Category: Science & technology

LIGO Triumphs Again

Boom:

Some 130 million years ago, in a galaxy far away, the smoldering cores of two collapsed stars smashed into each other. The resulting explosion sent a burst of gamma rays streaming through space and rippled the very fabric of the universe.

On Aug. 17, those signals reached Earth — and sparked an astronomy revolution.

The distant collision created a “kilonova,” an astronomical marvel that scientists have never seen before. It was the first cosmic event in history to be witnessed via both traditional optical telescopes, which can observe electromagnetic radiation like gamma rays, and gravitational wave detectors, which sense the wrinkles in space-time produced by distant cataclysms. The detection, which involved thousands of researchers working at more than 70 laboratories and telescopes on every continent, heralds a new era in space research known as “multimessenger astrophysics.”

I was part of one of those 70 observatories. It was a very exciting week and represents one of the seminal discoveries in astrophysics. It’s a great day to be an astronomer.

Update: If you want to know what I sound like, here I am, talking to our local NPR station.

Another oldie but goody from the long list of Obama got it wrong again

I now have no doubt that Obama was the most incompetent and destructive president of my time, unseating Jimmy Carter, which in itself is some staggering achievement, and that the only way he could have been saved from that distinction was a Clinton presidency. Lucky for the country and the world, and to the chagrin of your usual leftist douchebag and the guilty pleasure of people like me, we were spared that horrible faith. The guy, along with telling lies and lording it like he was an emperor, made it a point to say stupid shit and then be proven wrong. Of course, the LSM played defense for him and would twist itself into pretzels doing so. Let’s not rehash that conversation. After all, anyone still claiming that the bulk of what those of us have been calling the Lame Stream Media for years aren’t a bunch of biased leftists shills – democrat operatives with bylines if you allow this apt label – is themselves a blind partisan hack.

I could wax philosophical about the failures of Obamacare, the lies told to pass it, and the lies now told to keep it despite the fact the thing is an epic disaster, but that’s not what this post is about. I could also go into how I believe that despite the distraction tactics from the dnc operatives with bylines about Russia stealing the election, Trump being a Putin stooge, or focus on how the people that spend decades excusing the evils of communism and the USSR and then made fun of Romney when he pointed out the Russians were a problem now are all up in arms about that red scare they so sarcastically dismissed and defended, eventually all this empty posturing and belly aching bullshit will be swept away by the revelation that it is all smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that the Obama administration used both the US intelligence community and foreign entities to spy on political enemies of the left. Keep your eye on this one, because that is the real big story out there that the left is desperate to destroy Trump over so he can’t dismantle the machine that has been helping the left cover this criminal activity up. But that is not what this post is about either. Shit I could even go into the “I told you sos” I promised the usual douchebags we have here, and there are several of those already, but that’s not what this is about either. No, this post is about a old lie/idiocy told by Obama and the left, when they were hard at work pissing away billions of tax payer dollars on green shit that only served to enrich democrat operatives, friends, and donors. Let me set this baby up.

Remember when black Jesus told the country, during the days of $4+ a gallon gas, with prices going up and no end in sight, that those of us that were saying that the US should drill for oil to lower prices were morons that lacked his nuanced understanding of economics he had? Remember people saying “Drill baby, drill” being mocked by credentialed leftist elite cunts that made fun of how idiotic one had to be to believe that more oil somehow would reduce oil prices? Yeah, these days there is a reason you only hear people that like me knew Obama and the left were full of shit and either idiots or downright contemptible crooks talk about this topic, and that is because those that managed to do the drilling despite the cock blocking actions of the Obama administration, have brought us to this:

The oil cartel roped eleven other petrostates into an agreement to curtail production in 2017 and are currently working on extending that deal, but the output cut’s ultimate goal of eating away at the oil market’s glut of crude is being undermined by the actions of suppliers outside of OPEC—U.S. shale producers chief among them. Now, OPEC is revising upwards its estimates of how quickly supplies will grow outside of its membership this year by a whopping 64 percent. Bloomberg reports:

Production from outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will increase by 950,000 barrels a day this year, OPEC said in a report, revising its forecast up by about 370,000. The projection is four times higher than in November, when the group announced a production cut to try and re-balance oversupplied world markets. Non-OPEC nations pump about 60 percent of the world’s oil. […]

“U.S. oil and gas companies have already stepped up activities in 2017 as they start to increase their spending amid a recovery in oil prices,” OPEC’s Vienna-based research department said in the report. “In addition to the growth in the U.S., higher oil production is expected in Canada and Brazil.”

Some of the most vile entities on the planet are feeling the pain of low oil prices. From Russia to Venezuela to Iran, low oil prices have prevented some of the most vile players from being able to do mischief. Of course in the case of Iran, they are these days not doing so bad after the Obama administration, which lied to the US people and the world at large about getting Iran to stop the production of a nuclear weapons, not only lifted the sanctions on them, but paid them close to a trillion dollars in a deal akin to selling one’s soul to the devil that basically left Iran free to still build a bomb unless someone else used force to stop them. And I love that the usual green peddlers are feeling it too. I am smart enough to see through the lies that government interference will make these technologies more viable. History has proven that whatever government mandates ends up reduced to near non-existent evolution and stagnated high prices. Look at healthcare, cars, and a plethora of other such examples on your own time. They are there if you are not ideologically blind. And yeah, I remember when government could make things happen. Those days are long gone now that government is populated and run by inept and idiotic credentialed elite douchebags.

Back to the main topic: low oil/gas prices. Want to know why we got that?

This supply-side surprise comes courtesy of American frackers, who have seized the opportunity afforded them by the petrostate cuts and have ramped up their own production over the past nine months. By cutting costs and boosting efficiencies, U.S. shale has made itself capable of profitably producing $50 per barrel oil.

This is the worst-case scenario for OPEC: whatever success its production limits have in inducing a price rebound, the fruits of those labors will be enjoyed first and foremost by U.S. companies who will find more of their shale operations profitable at higher prices. With projections for growth of non-OPEC supplies being ramped up so dramatically through the end of the year, it’s clear to see that that’s already happening.

Kiss your frackers when you see them. And if I might be allowed one more comment about the nefarious relationship with Russians, I point you not to the delusional democrat’s usual target – Trump – but to the people that have opposed fracking in the US. Oh, I have heard the counterclaims made by the same dnc operatives with bylines today perpetuating the lies about a Trump-Putin connection and still harping on about a hacked/stolen election, when there has been zero evidence of any sort of connection presented and their choice of words to mask that what happened was that someone did the US voters a favor and exposed the corruption and criminality of the dnc (and nobody even knows if that was the Russians, but they keep pretending it was) so spare me the douchebaggery.

The March for Science

Yesterday saw the March for Science, a gathering of tens of thousands of people to march for more science funding and more science-based policy. I have a few thoughts on this over at my own blog. The TL;DR version is that science is a good input to policy, but it can not answer all our questions. Ultimately, many political debates come down to values. And while the Left is more “rational” and fact-based on certain issues, they can be perfectly irrational and superstition-based on others.

Hawking says that without world government tech will destroy us!

That’s the claim he makes <a href=’http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/stephen-hawking-world-government-stop-technology-destroy-humankind-th-a7618021.html” target=”_new”>in this article. Meh, globalists are getting desperate and even people that are supposed to be intelligent are now talking out of their asses. I find it not just naive but ridiculous to put faith in an entity that couldn’t do the job even at the micro level of states. What, incompetent credentialed bureaucrats like the ones running the EU or the UN will suddenly discover the secret to doing things right? Talk about being delusional. Shit, if the tools that will be running the global government don’t kill us outright themselves, they will use this tech to enslave us. Maybe Hawking thinks that is preferable to his imagined alternative, but I don’t.

Tech won’t doom humanity. Idiots thinking that only they are qualified and know what is best in charge of tech is what will doom humanity, and you are far more likely to get that with a global government than you are without. You want a bunch of social engineering idiots that think their will can bend the laws of nature, humanity, and physics to be in charge? Shit, Obama had the intelligence people spying on everyone, including his personal and political enemies. The Eu is a bunch of unaccountable douchebags that have been screwing over the people of Europe while they live a high life. And the UN, well that is one of the world’s biggest criminal organizations ever. Why the fuck would anyone trust an even larger and more intrusive government to do anything but make things worse for us?

I guess this “cri de coeure” by Hawking is just another desperate attempt at replacing the panic inducing shit other pro-globalization types push, like AGW, to sell their shit sandwich. The globalists are freaking out that their dream is dying, but I see it as a great thing that it is. Credentialed tools should not be calling the shot based on the horrible performance they have produced so far. That’s the real threat to humanity.

Dipping A Toe In

Despite my spidey sense tingling like crazy and that little voice in my head saying, “Leave this one alone” my curiosity and a genuine heartfelt desire to educate myself on a topic I feel limited in, I’m going to throw out another climate change post, but from the position that I would like input from those so called experts for my on benefit.

First a disclaimer, I have no science background and 8 times out of 10 whenever the subject is brought up, it comes from a position of certitude so off putting (the science is settled so get with the program) or it is espoused by those so radical/tyrannical (anyone that denies climate change should be jailed) that my immediate reaction is to change the channel. I admit I must resist the urge to tune out, thus this post.

There is a group of Republicans that formed to address the seriousness of climate change, The Climate Leadership Council. Here is their mission statement;

Mounting evidence of climate change is growing too
strong to ignore. While the extent to which climate change
is due to man-made causes can be questioned, the risks
associated with future warming are too big and should be
hedged. At least we need an insurance policy. For too long,
many Republicans have looked the other way, forfeiting
the policy initiative to those who favor growth-inhibiting
command-and-control regulations, and fostering a needless
climate divide between the GOP and the scientific, business,
military, religious, civic and international mainstream.
Now that the Republican Party controls the White House and
Congress, it has the opportunity and responsibility to promote
a climate plan that showcases the full power of enduring
conservative convictions. Any climate solution should be based
on sound economic analysis and embody the principles of free
markets and limited government. As this paper argues, such
a plan could strengthen our economy, benefit working-class
Americans, reduce regulations, protect our natural heritage and
consolidate a new era of Republican leadership. These benefits
accrue regardless of one’s views on climate science

.

What clued me on to these guys was a WSJ article I read this morning. It is a short piece, easily readable.

I would appreciate Stogy, CM, Hal, and Alex to comment on it from a position of;

Does this make sense to you?
Does it go far enough?
Do you think they have a proper handle of the situation?
Can capitalism/free trade exist in a world where climate change is seriously addressed?

Any other readers who feel compelled to comment is also appreciated.

Naturally I think any “carbon taxes/carbon dividend” steps can only be addressed after real meaningful tax reform, lowering the corporate tax rate and providing tax incentives to facilitate bringing back home the trillions out there overseas.

OK, let me have it.

No way! They lied… Again?

I could set this all up and write as if I am totally surprised to find out that top men at NOAA have been lying again for political reasons, but that stuff is getting old and sad. Lets just read the thing and get to the most recent revelations of malfeasance by the credentialed elite with an agenda:

The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.

A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.

The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers.

But the whistleblower, Dr John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data.

It was never subjected to NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process – which Dr Bates devised.

His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper.

His disclosures are likely to stiffen President Trump’s determination to enact his pledges to reverse his predecessor’s ‘green’ policies, and to withdraw from the Paris deal – so triggering an intense political row.

Where to begin? Tom Brady won a fifth NFL title for New England, pissing off that douchebag Goodell and setting up the stage for a ton of libs pants shitting when he and Bill Belichick meet with Trump and are all happy about it. No wait. That’s a different story for a different day. So I guess I will start with the revelation that this paper was not peer reviewed and was presented as critically important scientific fact by people with an agenda. I wish I could say this revelation somehow was a surprise as well, but considering how much made up shit, rigged data & models, massaged systems that always produce the same cataclysmic results, and whole cloth exaggerations, if not downright making up fake crap, have been part & parcel of this cult, that would drag me down to the level of these people. You of course ask yourself, how could this happen? What about scientific rigor and oversight? Well, here is what we find out next:

In an exclusive interview, Dr Bates accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of ‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’.

Dr Bates was one of two Principal Scientists at NCEI, based in Asheville, North Carolina.

Official delegations from America, Britain and the EU were strongly influenced by the flawed NOAA study as they hammered out the Paris Agreement – and committed advanced nations to sweeping reductions in their use of fossil fuel and to spending £80 billion every year on new, climate-related aid projects.

The scandal has disturbing echoes of the ‘Climategate’ affair which broke shortly before the UN climate summit in 2009, when the leak of thousands of emails between climate scientists suggested they had manipulated and hidden data. Some were British experts at the influential Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

NOAA’s 2015 ‘Pausebuster’ paper was based on two new temperature sets of data – one containing measurements of temperatures at the planet’s surface on land, the other at the surface of the seas.

Both datasets were flawed. This newspaper has learnt that NOAA has now decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming. The revised data will show both lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend.

The land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable’.

The paper relied on a preliminary, ‘alpha’ version of the data which was never approved or verified.

A final, approved version has still not been issued. None of the data on which the paper was based was properly ‘archived’ – a mandatory requirement meant to ensure that raw data and the software used to process it is accessible to other scientists, so they can verify NOAA results.

Get that? The very director of NOAA’s climate data production factory rigged the game to produce the desired results that would fit the narrative by the cultists that the end was nigh. Of course, as we know, this is neither new nor uncommon behavior with these people, whom for some reason don’t lose their scientific credibility after being caught red handed fabricating the results they want to push the agenda, because the whole thing is political.

So since you can’t defend this indefensible anti-science behavior, I expect the cultists to attack a man with the following credentials for not believing the correct dogma that they sell by consensus.

Dr Bates retired from NOAA at the end of last year after a 40-year career in meteorology and climate science. As recently as 2014, the Obama administration awarded him a special gold medal for his work in setting new, supposedly binding standards ‘to produce and preserve climate data records’.

I am certain that this infidel will be punished for letting us take another peek behind that dirty curtain. The sad fact is that these idiots have themselves to thank for the lack of credibility they suffer from, and for the reactions clear thinking people – those of us that respect the scientific process – have towards them. When the crap hit the fan a long time ago when neither the models nor the predictions bore any resemblance to reality, had these people really been interested in making the case with science, the correct action would have been to go back to the drawing board. We got none of that. They basically doubled down on the nonsense, screamed even louder, denigrated and called anyone that pointed out they had nothing to really stand on, accusing them of being deniers, all of which were clear signs you were dealing with a cult.

Revelations like this, only serve to make it even more clear that we are not dealing with anything scientific. Well that and the fact that the solution to this calamity always boils down to some massive wealth redistribution scam that removes more of our freedoms, drastically grows the nanny state, seems to have a scary eugenics bent at its center, and without a fault always serves to enrich a small cadre of establishment credentialed elites. This nonsense has been very lucrative for a connected few, and a costly and idiotic thing for the rest of us. It’s time it died and the reds picked a new calamity to push their agenda with. Maybe a meteorite strike or an alien invasion.

When reality doesn’t back your idiocy…

Alter Reality!:

Whether they admit it out loud or not, many global warming alarmists want more destructive weather events to validate their assumptions. But what happens when they can’t get their “dirty weather,” as Al Gore calls it? Then they’ll just have define down what a disaster is.

Eleven years ago, Gore swore that “the science is extremely clear now.” Global warming was “magnifying” the “destructive power” of the “average hurricane,” he said. Man’s impact on the environment “makes the duration, as well as the intensity of the hurricane, stronger.”

The weather refused to cooperate with Gore and the U.S. went 11 years without a hurricane making landfall. But Hurricane Matthew renewed the alarmists’ faith in their own nonsense. Acting is if 11 days rather than 11 years had passed, Gore said last week that in Hurricane Matthew, “Mother Nature is giving us a very clear and powerful message.” From the same stage in Florida, Hillary Clinton said “Hurricane Matthew was likely more destructive because of climate change.” The Washington Post, ever dutiful to the man-made global warming narrative, asked climate scientist Michael Mann (whose hockey stick chart supposedly proves human-caused warming but fails the test for some) about her statement. Naturally, he told the Post she was “absolutely” right.

Strain though they might, they’re not convincing anyone who isn’t already riding along on the climate-change disaster wagon. And they know they’re not. So the climate-hysteria movement needs a new approach. It has to in essence redefine what a hurricane is so that what had before been tropical storms and hurricanes that didn’t make landfall will in the future be catastrophic “hurricanes” or “extreme weather” events that they can point to as proof that their fever dreams are indeed reality.

After Matthew dumped more than 17 inches of rain in North Carolina, science editor Andrew Freedman wrote in Mashable that “it’s time to face the fact that the way we measure hurricanes and communicate their likely impacts is seriously flawed.”

“We need a new hurricane intensity metric,” he said, “that more accurately reflects a storm’s potential to cause death and destruction well inland.”

The current measure is the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, which, according to the National Hurricane Center, provides “a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed.” But if the intensity of a storm is redefined by using other criteria, such as rainfall and storm surge flooding, the game changes.

“So with a new metric, warmists can declare every storm ‘unprecedented’ and a new ‘record,’ ” says Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot and producer of “Climate Hustle,” a movie that “takes a skeptical look at global warming.”

“This is all part of a financial scheme,” says Morano. “If every bad weather event can have new metrics that make them unprecedented and a record, then they will declare it fossil-fuel-‘poisoned weather.’ Warmist attorneys general will use any storm now to get money from energy companies claiming that their company made tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and droughts worse. They will use any bad weather event to shake down energy companies. That is why the extreme storm meme is so important.”

The alarmists need to redefine hurricanes especially now, since the data show that hurricane and tropical storm frequency is “flat to slightly down,” and science — yes, that “settled” field that somehow continues to discover new things — . They still need to hide the decline, except this time the decline that must be buried is in hurricanes, not the temperature record.

They did it with unemployment and other economic measurement units, so why not with this too?

Scientific American Drifts From Science

A few weeks ago, Scientific American sent twenty questions to the four Presidential candidates, asking for their policy positions on scientific issues. I think that’s a fine idea. The next President will control billions of dollars in federal funding for science, have to set priorities for our various department and agencies that do science and have to deal with scientific issues like disease, vaccines and climate change. These questions won’t reveal much about what the candidates think, but will reveal the kind of people they surround themselves with who actually write the answers. Are they surrounding themselves with real scientists or cranks? Big government lackeys or free market gurus? Earth-first idiots or global-warming-is-a-fraud crackpots?

Having read through the answers, it’s about what I would expect. It’s mostly pablum but gives you a general sense of their philosophies. Clinton thinks government can solve everything, Johnson is very in favor of free markets, Stein is a crackpot and Trump is kind of all over the place. All show some grasp of the issues but differ on their approaches. In terms of the quality of answers, I would rank them Johnson, Clinton, Trump, Stein, but … that is an entirely subjective rating. I rate Johnson high because I favor free markets and Stein low because she’s a crank who favors massive government intervention in everything.

Well, that wasn’t enough for Scientific American, who decided to “grade” the candidates on their answers. They rated Clinton highest (64 points), Stein (44 points), Johnson (30) and Trump (7). But their ratings having nothing to do with the actual science and everything to do with politics.

Both Trump and Johnson are hit for favoring free market approaches to climate change. Why? Because Scientific American doesn’t think the free market can handle climate change. Maybe it can’t, but that’s an opinion not a fact. It’s fine for pundits to have opinions but SA is presenting this as though it is some kind of objective analysis, which it clearly is not.

It get worse. They are heavily biased against Trump, frequently giving him zeros on issues where he’s not entirely wrong. They give him 0 points on education because he favors bringing more market forces to bear on education. Trump may be right or wrong on that (I think he’s right) but they bash him because ITT folded and Trump University was a scam. This has nothing to do with what Trump said. It’s bashing him for things he said outside of the forum and for issues unrelated to what he’s talking about. If you’re going to hit Trump for the failure of ITT (which he had nothing to do with), why not hit Clinton for taking millions in “for profit” college money? Clinton and Trump give basically the same answer on nuclear power, but Clinton gets two points and Trump gets one because reasons. On scientific integrity, they give Trump 0 points because … Politifact has rated a lot of his utterance as untrue. Look, I’ll be the first to call Trump a liar but this has nothing to do with his answers to this specific question. It’s ridiculous.

But it gets even worse. On nuclear power, they give Jill Stein 2/5 points. Jill Stein’s answer on nuclear power is one of the worst answers the entire debate. She plans to shut nuclear power down based on junk science and favors on-site storage based on junk science. Her proposal would almost certainly make climate change worse, not better. And if we’re going to judge candidates by what they’ve said elsewhere, she once claimed nuclear power plants were bombs. Stein is a complete crank on nuclear power. There is no way she should get any points on this. She also get 2/5 on food, even though she’s a complete crank on GMOs and farming.

Nowhere is this bias more visible than the question on vaccines. Trump is given 1/5 for occasionally engaging in anti-vaccine nonsense. But Stein is given 3/5 when her entire party is devoted to anti-vaccine nonsense; nonsense she has not seen fit to dispel. Seriously, Scientific American? Seriously?

I’m glad someone is asking the candidates questions about science policy. But Scientific American needs to just lay out the questions and answers and leave it that. We do not need this kind of biased analysis showing up in a supposedly scientific magazine. Write about it on Politico or Daily Kos or whatever.

You might wonder why this set me off. It’s because this is one of the biggest problems facing science today: the efforts by scientists and scientific publications to wed scientific facts to political opinions. This shows itself most thoroughly in the debate about global warming where disagreeing with left wing policy solutions to global warming is considered a form of “denial” on par with claiming the planet isn’t actually warming. The debate over global warming (and a host of other issues) would be light years easier if we separated those two; if we said “you can accept that global warming is real and not accept my solutions to it”. SA’s “grading” of the answers to the science debate is just the latest in the misguided philosophy of mistaking opinions about scientific issues for facts about scientific issues. And it needs to stop. These issues are way too important.

The Nearest Earth

Well, it’s 24 trillion miles away, but at least we now have somewhere to go once Clintrump send us on a spiral of doom:

In this golden age of exoplanetary science the announcement of a planet 30% more massive than the Earth, in an 11.2 day orbit around a low-mass star with a luminosity 0.15% of the Sun’s would usually elicit little more than a raised eyebrow.

Except for the fact that this world orbits the nearest star to ours; Proxima Centauri.

It means that at a cosmically trifling 24 trillion miles (4.243 light years) from where you are at this instant is an alien system with a planet that could conceivably harbor life as we know it. That planet is estimated to be around 4.9 billion years old, it receives about 65% of the Earth’s stellar irradiation, and its skies – whatever else is in them – are bathed in the red-hued rays of a diminutive star only 12% the mass of our Sun.
Say hello to the closest truly alien world.

The planet was discovered by the very small doppler shift its orbit induces in Proxima Cen. Way back in 1993, I did a presentation in my astrophysics class in which I claimed that this was the best approach to finding extrasolar planets. My professor — who was and is a good friend and a brilliant man — thought I was crazy, that we would never be able to measure doppler shift precisely enough to find Earth-like planets. So every time we do find one this way, I still feel a little thrill of vindication.

There are actually plans to send a probe to a nearby world. Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner is funding a program to send a tiny probe at a significant fraction of the speed of light to a nearby star. It would be a very quick visit. But talking with my exoplanet colleagues this summer, it sounds like he’s serious and this could be done. The main hurdle to be overcome is how to pack it with enough power to transmit a signal back to Earth.

The more we look at the universe, the more ubiquitous we find planets to be. So I’m not entirely surprised by this. The universe is teeming with planets and the number of potentially habitable planets almost certainly numbers in the billions. If we live long enough, we will see a space telescope get a spectrum of a nearby planet’s atmosphere. And then it’s only a matter of time until we find a signal of life in another star system.

In the meantime, let’s hope we one day get off our butts and get moving. The universe is at our doorstep.

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

I see human genetic manipulations as inevitable. Someone will go there, and others will need to follow to keep up. Of course, while I can see the author’s point that the Chinese will go there first, I think they might not actually be the ones to commit the worst offenses. After all, the Chinese are still a post-communist dictatorship, and those leaders are definitely not going to risk their hold on power from a gang of enhanced super-humans. Hence the introduction of a flaw to control them bye, and the proceeding unraveling of the whole thing.

The inevitable reality is that as technology and knowledge advances, it will present us with opportunities that can, and will, lead to bad things. I remember reading a book a while back that basically made the case that the reason humanity was not finding other intelligence out there was not merely because we were looking/listening for the wrong things as some that point out our technology doesn’t lend itself to the overcoming the difficulties of the vastness of space, but that they simply didn’t exist. Civilizations reached a point where their technological advances caused them to tamper with themselves or build bigger and better engines of destruction, with the inevitable consequence that they would wipe life out.

But who knows? Maybe Ideocracy had it right, an the greatest scientific minds will all gravitate to improving erections and solving hair loss, and we will be spared extinction as the stupid people out-breed the others.

The future looks bright!