College Science Digest

TAEM College Science Digest- with guest author David Brin

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

We live in times of extraordinary discovery. Exoplanets appear to be quite common in our galaxy. NASA’s Kepler Telescope has identified over 2,000 planetary candidates orbiting other stars. And yet the universe appears to be silent – at least when it comes to any detectable signs of alien civilizations, either at present in our galaxy or their remnants from the last couple of billion years.

And let’s be clear: it isn’t just the failure of SETI  (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) to detect radio signals that constitutes “silence.” Indeed, there are strong reasons to believe that they have been looking in the worst possible way.  No, the greatest SETI Observatory has been our own planet Earth, which had an oxygen atmosphere for up to two billion years but with no inhabitants higher than a slime mold to defend it against external colonization.  Had alien visitors ever flushed a toilet or dropped a sandwich wrapper into Earth’s seas, the bio changes would have been huge and visible in our rocks.

Physicist Enrico Fermi famously asked, “Where is everybody?” The Fermi Paradox or The Great Silence refers to this quandary of why we have never encountered extraterrestrial civilizations. I’ve written about all this extensively in scientific papers and in fiction, and my latest novel, Existence reveals dozens of scenarios about first contact. (more…)

TAEM College Science Digest- with guest author David Brin

Saturday, September 1st, 2012  appeared July3, for Frank Catalano <> 7/12; First posted on Geek Wire

1) What is right with Science Fiction Today?

SF has so flooded into popular culture and beyond that it’s becoming a staple of discussion in politics and philosophy and daily life.  The New Yorker just ran a “science fiction issue” featuring works by some of our literary lights… a few of whom spent decades denying they ever wrote sci- fi. People appear to have realized, at last, that we’re in the 21st Century.  Time to buy that silvery spandex outfit, I guess.

Another good thing, the sheer number of brilliant young writers coming down the pike.  They can turn a phrase with the very best in any genre, in any era, and there are so many of them!  Liberated by new technology to explore innovative storytelling methods, like novels with embedded media or animated storyboards… zowee! (more…)

Joseph J. O’Donnell’s College Science Digest: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012


For many students of the sciences this is proving an exciting time. With the closure of the Space Shuttle Program our country is leaning towards a new era in space exploration. Nothing has demonstrated the evolution of this endeavor like the displays presented by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum located off of Route 28 by Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia.

Everyone who has visited the museum for the first time has been wowed by the size of the museum and the vast quantity of displays and artifacts gleamed from mankind’s history of flight. These range from the earliest days to the present, and consists of warplanes, rockets, and the space age vehicles that we have used to reach the stars. (more…)