Free Astronomy Magazine – January-February 2023 Issue Available For Reading (And Now In Arabic!) And Download

Above: Jezero Crater as Seen by ESA's Mars Express Orbiter: This image shows the remains of an ancient delta in Mars' Jezero Crater, which NASA's Perseverance Mars rover will explore for signs of fossilized microbial life. See NASA's Mars 2020 site for more information.

The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (January-February 2023) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at (and facebook).

My contribution this month (with my NASA SSA hat on) is a chemistry-heavy dive into the dry lake bed that is Jezero Crater after the 15 September 2022 announcement from NASA entitled NASA’s Perseverance Rover Investigates Geologically Rich Mars Terrain (and, for more background, see the March-April 2021 issue). The request from our fearless leader Michele Ferrara was to consider this report in the context of a lot of the "(possible) signs of life" articles written in the days after this announcement, for which there were many related articles. I am very pleased to report, that, generally, all of the articles I found in my research were appropriately conservative in their analyses (after the headlines in some cases, of course). But I wrote an article anyway.

This was one of a few bio-centric images that were damn-close to making it into the article. Image copyright A. Barrington Brown, Gonville & Caius College.

Some of the text might have benefited from some bio-specific figures in the article, but there's a wealth of catch phrases ripe for web searching and much more information, leaving the article itself (still at 10 pages) to something that returns the reader back to the overarching issue of the difference between the detection of simple organics on Mars and anything else one might want to extract and extrapolate from that detection.

I'm excited to report that this year will also mark the availability of the magazine in Arabic, thanks in astronomical part to the efforts of members of the Jeddah Astronomy Society (twitter, facebook). It is a beautiful script and all parties (not I) involved deserve plenty of credit for handling the conversion and formatting.

Browser-readable version (and PDF download):

Structural DNA Nanotechnology Graphic Featured In TASCHEN's "Science Illustration"

From the "keep it in the gallery because it might come in handy someday" department:

I'm very pleased to make mention of ye olde Nanorex's "Structural DNA Nanotechnology" poster now appearing in another venue that isn't this site or my office wall. The graphic is featured on pages 414-415 of the new TASCHEN book "Science Illustration. A History of Visual Knowledge from the 15th Century to Today," complete with the entirely reasonable name-drops of Richard Feynman (who I've published with before) and K. Eric Drexler (who I've also published with before).

As an aside, my appreciation of TASCHEN books began with my buying a copy of Andreas Cellarius: Harmonia Macrocosmica (which is priced a lot higher now than it was then) at the Los Angeles Griffith Observatory gift shop back in 2007 – an equally weighty tome that I still dragged around the place for an hour or more just to make sure that last copy was mine. I've seen smaller coffee tables in my day than either of these books (making the use of coasters all the more important should you choose to purchase either).

The author Anna Escardó is happy, my old boss Mark is happy, I'm happy, and now you, too, can stare at the image in a wonderful new book and lament Ned Seeman never having been flown out to Stockholm in acknowledgement of laying the foundation for an entire interdisciplinary branch of science.

"If you don't like it, buy a copy for someone you don't like." – Dafnis Prieto