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can’t hug orphans

Today I have a social issue on my mind.

Did you know that in California it is illegal for workers at orphanages to hug the children? I was shocked to hear this. I’m no expert, but conventional wisdom is that children need love, hugs and caring touches (like being carried). Isn’t it obvious  that children without  any “parental” contact will encounter major obstacles to having healthy relationships when they grow up? Its as if you were to cut off their arm to save a finger.

A cute picture of kids with their caretaker.

Warning: Inappropriate touching according to California law.


What are the flavors of light?

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Electromagnetic Spectrum

There are good reasons that almost everything we know about the distant universe came to us through measurements of light (electromagnetic radiation). Since light was present even at the birth of the universe, the field of astronomy predates just about everything. From another perspective, astronomy began when the first creatures looked up from the surface of their planet and asked, where does that light come from? (more…)

Panorama of ATA site

Sometime back, professional photographer Ron Barrett spent the day at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory (site of the Allen Telescope Array) and worked up a beautiful panorama of the site:
I love how much detail is available in this image (you can zoom in a long way). BTW, we were tracking the sun during this time which you  can tell because the secondary dishes cast no visible shadow on the primary dish or on the ground.


Hi Friends!

It has been almost a week, but I’m still high on my trip to AbSciCon (Astrobiology Science Conference), in Atlanta, GA. Funded by NASA, AbSciCon is held only bi-yearly, and brings together all sorts of people in astrobiology, like biologists, chemists, geologists, psychologists, and even astrophysicists.

I presented two papers, one on recent observations using the ATA to search for repeating ETI signals using an autocorrelation method. (All the signals we found appeared to originate from Earth.)

The second was in a cross-disciplinary session with marine biologists (dophins), chemists (understanding the message contained in our DNA), SETI theory and observations, layers (international law regarding transmitting our own signal for others to find), etc.

I was fascinated by recent studies of dolphin language. Can we use our current SETI algorithms to help understand the dolphin language? Or could we develop new methods to study dolphins, and then apply them in SETI? If you’re interested in dolphin language, a starting place is:
set up by my new friend, Denise Herzing.