Have a glimpse of the episode of NOVA that I’ll be on (briefly) this Tuesday/Halloween - re: “Monsters (black holes) in Space!
Alas. It appears I’m only allowed on TV once a week! The History Channel has postponed the prime time debut of "The ArchiTECHS." I’ll announce if/when they re schedule this bold new show -- with its handsome cast (!) taking on futuristic technological challenges. Keep eyes open for the Humvee Episode... and further adventures - brainstorming problems of the 21st Century!
Okay, now hold on through a few more misc items to reach the Scary Story...
The Lifeboat Foundation has been busy. See a reprint of my article Want to Live Forever? about life extension.
The same site has posted a humorous and yet thought provoking essay illustrating GALACTIC WARNING SIGNS - following the yellow triangle motif - but dealing with biggie threats like antimatter, chaotic systems, black holes, bad-memes and so on. A cool ranking of potential existential dangers and way cool for game contexts.
Veering into the past, for a humbling allegory about prediction. Some of these predictions they got right, and some they ... um ... didn't. On the other hand, there was some real wisdom in this 1950 Pop.Mechanix view of the year 2000.
Referring back a bit, to the looming return of traditional human class warfare, have a glimpse of the new world of air travel for the very rich
And, as part of the same trend, see “trickle down” at work. “Sure, Warren Buffet wears cheap suits and noshes burgers at the local diner, but other folks with mounds of moola like to spend, spend, spend. Alas, some confused millionaires need a hand in unloading their dough. Thankfully, for muddled magnates looking for that first helicopter there is a glittering orgy of luxury goods for VIPs and "the political, administrative, business and cultural elite." Yahoo Millionaire Fair. (At least they don’t put a pretentious “e” at the end.)
Those of you who haven’t seen the epochal evening when UCSD honored its “Sci Fi Author alumni” -- Gregory Benford, Vernor Vinge, Kim Stanley Robinson and David Brin, should have a look!
Again re the future! See some of the fantastic renderings of computer graphics images that have already been made for Greg Bear’s EON, in the latest CG Challenge. I’m jealous as heck!
Had enough? But there’s more. I have saved the best (or scary-worst) for last.
The Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a specialized radio telescope now under construction by the SETI Institute and the University of California Berkeley, will be about a hundred times faster than any previous radio search, and will simultaneously pick up all cosmic static between 0.5 and 11.2 gigahertz.
Good luck to them! I have long been a fervent supporter of the passive SETI listening program... while opposing recent efforts to start garishly TRANSMITTING from Earth to howl for attention from the cosmos.
Alas, momentum is building toward the commencement of some aggressive “Active SETI” programs aiming to deliberately shout into the cosmos at a time when we know absolutely nothing about the situation out there.
For an example of this idiocy...
Mexico's Teotihuacan, once the center of a sprawling pre-Hispanic empire, is set to become the launch pad for an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life. Starting on Tuesday, enthusiasts from around the world will have a chance to submit text, images, video and sounds that reflect human nature to be included in the message.
Oh, but this is the tip of the iceberg. There are sober and tenured radio astronomers who plan to do what amounts to the same stunt, or to cooperate with such efforts, without even telling their funding donors.
Are any of you saying Whaaaaa? I don’t recall this being discussed, or my opinion being solicited, when a few dozen jerks decided to start screaming into space without even consulting anybody else to see if - maybe - it might not be such a good idea?
pdf of the essay.
Want to learn more? All right then, in order to give you the creeps on Halloween, I crafted a summary of how a few dozen arrogant science neocultists seem determined to scream into outer space: “Yoo Hoo!” on our behalf... just like the cliched naive-stereotype in some cheap horror movie, without having even a sliver of evidence to support their blithe (if unsupported) assumption - clutched religiously - that the universe is automatically benign.
If you share my suspicion that this is a really, really dumb idea, or simply want to learn more, see collected articles on SETI --with a lot of relevant background material, or see my article: Shall We Shout to the Cosmos?
An added note: we dissenters tried hard to do this sub rosa and in dignified quiet, offering mediation. We have been stonewalled by the insular and narrow community that (alas) some parts of SETI have rapidly become. Deadlines for mediation have now passed. Science journalists have grown aware (see that Nature editorial) that the debate is NOT over whether or not to shout into the cosmos...
...but whether the scientific community - and the public - will even be allowed to know that this is being done! Or whether we’ll be allowed to discuss it in the open, like citizens who have some voice in our own destiny.
For follow-up: See more on the SETI vs METI controversy: http://www.scoop.it/t/seti-the-search-for-extraterrestrial-intelligence