In 1977, just a few months after Voyager 1 and 2 began their grand tour of the solar system, Carl Sagan gave the esteemed Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. You can watch them below via YouTube or at the Royal Institution's site. Launched by Michael Faraday in 1825, the Christmas Lectures are meant to be "engaging and mind-expanding... for all ages but particularly children and young adults." As usual, Carl delivered the goods. From the Royal Institution:
Beginning with a closer look at the world we inhabit, Sagan explores of the diversity of life on our own planet and the building blocks behind it, before questioning whether the same organic chemistry is occurring on planets in the outer solar system.
In Lecture Three onwards Sagan takes a closer look at our neighbouring planet, Mars. From early interpretations of terrestrial life on its surface to the surprising discoveries made by NASA’s Viking Program, the Red Planet has become the focus of efforts to discern whether intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe.
When Sagan delivered his lectures in the late 1970s, NASA had only just begun its Voyager program to the furthest planets in our solar system and no extra-solar planets were known to exist. Now, over three decades later, astronomers are looking at planets that lie beyond our solar system to ask the very same question we pondered over Mars: is there life out there?
Carl Sagan: The Planets lecture series (RI via Kottke)
Yale scientists have managed to restore some biological function to the brains of dead pigs killed in a slaughterhouse 4 hours before the experiment.
Well, sort of. Paleontologists have identified a 430 million-year-old fossil of a multi-tentacled sea creature as a new species and dubbed it Sollasina cthulhu after HP Lovecraft’s Great Old One. From Yale University: The new cthulhu, Sollasina, had 45 tentacle-like tube feet, which it used to crawl along the ocean floor and capture food. The […]
Archaeologists uncovered the skeleton of this neolithic dog more than a century ago in a 5,000 year old tomb on on the island of Mainland, Orkney, Scotland. Now, forensic scientists and artists have reconstructed the animal’s face. According to Historic Environment Scotland researcher Steve Farrar, this dog and 23 others found in the “Cuween Hill […]
Ever wonder if you’re cleaning your teeth well enough? If your last dentist visit has you getting a little more thorough about oral care, it might be time to save yourself some guesswork. A lot of electric toothbrushes promise deep cleaning, but there’s a Platinum Sonic Toothbrush that has power plus the simple but effective […]
The digital age is well and truly upon us, but let’s not forget there’s a load of free TV content floating literally over our heads. No, we’re not talking about the internet. Signals from major broadcast networks are still gratis for anyone who can pick them up with an antenna. And before you envision those […]
Who said LEGO® had to be ground bound? With The Force Flyers DIY Building Block Fly ‘n Drive Drone, you can turn LEGO® and other building-block creations into fully-functional flying machines. It’s available now in the Boing Boing Store for $39.99. This kit comes with everything you need for remote-controlled long distance flight, including a […]