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Extra-solar Angst

Like most people interested in astronomy and astrophysics, I can’t wait for the launch of the James Webb space telescope.  According to NASA it will be able to detect extrasolar planets’ atmosphere and, most importantly, determine if they have oxygen, which would indicate biological life and thus finally tell us if we are alone in the universe.  The work of SETI (Search for Extraterrestial Intelligence) which involves listening for radio signals from distant worlds, is equally fascinating. It’s particularly enjoyable to listen to SETI’s Seth Shostak because he’s so soothingly sceptical and rational, and witches love all that, so here’s a nano-reverie in Seth’s honour. 


Seth Shostak is a clever man,
 he know so much about space and stars and planets and quasars
Of the sorrows of aliens he knows nought
But knows what he ought 
for a physicist
Quasars and pulsars and time travel so respectably astrophysical 
metaphysical-not...
Cigarettes can kill you, as can quasars and comets and neutron stars
But Seth doesn’t know if aliens smoke



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