Sunday, April 24, 2011

Evolution of a super-brain and Star Trek’s Thasians

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 - Astronomers using NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer may be closer to knowing why some of the most massive stellar explosions ever observed occur in the tiniest of galaxies. See article.
g Abodes - Poisonous carbon monoxide gas has been discovered in the atmosphere of the dwarf planet Pluto, after a worldwide search that lasted nearly two decades, according to a new study that also detected the planet's atmosphere extending much higher above the surface than previously thought. See article.
g Intelligence - Could the evolution of the human mind, and its ability to create a potentially infinite variety of thoughts, be attributed to the formation of a “super-brain”? One theory about this collective mind centers around and event that took place in Africa no later than 75,000 years ago. See article.
g Imagining - An early “Star Trek” alien is the Thasians, who serve a deux ex machina role in one episode. The Thasians apparently are a noncorporeal life form that gave a human child incredible powers of telekinesis. Such capabilities, as exhibited by the child (now a 17-year-old teenager) appear to stem from within his own physical being, however. The Thasians themselves also are dependent on the physical reality of a spacecraft for traveling beyond their planet. Of course, how a noncorporeal life form might exist is beyond our physical science, though one might suspect it is an organized pattern of electrical impulses, somehow held together and organized without use of a physical platform (such as our brain cells) — though their powers can be transferred to such a platform, as occurs with the boy. Most likely the Thasians did not evolve as noncorporeal life forms but instead, being eons ahead of us in technology, rely on machines (using teleportation-like technology) to do their work; their own beings might be interfaced with such machines so a mere concentrated thought can command it. The Thasians, thus feeling encumbered by physical form, shifted to another dimension — again, more fiction than reality — where the very nature of that space allows the beings (electrical patterns) to remain organized, and perhaps better able to communicate with their machines. Of course, too little was said about the Thasians in the episode, though the boy did note that the Thasians do not “feel” or “touch” in the same way that humans do.
g Aftermath - How will humanity react when we receive our first interstellar phone call from ET? Though not a new piece, SETI astronomer Seth Shostak offers some intriguing thoughts.

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