Interstellar Travel & the Hunt for Life
Project Icarus is a five-year study into the possibility of sending a unmanned ship to another star. The project recently outlined expected scientific benefits, including the search for life.
What's the Latest Development?
Project Icarus, a five-year study into the feasibility of sending an unmanned spacecraft to another star, could provide vast amounts of new scientific data and an extraordinary close-up of habitable foreign planets. The project's director of "Scientific Objectives" recently discussed the science that could be carried out during an interstellar journey and once the craft had arrived at a foreign star system. In choosing a destination for an interstellar craft, priority would be given to a system where a habitable planet could be found.
What's the Big Idea?
There are a number of scientific tasks that could be completed en route to a foreign star system but since these data could be gathered on the way to anywhere, planners would consider the destination of primary importance. Knowledge of star systems within 15 light years outside our own remains limited but can be expected to increase in the coming decades. That discovery process may occur in tandem with technological develops needed to successfully explore foreign star systems.
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The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.
- Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
- European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?
- Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
- While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
- The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
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