For what purpose did the human brain evolve is a question that has puzzled scientists for decades. In 2010 Colin Blakemore, an Oxford neurobiologist who died of motor neuron disease at 78, argued that a mutation in the brain of a single human being 200,000 years ago turned intellectually able primates into a super-intelligent species that would conquer the world. Homo sapiens appears to be a genetic accident.
Editor, Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist, Senior Scientist with AMNH. Jackie was formerly a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Aside from a love of scientific research, she is a passionate educator and can often be found giving public lectures in the Hayden Planetarium. Her research team has won multiple grants from NASA, NSF, and the Heising Simons foundation to support projects focused on characterising planet-like objects. She has also co-founded the popular citizen science project entitled Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 which invites the general public to help scan the solar neighbourhood for previously missed cold worlds. A Google Scholar, Faherty has over 100 peer reviewed articles in astrophysical journals and has been an invited speaker at universities and conferences across the globe. Jackie received the 2020 Vera Rubin Early Career Prize from the American Astronomical Society, an award that recognises scientists who have made an impact in the field of dynamical astronomy and the 2021 Robert H Goddard Award for science accomplishments.
Vulcans, Daleks, Martians, Grays – our culture is pervaded by alien beings from distant worlds – some benevolent…most not so much, observes the BBC: “In our galaxy alone, there should be tens of billions of planets harboring life, but we have not heard any broadcasts or seen any flashing lights from distant civilizations. Sixty years ago, the journal Nature published a paper suggesting the best way to search for alien life was by listening for radio signals. Within months, astronomer Frank Drake had begun scanning nearby star systems and SETI was born.”