Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rising cyberviolence, ‘Life on other Worlds’ and human interaction with ETI

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. You may notice that this and future entries are shorter than usual; Career, family and book deal commitments have forced me to cut back some of my projects. Now, here’s today’s news:
g Intelligence - Cyberviolence, a form of vigilante "justice" in which a large group of Internet users post attacks against an individual, are increasing in South Korea. Science fiction writers anticipated the idea of cyberviolence a generation ago. In his classic 1975 novel Shockwave Rider, John Brunner wrote about a solution to cyberviolence. One way to do it was to create and set loose a tapeworm that would track down cyberviolent attacks. See http://
g Message - Estimating the frequency for communicating with an extrasolar civilization is a multi-dimensional challenge. The answer, according to two scientists at the Hungarian Astronomical Association, is less like an equation and more like a matrix. See
. Note: This article is from September 2003.
g Cosmicus - For the past three years a Sandia research team headed by Mat Celina has been investigating the performance of various piezoelectric polymer films that might one day serve as ultra-light mirrors in space telescopes. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat teacher info source, courtesy of PBS: “Life on other Worlds: Our Solar System and Beyond.” See http://
g Imagining - Like stories about alien biologies/environments? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for Robert L. Dragon's “Egg” (1980), which describes life on a neutron star.
g Aftermath - As we begin the new millennium, large elements of both the scientific and lay communities are sensitive to the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere. Whereas it is sensible to be cautious as to when unmistakable evidence of ETI will be acquired, some searchers expect this discovery to occur in the near future. From the perspective of our descendants 1,000 years hence, initial contact will be part of history and their attention will be directed somewhere else. At that time, any difficulties or dislocations that occurred during first contact will be long past. Interacting with other civilizations will be no more unusual than interacting with human colonies that will be sprinkled throughout our solar system. One thousand years from now people will be quite different than they are today. Human interaction with ETI could account for only some of these differences. See