Sunday, March 19, 2017


Trappist 1 - Perhaps science has found our future home or a world already populated by aliens. Look up in the night sky towards the Aquarius constellation, where there’s an ultra-cool dwarf nearly 40 light years away. Named Trappist 1--for the TRAnsiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope in Chile--astronomers spotted regular dimming, a signal when planets transit the bright face of a distant sun. OK, a star, but what about planets? Further inspection revealed 7 planets total, 6 of which are Earth sized, 3 of which are in the life supporting habitable zone. For the first time, multiple planets around the same star, all in one spot. Amazing, since most of the exoplanets discovered to date have been large gas giants too near the host sun. But it’s much cooler, less than half the sun’s heat and much smaller, one-twelfth the mass as compared to our own sun. What does all this mean? Potentially, a habitable world. Science hasn’t yet verified signs of life such as oxygen and methane. However that might come to be, once the James Webb Space Telescope is launched, in 2018. It will observe distant events, such as forming stars/ planets, and be capable of capturing direct images of exoplanets. Such as those orbiting Trappist 1? Let’s hope so. 

Evolution of the Personal Computer

The Seven Wonders of TRAPPIST-1

ESOcast 96: Ultracool Dwarf and the Seven Planets

Sunday, March 12, 2017


SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING - Promote your work, but stay away from social media marketing. Sounds like a contradiction, right? Let’s make some assumptions. Your book is finished, you’ve got a publisher (or you’re going to self-publish), your name is unknown and you’re starting from zero. What should be avoided? Don’t relentlessly spam the same fill-in-the-blank (book, short story, interview, conference, etc.)  over and over again. Here’s another trap – spending too much or too little time on your brand/ platform. Avoid canned instant messages and or emails. One of the worst? If it’s tacky in real life, it’s tacky online. Such as a nasty comment in response to a one star book review. OK. Those are the wrong ways, but what’s the right way? Here’s some social media promotional ideas. Don’t focus on marketing, instead, be interesting and add value. It’s not that one time click you’re after. Go for repeat views, so consistency is important. Pay attention to your metrics. What posts get the most comments/ views? Spread it around by mentioning your blog on your FB page and vice versa. Blog about different topics, listen to your followers and adjust. Read articles about building a platform then follow those suggestions. Use both sides of your brain. Creative writing draws on different neurons than writing blog posts. Don’t particularly like something? Skip it! You’re more likely to maintain something that’s enjoyable. Once you’ve decided on a strategy, keep it up and don’t constantly change up your approach.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


DO ALIENS EXIST? - We still don’t have an answer to these fascinating questions. Are humans alone in the cosmos?

1.       Aliens on Jupiter? - Europa (Jupiter’s moon) has an ocean under its ice crust. NASA spotted plumes of water vapor erupting from the surface. Water. What better place to look for aliens?
2.       Water on Mars? - The red planet was covered with water in the ancient past. It’s been photographed and traversed by rovers but we don’t know if it once supported life.
3.       Alien signals? - Most strange light pulses are explained easily. But some might be generated by extraterrestrials. Borra and Trottier published a paper entitled "Signals probably from Extraterrestrial Intelligence" detailing the discovery of 234 such signals.
4.       Alien megastructure? - Science has hypothesized the blinking Tabby’s Star was being blocked by a Dyson Sphere--or a swarm of megastructures--something like aliens would build.
5.       Hitching a ride? - Early Earth was very hot. Some scientists think it would have been easier for life to evolve on a milder arid planet. Did asteroids jettisoned from Mars--carrying microbial life--crash land on Earth? Sounds crazy. But pieces of Mars have been found on Earth and there are almost certainly pieces of Earth on Mars.
6.       Wow signal? - In 1977, a telescope found a powerful blast of radio waves, that lasted 72 seconds. Despite numerous attempts, the signal has never been observed again.
7.       Another Earth? - In addition to Proxima B, the recent discovery of GJ 1132 B reveals a world with a thick water/ methane atmosphere. Most discovered exoplanets are gas giants, hotter and larger than Jupiter. With the first glimpse of alien air, astronomy enters a new frontier, in the examination of small Earth-like worlds.