Space Hotel/Neil deGrasse Tyson

November 5, 2009

Plans for a “space resort” have been in the books of many commercial aerospace corporations for years and years, but now it’s actually about to happen. Space.com reports that a European company based Barcelona, Spain plans to open the first space hotel in 2012. I must admit my doubts that it will actually be ready and operational by then, but it’s a pretty cool notion nonetheless. The company even reports that 43 paying guests have booked a stay. Don’t get your hopes up though, as a 3-night trip is currently carrying a price tag of $4.4 million. Even if they don’t hit the expected opening date in 2012, it will eventually happen, almost assuredly by 2020. It’s quite possible that space vacations could eventually come down in price enough that your average Joe might be able to afford one.

The well-known Drake Equation has long been used by scientists to approximate how many intelligent might exist elsewhere in our galaxy. A major problem exists with the numbers, though, because depending on your level of optimism and reasoning to arrive at certain variable within the equation, you can get a result ranging from millions of intelligent civlizations to almost none. That’s a HUGE variability and thus the Drake Equation really isn’t very effective, at least not until we can arrive at more concrete variables to plug into it. Some new research from astronomers at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette may actually give us a better idea of just how common life, and intelligent life, is in our galaxy. The research has found that Sun-like stars are the best places to look for planets with intelligent life. Not surprising at all, but what may surprise you is the fact that Sun-like stars are actually pretty rare. Our Sun is bigger and hotter than 93% of the stars in our galaxy (and presumably the universe), which means that the habitable zone around most stars is closer than the earth is to the Sun. Their research has also shown that bigger stars (like our Sun, or even bigger) are more likely to form small, rocky planets around them. Since bigger stars generally have shorter lifespans, you can see how there’s a sweet spot in star size where the star is big enough to be likely to have small, rocky planets, yet small enough that the overall lifespan of the star is longer than the time it takes for intelligent life to develop. (It took about 4.5 billion years for us to develop on earth.) We have a pretty good idea of how many stars are in the Milky Way, as well as the size distribution. That means about 10% of the stars in the Milky Way fall into that “sweet spot” category. Since there are over 100 billion stars in our galaxy overall, that means about 10 billion stars likely to have earth-like planets and live long enough for those planets to develop intelligent life. I’d say those are some pretty damn good odds of alien civilizations out there, and that’s just in our own little galaxy, which is one of BILLIONS. Most astronomers and astrobiologists agree there’s a pretty good chance we’re not alone. To me that is really exciting. (Via Astrobiology Magazine and Space.com)

Now that I’ve rambled way too much, enjoy this Time interview with one of my favorite “celebrity astronomers,” Neil deGrasse Tyson: (Via Snarkmarket)

And then enjoy watching Mythbusters’ Adam Savage give a vial containing one of his farts to Craig Ferguson as a gift. I could go on and on about how wonderful Mythbusters is. But I’ll spare you that rant. (Via Bad Astronomy)

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