This weekend, I watched the movie 'Arrival'. It starts off with the now common scenario of several floating ships appearing in the skies around the world. But unlike most movies in this mold, it focuses on humanity's efforts to communicate with the aliens and understand why they've come. The protagonist is an expert in linguistics. I … Continue reading Arrival, the shape of aliens, and bridging the communication barrier
It's interesting how these related stores seem to come in batches: Alien search won't doom planet Earth, say scientists who want to contact ET | Science | The Guardian. Fears that a major program to contact alien life could spell disaster for planet Earth were dismissed as “paranoid” on Thursday by scientists who hope to beam … Continue reading Alien search won’t doom planet Earth, say scientists who want to contact ET
Seth Shostak has a post up at HuffPost asking what we should say if we ever find ourselves in conversation with aliens. Apparently this was the topic of a recent conference at the SETI institute. Before commenting on Shostak's main thesis, I think he makes an assertion that deserves scrutiny. A decade of research by … Continue reading How should we communicate with aliens? Should we communicate?
Seth Shostak takes a look at the simulation hypothesis, the idea that we are in a computer simulated reality: Is Life an Illusion? | Seth Shostak. ...a future historian (or curious teenager) wielding programming skills and access to a honking big computer could construct SimEarth on steroids. They could, for example, run a simulation of 15th century European society to … Continue reading The simulation hypothesis. Is life an illusion?
Seth Shostak has an article at HuffPost on asteroids. Not the usual we-need-to-prepare-for-incoming, but discussing something I've noted before that the space age needs: an economic incentive. As some of us have discussed, mining asteroids looks like it might be an excellent candidate. These rocks are a resource. The fact that they're in small chunks makes … Continue reading Life on the Billionth Rock From the Sun | Seth Shostak
Forbes has an article up noting that many scientists, including Seth Shostak, are now saying that we could find intelligent extraterrestrial life in the next twenty years. I definitely think we might find extraterrestrial life in that time frame, but I'm pretty skeptical that it will be intelligent. I've written about this before, but the … Continue reading We might find extraterrestrial life soon, but intelligent life?
It's a recurrent experience that never fails to perplex me: Random people will seek my advice on questions of religion. Rather than posing queries about how the cosmos works, they want me to enlighten them on why. Bottom line: We were so ordinary as to be thoroughly invisible -- as would be any other worlds, … Continue reading What Astronomy Says About Religion | Seth Shostak
The other day, I asked if the age of science might eventually come to an end, noting that amateur scientific work has become rare. In this post about the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, whose data findings will be made publicly available, Seth Shostak describes a situation that might enable amateur discoveries again, at least for … Continue reading Astronomy’s Alpha Male | Seth Shostak
Harold Camping died last month. In case you don't remember, Camping, the president of evangelical Family Radio, predicted that the world would end in 2011. Twice. He made these prognostications on the basis of numerology, which sounds like it might be a sophomore-level math subject, but isn't. The data for the calculations Camping used to … Continue reading The End of the World: Science or Religion? | Seth Shostak
What if we could send humans anywhere at the speed of light, and at a rock-bottom price? That's eminently feasible if we send the information and not the protoplasm. No crew, just code. Consider: The human genome consists of about 3.3 billion base pairs. Since there are only four types of pair, that amounts to … Continue reading When Will We Build the Starship Enterprise? | Seth Shostak