Our earliest ever ancestor had a big mouth and spewed – er –

Humanity’s earliest ancestor was dug up a while ago. Well, when I say ‘our’ ancestor, it’s also the ancestor of fish, amphibians, reptiles and starfish among other things. It’s  540 million years old, it’s called Saccorhytus coronarius, and it’s a primitive deuterosome, a type is thought to be one of the earliest common ancestors of quite … More Our earliest ever ancestor had a big mouth and spewed – er –

The cool steampunkish bit about ‘Battlestar Galactica’

The other day I stumbled across a fan-site description of the warships portrayed in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica (2004-09). And something struck me. Sci-fi ships usually derive from an ocean-going ‘conceptual model’ – ‘space dreadnoughts’, ‘space battlecruisers’, ‘destroyers’ and the rest. The ‘conceptual model’ for Galactica was apparently the hybrid carrier-battleship of the kind contemplated … More The cool steampunkish bit about ‘Battlestar Galactica’

The flaws of twentieth century thinking

One of the flaws of twentieth century thinking was that a lot of it was geared towards systematising the human universe around us. Everything had to be reduced to mechanisms, often simplistic, often single-cause. This was certainly true academically, particularly in the humanities which were styling themselves as ‘scientific’ on the basis of that systematisation. … More The flaws of twentieth century thinking

Space X’s trans-lunar mission isn’t a new idea – but it’s cool

I don’t know whether to applaud or shudder at Elon Musk’s announcement that Space-X will launch a private ‘moon tourist’ mission late in 2018. I want to applaud because it’s deeply cool, damned bold, and it’s what humanity needs to be doing if we’re to keep any kind of space dream alive. Good stuff. But … More Space X’s trans-lunar mission isn’t a new idea – but it’s cool

New Zealand is earth’s eighth continent. Just mostly underwater.

I was all ‘woohoo’ last week when news broke that New Zealand is actually a continent about half the size of Australia, albeit mostly underwater. The discovery was published in the March-April issue of GSA Today in a paper authored by a team of New Zealand and New Caledonian geologists, including Nick Mortimer, Hamish Campbell, … More New Zealand is earth’s eighth continent. Just mostly underwater.

Five cool things about TRAPPIST-1 and its seven worlds

It’s SO COOL that we’ve found seven rocky and (broadly) Earth-sized planets orbiting a red dwarf star just 39 light years away. How cool? I’m talking leap in the air and shout ‘this is totally fucking uber-cool‘ scale cool. It’s exciting like nothing else astronomical for a long while. It’s – well, figure this: it’s … More Five cool things about TRAPPIST-1 and its seven worlds

Why do we always see an apocalypse around the next corner?

A retired Professor from the University of Arizona, Guy McPherson, told an audience in New Zealand last year that the human race will be extinct from climate change in a decade. Except here. Apparently we’re well placed at the bottom of the South Pacific to survive. And there’s a precedent. Until the 1280s, for the … More Why do we always see an apocalypse around the next corner?