Tuesday, December 22, 2015

our place in the Universe

no matter if you believe in Santa Claus or not, the end of year with its long nights is as good a time as any to look up at the stars and reflect on our place in the Universe. In this seasonal spirit I have written up a feature on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), which has recently received a major cash boost, combined with recent findings from the study of extrasolar planets.

The feature is out now and appears to be on open access for now (until the next issue appears in 2 weeks):

Listen out for life

Current Biology

Volume 25, Issue 24, pR1151–R1153, 21 December 2015

Full text and access to PDF

should that not work, here is a magic link that allows free access for 50 days after publication. When that expires, you'll just have to email me for a PDF file. The feature will then return to open access one year after publication.

The feature also served as an excuse to reproduce the Hubble extreme deep field image - even though, of course, the galaxies shown in this picture are so far away in space and time that it is completely impossible to communicate with them, so the picture is just here to show what a mindboggling big place the Universe is:

This Extreme Deep Field image obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope shows galaxies from 13.2 billion years ago. It compiles observations from a minute patch of sky that would appear empty to normal telescopes, so every speck of light seen in this image is a distant galaxy. (Image: NASA; ESA; G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, University of California, Santa Cruz; R. Bouwens, Leiden University; and the HUDF09 Team.)

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