You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication is a free book (PDF) from NASA. The premise is that communication with alien lifeforms will have some (cautious) analogues to interpreting past cultures, and to the work that anthropologists and linguists do cross-culturally. Among the 16 chapters are: Beyond Linear B - The Metasemiotic Challenge of Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence; Learning To Read - Interstellar Message Decipherment from Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives; and, Mirrors of Our Assumptions: Lessons from an Arthritic Neanderthal.
On September 13, 1999, nuclear waste from Earth stored on the far side of the Moon exploded in a catastrophic accident. The explosion knocked the Moon out of orbit and sent it, and the 311 inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, hurtling uncontrollably into space. Their subsequent trials and adventures were chronicled... in Space: 1999. [more inside]
UFO is a 1970 British science fiction television series about a secret military organization which defends the Earth from Alien invaders. The series was created by Gerry & Sylvia Anderson, who previously created the "Supermarionation" puppet TV series in the 1960's (Thunderbirds, Fireball XL-5), and would later create Space: 1999. The production is highly stylized, from the cars, hair styles, and future fashions to Ebert-worthy parties of the future, mesh space shirts and groovy theme music. [more inside]
A five-part series on the ultimate limit on technology, and how that limit could help us find other civilizations: 1 2 3 4 5 [via]
Are We Alone In the Universe? New Analysis Says Maybe. In a new paper published on arXiv.org, astrophysicist David Spiegel at Princeton University and physicist Edwin Turner at the University of Tokyo argue...using a statistical method called Bayesian reasoning...that the life here on Earth could be common, or it could be extremely rare — there's no reason to prefer one conclusion over the other. [more inside]
You Never Get a Seventh Chance to Make a First Impression: An Awkward History of Our Space Transmissions
Dr. Hoover has discovered evidence of microfossils similar to Cyanobacteria in freshly fractured slices of the interior surfaces of the Alais, Ivuna, and Orgueil CI1 carbonaceous meteorites. The scientist's conclusion is that the fossilized bacteria are not Earthly contaminants but are the fossilized remains of living organisms which lived in the parent bodies of these meteors, e.g. comets, moons, and other astral bodies. The implications are that life is everywhere, and that life on Earth may have come from other planets.
Dmitar Sasselov is an astrophysicist, Director of the Origins of Life Initiative at Harvard and a co-investigator of the Kepler space telescope project to find Earth-like planets around the Cygnus constellation and discover extraterrestrial life. But no matter how successful the Kepler project may be, it still won't answer the most fundamental questions of astrobiology: How diverse is life in the universe? If alien life exists, will it have Earthly DNA and proteins? Or will it run on something else? So Dr. Sasselov has decided to collaborate with two synthetic biologists, asking them to create a life form based on mirror-image versions of what we know as the essential building blocks of living things on Earth. [more inside]
Friday Flash Fun: Color Theory is a puzzle platformer about... um... color theory. And gravity switching. And aliens. Via the eternal font of pleasant time-wasters, jayisgames.
A British tabloid claims that NASA will today announce the probable presence of life on Mars. Planetary and atmospheric scientists from NASA's Mars program will address a press conference at 2PM EST, apparently about concentrated methane
plumesthat bloom and dissipate [pdf]. There was a false alarm about a similar briefing a few months ago; is this the real deal?
Friday Flash Fun: Evacuation is a puzzle game about explosive decompression. Save the crew! Eject the aliens into space by opening the spaceship's doors! The catch: doors of the same color all open together. [more inside]
With all the crystal skulls, nazca lines and such at the box office these days now might be the ideal time to reacquaint yourself with the theories of Erich von Däniken. What better way to do it than by watching William Shatners Mysteries of the Gods ( Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4, Pt. 5, Pt. 6, Pt. 7, Pt. 8, Pt. 9, Pt. 10)(MULTI LINK YOUTUBE SHATNERFEST)
The "Great Filter" is a hypothetical barrier to explain why civilisations are so unlikely to progress to the point of inter-stellar colonisation that we have not encountered any in 40 years of looking. Maybe humanity has already negotiated the filter - as some massive evolutionary improbability - or perhaps it lies in our future as an almost-certain threat to our existence? We should hold our breath as we look for evidence of life on Mars.
It's official. The aliens are coming. In 2017. Turns out they might like The Beatles after all. The UN is on the case. The Hindus are going to be especially upset.
Fears that malevolent aliens will tune into this week's broadcast of The Beatles' song "Across the Universe" have been voiced by scientists.
Who Speaks for Earth? "After decades of searching, scientists have found no trace of extraterrestrial intelligence. Now, some of them hope to make contact by broadcasting messages to the stars. Are we prepared for an answer?"
space war - a little animated clip by Christy Karacas.
"Should we ever hear the space-phone ringing, for God's sake let us not answer". First we are told Space Colonisation is a stupid and expensive idea. Then that contact with space aliens is inadvisable. Maybe David Bowie was right, the government would just ruin it anyway. That's why we can't have nice things.
Tales of Future Past* — It's been a looong Monday. Do you want to get off the planet and out of the city to a place where you can really live? Well, here's some food for thought on the way home down life's highways. First, take a break from all this depressing war talk. Then empower yourself by giving yourself some space and maybe taking off for a few days. Drive just a bit slower, turn up the volume and imagine that your mechanic will say the tranny's OK after all. Once you're in the front door, take time to get slightly wired and forget all about politics. Get recharged for tomorrow: have a nice long bath, put your mind at ease, watch Ur Fave shOw, and listen to some soothing music. Now, don't things look a lot better? [*Note the 'Start the Tour' links at the bottom of each page.]
Voyager's Golden Record This is life on earth 1977 as it will appear when Voyager 1 meets life (ETA 40.000 years from now)... and finds a turntable. Pioneers 10 and 11, which preceded Voyager, both carried small metal plaques identifying their time and place of origin for the benefit of any other spacefarers that might find them in the distant future. With this example before them, NASA placed a more ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2-a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record-a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. Hello, ET!
To celebrate Tom Cruise's wedding, ABC News reprints the 1992 Ted Koppel interview with Cruise's best man, and spiritual leader, Religious Technology Center chairman David Miscavige. It was his first and last significant interview, and you can see why.
The latest on the so-called "Red Rain of Kerala." The authors of this study suggest the mysterious red biological material provides evidence of Panspermia. The BBC offers this updated look at the topic. (Previously discussed here on MeFi.)
How to be an Internet Woo-woo. From fake moon landings and mystery lights to Roswell Rods and Grey Aliens, the Woo-woo Credo gives you the lowdown on being an effective conspiracy theory monger.
"clouds and even rain showers seem to have been spotted on Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Scientists have already labeled Titan a hot spot in the search for extraterrestrial life, and the new work adds to that enthusiasm." You bet it does.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence at HOME This isn't a new site, but there is a new version of the software. It's nice to be able to use your CPU to find ETs while your away from your machine. It is simple and doesn't crash. Check it out! I'm running in on both my NT box and my MAC G4
We are not alone.... a new planet outside of our solar system was found today. It's only a matter of time before the little green men come down to greet us.