forms on Europa, then how does one determine whether it came from Earth to Europa or from Europa to Earth? Successful colonization on Earth usually means the colonies having larger populations than the parent. Look at how many people in the world speak English as their primary language compared to the population of England. Or French vs France. That analogy suggests Earth could be the colony of somewhere else in the solar system. I hope we do find life near the outer planets as the amount of speculation and journal articles will be very entertaining.

P.S. The Varieties of Scientific Experience was originally Glasgow University Gifford Lectures for the theme The Search for Who We Are in 1985.

My New Home?

OnlineAthens.com | News | Taliaferro’s night life a draw for stargazers 09/17/07:

“We like our darkness,” said Chris Hetlage, the developer of an unusual village taking shape on a hilltop about 40 miles southeast of Athens. “That’s really why we’re here.” Georgia’s least populous county leads the region in a tourist commodity that is as rare as it is unusual: dark skies. That’s how Hetlage and fellow stargazers from Atlanta ended up creating Deerlick Astronomy Village, a secluded subdivision of high-tech, private observatories sprouting from 96 acres.

Deerlick Astronomy Village:

1) Build a community that encourages individual ownership of land plots for observatories and home sites

2) Support the needs of amateur astronomers by leasing observatory/storage area sites,

3) Establish a large common observation area to support individual member access, as well as to support various public and private events and

4) Establish common sense covenants and rules to protect the site from light pollution, provide for the safely of observing members, and at the same time, provide a location that is both family friendly and educationally significant.

Would an hour commute be worth stargazing?

QotD: Books From My Childhood

What books did you love as a child? 
Submitted by hearts

The Encyclopedia Brown series was perhaps my favorite to read. Several books in the Wikipedia link published before 1985 sound very, very familiar. I had at least a dozen of them, so I guess I had the majority of the 17 published at the time.

Additionally, I loved books on science: astronomy, NASA, aeronautics, and strange science facts mostly. Most of my extended family and friends' parents were involved in the Air Force. So one of my prized books and subject to constant review was a book on military planes and helicopters which I mostly memorized. While other kids wanted to be doctors, firemen, or police men, I wanted to be an engineer and astronaut for NASA.

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