Far-out questions

first_imgAlmost every clear night, Avi Loeb, chairman of Harvard’s Astronomy Department, steps onto his porch and looks up at the Milky Way. The gleaming stars could be the lights of a giant space ship.Back inside, Loeb tells his wife what he’s seen. She tells him it would be OK to leave with the aliens — under certain conditions.“If there is an extraterrestrial, just make sure they leave the car keys with me,” Loeb’s wife tells him. “And don’t wake the dog in the backyard.”Absent a late-night visit from aliens, how might we discover if the universe is teeming with life? What tools exist to help the search?Loeb, the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science and director of the Institute for Theory and Computation, touched on those questions and others Tuesday at the Science Center during an hourlong talk titled “New Search Methods for Primitive and Intelligent Life Far from Earth.” The talk was the latest in a monthly series that connects the public with insights from scientific research. Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics Melissa Franklin served as moderator.The question of whether we’re alone has the potential to reshape almost every facet of human knowledge, with implications in biology, history, linguistics, politics, and much more. Our religious beliefs would be challenged.Many scientists assume that Earth is the center of the biological universe and that other galaxies are lifeless, but assumptions impede discovery, Loeb noted.“It was once common sense that heavy objects fell faster than light ones,” he said. “We should simply check our assumptions rather than make them, especially in the search for intelligent life.”One such assumption: that objects of the Kuiper belt, a region of the solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune, emit natural light reflected by the sun. It could be artificial light, Loeb said. A city the size of Tokyo could radiate light seen from that distance — if we looked for it, according to Loeb.Light could be the key to detecting life beyond the solar system, Loeb said. Planets have a habitable zone: the right distance from a star to be warm enough for liquid water. Scientists using powerful telescopes should be able to view the starlight passing through a planet’s atmosphere to detect the fingerprints of oxygen and methane, Loeb said.Such telescopes have already discovered candidates for observation. The deep-space Kepler satellite has found 3,500 objects. But Loeb said that the Hubble Space Telescope’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, set to be launched in 2018, will be an even more powerful investigative tool.“If we want to detect biological molecules of life in the next decade, this is the best instrument,” he said.There are also low-frequency observatories poised to eavesdrop on radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations (while our signals head out into space to be captured). What would we do if we detected such a signal and made contact with a civilization billions of years older than our own?“We could ask, ‘What is the nature of dark matter and dark energy?’” Loeb said. “But it would feel like cheating on an exam.”last_img read more

Saint Mary’s announces move out plans

first_imgIn a Thursday email to students, Saint Mary’s Residence Life staff said the College has finalized the move out plan for all students residing in residence halls.“The move-out process will begin May 6 and continue through May 31,” the email said. “Residence Life will continue to monitor and assess the evolving pandemic situation for any potential impact on the move-out process. We will keep you informed of any updates to the process or timeline.”The email said it is imperative students follow directions and adhere to social distancing guidelines, as well as acknowledge challenges given limited and small elevators.“Please be patient and remember we are all in this together,” the email said. Returning to campus to move out is an individual decision for students to make, and Residence Life encourage students to make their decision based on what “supports the health and safety of themselves, their family and the entire Saint Mary’s community,” the email said.“Before traveling to campus, we suggest that you familiarize yourself with the appropriate local, state and federal COVID-19 guidelines regarding social distancing, essential travel, public gatherings and other activities so you can make your best decision given your specific situation and location,” the email said. “Please take all of these factors into account when selecting a move out appointment.”Students must sign up for a move out time slot to return to campus using the link for their residence hall listed in the email.“Students will only have card access to enter their building on the day that they have signed up for,” the email said. “Those who arrive on campus outside of their move out day will not have access to the building. Only the student and one person to assist will be permitted to enter the halls. Others may remain with the car to load up as items are brought from the room.”In the email, Residence Life reminded students they are required to bring their keys and student ID to campus with them.In order to minimize contact, moving supplies such as moving carts and personal protective gear, including masks, gloves and hand sanitizer will not be provided. Residence Life encourages students to bring their own supplies.According to the email, students are asked to park in a parking lot and wait until they are completely packed to move vehicles in front of their residence hall. “Once you have finished moving out, drop your key off in the key bucket located at the front desk of your residence hall, scan the QR Code at the front desk, submit photos of your residential space to [email protected] and depart from campus,” the email said.According to the email, Residence Life understands students may want to arrange meetings or gatherings with faculty members and others while on campus but asks students to refrain from doing so. This includes Saint Mary’s Convent, financial aid and student accounts. Students who are not able to return to campus to collect their belongings are asked to fill out a form found in the email.“We are assuming all will return, but if you have a compelling reason not to return we will evaluate your other options and will communicate with you,” the email said.The Residence Life team will be available by phone each day during the move out process as an effort to maintain social distancing, the email said.Tags: COVID-19, move-out, Residence Lifelast_img read more

Tigers Hammer Mariners

first_imgThe Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first three innings en route to an 8-2 win over the Mariners on Monday at Sullivan.Sarah Leighton went all the way to third on a single and ensuing error in center field, then scored on a groundout by Lona Sargent to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the first inning.They added two more in the second as Katelyn Hodgkins walked and scored when Morgan Whitten reached on an error, and Whitten scored on a single by Emily Leighton.The Tigers struck again in the third when Sargent doubled, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textSargent finished with a double and a single and two RBI, Ashley Pennartz tripled and singled with two RBI and Sarah Leighton had two singles with an RBI for the Tigers.Janelle Ciomei singled three times, driving in the Mariners’ two runs in the seventh inning. Latest posts by admin (see all) Bio Hancock County Court News Nov. 3 thorugh Dec. 11 – January 22, 2015 admincenter_img House fire in Winter Harbor – October 27, 2014 State budget vs. job creation – January 22, 2015 Latest Postslast_img read more