Why Do We Want to Find Aliens?

Humanity’s Fascination with ‘Little Green Men’ Dares Us to Imagine What’s Out There

The most memorable taxi ride of my life occurred when I stepped into a cab driven by a man named John, back in 2016. We fell into a conversation about our lines of work. He told me how much he enjoyed his job. As a taxi driver, he got to meet the wonderful menagerie of humankind and find out their life stories—and be paid to do it, no less. And I described my day as a working astrobiologist: how I try to use instruments to detect the signs of living …

The Expansion of the Universe Raises Unnerving Questions | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Expansion of the Universe Raises Unnerving Questions

Princeton Cosmologist Jo Dunkley Explains Why We Are Always Updating Our Understanding of How We Got Here

Jo Dunkley is a leading researcher into the origins and evolution of the universe and professor of physics and astrophysical sciences at Princeton University. In her work, Dunkley uses the …

The Poetic Clarity of That ‘Pale Blue Dot’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Poetic Clarity of That ‘Pale Blue Dot’

Through Photography, Science Has Given Humanity a Sense of Itself

Zócalo’s editors are diving into our archives and throwing it back to some of our favorite pieces. This week: In honor of the unveiling …

When Numeracy Superseded Literacy—and Created the Modern World

The Renaissance's Embrace of Numbers Revolutionized Commerce, Science, and Art

In 1025, two learned monks, Radolph of Liége and Ragimbold of Cologne, exchanged several letters on mathematical topics they had encountered while reading a manuscript of the sixth-century Roman philosopher, …

Confessions of an Eclipse Chaser

For Four Decades I've Traveled the World, Tracking the 'Eye of God'

On August 21st this year, I will log my 26th solar eclipse and my 17th total solar eclipse. August 21st is when parts of the contiguous United States will fall …

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 …