Gabriel Popkin as an article at Inside Science about a study that looks at the possibility of intercepting communications between other alien civilizations. The idea is that communicating across interstellar distances is best done with lasers. So far, the optical search for extraterrestrial intelligence has focused mainly on the hope of receiving—and recognizing—an intentional, laser-encoded … Continue reading Eavesdropping on E.T. and the possibility of interstellar travel
Month: November 2014
xkcd: AI-Box Experiment
Click through for full sized version and yellow caption. via xkcd: AI-Box Experiment. I do keep saying that AIs won't want what we want.
The number of senses, free will, and productive reality
Christian Jarrett has an interesting article at BBC Future on the number of senses that we have. The principle of five basic human senses is often traced back to Aristotle’s De Anima (On the Soul), in which he devotes a separate chapter to vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Today, the five senses are considered … Continue reading The number of senses, free will, and productive reality
A cute video, at first, before getting into the darkness of addiction
I consider myself to be lucky that I've managed to only acquire one real addiction: caffeine. I've given it up several times over the years, but always slid back into its clutches. Given that, I have complete sympathy with those caught in the clutches of much more serious addictions, like nicotine, alcohol, prescription painkillers, or any … Continue reading A cute video, at first, before getting into the darkness of addiction
Meditations on Canonicity
Michelle Joelle ponders the evolution of fictional (and mythological) stories, which I found particularly interesting given some of the discussion on the previous post.
How Farming Almost Destroyed Ancient Human Civilization
Annalee Newitz has a fascinating article at IO9 on early neolithic societies: How Farming Almost Destroyed Ancient Human Civilization. Roughly 9,000 years ago, humans had mastered farming to the point where food was plentiful. Populations boomed, and people began moving into large settlements full of thousands of people. And then, abruptly, these proto-cities were abandoned for … Continue reading How Farming Almost Destroyed Ancient Human Civilization
The RNA world
by Matthew Cobb
I have just sent off the final version of my book Life’s Greatest Secret: The Story of the Race to Crack the Genetic Code (to appear in 2015 with Profile Books, and Basic Books in the USA). The book is mainly history, covering the period 1943-1961, but the final four chapters bring the story up to date, describing things like the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome, the development of genetic engineering, and epigenetics.
To celebrate, I thought I’d give readers a condensed version of one of the sections dealing with that exotic-sounding entity, the RNA World.
Proteins and DNA, which are so important to life today, have not always existed on our planet. The RNA machinery that exists in every cell of every organism on Earth, and the ability of RNA molecules to act as enzymes, catalysing biochemical reactions without the involvement of proteins, all indicate that…
View original post 1,466 more words
Elon Musk: Killer robots will be here within 5 Years
Not sure what to make of this one: ELON MUSK: Killer Robots Will Be Here Within 5 Years - Business Insider. Elon Musk has been ranting about killer robots again. Musk posted a comment on the futurology site Edge.org, warning readers that developments in AI could bring about robots that may autonomously decide that it is … Continue reading Elon Musk: Killer robots will be here within 5 Years
SMBC: So, how long do we live?
Click through for full sized version, and for the red button caption. via Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. This cartoon reminds me of one of the objections I often hear to mind uploading, that even if the uploaded mind was identical to the original, there would be a break in continuity between them. I've never quite understood … Continue reading SMBC: So, how long do we live?
Magnets in helmets might make American football safer
A few weeks ago, I linked to an article on the problems with concussions in American football, pointing out that it wasn't just the acute concussions you had to worry about, but the gradual damage from head blows that added up silently over the years. My advice was, if you are a parent, to carefully consider whether … Continue reading Magnets in helmets might make American football safer