Art, Astronomy, and Alien Adaptations

On my recent vacation in Maine, I spent a mesmerizing half hour or longer on the dock in front of our cabin, head tipped all the way back to take in the wealth of stars and splash of Milky Way, unsure whether I was feeling dizzy because of the depth over my head or the lake under my feet.   Add in the fact that it was during the Perseid meteor shower, and you had the recipe for perfect wonder that reminded me why I spent several years growing up convinced I was going to be an astronaut.

Fortunately for those of us who are sadly earthbound, there are folks up there willing to share the wealth: Twitpics from Space.  Not to mention NASA Spots Signs of Life…On Earth, in which some of those nifty NASA folks have figured out how to search for bacteria trapped in ice by satellite.  Next stop, Mars!

I love reading stories about what life is actually like on the International Space Station or for astronauts in general, but I get an almost equal amusement and fascination out of what people *thought* life in space could be…and how many of those ideas are still around in slightly altered forms, like eco-designer Vincent Callebaut’s floating water-purifying resort and eco-refuges for when we lose the battle with climate change (dystopic design at its prettiest).

Hear Auden read “The More Loving One” and read the text of the poem at NPR’s 100th anniversary article on Auden’s birth here.

The night sky has a kind of mystery that sometimes only artists and poets seem to be able to capture…and sometimes science helps solve those mysteries, more than a hundred years later!  Forensic astronomer solves Walt Whitman mystery (Always nice to see those interdisciplinary learners in action!)

Feeling inspired to do some stargazing?  Keep your eyes open and antennae out…the BBC reports that “Alien hunters ‘should look for artificial intelligence'” while scanning the sky.  While you wait for ET to ring the doorbell, bring the search for alien life to your classroom with the web-quest Design a Space Alien, designed for middle school students, and give your studies of earth science and evolutionary biology an extraterrestrial twist.

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