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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘extraterrestrial intelligence

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Beyond the Beyond notes an image of a wooden model of Babbage’s difference engine.
  • James Bow talks about the soundtrack he has made for his new book.
  • Centauri Dreams considers ways astronomers can detect photosynthesis on exoplanets and shares images of Fomalhaut’s debris disk.
  • Crooked Timber looks at fidget spinners in the context of discrimination against people with disabilities.
  • D-Brief notes that Boyajian’s Star began dimming over the weekend.
  • Far Outliers reports on a 1917 trip by zeppelin to German East Africa.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that there is good reason to be concerned about health issues for older presidential candidates.
  • The NYRB Daily reports on Hungary’s official war against Central European University.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the origins of modern immigration to Russia in internal Soviet migration.
  • Savage Minds shares an ethnographer’s account of what it is like to look to see her people (the Sherpas of Nepal) described.
  • Strange Maps shares a map speculating as to what the world will look like when it is 4 degrees warmer.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that the US Congress does not have authority over immigration.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia’s population will be concentrated around Moscow, compares Chechnya’s position vis-à-vis Russia to Puerto Rico’s versus the United States, and looks at new Ukrainian legislation against Russian churches and Russian social networks.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes how Evelyn Waugh’s writings on the Horn of Africa anticipate the “Friedman unit”, the “a measurement of time defined as how long it will take until things are OK in Iraq”.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • The Big Picture shares photos of the South Sudanese refugee exodus into Uganda.
  • blogTO shares an ad for a condo rental on Dovercourt Road near me, only $1800 a month.
  • Centauri Dreams reports on the idea of using waste heat to detect extraterrestrial civilizations.
  • Crooked Timber uses the paradigm of Jane Jacobs’ challenge to expert in the context of Brexit.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the fishers of Senegal and their involvement in that country’s history of emigration.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares an image comparing Saturn’s smaller moons.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy comes out in support of taking down Confederate monuments.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Chechens are coming out ahead of Daghestanis in the North Caucasus’ religious hierarchies, and argues that Putin cannot risk letting Ukraine become a model for Russia.
  • Arnold Zwicky looks at various bowdlerizations of Philip Larkin’s famous quote about what parents do to their children.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO looks at eleven recent Toronto-themed books, from fiction to children’s literature.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of using waste heat to detect extraterrestrial civilizations.
  • Far Outliers reports on how German East Africa substituted for foreign imports during the blockade of the First World War.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the fall of Rome may have been due to the failure to reconquer North Africa.
  • The NYRB Daily looks at the exuberant art of Jazz Age Florence Stettheimer.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares a stunning portrait of Jupiter from the New Horizons probe.
  • Window on Eurasia considers the idea of containment in the post-Cold War world.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at the British election.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • Anthropology.net reports on new evidence that Homo naledi may have used tools, buried their dead, and lived alongside Homo sapiens.
  • Centauri Dreams remembers an abortive solar sail mission to Halley’s Comet.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the “Apache” dancers of France.
  • Cody Delistraty writes about Swedish futurist Anders Sandberg and his efforts to plan for humanity’s future.
  • At the Everyday Sociology Blog, Karen Sternheimer talks about her day as a sociologist.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the good news that normal young HIV patients can now expect near-normal life expectancies.
  • Language Hat looks at a recent surge of interest in Italian dialects.
  • Language Log looks at the phenomenon of East Asians taking English-language names.
  • The LRB Blog considers the dynamics of the United Kingdom’s own UDI.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the existential issues of a growing Kinshasa still disconnected from the wider world.
  • Steve Munro notes that Metrolinx will now buy vehicles from France’s Alstom.
  • The New APPS Blog uses Foucault to look at the “thanatopolitics” of the Republicans.
  • The NYRB Daily looks at Trump’s constitutional crisis.
  • Out There considers the issues surrounding the detection of an alien civilization less advanced than ours.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the United States’ planetary science exploration budget.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at Argentina’s underrated reputation as a destination for foreign investment.
  • Progressive Download shares some thinking about sexual orientation in the context of evolution.
  • Peter Rukavina looks at the success of wind energy generation on the Island.
  • Understanding Society takes a look at the dynamics of Rome.
  • Window on Eurasia shares a lunatic Russian scheme for a partition of eastern Europe between Russia and Germany.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • James Bow calls for an end to the US-Canada Safe Third Country agreement prohibiting people coming from American soil from claiming refugee status in Canada.
  • D-Brief reports on the vast array of man-made minerals appearing in what is now being called the Anthropocene Era of Earth.
  • Dangerous Minds notes the efforts of the Disco Preservation Society to preserve DJ mixes from 1980s San Francisco.
  • Language Log takes issue with Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s argument that cryptographers, not linguists, would be needed in Arrival.
  • The LRB Blog notes impunity for murderers of civil society activists in Honduras.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen talks about Joyce Gladwell’s autobiography Brown Face, Big Master.
  • The NYRB Daily celebrates the work of Hercules Segers.
  • The Planetary Society Blog is skeptical of the Space X plan to send tourists past the Moon by 2018.
  • Supernova Condensate lists 8 things we know about Proxima Centauri b.
  • Towleroad reports on new walking tours being offered of gay London.
  • Arnold Zwicky engages with a California exhibition comparing paintings with movies.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • blogTO notes the Distillery District’s Toronto Light Festival.
  • Border Thinking Laura Agustín looks at migrants and refugees in James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia.
  • Centauri Dreams suggests that Perry’s expedition to Japan could be taken as a metaphor for first contact.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a report about how brown dwarf EPIC 219388192 b.
  • The LRB Blog notes the use of torture as a technique of intimidation.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at China’s very heavy investment in Laos.
  • The NYRB Daily examines violence and the surprising lack thereof in El Salvador.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw touches on the controversies surrounding Australia Day.
  • Transit Toronto reports the sentencing of some people who attacked TTC officers.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that a Putin running out of resources needs to make a deal.

[LINK] “This researcher wants to initiate contact with Proxima Centauri b”

Astronomy‘s John Wenz reports on a proposal to try to initiate contact with a hypothetical civilization on Proxima Centauri b that does not necessarily leave me cold, or worried. A hypothetical Proximan civilization only a decade more advanced in observational astronomy that us might well be aware of the existence of Earth, could conceivably even be aware of our technological civilization’s existence. A Proximan civilization capable of travelling to us would certainly know this. That said, the critics’ argument that this is the sort of thing that really should be handled by a broad-based coalition also makes sense. If we are going to send out messages, let’s try to come up with some standards, at least.

Douglas Vakoch, the former Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute, is launching the METI Initiative with one planet in mind: the recently discovered planet around Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Earth (and thus the closest exoplanet.)

Vakoch says that METI has more than a few targets in mind, there are a few advantages to Proxima Centauri b.

“First, it’s close to our solar system, keeping the time for a roundtrip exchange as short as possible,” Vakoch says. “Second, some have suggested that this exoplanet is potentially habitable.”

[. . .]

“To be intelligible, any message to extraterrestrials needs to be written in a universal language, and that won’t be English or Swahili,” Vakoch says. “We begin with mathematics, because it seems likely that scientists on any world will need to know at least the essentials of math.”

Then there’s the question of why, which Vakoch paraphrases SETI research Ronald Bracewell in saying that humanity should “join the Galactic Club.” Even bigger, though, is the question of “why should we broadcast that we’re here in case we, you know, get invaded.” Of the many, many things that Stephen Hawking has said publicly in recent years, the dangers of alien contact has come up again and again. Some in the SETI community say a cautious approach should be taken, with a consortium saying, “We know nothing of ETI’s intentions and capabilities, and it is impossible to predict whether ETI will be benign or hostile.”