Category Archives: Science and Philosophy

Aliens

I love science fiction so I think about aliens a lot, both in fiction and the real world. A great podcast I listen to, Mysterious Universe, frequently talks about aliens and UFOs (along with ghosts, bigfoot and other mysterious things), and when I get bored at work with nothing to pass the time but my web browser, I often find myself enjoying the silliness of the Above Top Secret forums. The following should be viewed more as a science fiction brainstorm than a scientific thought experiment.

The way I see it there are three main possibilities as far as real life intelligent extraterrestrial life goes.

1. We have never been visited by ETs because there are no intelligent ETs anywhere near us, and interstellar travel is unfeasible even at the highest level of technology.

2. There are intelligent ETs near us and/or interstellar travel is feasible at some level of technology, and they have already visited us.

3. There are intelligent ETs near us and/or interstellar travel is feasible at some level of technology, but no alien civilizations have discovered us yet, or they just don’t find it worthwhile to even bother.

I do believe that intelligent ETs exist, they have to. The real question for me is can a civilization last long enough to create the technology required to visit other worlds, and if so, do those civilizations have any reason to visit Earth?

One theory that’s popular with most of the folks on the History series Ancient Aliens is that aliens gave us the jumpstart we needed to thrive as a civilization by teaching us the secrets of agriculture, animal domestication, medicine, etc. For a moment, let’s suppose that were true. Clearly the aliens learned all that stuff for themselves hundreds of thousands of years before they had the capability of visiting Earth, so where did the aliens learn how to do it? “Well, we taught those apes on Earth how to do it,” says one of the aliens to his friend, “So some other aliens must have taught us!”

If aliens capable of interstellar space travel came to earth thousands of years ago to teach us how to plant corn, why didn’t they teach us something more advanced? Maybe our ancestors just couldn’t catch on to anything else the tried. The aliens probably started with some kind of technology even we wouldn’t understand today, and worked their way backwards to something their pets could do.

Another possibility is that early humans (pre-10,000 BC) were far more advanced than we realize (whether or not aliens were responsible), but something happened to most of them and the survivors didn’t understand how all the really cool stuff worked. Just like today, if something happened without warning to wipe out most of us, the small percentage who survived wouldn’t necessarily understand how computer processors work, and would be even less likely to have access to the resources to build them. I guess what I’m trying to say is that just like how the oceans are as mysterious as outer space, we don’t even necessarily know everything about our own species, let alone alien civilizations.

I’ve gotten a bit ramble-ey, so back to the original three points. If interstellar travel is possible, and we’re interesting enough to be worthy of attention, then we must have already had contact with intelligent ETs. Are we being run by a shadow government of reptilians? Or are greys abducting people for fertility experiments on behalf of the nordics? Probably not, but that’s what they would want you to think!

Immortality

The fountain of youth is something people have been looking for since they realized that aging was a thing. I’m pretty sure. It’s at least been a thing since the 5th century BC when some Herodotus fellow wrote about it.

With science, medicine and technology tendency to progress and so on, it’s reasonable to assume there is at least one group of scientists working hard on ‘the ageing problem.’

First, they have to figure out what causes ageing to begin with. It seems like there are several processes that contribute, so the “cure” would have to be at least as equally complex.

(I think it’s funny that the wikipedia article on ageing’s photos are all old people.)

Is it easier to prevent every cell in the human body from doing what it does that causes ageing, or to transfer that person’s consciousness into a brand new body? Which is more pleasant?

They are both extremely difficult since they aren’t currently possible, but I think the second option is much more pleasant. What people go through when they have degenerative diseases, faulty organs, and severe injury and such isn’t a lot of fun. In many cases even if they can recover after an intense regimen of injections, pills, surgeries, etc. the body won’t be the way it was before the ailment.

So instead of fussing about with all that, just suck out the consciousness and slap it in a new body. Where does this new body come from? Any body suitable for renewed life would already have a consciounsness in it that is perfectly happy with where it is. A recently deceased body wouldn’t work either, seeing as that’s the whole problem that we’re trying to avoid in the first place. A cloned body could work, but the transfer would have to happen before the clone has it’s own or else you still have that whole issue with “deleting” the original consciousness. But then you have a whole new world of weirdness with there being a grown adult in a baby body.

The best option is a brand new robot body. Or just live on in a virtual world with no real need for a physical presence. Blackouts would suck though, and I’m sure there will be hackers that try to do who knows what with the virtual people.

This all assumes that it’s even possible to extract someone’s consciousness from their body. If it is, we will essentially be capable of artificial reincarnation and that would mean regular reincarnation is just as possible. At that point we’ll realize that prolonging life artificially to the point of immortality is redundant, because the consciousness lives on either way. There are some perks in knowing exactly where your consciousness is going though… like being able to keep your DVD collection.

Time Travel

Time travel is an awesome plot device, and I am pretty much on board with anything that has anything to do with it as far as movies, tv, books etc. go.

But I have a problem with most of the methods of time travel. The Earth travels around the Sun very quickly. The Sun travels around the Galaxy very quickly on top of that, and of course the Galaxy (we assume) travels quickly on top of that.

That means all time travel also requires space travel, because how are you staying put on Earth if you’re skipping across time? And I don’t mean you need a Delorean, 88mph isn’t nearly fast enough to get to where the Earth was in 1955.

The most realistic time travel that I can think of is in Planet of the Apes (spoiler alert) when the ship travels through space for thousands of years, while the astronauts on board only age about 18 months, allowing them to experience the future Earth that has been overrun by the titular Apes. I like that phrase. Titular Apes.

This isn’t the frills and whistles time travel that we’d prefer because it’s a one way trip, but as far as I know it’s the only kind possible for humans with our current technology (though not to that extreme).

All other kinds of time travel require some kind of system that syncs its location to Earth (or wherever), which could very well mean that time machines are also teleporters, and teleporters have to be time machines. Once we have one, we will have the other.

(disclaimer: I’m no expert by any means, I just watch a ton of TV and love science and science fiction)

60 Minutes or Less

For some reason, I have little desire to take on anything that will take me more than 60 minutes to finish. Sure, I’ve completed many tasks that take hours, days, weeks, but the key is for it to be easily broken up into 60 minute chunks.

When I make an episode of Marching Lessons, I spend about an hour writing and recording the episode, an hour drawing everything, and another hour editing/exporting/uploading. This keeps me interested and I’m able to get it done. If I wrote the episodes to be any longer or had more complicated animations and illustrations, I would have to figure out a way to break it down further to trick my brain into focusing.

This is why I have a hard time watching movies without falling asleep, yet can watch an entire tv series over the span of a week.

Sometimes there comes an important job I need to get done that might take more than an hour, but has no way of being broken down into varied components. It’s most likely a repetitive task of some kind, so that’s where another part of my brain kicks in. The efficiency game player.

What’s the most efficient way I can do this? Can I make this task into some kind of game? It’s a little bit like on that episode of the Simpsons when Principal Skinner (no relation) gets trapped under a pile of newspapers in his garage and makes a game out of seeing how many times he can dribble a basketball in an hour, then tries to beat that record.

Maybe all of this is due to too many video games.

I’m nearing an hour spent writing, so that about does it for now.

Fish Inception

[original story on news.bbc.co.uk]

There’s an octopus (the mimic octopus) that mimics fish, and now there’s a fish (the jawfish) that has started to mimic that octopus mid-mimic. It’s only a matter of time before the mimic octopus mimics the mimicking jawfish, at which point a worm hole will open at the sea floor and suck half of the pacific ocean into another dimension.

The 2012 apocalypse nears.

image provided by a very talented boston terrier
Hawaii let out a collective "FUUU---"