Author Archives: Caleb A. Scharf

The Erosion of Reality

The most immediate AI threat may be the distortion of truth; something we, and other species, have been doing for a long time

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Astrobiology Roundup: Stars in a Multiverse, Drills on Mars and More

The northern summer brings some intriguing research and exciting developments

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The Human Strain

We used to live on a planet with other thinking, two-legged beings, and that could inform us about intelligence in the universe

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Why SpaceX’s "Block 5" Is a Big Deal

Psst! Want a used rocket? I’ve got a lovely one for you, ready to fly today

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Sniffing and Peeking at Mars

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter gets into position and takes some new pictures

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This Island Earth

One planet, modified by life, racing into the future. Our species should gear up

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Interplanetary CubeSats Are Go!

NASA’s latest Mars probe has a couple of very special hitchhikers

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The Distant Shores of Mars

A complex interplay of gravity, volcanoes and planetary wobble could pin down the age of oceans on Mars

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The Techno-Signature Challenge

Taking SETI more seriously means thinking expansively, but how do we evaluate the options?

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SETI, the Next Generation?

Time to bring the search for extraterrestrial technosignatures all the way in from the cold

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Exoplanetary Science, Build 2.0

The time is ripe for getting really serious about other worlds, and other life

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Satellite Vermin

Is a deliberately shining satellite in the sky a cute idea or a menace?

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A Stunning Ultraviolet and Infrared Venus

Processed images from the Akatsuki spacecraft reveal beautiful details of this strange world 

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3 Cosmic Images from 2017: No. 3

One year, so much science. Here’s the third of three spectacular, but less widely seen images from the near and far universe

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3 Cosmic Images from 2017: No. 2

One year, so much science. Here’s the second of three spectacular, but less widely seen images from the near and far universe

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3 Cosmic Images from 2017: No. 1

One year, so much science. Here’s the first of three spectacular, but less widely seen, images from the near and far universe

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A Believable Universe

Any good space opera needs to take place in a version of reality that, although not necessarily scientifically accurate, at least makes some kind of sense

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The Strange, Lumpy World of Asteroids

Radar maps of asteroids reveal an array of gnarled, bumpy, and bizarre objects

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The Tyranny of Extraterrestrial Messaging

Talking to the rest of the universe takes a whole lot of patience

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Come On and Zoom (through the Universe)

Caleb Scharf, director of Columbia University’s Astrobiology Center talks about his latest book, The Zoomable Universe: An Epic Tour through Cosmic Scale, from Almost Everything to Almost…

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The First Wooden Spacecraft

Largely forgotten today, but probably still out there

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On the Moon

Seldom shown images from the Apollo missions still evoke powerful responses

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The Zoomable Universe

Reality as we know it spans 63 orders of magnitude in scale, and now all of that is in one book

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Spacecraft Flies By a Habitable Planet

Echoing a famous experiment, the OSIRIS-REx mission treats Earth as a target of opportunity

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Putting Odds on the Human Future

We’ve got a doomsday clock, how about a set of running odds on what happens to us?

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How to Predict a Hostile Alien Invasion

It’s hardly the most pressing concern for Earth, but there might be a way to forewarn ourselves

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Saturn Looms

The end of the Cassini mission is presaged by unique and extraordinary images

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For an Almost Daily Eclipse, Go to Mars

Earth may get great solar eclipses, but they don’t happen all the time

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Are Tardigrades Really That Tough?

Astrophysical events may have a hard time sterilizing Earth-analogue worlds, based on the example of water bears. But is it this simple?

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Chasing Consciousness, and the Information Revolution

A new institute gains steam, together with a new set of ideas on matter, life and information

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