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Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinks Humans Might Be Too Stupid For Aliens To Contact

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The Fermi Paradox illustrates the apparent contradiction between the high likelihood that there is intelligent life somewhere out there and our lack of contact (or proof of contact) with any of those civilizations. The Paradox rests on the ideas that there are billions of stars and galaxies much, much older than ours, and that many of them contain habitable planets (the Kepler telescope has confirmed this), and some of those must support life. And where there’s intelligent life, there’s technology, particularly in terms of interstellar travel.

The key question, then, of the Fermi paradox is: why haven’t we been visited by aliens? In a recent interview with Business Insider, astrophycisist Neil deGrasse Tyson shares some “unorthodox” thoughts about why that might be.

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ISS Spacewalk Cancelled Today Due To Helmet Leakage

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issThere’s a big difference between me and astronauts, and it involves the amount of professional training required, not to mention overall space suit photogeneity. That’s an obvious statement, I know, but having familiarity with certain situations is underrated in my book.

Today was supposed to be the second spacewalk of the month for International Space Station (ISS) flight engineers Chris Cassidy of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency, but the repair mission was ended early and postponed until a later date. The reason? Just a little helmet leakage is all.

The spacewalk officially started this morning at 7:57 a.m. EDT, but just an hour into it, Parmitano reported there was water floating inside of his helmet, just behind his head. This is where that training comes in handy; if it had happened to me in my current state of non-astronautness, the question wouldn’t be if anyone could hear screaming in space, but if there was any way to make it stop.

The leakage wasn’t an emergency situation, and Parmitano was never in any danger, but Flight Director David Korth decided to halt the mission at that point. Both men went back to the airlock, which depressurized at 9:39 a.m. It was the 171st spacewalk intended for system assembly and maintenance, and its 1 hour and 32 minute duration made it the second shortest of all. Not the coolest silver medal to get, but at least no one got hurt.

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How To Wash That Space Right Out of Your Hair

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Contemplations about space bring up many deep questions. Is there life out there? Could we live on another planet? Can the solar system wag its tail? Will this seven-year-old make it to Mars?

And now this question: how do astronauts wash their hair?

Zero gravity’s awesome and everything, but it makes certain tasks pretty difficult. Karen Nyberg, a member of the Expedition 36 Crew aboard the International Space Station, demystifies the process behind maintaining hair hygiene in space.

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European Space Agency’s Intermediate Experimental Vehicle Splashes Down Safely After Test Run

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ESA2The European Space Agency (ESA) has just successfully completed a test run for its Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) prototype. The IXV project is paving the way for a future of autonomous reentry vehicles, and the test run demonstrates IXV’s ability for safe recovery. Last week, the ESA simulated a returning spacecraft by dropping the IXV from a height of nearly 10,000 feet. It gained speed as it fell, and then deployed its parachute, which slowed it down and allowed for a safe splashdown just off the coast of Italy.

Similar tests for autonomous reentry vehicles, particularly with regards to the speed and angles affecting water impact, have been previously conducted by CNR-INSEAN of Rome. Tests of supersonic parachutes similar to the one used by the IXV have been conducted in Arizona at the Yuma Proving Ground.

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Arthur Clarke’s DNA Spacebound

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sunjammerArthur Clarke’s dreams of going to space didn’t die when he did. And in 2014, they’re going to come true. Better late than never, right?

NASA plans to send Clarke’s DNA on the solar-powered Sunjammer spacecraft, which in November 2014 will launch on a 1.9-million-mile voyage to the sun.

The Sunjammer Cosmic Archive is a flying time capsule that carries blueprints for human genetic codes. In addition to Clarke’s DNA, the Sunjammer will carry DNA of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife Majel, who also acted on Star Trek, as well as James “Scotty” Doohan. Clarke, who penned such seminal sci-fi works as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood’s End, and Rendezvous with Rama, also came up with the name Sunjammer—it was the title of one of his short stories.

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Video Map Of The Nearby Universe Reminds Us That Space Is Really, Really, Really Big

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Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space, listen…” Those words were obviously written by the brilliant, much-missed Douglas Adams in his classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books. It’s an amusing way of trying to get across a truth that is genuinely vaster than we can possibly imagine. But don’t take Douglas’ word for it. Check out the 3D video map of the “nearby universe” up above, then see if you still think your commute to work is all that bad.