At a party a few nights ago a friend approached me with a dilemma. A relative of theirs had died, and the spouse was trying to understand if it was at all possible that there was still 'something' of their partner in existence; a tangible part of their being, an imprint of form or self left in the cosmos. They wanted nothing mystical, just to know if there were any rational, scientific ways in which a human being who was gone could nonetheless continue to be.
A recent paper in Scientific Reports has examined the apparent limits of cosmic conditions through which one of the hardiest types of organism on Earth could survive – the beloved tardigrade, or water bear. The idea behind this work is that we can appeal to the various survival bounds of tardigrades, from temperature extremes to radiation resistance, in order to place an upper bound on the probability of the cosmos being nasty enough to truly eliminate any possible life on a suitable planet.
As I've written about before on these pages, of all the 'Big Questions' in science, the issue of those slippery, tricksy quantities we call consciousness, awareness, and intelligence is one of the most challenging. That's especially true when it comes to any sense of the universality of such things. We're barely beginning to recognize the extraordinarily sophisticated, yet alien, functioning of terrestrial neighbors like cephalopods, let alone any hypothetical life elsewhere.
Muck Rack makes it simple to find people, tweets, or articles that mention any name, keyword, company, hashtag etc. We've compiled this guide to help you make the most of your search.
Selecting a term
Start searching tweets, articles from media outlets, articles mentioned in tweets, journalists'
names, titles and bios with some suggested searches:
Companies or Topics (e.g. iPhone, Microsoft)
Phrases (e.g. "cloud computing") — use quotes to keep the terms together
Twitter handles (e.g. @username) — returns those who have mentioned or replied to
Names (e.g. "David Pogue")
Hashtags (e.g. #sxsw, #london2012)
Bio details (e.g. vegan, Olympics, father)
Muck Rack's Advanced Search allows for many boolean operators.
Find results that mention multiple specified terms, use AND or
+. For example, ensure each result contains both Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg by
searching Obama AND Romney or Obama + Romney.
Use the operators OR or , to broaden your search when you'd like either of
multiple terms to appear in results. (This is the default behavior of our search when no operators
are used.) For example, search for democrat OR republican to find results that refer to
Democrats and/or Republicans.
Use NOT or - to subtract results from your search. For
example, searching Disney will yield results about the Walt Disney Company as well as Walt Disney
World Resort. To exclude mentions of Disney World, search for Disney -World or Disney
When using one of these operators with a phrase, enclose it in quotation marks. For example, you can
find results about smartphones excluding Apple's iPhone 4S by searching smartphone -"iPhone
Exact case matching or punctuation
If you're searching for a brand name or keyword that relies on specific punctuation marks or capitalization, you can
find results that match your exact query by adding matchcase: before the keyword you're searching for, like matchcase:E*TRADE .
Use parentheses to separate multiple
boolean phrases. For example, to find journalists talking about having fun in Disney World or
Disneyland, search for ("disney world" OR disneyland) AND fun.
An asterisk can be used to search for any variation of a root word truncated by the asterisk. For example, searching for admin* will return results for administrator, administration, administer, administered, etc.
A near operator is an AND operator where you can control the distance between the words. You can vary the distance the near operation uses by adding a forward slash and number (between 0-99) such as strawberries NEAR/10 "whipped cream", which means the strawberries must exist within 10 words of "whipped cream".