Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Venus results suggesting life downgraded

Surprise! Surprise! Further research and review of the recent results that said phosphine existed in Venus’s atmosphere — which for some immediately suggested the presence of life — has found that the phosphine probably doesn’t exist.

[A]lmost immediately, other astronomers began to criticize the results, with four independent studies pointing out questionable methods or failing to reproduce the results.

Now, after reanalyzing their data, the original proponents are downgrading their claims. Even the most favorable interpretation of their data now suggests phosphine levels are at least seven times lower than first reported, making it a much more tentative finding, the authors reported in a preprint posted on 17 November to arXiv.

Also, observations in other wavelengths detected no phosphine, even though it should have been there if the first study was correct. Furthermore, other scientists have noted that the spectrum features detected might not be caused by phosphine. The sulphur dioxide in Venus’s atmosphere could instead be their source.

Even if phosphine is eventually confirmed, that is not the discovery of life on Venus, as so many in the mainstream press claimed. As I noted when this result was first announced, phosphine isn’t life, it is merely a specific inanimate molecule. That on Earth it only exists in connection with life-processes means nothing. Venus is a very alien place, and there could be any number of inanimate chemical processes that we have no experience with or knowledge of that could produce it there. To claim its discovery suggests the existence of life, or even the possibility of life, is simply junk science.


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  • Lee Stevenson

    I’d be lying if I either said I was not disappointed, or was surprised by these findings. I agree with you Bob, in as much as science reporting leaves somthing to be desired these days. I don’t blame any scientists “bigging up” their findings, especially when the environment for securing funding is so hard, but it is the job of a journalist to dig into a subject a little… ( Although, let’s be honest…. Science is hardly the only area in the news subject to this problem).
    I still think the atmosphere of Venus is an interesting, and indeed fairly likely environment for life to be found. Those dark clouds are intriguing! But the false excitement and subsequent disappointment of this “discovery” will help the case for a Venus mission not at all.

  • Lee Stevenson

    LOL? Some context would be nice there Phil…. An average teenage Instagram comment does not make for a good discussion!

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