Archive for the ‘science’ Category
They have found, definitely, 306 new extra-solar planets, including 5 systems with multiple planets. Unlike previous searches, most of the planets that Kepler found are Neptune-sized (the smallest gas giant in our Solar System) or smaller!
That’s very, very promising! But they’ve left us with the ultimate teaser: they are withholding data — for a year — on 400 particularly juicy candidates!
What did they find? Are they Earth-sized planets? Are they planets in the habitable zones around their stars? Are they “just barely” detections, and they want to get some more data?
If we assume that each one is a planet, that brings us to 706 planets around 100,000 stars. Since our galaxy has around 200 billion stars, we can figure out that there ought to be — wait for it — at least 1.4 billion planets in our galaxy!
And that, mind you, is a lower limit, as this only will see planets orbiting edge-on to their stars! But it’s the biggest lower limit we’ve ever been able to set, and you’re among the first to know!
by a 500fps camera placed at level0 of the umbilical launch tower.
The Mars Express VMC team here at ESOC are delighted to publish today’s special treat: a movie carefully compiled from 600 VMC images snapped during a single, complete 7-hour orbit on 27 May 2010. This video shows what future astronauts would likely see from their cockpit window: Mars turning below them as they sweep in orbit around the Red Planet, our beautiful planetary neighbour!
In the year 2050, if Ray Kurzweil is right, nanoscopic robots will be zooming throughout our capillaries, transforming us into nonbiological humans. We will be able to absorb and retain the entirety of the universe’s knowledge, eat as much as we want without gaining weight, shape-shift into just about any physical form imaginable, live free from disease, and die at the time of our choosing. All of this will be thrust on us by something that Kurzweil calls the Singularity, a theorized point in time in the not-so-distant future when machines become vastly superior to humans in every way, aka the emergence of true artificial intelligence. Computers will be able to improve their own source codes and hardware in ways we puny humans could never conceive. This will result in a paradigm shift that sees mankind coalescing with its own creations: man and machine, merging into one.
I have very little time for Kurzweil.
My reading of his work (full disclosure: not all of it) gives me a strong sense of deja vu, because I was reading this shit back in the very early nineties, in places like the Extropy-L mailing list and in books by Moravec and Vinge and elsewhere.
Kurzweil seems to me to be claiming to have invented a lot of the ideas he’s working hard to popularize, and that’s just plain wrong: I know where he got them — the same place I got them. More to the point, he hasn’t done a lot of critical thinking since then.
If you want the Singularity, read Vernor Vinge’s 1993 lecture on the Singularity. If you want mind uploading, read Hans Moravec’s 1988 essay on physical mind/body dualism (actually a veiled attack on Searle’s Chinese Room argument). If you want nanobots, read Eric Drexler’s 1986 book ‘Engines of Creation’. But Kurzweil? Get back to me in 2051
Der Freitag fordert Gesetze für den Kosmos:
In der Zeitschrift Space Policy schilderten Wissenschaftler um den amerikanischen Wade L. Huntley von der US Naval Postgraduate School im kalifornischen Monterey jüngst drei mögliche, deutlich anders geartete Zukunftsszenarien für die kommenden Jahrzehnte. Die drei Szenarien gehen von einem wachsendem Mangel an Energie und Nahrung oder von massivem technologischen Fortschritt als Triebfeder für die Exploration des Weltraums aus. Und sie führen geradewegs hinein in die globale Krise oder gar zu einem neuen Kalten Krieg im All – sofern nicht zeitig genug ein rechtlicher Rahmen geschaffen wird, der für alle beteiligten Staaten verbindlich ist.