My 2016 Year in Review, and a New Direction

In 2016, I published 34 articles on this blog (this makes 35), with an average of 1,868 words each (a total of 65,400 words in one year). I started doing weekly blog posts back in July, and I've been continuously posting a new blog every Tuesday since then. Bigger and better content will be coming along in 2017, I can promise you that.

But for now, here are my FIVE most popular articles from this past year, ranked in order:

My intention with this one wasn't to say that we shouldn't be sending humans to Mars. Rather, I wanted to convey that if we are going to send humans to Mars, it should be for the right reasons

Mars Curiosity Surface of Mars
Could microbes be living in Martian soil?
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A few things we ought to consider:

  • The possibility of cross-contamination of the Martian surface, which would make it harder to find Martian microbes (as we'd also be scooping up life from Earth).
  • That we don't need to plant a flag; this isn't the Cold War anymore, and the Outer Space Treaty makes it so that all celestial bodies (including Mars) are considered the same as "International Waters," and thus cannot be claimed by anyone.
  • Mars doesn't need to be a 'backup' planet in case we screw up here on Earth. 

Check out the full article here: "Three Good Reasons to NOT Send Humans to Mars."

In this more recent article, I went deep into the concept of self-replicator probes that would be able to spread throughout an entire galaxy in only a few million years. The implications of this near-future technology are that, considering the Milky Way Galaxy is some 13 billion years old, any advanced alien probes (if they exist) should be everywhere in our galaxy by now.

But we haven't seen any so far. Does this mean we're alone?

NASA Space Probe Artwork
A lone space probe out explorin' the cosmos, as space probes do.
Image Credit: NASA

There are a range of possible explanations for the apparent absence of alien probes, and I explore them all here: "Where are all of the Self-Replicating Alien Probes?"

I also wrote a companion piece to this that describes several different types of self-replicators that could be built for a range of different purposes—from warfare/defense, to exploration, to life-seeding. This article didn't get much attention, but I think it's great (though very hypothetical and Science-Fictiony), so check it out too: "Seven Types of Self-Replicating Alien Probes."

Spoiler Alert: if you haven't seen the movie yet, go see it before you read this post.

Alien from Arrival Movie
An alien tentacle appears from the fog.
Image Credit: Arrival

Arrival was by far the best Science Fiction movie of 2016 and, despite a few fundamental flaws, it portrays a very realistic first contact scenario in which extraterrestrials and human beings may be completely unable to communicate with one another. 

Read about its cool ideas here: "Here are Three Cool Ideas about Aliens from Arrival." 

Made in France in 1902, A Trip to the Moon depicted human spaceflight to the Moon some 67 years before Apollo 11 landed. 

A Trip to the Moon (1904 movie still)
Apparently, being shot out of a cannon is the best way to travel through space. If only Elon Musk knew...
Image Credit: A Trip to the Moon

It's a short and extremely entertaining movie. You can check it out (and read about it) here: "This 114 Year-Old Silent Film is the First Science Fiction Movie Ever Made." 

This one dates back from way before my weekly blog posts began, so it didn't get nearly as much traction as it would have if I had released it within the past two months. So, fell free to re-live it now!

A huge crater in Arizona
Arizona Meteor Crater. Could be a city near you.
Image Credit: Shane Torgerson

I cover the possibilities of asteroid impacts, nearby supernovae, the approach of the Andromeda Galaxy, and our Sun's eventual demise. The good news is that none of these things are likely to happen within any of our lifetimes, so don't panic just yet. Read about it here: "5 Cosmic Catastrophes That May One Day Destroy Humanity."

Also, if you're into this catastrophe stuff, definitely check out my favorite post this year: "Death by CONTROL + ALT + DELETE," where I go into detail about how the entire universe could be running inside of a computer simulation, and what would happen if it got shut down. Yup, I really freaked myself out researching this one.

Moving Forward

2017 will be a year of continued growth. I'll be posting at least 52 weekly articles, averaging approximately 2,000 words each. That's enough content to fill a 300-page novel over the course of one year. A new article will be dropping every Tuesday in 2017.

On top of this, I'm changing the name of the blog to something that's more aligned with the type of content I've been writing as of late. I've been gradually changing things over for a few months, but I've now officially changed the name of this blog to "Death by Cosmos."

I'll go into more detail about what the hell that means in the next blog post, on Tuesday, January 3rd.

Until then, check out a few of the articles you may have missed in the Archive. If you want to contribute to my continued growth, SHARE your favorite articles from this blog to social media. Also, if there are any specific topics that you'd like me to write about in the future, let me know in the comments below or on any of my social media pages.

See you in 2017!

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