Talking About Life
Chris Impey, Cambridge University Press, Central 576.839 T146 2010
A collection of interviews
p127 Andrew Knoll, Harvard, regards ALH84001: With the Mars meteorite, none of the lines of evidence proposed by David McKay and his colleagues fall outside of the envelope of physical and chemical features that might easily be made without biology.
p193 Jonathan Lunine, Cornell, Titan: ... rather than being a good place for the early steps of "life as we know it", Titan could be home to a weird biota that works on hydrocarbon liquids.
p214 Laurie Leshin, NASA MSL, now WPI president: One single instrument in my lab is as big as this entire Rover. There are fifty different kinds of experiments we could do, and we'll never effectively send all of those tools to Mars. The amount of money we spend on analytic instruments sounds enormous, but a state-of-the-art spectrometer on Earth costs $75,000. To build that thing and send it to Mars costs roughly $7M. That's huge, a factor of a hundred. The analytic lab in my lab costs $2 million off the shelf, so you could spend $200 million to send that one piece of equipment to Mars. If you have fifty others, it quickly becomes unreasonable to try to miniaturize all of these instruments to send them to another planet.
p261 Geoff Marcy, UCB, Exoplanets: the dominant issue is the turbulence of the surfaces of stars ... granulation. ... hundreds of meters per second ... constitutes the floor on the precision of the Doppler technique ... ± 1 m/s .
p262 ... surveying 2000 stars, at least a dozen show a clear Doppler signature of a Jupiter-sized planet out at 5 AU. ... what fraction of Jupiters has nearly circular orbits? what's new in 2017?
p262 ... the architecture of our planetary system is special in that it's a low entropy state (circular orbits). ... if you nudge one of the planets even the smallest amount, the house of cards falls apart. ... eccentric orbits ... eject each other from the planetary system.
p265 Debra Fischer, Yale, Exoplanets: At SF State in classical electrodynamics class, very pregnant: "I was an alien! I went to class on Friday, had my daughter on Saturday, and was back in class on Monday. Mostly just to say I did it. p266 4th grade class in Moscow, Idaho sent letter regards 3 Upsilon Andromedae planets, 3/4 jupiter Dinky, Twopiter, Fourpiter. p270 solar system is pretty full ... "we can't drop a Moon-sized object in and have it survive." p271 graph of planet eccentricity, most exoplanets have more eccentricity than those in our solar system
p287 David Charbonneau, Harvard, Exoplanets: found first photometric transit of HD209458b with Tom Brown's 4 inch telescope in 1999. Density similar to Jupiter, verified with Hubble spring of 2000, saw sodium lines.
.p340 Nick Bostrom Picture of H-Bomb explosion attributed to "Mike Ivy and Wikipedia" - actually the "Ivy Mike" test (yield 10.4 mt) at Enewetak Atoll on 1 November 1952, the world's first successful hydrogen bomb. Image in the public domain.