Hawking warns about alien contact

Stephen Hawking says although life almost certainly exists elsewhere, we should not attempt to actively initiate contact with extra–terrestrial life forms. As Jared Diamond has pointed out before, historical evidence of encounters between humans, and biological evidence of contacts of different groups of animals, shows it always goes badly for the native population, often resulting in extinction of species, or subjugation and slavery amongst humans.

Unfortunately for us, at least one group is scientists have taken it up on themselves to try to make earth orders of magnitude more visible in the galaxy. Their rational is that all advanced lifeforms (capable of inter-stellar travel) would be altruistic.

A nice discussion of this topic can be read here:
http://lifeboat.com/ex/shouting.at.the.cosmos

And an editorial in Nature discussed this in 2006:
http://www.setileague.org/iaaseti/nature06.pdf

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Saurabh Kundu on Pluto




Saurabh Kundu

Originally uploaded by asuma.

Saurabh has a new paper describing his recent work. I think it involves looking at many pictures of Pluto, putting sheets of graph paper over them and drawing lines. I presume his paper will tell us if Pluto should be regarded as a planet or not.

As usual you can find his paper and read the interview: here. I didn’t conduct the interview so I don’t know much about this work.

New improved solar system

After the meeting of the International Astronomical Union, the solar system has been streamlined to a sleak 8 planets, with the repurposing of Pluto to the new classification of ‘dwarf planet’. The move follows an earlier move which increased the number of planets in the solar system to 12.
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