Archive for the ‘Science & Technology’ Category

“Alien but primitive life likely”

Monday, April 21st, 2008

So says Stephen Hawking:

One option is that there likely isn’t life elsewhere. Or maybe there is intelligent life elsewhere, but when it gets smart enough to send signals into space, it also is smart enough to make destructive nuclear weapons.

Hawking said he prefers the third option:

“Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare,” he then quickly added: “Some would say it has yet to occur on earth.”

There is no real evidence of life existing elsewhere (save for maybe the controversial ALH84001 Martian meteorite, but given the vastness of the universe and how little of it we have explored, our data is so limited that we can only speculate. It is widely believed that liquid water exists on Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus so life would be theoretically possible on either. But until we can do more exploration of space, we can only speculate. Until then, I’m inclined to agree with Hawking: we probably are not alone.

Mummified Dinosaur Found

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

A rare mummified dinosaur has been found in North Dakota:

Unlike almost every other dinosaur fossil ever found, the Edmontosaurus named Dakota, a duckbilled dinosaur unearthed in southwestern North Dakota in 2004, is covered by fossilized skin that is hard as iron. It’s among just a few mummified dinosaurs in the world, say the researchers who are slowly freeing it from a 65-million-year-old rock tomb.

“This is the closest many people will ever get to seeing what large parts of a dinosaur actually looked like, in the flesh,” said Phillip Manning, a paleontologist at Manchester University in England, a member of the international team researching Dakota.

“This is not the usual disjointed sentence or fragment of a word that the fossil records offer up as evidence of past life. This is a full chapter.”

Only four mummified dinosaurs “of any significance” have ever been found, so it’s a pretty big deal. As a kid I was always fascinated by dinosaurs. In those days I wanted to be a paleontologist, but then I realized what long, hot, grueling work excavation is. Still, I’d imagine finding something like this makes it worthwhile.

Robot Wars

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

The headline of this article made be chuckle at first glance, but the article itself makes a lot of sense:

Killer robots could become the weapon of choice for militants, a British expert said on Wednesday.

Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield said he believed falling costs would soon make robots a realistic option for extremist groups.

Several countries and companies are developing the technology for robot weapons, with the U.S. Department of Defense leading the way. More than 4,000 robots are deployed in Iraq.

I’m no expert in robotics, but it does make sense to use robots in battle since the could be programmed with superhuman abilities and would keep human casualties at a minimum. Of course, with very advancement in technology we come closer to the day of robot rights, another concept that sounds crazy today but may not in the future.

Starry Happenings

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Brendan Loy has some good photos and information about the lunar eclipse, meteor shower, and the spy satellite that was shot down last night. I actually went to Roane State’s Tamke-Allan Observatory last night to watch the eclipse, but sadly clouds prevented us from a good view.

Challenger 22 Years Later

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Yesterday marked the 22nd anniversary of the Challenger disaster:

On this day in 1986, the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger Crew lost their lives as the spacecraft broke apart on its way into space.

The crew of STS-51-L mission included pilot Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, and Judith Resnik.

Challenger is one of my very first memories. I was about two months shy of my fifth birthday when it happened and clearly remember the shock and horror of it all. It’s hard to believe so much time as passed.

It was a great tragedy. We should all remember these heroic pioneers who gave their lives in the spirit of exploration.

‘God vs. Science’ is Irrational

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Cameron Clark has a great post on the relationship between science and faith. I mere quote won’t do it justice, so head over and take a look.

Via Glen Dean

Life on Mars?

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

The Mars rover Spirit has captured a strange figure on the Red Planet. Is it an alien? It looks to me like bigfoot. I am skeptical, of course, but I want to believe.

View of Mercury’s Backside

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

For the first time in 33 years, a spacecraft has visited Mercury, our solar system’s innermost planet. It took some fascinating photos and the data collected should help us better understand the smallest planet–and our own world.

A Sign of the Times

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

The War on Terror, coming soon to a laptop near you:

NATO is acknowledging YouTube as its new battleground in the six-year war on Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, as the military alliance posts formerly secret surveillance and attack video.

Newly declassified video shows NATO forces destroying a truck in Afghanistan.

The strategy aims to counter years of propaganda video posted on the Internet showing Taliban attacks on NATO forces which fighters use to claim that NATO’s position in the Afghan war is deteriorating.

The article goes on to note that we’ve been losing this cyber war on terror, which is inexplicable and inexcusable given that our enemies are literally hiding in caves.

A Decade of Google

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Google, the top search engine in the world, has celebrated its tenth anniversary. Hard to believe. I remember using Yahoo, Dogpile, and AltaVista back in the pre-Google era. They all still exist, but are only shadows of their former selves.