Arrival’s Aliens Reflect How We Treat One Another

We React With Distrust and Paranoia, While They (Literally) Rise Above

In the recently released film Arrival, Earth is visited by an intelligent alien race, the heptapods, and the contact forever changes humanity’s sense of place in the cosmos. The movie offers an excellent examination of how we as a species might react to information that we are not alone.

We may not have to wait long. It looks increasingly possible that our search for signs of simpler forms of life in the universe could bear fruit in the next few decades. The discovery of even microbial alien life would be …

NASA’s Other Moonshot Helped Revolutionize Marketing

The Apollo Moon Landing Wasn't Supposed to Be Broadcast, Until a Team of Ex-Reporters Pushed for Live TV

On July 20, 1969, an estimated 600 million people watched and listened in real time as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the surface of the moon. …

Even in Deep Space, There Are Shades of Black

How a Planet Hunter Finds Faint Objects in a Sea of Darkness

In my line of work, I stare at shades of black.

My work starts on dark, black nights, when there is no moon or reflection from it. The telescopes I …

What Do Raindrops Look Like in Outer Space?

How Arizona’s Monsoons Got Me Chasing Storms on Titan

Living in Tucson, Arizona—a Sonoran desert city surrounded by tall mountains—can make you obsess about rain. In 1993, I had just moved into a new office at the University of …

Why Pluto Still Deserves Our Love

Nine Years After Its Launch, a NASA Spacecraft Is About to See What the Formerly Major Planet Can Tell Us About the Origins of the Solar System

One of my first memories as a child in the 1950s was a discussion I had with my brother in our tiny bedroom in the family house in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. …

The Potential for Life on Jupiter’s Moon

NASA’s Europa Flyby Mission Has Tantalized Scientists Eager for Clues About Possible Alien Life

This week we are one step closer to understanding a world in our solar system that I believe has the best chance of supporting life beyond our own planet. NASA …