I mentioned the movie Europa Report in the #Europa thread yesterday. It's an amazing piece of science fiction about this moon.

But there are plenty of interesting takes on life in a subsurface ocean in SF! Let's have a look at a few...
'A Darkling Sea' by James Cambias is an interesting novel featuring a civilization in an exoplanetary subsurface ocean. Much recommended!

"Innumerable Glimmering Lights", a short story by Rich Larson, has no human characters, but that doesn't mean they aren't relatable. They're the right mix of alien and familiar, and it would be interesting to see a larger piece of the world crafted there.

"War, Ice, Egg, Universe" by G. David Nordley does a great job taking possible perceptions of an enclosed ocean into account. Just think of what makes your concept of "up" and "down"...
All these and other stories can also beused to introduce scientific concepts, methods and questions to people in a way that's fun and has a wide reach. Narrative also tends to help our long-term memory and learning motivation!

#SFforOutreach #SciComm
That was the rationale behind 'Strangest of All', an ebook anthology we released at @EAIastrobiology for free download + use by educators last spring. It contains astrobiology-related stories accompanied by science essays, classroom questions & exercises.

@EAIastrobiology Next fall, we'll be publishing a much bigger anthology in print, titled #LifeBeyondUs. At this time, I'm working on editing the stories and discussing essay contributions!
@EAIastrobiology There's of course lots of SF containing interesting science. A great list for astronomy is being kept by Andrew Fraknoi: researchgate.net/publication/25…
Some authors also have the habit to include references in an appendix to their stories, for instance Peter Watts. Do check out Blindsight; he's got it for free on his website: rifters.com/real/Blindsigh…
Finally, there are a few things I'd love to read: great stories set in the 'sandwich model' Ganymedan ocean; featuring subsurface life in the Kuiper Belt and beyond; floating life in the 'aerial habitable zone' of a cold brown dwarf... These would make great SF settings!

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More from @realscientists

8 Oct
We had our department's doctoral students' meeting today. High time to share more about the topic I'm working on for my dissertation!

All please welcome #evolution of #altruism! Image
Put simply, altruism means unconditionally helping another. You might think it's a human trait, but it's actually present in lots of animal species! Let's have a look at some.

In the previous tweet, you could see an example of guarding against predators. Is that altruism?
Keeping guard - called sentinel behavior - makes you more exposed and vulnerable to predators, while it protects others in your group.

Is there a benefit for the sentry?
We'll get to that! Meerkat sentry. Credit: Emi...
Read 40 tweets
7 Oct
I meant to tweet more actively this week, but my three-year-old's fever derailed these plans. Luckily, she's better now. This came at the same time as me starting an elimination diet to find out what's problematic for my breastfed baby.

Let's have a look at infant allergies.
This may come as a surprise to most non-parents, but food allergies are surprisingly common in infants. The estimates vary a lot, but fluctuate around 5%: one in twenty infants having a food allergy. You likely know some.

But it's hard to know for sure for reasons we'll look at.
Disclaimer: unlike evolutionary biology and astrobiology, it's not my field of study. But I've raised one child with allergies already, it looks like the younger one may have them too, and I'm planning to tackle the topic as a science writer.
Read 24 tweets
3 Oct
"All these worlds are yours. Except Europa. Attempt no landing there." - 2010: Odyssey Two, by A.C. Clarke

Most of you think we'll first discover life outside of Earth on Europa or Enceladus. Let's have a look at these amazing worlds of ice and water! 🧵 Europa. Image: NASA / JPL/ ...
In 1610, Europa, Io, Ganymede and Callisto were discovered almost at the same time by Simon Marius and Galileo Galilei.

We remember the latter better, but those names were selected by Marius. If not for him, we might have been calling them after the Medicis, Galileo's patrons... Galileo's drawings of Jupit...
It wasn't until the Pioneers & Voyagers in the 1970s, though, until we got a closer look at the moon and could marvel at it.

Look at this composite image captured by the Galileo probe. Does anything look strange to you? How does it differ from our Moon?

I'll give you a moment. Europa.
Read 39 tweets
2 Oct
Excellent question! The answer is partly related to planetary protection and to engineering, partly to the uncertainty of our knowledge about liquid water on Mars now and its accessibility. Thread 🧵.
I'll start with the water. While the geology of Mars - dried-up riverbeds, deltas - suggests it likely had plenty of liquid water long ago, it currently has too thin atmosphere for liquid water to stably exist on its surface, regardless of temperature. We have to go underground! Dry delta on Mars.
There probably has been volcanic activity on Mars quite recently (maybe tens of millions years ago), so there might be hydrothermal vents underground, but we don't know where.

Then there are, of course, the polar caps - and the possibility of lakes deep under the ice. Martian south polar ice cap
Read 15 tweets
2 Oct
#Astrobiology it is! 🦠 🌃 🔭

Not a surprise. Most of us have asked ourselves whether we are alone in the nearby universe, whether there is other life, and if so, whether it is microbial, macroscopic, or even intelligent...

But how can we study something we don't know exists?
Britannica defines astrobiology as a "multidisciplinary field dealing with the nature, existence, and search for extraterrestrial life" - practically spot on, but we should emphasize that for this, we study the evolution of life on Earth, extreme conditions it can survive...
Plus to learn the chances of life elsewhere, we need to know about the lifetime and 'behavior' of stars, planetary geophysics, atmospheric physics...

In short, astrobiology is a huge interdisciplinary field encompassing biology, chemistry, geology, physics, but also humanities! Rover Under the Milky Way - Atacama Rover Astrobiology Drill
Read 8 tweets
20 Aug
As wonderfully described by @CCriadoPerez in her book ‘Invisible Women’, women are living in a world designed for men. Now in an era of increased data science, that means that there is a data bias towards men (1/5)
This wonderful book covers everything medical data (including ‘standard’ symptoms of heart attack) is based on men, that women are 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a car accident and asks ‘can snow clearing can be sexist?’ (2/5)
Current research shows that female uptake for clinical trials is still low (bmj.com/content/371/bm…) and even in trials where women are recruited, lots don’t provide gender disaggregated data. (3/5)
Read 5 tweets

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