Sunday, July 17, 2005

Are we smart enough to recognize intelligent life, nanotechnology and ‘Discord in Scarlet’

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Stars - New calculations estimate giant planet formation may take only centuries instead of tens of millions of years. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Abodes - An international team of marine research scientists working for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program have found new evidence that links catastrophic sand avalanches in deep Gulf waters to rapid sea level changes. By analyzing downhole measurements and freshly retrieved sediment cores, the scientists are reconstructing the history of a basin formed approximately 20,000 years ago, when sea level fell so low that the Texas shoreline shifted almost 100 miles to the south. The data are important to reconstructing climate change history and gathering insights about the development and placement of natural resources, particularly gas and oil deposits. See article.
g Life - From the Big Bang, to the formation of galaxies, to the birth of the solar system, to the emergence of life, to the evolution of intelligence and culture, the universe has evolved from simplicity to complexity. We are the result of an incredibly complex chain of events that spanned billions of years. Were those events random, making us unique, or are they in some sense natural, so that technological civilization is inevitable? Put another way, are we alone in the universe, or are we just one among countless other intelligent life forms in our galaxy? Can our understanding of the he development of life on Earth help us assess the likelihood of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos? See article.
g Intelligence - The appearance of intelligence in Earth entails a paradox: We only recognize it and appraise it directly because we are intelligent. Other forms of life, the environment, and now, even the sidereal space, are at the receiving end of our intelligence, our acts and doings, but they cannot understand it. See article.
g Message - Most people see the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence as a project for merely listening for signals from other stars, but Yvan Dutil and Stephane Dumas from the Defence Research Establishment Valcartier in Canada had other ideas in mind when they composed a message recently sent to the stars. See article.
g Cosmicus - Today, in the young field of nanotechnology, scientists and engineers are taking control of atoms and molecules individually, manipulating them and putting them to use with an extraordinary degree of precision. Word of the promise of nanotechnology is spreading rapidly, and the air is thick with news of nanotech breakthroughs. Governments and businesses are investing billions of dollars in nanotechnology R&D, and political alliances and battle lines are starting to form. Public awareness of nanotech is clearly on the rise, too, partly because references to it are becoming more common in popular culture—with mentions in movies (like “The Hulk” and “The Tuxedo”), books (Michael Crichton recent bestseller, “Prey”), video games (such as the “Metal Gear Solid” series), and television (most notably in various “Star Trek” incarnations). Yet there remains a great deal of confusion about just what nanotechnology is, both among the ordinary people whose lives will be changed by the new science, and among the policymakers who wittingly or unwittingly will help steer its course. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “What Space Needs – The Human Touch,” in which students examine the many reasons for people to explore new places vs. reliance on much safer robots. See article.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien biologies/environments? Be sure to read A.E. VanVogt’s "Discord in Scarlet" (1939) in which alien lays eggs in human hosts and out of court settlement is reached for the alien. See article.
g Aftermath - The scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence is accelerating its pace and adopting fresh strategies. This increases the likelihood of successful detection in the near future. Humanity's first contact with alien intelligence will trigger extraordinary attention from the media, from government authorities, and from the general public. By improving our readiness for contact, especially for security during the first 30 days, we can avoid the most negative scenarios — and also enhance humanity's benefits from this first contact with an alien intelligence. Six potential problem areas include communicating with the media and the public, communicating with scientific colleagues, government control, an assassin or saboteur, well-meaning officials and lawsuits. See article.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

No comments: