Inhabitants of the cosmos

If a team of expert alien astronomers, overflowing with curiosity and equipped with telescopes of similar technology and reach to our own, started analyzing a certain G dwarf star that shines faintly in the distance; and if that faraway light were no other than our very own sun, what could these scientists learn about the third planet that orbits around it? What announcements could they make to the world about the most exciting discoveries of exoplanetary science?

Cosmic Immigrants

The origin of life is undoubtedly the biggest mystery in biological sciences, and one of the most important intellectual challenges of our time. Although we are pretty sure of which were the processes involved in producing the magnificent biodiversity we can appreciate currently in our planet –most likely from a first, unique form of life, as was specified by Charles Darwin– just in what way did this first “proto-cell” form from the original inorganic material?

Whispers in the night

In the absolute center of an old decadent forest, among the grey victims of a stubborn and prolonged drought, remains a single solitary tree, refusing to die. It’s uncovered roots tear through the empty riverbed of a long-gone river, desperately looking for water where only dust still moves. There aren’t any animals left in this abandoned landscape. Forced by need, fearing the loss of the game against natural selection, they have emigrated to new pastures, or perished in the attempt.

Pluto’s heart

Adorning my computer’s desktop you can find, since the first images were revealed to the public, a beautiful photograph –in the highest of resolutions– of a small world that orbits at around 6 billion kilometers from Earth. It is a place as real as the room I’m sitting in, that exists in this universe and can be visited and explored by humans. No longer just an “artistic interpretation” in the old yellowish pages of the books I used to read as a child.

Here be dragons

According to legends, or at least the masterful work of British writer J.R.R. Tolkien, dragons are extremely clever creatures, viciously greedy, jealous of each and every coin that they’ve accumulated in their enormous subterranean hoards. In spite of possessing an acute intelligence and great eloquence in dialogue, it would be an innocent mistake to assume that the beasts have obtained these treasures due to their admirable work ethics, or the honest exchange of goods and services.

The mediocrity principle

Let us imagine for a moment –as Douglas Adams suggested in one of his marvelous writings– that a regular puddle, formed by the previous night’s rain, managed the amazing feat of awakening to self-awareness. Presumably, the first thing our newborn puddle would do is note the beauty of the world that he can now admire, and specially the hole that he’s lucky enough to occupy. Undoubtedly, our protagonist would be correct in noting that the hole he’s in fits him just perfectly.

The thinking machines

If for some unexplainable reason you wish to waste some of the extremely short time you have among the living, I’d be hard pressed to recommend a more futile activity than the filling of one of the thousands of personality tests you can find online. With the scientific rigor of a hunch based on a badly written horoscope, uncountable pages devote themselves to measuring with what character, or country, or vehicle or famous person can your deepest desires and longings be correlated.

The hidden face of the goddess

After suffering a psychotic collapse that would be immortalized in history books –one that famously led him to cut his own ear and give it away to a prostitute– the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh opted to commit himself in the Saint Paul-de-Mausole hospital, located in the Saint-Rémy community. It was an asylum for the mentally ill. There, among the vineyards and olive trees of the French countryside, he intended to escape from what he described in a letter to his brother...