Astrobiology Tartan

 Jesse Brauner
Astrobiology Tartan

When one thinks of Scotland, many iconic images come to mind; rolling green hills, ancient castles, and Nessie swimming in her loch.

Even more memorable than these, however, is the patterned fabric which has come to symbolize Scottish culture itself: Tartan is the only textile design in the world of which a tiny scrap can evoke such feelings of pride, such identification with the historical struggles of Scots, and identification with those desirable traits associated with being Scottish - honesty, industriousness and bravery in battle.*

Although tartan-style fabrics have a very long history – a good portion of it not Scottish – today these textiles are most famous as badges of identification. Specific colors and their arrangements function as a symbolic language in their own right, representing individuals, families and clans, as well as professional groups, companies, and organizations. To the huge international family of Scots and their descendants - estimated at 40 to 60 million around the globe - tartan represents everything that is admirable and wholesome about the land of their fathers.*

This tartan was designed for Charles Cockell, Professor of Astrobiology at Edinburgh University. Each color carries a specific meaning related to Professor Cockell’s field of study:

•Black background represents outer space.

•Blue squares represent oases of water on potentially habitable worlds, thought to be a necessity for life.

•Green represents life - thin lines tenuously threaded through the Universe and intersecting in water with three green lines representing planet Earth, the third planet from the Sun, the only planet currently known to support life.

•Red lines represent Mars, a planet at the edge of habitability.

•Yellow line represents our Sun, the only star at the current time known to support a life-bearing planet.

•White line represents the colour of the distant stars as seen from the surface of any planet in the Universe - other planets that might support life.**