Archive for December, 2009

Editor’s quicknote

These words have as single objective, to congratulate one of Beyond the Cradle collaborators for her latest success.

Sarah Milkovich has become, officially, the HiRISE investigation scientist.

In a recent exchange of words, Sarah expressed her hapiness for being back “on” Mars and the window for new stories back here at BtC is now open after a time where…well…time wasn’t abundant.

So,  dear Sarah, here I am, waiting by the mailbox, waiting for you, your Mars, your HiRISE, your writing, and for that cold to go away fast.

Knowing how happy you are with the recent news and how long  the battle has been let me just tell you how proud I am to count with you, to learn with you, onboard this vessel of adventure, discovery and knowledge.



As 2009 prepares to slip gloomily and morosely into 2010, with the world still hunched under the weight of recession, and truly godawful weather battering the UK, sitting here at my computer, listening to the rain skrish against the window, over and over and over, like handfuls of thrown shingle, I’m starting to wonder, and worry, if I’m having a bit of a mid-life crisis.

No, I haven’t grown a ridiculous ponytail, or bought myself a pair of cowboy boots and a Harley and taken to the road, or started hanging around bars trying to look 20 years younger than I really am in the hope of impressing long-legged blondes young enough to be my daughter; no, this lifelong, space-nut, who has always looked forwards and not backwards, who has always lived for the future and not looked back at the past, has started to get very, very interested in history. Specifically, deep, deep history – i.e. the origins of Mankind.

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Добро пожаловать на борт, доктор Зайцев!*

Beyond the Cradle as the pleasure of counting with the collaboration of someone who’s career has been has diversified as recognized. That someone is Dr. Alexander Zaitzev, Chief Scientist of the Radio Engineering and Electronics Institute, Russian Academy of Science, who was kind enough to share his time and vision with BtC readers.

To know more about Dr. Zaitzev’s work please visit the Collaborators page, in the meanwhile stay with the words he adressed to the readers.

*Welcome aboard Dr. Zaitzev!


My Vision of SETI and METI Missions

In a distant, primeval, medieval past, Mankind lived with both their feet on a flat Earth,
considered, dogmatically, to be the center of the Universe, and we, people of the world, at the mercy of gods, were alone in the vastness of space and time.

Time made us earn the knowing that Earth is not the center of the Universe, neither our Sun, not even our galaxy…

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500 million kilometers closer

Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator, as a new entry on his captain log.
While we are still 2,050 days away on a 9.5 years journey towards Pluto, on December 2009 NH will be closer to Pluto than to Earth, somehow this gives me a strange feeling of seing the spacecraft as a student finally leaving its parents home and heading towards a distant university, where it will do what she is supposed to be doing, to learn and to share knowledge in order to make of us a richer species.
As 2009 reaches its end, New Horizons keeps the steady pace towards an unknown world, step by step, during this year, Pluto became 500 million kilometers closer. 

Image Credit: Thierry Lombry

Getting to know the aliens

If there is one theme that pervades the very concept of “space” in the public mind, it is the assumed ubiquity of alien life. This probably tells us a lot more about the way that human beings perceive the Universe through a lens of assumptions and evolutionarily-implanted deep instincts then anything about the nature of life beyond Earth.
            Although it may seem quaint and rather naive today, just a few centuries ago many learned Europeans took it for granted that the Moon and the planets were doubtless populated by human beings of some type. The “proof” of this paradigm was often theological: God would not possibly waste His valuable time creating uninhabited celestial bodies, after all! Continue reading