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An Economic Answer to the Fermi Paradox?

Those who ponder the Fermi Paradox might want to consider Myrhaf’s solution, one based on economics. If advanced technolgical civilizations really are out there, maybe they simply can’t afford to build interstellar spacecraft. Myrhaf assumes that the only realistic way to travel between the stars is via a slow generation ship, what Isaac Asimov once called a ‘spome’ or ‘space home.’ And he doubts anyone would attempt it.

Expensive? You bet. And maybe there’s no one with the deep pockets to build it. Governments are too inefficient, while capital investment is unlikely because interstellar travel has such a long timeline. Corporate heads looking for return on their investments aren’t likely to have enough patience for a slow boat to Centauri. Charity? Perhaps there’s a hope through what Myrhaf calls ‘committed visionaries,’ but we’re talking investment over the course of generations.

Does any culture have that kind of long-term vision once it develops the technologies that could build a generation ship? There’s a case to be made that by the time the tools are available, the will won’t be there, and thus the solution to the paradox is what Myrhaf says: “Where are the aliens? They’re at home watching TV. When their visionaries knock on the door, they say, ‘I gave at the office,’ then resume watching ‘Alien Idol.'”

Or maybe not. Posit this scenario: A culture at the end of its star’s life must make a decision about how to save itself. Its G-type star, much like our Sun, will swell into a red giant, destroying all life on the inner worlds of its system. But in the process, that star becomes the perfect launching pad for solar sail missions of enormous scope, the kind that could get a generation ship on its way.

Would government, private industry and charity all contribute toward a starship not for exploratory purposes but for survival? The betting here is yes, and in a galaxy filled not with Sagan’s million technological civilizations but perhaps five or ten, star-crossing expeditions like these would hardly be visible to astronomers on Earth. Myrhaf may be right about the cost and the political will, but sheer self-preservation may eventually get at least a few societies to other stars.

One other thought: never rule out the power of compound interest. Couple it with a truly long-term perspective — think centuries instead of single lifetimes — and philanthropy properly applied can work wonders.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Edg Duveyoung November 24, 2006, 11:06

    ljk Says: “As for those who imagine advancd ETI are using cosmic wormholes or astral projection or some other kind of metaphysics, I suppose they could, but until we have any kind of scientific evidence that such things are more than abstract concepts, I think we should keep some kind of grounding on this matter. If they do arrive in our skies out of some rip in the fabric of spacetime and want to uplift us to a higher spiritual plane, then we can have a better grasp on the concept.”

    If we’re to actually communicate about this paragraph’s purport, there’s a lot of words that need defining.

    I have put in a tremendous amount of time conceptually delineating and refining these words: “astral,” “metaphysics,” “higher,” “spiritual,” “plane,” and “grasp.” These are not trivial concepts. They have very delicate meanings, and if one is using them even slightly differently from another’s usage, then a gross miscommunication can occur.

    I am not wanting to have merely arbitrary definitions for these words — “arbitrary” meaning simply my “opinion.”

    To me, after decades of honing my usage of these words, each and all, are real, measurable, “things.” (There’s another “level” of reality where “thingness” cannot exist, but I digress. I’m hoping to stay within this audience’s generally accepted definitions of what’s real.)

    Certainly with brain wave monitors, different states of the brain can be identified, and a person experiencing some of these states can report phenomenon that precisely correlates with the monitors — if the machine measures waves that indicate a dream state, for instance, the person will report a dream occurring. This is not an “angels on a pin head” situation. This is actual “mind reading” using a machine. It is gross, and hardly useful, but it’s a start, eh? It requires little imagination at all to speculate that one day a machine will be able to tell if one is having a “good” or “bad” dream by measuring not only brain waves, but also chemicals in the blood, “lie detector” type measurements, and other measurements from more sophisticated instrumentation — in the future we can see that “how we talk about” what’s going on inside a mind can be “scientific.”

    As precision improves, “astral” is but one word that might start having a meaning that, despite the definition being “real world only,” will satisfy the mystics. Just suppose it is eventually made possible with such monitors that we can definitely know when a mind is thinking about a precise thing — not just doing a general activity like “dreaming. ” How long before a scientist can say, “We can tell when you’re thinking about your mother more easily than an apple, because “the mother dynamic” is a “more active” state than the “less psychologically stimulating” concept “apple.” Certainly this is not out of the question. Certainly “very dynamic thought forms” will be identifiable.

    Proof? Already, there’s programming and machines out there that recognize if one’s mind has seen something in the past and is seeing it again. A real life company is promoting this very technology to be used as authoritatively as fingerprints-at-the-scene-of-the-crime, by monitoring a person when they are shown objects from a crime scene. Only a person who had been at the scene will “trigger the machine’s sensors” when an crime scene object is shown while other objects not at the crime scene show no “recognition by the person” as far as the machine can measure. So mind reading is “here now,” but it is not mainstream yet. No court backs up this technology yet, but look how long it took for the courts to validate fingerprinting?

    Thoughts are real, eh? But they’re very slippery, effervescent, seamless, idiosyncratic — a host of problems that will obscure machine interpretations, but, again, it’s a start, eh?

    So, take it another step. One day, will a priest say to a child, “No, you are not saying that prayer correctly — you’re not engaging your heart — there’s not a trace of the “heart chemicals” in your blood, and your limbic region is not even past the 10% stimulation level yet.” That sort of thing.

    See? Mind stuff can get be handled scientifically.

    Just so, definitions — physiological parameters — can be agreed upon for, say, “spiritual” in that a scientist can say, “Hey, if you keep thinking like that, you’re doing yourself a lot of good, because those thought processes “clean out the brain,” or “stimulate neuron repair,” or “lessen free radicals,” or ?????, and persons who do this regularly are known to have less fear-processing. Would it surprise anyone here if such precision one day makes “spiritual” thinking a “daily must-do?” Indeed, I know of one religious group that measures brain waves and announces if the person is being spiritual during meditation or “just thinking.” And they’ve got a stack of research papers two feet high to back up “their play.” Mainstream science is still scoffing at this group, but, again, it’s a start, eh?

    Is one “higher” spiritually? I believe there’s a real world answer — or there will be answers in the near term.

    The above is not new. Visit the Web sites that I do, and you’ll find that this kind of thinking is widespread. To me this is the process of convergence. Scientific spiritualists and spiritual scientists are interacting. Something will come of this. Polarity evolves to unity.

    As for the word, metaphysics, it may be some time before convergence is complete. “Beyond physics” is at least one way of saying “not real.” Plato’s archetypes of thought may someday be “findable” in any nervous system. Where my mind ends and yours begins may become as hard to define as waves and particles — it may become true that your mind is my mind “some of the time” — just like Schrodinger’s Cat is dead or alive — take your pick. Are you in quantum resonance with another mind? There might be a way to answer that question — someday or a lot sooner.

    And powers of the mind that now are so draped with religious dogma might emerge as “abilities of the mind that need bio-feedback to enhance an individual’s ability to use them” — practice sessions might generate surprising abilities that now are merely “psychic hotline crappola” to science today.

    Will an advanced civilization have evaluated these kinds of possibilities, come up with instrumentation of exceeding subtlety, found ways to connect mental operations to the external world — think a thought and a machine somewhere gets its marching orders, and ????? Of course. A.E. Van Vogt explored in The Silkie how mental powers can transform physicality enough for interstellar travel.

    How far from this kind of thinking is modern science? Not far. A hundred years from now, we may all be so enmeshed in “machine amplification of mentality” that we’re cyborgs. Five hundred years from now, what?

    Anyone landing on planet earth will have found a way to “make all the above” real, practical, common — if they had enough time to develop interstellar travel, then they’ve had enough time to also achieve similarly “stellar” accomplishments in thought-control.

    We’d be more prepared for them, if we took our inner worlds seriously enough to “travel” in them as much as we want to travel amongst the stars.

    Edg

  • Brian November 24, 2006, 13:54

    Adam
    Good point about space-nomads though. If you spend so long in a ’spome’ you might not want to do anything more in a star-system than have a look and fuel-up for the next destination.

    I suspect there is going to be a variety of opinion on the matter – factions will want to stay behind, factions will want to continue the voyage.

    If the spome leaves behind groups to settle the solar system this does not seem at all a bad idea.

  • Ronbo November 25, 2006, 1:52

    I’ll give you two answers to Fermi’s paradox (for the price of one!): time, and standards.

    The time one is simple: The universe is vast not only in space, but in time. This planet has been around for perhaps 3.5 billion years, give or take a week in Maui. The universe, perhaps 12 or 13 billion years.

    Humans, on the other hand, didn’t even start to split off from our primate relatives until a paltry few million years ago, and didn’t come in to our current snazzy upright-walking opposable-thumb selves until the last few hundred thousand years.

    On top of that, if Klaatu dropped in to mutter “Nicto baradis” any time earlier than the last couple of centuries, we’d have no more than yet another minor myth or legend. Even that assumes our space traveler happens to land in one of the more literate parts of the planet: pop in on some remote, technologically primitive humans, and the visit would remain unknown.

    So your visitors must find us in a fairly short time frame – let’s be generous and say the last few thousand years – out of the last 12 billion or so.

    Now toss in what I call Darwin’s answer to Fermi’s paradox: your aliens are evolving, changing, moving to some higher form. There may be only a window of a few million years in which our type of intelligence and life form is remotely interesting to them, or they are remotely recognizable as a life form, by us. For all we know, with a couple of million years to advance, a sentient life form colony could be residing inside the sun, at the core of the earth, swirling about in our own atmosphere – and we just don’t recognize then, any more than a slug recognizes us.

    To contrast with the time paradox, I offer a second possibility: ethical standards. It’s the old Star Trek prime directive: the aliens don’t interfere with our primitive selves until we’ve acheived a certain level of sophistication (don’t want the rubes crashing the party). But I’ve always thought that instead of those standards being based on the *best* a society could acheive, a highly advanced species would have highly advanced ethics, and might judge us on the *minimum* we acheive.

    Perhaps their standards are actually quite low: when you’re able to feed, clothe, house, and provide other basic needs for your population – every human on the planet – you get admitted to the interstellar club.

    A modicum of technology needed, but a measure of kindness required. Perhaps all we need to do is shelter that last homeless person, feed that last hungry child, provide care for that last sick soul, and we’ll be handed the keys to the galactic kingdom.

    It’s an ironic thought: that our competitive and territorial natures that have driven so much of our acheivement (and destruction) will keep us quarantined from interstellar contact.

  • Adam November 25, 2006, 8:56

    Hi All

    A slight correction to my reference to Zubrin on visual detection of a starship. He claimed that an amateur could detect it at 1 ly, Palomar could detect it visually at 40 ly and the HST at 300 ly – assuming a 120,000 TW output from a photon-rocket glowing at 2700 K focussed into a cone 60 degrees wide. Problem is, thanks to a HyperPhysics calculator online, visible light is only 5% of the output so reduce his figures by 4.47. The other problem, the real one, is that a photon rocket at 2700 K just won’t work – not hot enough. The radiator for 120,000 TW is about 200 Km across! Photon rockets need to run about 10 times hotter or so, thus about 1/100th of the radiator diameter I quoted. Interestingly now the visible light power is 5.5% of the total. Thus massive photon-drive starships could be seen by the HST at 70 ly. That’s pretty good, but of course such a dim source would be missed amongst any number of dim sources. HST is too busy for such a search.

    Also at 0.4c a receding source is red-shifted and the visible light fraction drops to just 2.4% – 46.5 ly range for the HST, just 6.2 for Palomar and just 0.155 ly for a good amateur scope. So odds are we haven’t spotted a starship accidentally yet.

    Adam

  • Edg Duveyoung November 25, 2006, 9:12

    Ronbo — now that’s how to think with the heart-gear engaged. And that’s the message that’s espoused by all religions — love thy neighbor as thy Self. No proof can I offer, but it tickles my mind that Mohammed or Buddha or Jesus or Krishna or any great personage/divinity from any religion, could very well have been a member of the advanced guard of galactic civilizations. Delicious the concept, eh? They could have landed from beyond the beyond — as if arriving here on earth as a virgin to humanness itself — whose mission is/was to point our species, again and again, down the right roads — the infinite roads to the truth within, and the infinite roads that allow outwardly manifest expressions of the deepest quality of life: love. And I use the word “deepest” with certainty.

    Love is truly the core of human experience. Most folks don’t get this, though they sincerely think that they do.

    Love is not attachment to the objects of one’s consciousness. Attachment to anything, even one’s concepts about God, is an addiction of the mind that must be avoided. Ask any angel about entrapment; ask about their unending thinking of holy thoughts instead of BEING the Silent Love. Ask any angel about the constant droning of their heavenly brains. Ask any angel if it’s possible to stop mind-jabbering about sacred concepts, sacred perceptions, sacred duties, sacred existence.

    Having any concept, any object in one’s awareness and treating it as an absolute necessarily leads to failure of the soul. Even the worship of angels is a dead-end, non-evolving, spiritual cul-de-sac. Every religion that I know of, no matter which ancient culture started it, has allowed itself to erode the “first message of complete surrender of one’s mind-body to the effortless flow of wisdom from within” and toggled it over to the “dark side.”

    The dark side is where folks (angels too) believe that their concept of God is the only valid concept possible. Spiritual fascisms are thus born. They say that angels cannot close their eyes — so addicted to the Godhead are they. That’s the tar-baby that has caught anyone who enters into absolutism — judging despite being thus condemned to being judged the same way. Ask Jacob Bronowski about absolutism as he stands in the ash filled stream outside of Auschwitz.

    As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Take heed all. Worship not any concept less ye be judged by your adherence to it. And, isn’t science exactly saying the same thing? Isn’t every scientist saying, “Okay, I’ll look at your data that you think supports your concept about reality, but, hey, who’s kidding who here? No one brain is smart enough to iron out every wrinkle in a theorem. Every new concept presented to the world is evolved by our peers to a more subtle truth — a truth that eventually transcends the concept itself.”

    Ask Thomas Kuhn. Ask the ghost of Einstein about how his theories have been refined by others. They knew that a concept, any concept is a living evolving entity from its birth to even its death — each nervous system that harbors a concept molds it, spices it, taints it, veneers it with the history of thoughts. This is science.

    And this is the reason that founders of religions — the first scientists — speak of love without boundaries. Here is a man in a ditch, hurt, desperate, and emplaced there by his own actions. Does your inner Samaritan pause to think a thousand condemning thoughts, or does it not tarry even a moment as it stoops to help? When today’s scientist finds a concept in a ditch, dirtily ill formed, sickly fuzzy in its verbal embodiment, does he stoop and swoop it up knowing that any concept, no matter how poor, can be nurtured to health, or does he condemn it and refuse to honor it with attention?

    What you have done to the least, you have done to Me. If I knew all there was to know about peanut butter, I could levitate.

    A holy scientist will know that given enough time, given an intelligent enough brain, any concept can be refined until it is found to be springing forth from the source of all truths. Even going in the “wrong” direction — taking an untrue concept as true — if one’s awareness is deep then even the concept of phlogiston leads one to the truth about fire. This is the stance of the holy scientist; any deeply examined phenomenon funnels one’s mind toward truth. A truth Plato spoke of as the light — not the shadows cast by it on the cave wall.

    Heisenberg flirted with uncertainty in the same way that Stahl danced with phlogiston. Attending. Attending. Attending. Heisenberg’s deeper mind came to the Godel-point, but Stahl, ahem, stalled. Heisenberg came to know that conceptual absolutism about electrons can only lead to partial truth about electrons. He knew that electrons are concepts that passeth all understanding. He saw the sacred deeper inexpressible truth. Despite the certainty of his math, he knew that the best any mind could do was to beat about a bush until the bush was thus outlined.

    Just so, Ronbo, may our space Samaritans await the least sign of breath from us. Breath: a processing, an ebbing and tiding of each concept’s intellectual embodiment that seamlessly entwines it with all concepts and eschews none. Come unto me all the children of the mind and rebuke them not, for verily each one is a doorway to innocence.

    The mystics nudge us to one truth only: innocent awareness is love. Attending anything deeply is worshipful and leads to the source of all truths. Consciousness harbors all things without judgement like the screen that a movie is projected upon. A terrible fire in a movie on the screen does not burn the screen. Movie water doesn’t wet the screen. A movie arrow can not hit anyone in the audience. The screen’s nature is the nature of consciousness. Thoughts come and go, but the screen, one’s SELF, remains untouched, and every concept can only exist because of consciousness being there a priori.

    If you are reading these words, it can only be because YOU are witnessing the brain’s processing. Only YOU are aware. The body, the brain, the mind itself — these are objects in YOU — consciousness — objects on YOU the screen. YOU — AWARENESS — THAT is the love that every religion glorifies. Your soul witnesses the parading concepts, the river that cannot be stepped into twice. This is what an alien Samaritan might be waiting to see as a sign of life worth saving — life that embraces its SELF, knows the holiness of any embodiment. Life that will understand that an intelligent being living inside the sun or at the bottom of Jupiter’s poisonous oceans might still, despite the enormous skewing of their vantage points, come to know the sacred truths.

    Maybe then, the horrifyingly visaged, the insectoid, the gruesome — the unknown — can land a ship here and be given our deepest welcoming.

    Edg

  • Adam November 25, 2006, 17:44

    Hi All

    Nice thoughts, Edg, on fellowshipping with the truly alien. That will be quite a shift in consciousness for all concerned as we’ll be fighting our ingrained percepts on ‘Personhood’. There’s so many cues from other humans that cause us to classify them as ‘Another Person Like Me’, many we’re unconscious of until the rules are violated – the white of the sclera of our eyes is one we react to, especially in reconstructions of palaeo-humans. Would Museum statues of ‘Lucy’ look so ‘ancestral’ without such subtle cues?

    I read an old “Astounding” story from 1937, “Something from Jupiter”, which is one of the earliest stories I know which has a sympathetic portrayal of repulsive alien lifeforms – ammoniated mollusc-like Jovians. Earth is dying because of a change in Solar luminosity and the lone-inventor has established contact with the Jovians asking for help. They cart him off to Jupiter, convert him into a low-temperature hydrogen breather by their advanced medical technology, but then he helps them with a problem on their Ganymede colony, so they send a high-speed impactor into the Moon, creating a vast dust-shield to cool the Earth. An unusual story for the time because the aliens are benign enough to care and advanced enough to do something about it.

    Adam

  • pub November 25, 2006, 18:28

    Geeze, what narrowminded anthropromorphism. Even beyond that, I would say classist, racist even? One need look no further than our own planet to see there is such a cultural range that while the above may apply to Western and European nations in the early 21st century, could it apply to entirely different societies and at different times?

    Mr. Myrhaf’s childish little big mouthed theories would be an insult to lay onto the ETs that are already here, have been, and continue to take an interest in our development.

  • Edg Duveyoung November 25, 2006, 18:51

    Adam,

    I owe Olaf Stapledon a deep debt for his Star Maker and his Last and First Men. The breadth of his vision of reality blew me away…..40 years ago.

    Since then, I’ve come across so many bigger visions of existence that Olaf’s imagination is eclipsed, but what a direction he pointed my mind!

    In my mind, I imagine meeting Olaf, and, of course, first, I bow.

    Edg

  • Eric James November 26, 2006, 3:08

    My old Political Science professor saw conspiracies everywhere. One of his favorites was the mainstreaming of aliens in society via entertainment media. He was particularly fond of the indoctrination given to our young children in the form of the Teletubbies television show. He was quite assured in his opinion that this meant we’d have full alien contact within a generation.

    I didn’t bother to ask if Barney the Dinosaur was an allusion to the development of time travel.

  • Administrator November 26, 2006, 13:20

    It’s fascinating to see how many theorists give a nod to Olaf Stapledon, just as Edg does above. The man’s work was one of a kind, speculation on a titanic scale. There is much more I want to discuss in coming days about Stapledon.

  • Edg Duveyoung November 27, 2006, 14:59

    Here’s an interview with a Buddhist that touches upon so much that we’re talking about here.

    http://www.salon.com/books/int/2006/11/27/wallace/index.html

    Of course, I left my comments there, and the Buddhist might take offense, but hey, I like poking at Buddhists, so sue me.

    Edg

  • ljk November 27, 2006, 16:56

    Maybe that is why we haven’t heard from ETI:

    They are all gazing at their navels, or whatever
    equivalents they have.

  • J. Galbraith November 27, 2006, 18:30

    Mckenna, Bohm, Bearden, Sheldrake, Greer,Spring Forest Qigong, Seth Material etc. the universe is a freaky place. and I am getting pretty bored with the stuff they teach in college which seems so unimportant compared to stuff like this and what you guys are talking about. Try getting through stat 218 after reading some of the above but make sure you have mastered Spring Forest Gigong before you read Bearden or Greer you will need it.

  • Casey V November 28, 2006, 13:31

    Gaining a position beneath the wing of another is to fully under-explore ones own consciousness and power. Why be given wings if one chooses never to fly. The wings are, of course, the concepts of others – Run with them.

  • 3vilGUI November 29, 2006, 16:04

    I think the only chance we have is to build a powerful engine capable of lots of speed then transport a device and somehow use chips to upload are minds
    and build robotic/synthetic body’s with the technology available.

  • Kal November 29, 2006, 16:08

    I don’t know if the human race is worth saving, maybe in far future everybody will get intelligent and responsible towards one another. Right now I’m for the doom of the human kind, save the animals if you care about them.

  • Mike November 29, 2006, 16:49

    I don’t think this hypothesis carries much explanatory power. Why would all alien cultures necessarily be capitalist? It’s a mistake to assume aliens will operate by the same rules of reason we do.

    In fact, even we don’t reason very well. Consider e.g. religion. Religious dogma is an extremely powerful motivation for many people. Churches can be extremely wealthy. It’s not difficult to imagine a persuasive religious movement aggregating the resources required to launch an interstellar spacecraft. And the religious delusion could be even more prevalent in nonhuman societies.

  • vega November 29, 2006, 22:34

    It boils down to patience and reward. Human beings don’t have enough patience to embark on something that will take hundreds of years. They don’t have the faith in their fellow man to carry on the work after they have gone, to complete the end goal. They see little in embarking on an effort when they won’t live to see the reward.

    It will take a major human evolution of technology, mind and body to acquire our sci-fi fantasies. Then again, who says we are worthy to travel. Look what we do to our own species and planet…

  • iwannago November 30, 2006, 0:39

    Why do we really need to be exploring other galaxies – we are so far apart, why would we need to go there. If our sun blows up it blows up, we are over. If we colonize elsewhere, it would merely be a fraud.

  • Sickmind Fraud November 30, 2006, 0:52

    It seems to me that the polynesian model for exploration is the most practical approach, especially if there is no light speed or FTL technology available. The essential requirements include

    1) the ability to make the required transits in several weeks (i.e. a month or two) not in several months (i.e. a year or two)

    1a)The transits to the inner solar system in several weeks require one level of technology. The transits to the outer solar system in several weeks require another level entirely.

    1b)Transits between the outer planets are still going to take a long time. I t probably doesn’t get any better in the Oort Cloud

    2) The ability to ‘live off the land’ when you get there, even if it is not that bright/sunny out there

    3) The ability to make more in terms of transportation and other resources.

    4) The ability to survive major issues such as human politics, radiation, system breakdowns, etc…

    The model is small space ships gradually moving out through the solar system and the Oort cloud, like the polynesians moving out through the Pacific Ocean on their voyages of exploration.

    Space is a very unforgiving place. You have to get it right the first time. and have the resources to get it right if you really do mess up. Or even if you don’t, but are just unlucky.

  • VJ November 30, 2006, 2:38

    How long did we have the ship before earth was explored fully? And, now how long have he had the power to go to the moon?

    The drive to explore and find new worlds has been part of our collective consciousness right from the beginning. We arent even on Type 0 of the Kardashev scale. Arent we presumtpuous to think about interstellar travel right now? We have glorious solutions for the simplest of problems. We complicate things trying to find an answer. As a species I think we would first need to develop some level of collective consciousness. Something like a jellyfish. A colony of humans with a collective brain. Now when we talk about advanced civilizations, it wouldnt be wrong to assume that they might have reached this level of developing some kind of collective brain for their planet or heck even an interstellar galactic brain with the cooperation of multiple civilizations.

    For such a civilization, why would they be prepared to explore? Everything is already known to them. What would be their purpose for existence? Certainly not hedonism and not knowledge seeking either. Without any purpose, life would tend to be extremely boring. That kind of a civilization would be more interested in things which physics doesnt allow them to – changing constants, or even creating life or other universes. They would want to play god.

    Now what if this had already happened? Maybe its just an endless cycle. Maybe someday we would be able to develop a collective brain and reach out to another planets brain and so on…and maybe one day, we would start experimenting and start playing god!

  • ljk November 30, 2006, 5:37

    Kal Says:

    November 29th, 2006 at 16:08

    I don’t know if the human race is worth saving, maybe in far future everybody will get intelligent and responsible towards one another. Right now I’m for the doom of the human kind, save the animals if you care about them.

    Yes, let’s doom the human race – that’ll certainly make
    sure we have the chance to develop into a mature species.

    Then again, scientists just figured out that whales may be
    even smarter than we thought. No wonder that Big Black
    Space Cigar came to Earth only to visit them in Star Trek 4:
    The Voyage Home.

    As for that other comment about colonizing other solar
    systems being a fraud: What?? Our Sun is going to die in
    a few billion years (but not by blowing up – read an astronomy
    text) – so we should just give up now? Oy, no wonder that
    nobody else in the galaxy wants to deal with us.

  • Geek Jedi November 30, 2006, 9:44
  • Brian November 30, 2006, 12:54

    VJ: “Arent we presumtpuous to think about interstellar travel right now? “

    Well .. no. We’re not sending designs out to a shipyard we’re kicking the idea around over coffee (as it were) so when it DOES happen we’ll have some ideas about how to proceed so we’re not making it up as we go.

    It is certainly possible that some people in this thread will be around then – and not beyond imagining that some of them might be on the planning board.

    That thinking ahead thing is a good idea.

    As a species I think we would first need to develop some level of collective consciousness. Something like a jellyfish. A colony of humans with a collective brain.

    Ugh. I don’t know what you’d call people like that but human .. no. Besides we’ll get the next best thing by having a cybernetic hookup – you’re using a primitive version of that right now.

  • bigdan201 December 9, 2006, 4:32

    edg doveyoung had some very interesting posts in here..

    Interstellar exploration and colonization is the single most important goal of humanity to ensure our survival and growth. The clearest way to do this that i can see is Foldspace.. using gravity to actually bend and fold the fabric of space-time. This way, we could travel a very short distance and skip to alpha centauri or wherever else we want to go. The distance would only be limited by how much gravitational power we could muster up.

    It’s still a very long way off – but its the best solution i could see for crossing the huge expanses of space.

    Until then, we’ll probably hang out in our solar system and expand however we can here. But I can’t wait until insterstellar travel, its the next huge step.

  • Timothy J Mayes March 8, 2007, 15:10

    Capiltalist economys can afford to build atomic or thermonuclear pulse
    drive starships that can achieve perhaps 10 or 15 % of light velocity.
    Antimatter is so terribly expensive to produce in quantity and store it artificially that only a society that has a socialist economy , and purely altruistic motives can afford to use antimatter-matter annhilation rockets for interstellar space flight at up to perhaps 50% or 80 % of light velocity.
    tim

  • ljk August 6, 2007, 12:33
  • ljk May 21, 2008, 16:25

    Coming of Age in Second Life

    An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human

    Tom Boellstorff

    To read the entire book description or a sample chapter, please visit:

    http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8647.html

    Millions of people around the world today spend portions of their lives in online virtual worlds. Second Life is one of the largest of these virtual worlds. The residents of Second Life create communities, buy property and build homes, go to concerts, meet in bars, attend weddings and religious services, buy and sell virtual goods and services, find friendship, fall in love–the possibilities are endless, and all encountered through a computer screen. Coming of Age in Second Life is the first book of anthropology to examine this thriving alternate universe.