Posts filed under “Science”

Thinking About Fermi’s Paradox

As the story goes, famed physicist Enrico Fermi looked up one starry night, noticed thousands of visible stars and the billions more they represent, and wondered “Where is everybody?

If the physicist knew then what we know today, might he have asked that famous question? Fermi, who died in 1954, certainly missed a lot of recent developements in the field.

For no particular reason, I have been mulling that over quite a bit lately. I can construct a fairly detailed argument that:

a) life is not all that rare in the universe; indeed, it may be relatively common.

b) intelligent, technologically advanced life, OTOH, may be exceedingly rare.

As an exercise, I started jotting down a list of things that made Earth if not unique, then at least the result of a relatively rare sequence of events that perhaps makes it a somewhat special. Size, solar system sweet spot, non-binary star, galactic location, core composition, magnetic field, rotation, axis, moon, etc.

I was most of the way through assembling my list when in my research I stumbled across a book titled of all things, Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe.

Written by paleontologist Peter Ward and astronomer Donald Brownlee. They make the case in far greater detail than I could ever assemble that complex life is indeed uncommon in the universe. My list making was brought to a halt, and I just ordered the book.

I had never heard of the Rare Earth thesis before — has anyone else? Regardless, it appears consistent with much of what we have learned about cosmology since Fermi’s death.

I am curious:

What interesting issues, questions, theses – outside of your chosen profession, expertise, or area of study – are you thinking about?


Category: Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Technology

Star Birth in M83, the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy

Source: Mashable

Category: Science

Alan Adler, Inventor of AeroPress and Aerobie

Apparently, he mostly invents things that are round and begin with the words of Aero:

Inventor Portrait: Alan Adler (AeroPress; Aerobie) from David Friedman on Vimeo.
Source: Vimeo

Category: Food and Drink, Science, Technology, Video

Hurricane Katrina 10th Anniversary

FFF: Hurricane Katrina 10th Anniversary: Aug. 29, 2015 CENSUS, July 29, 2015 Release Number: CB15-FF.16 JULY 29, 2015 — Hurricane Katrina is the costliest U.S. hurricane on record, and the deadliest to strike our nation since 1928. After initially making U.S. landfall on Aug. 25, 2005, in South Florida as a Category 1, it moved into…Read More

Category: Politics, Really, really bad calls, Science

How to Fight Drought: Study Trees

Source: fivethirtyeight

Category: Science, Video

The Periodic Table’s Endangered Elements

Source: Compound Interest

Category: Science

July was the hottest month in Earth’s hottest year on record so far

Source: Washington Post

Category: Science

How to Get People to Care About Climate Change

Remember climate change? For the first time since 1984, the issue didn’t even come up in a presidential debate. But bringing climate change back into our national conversation is as much a communications challenge as it is a scientific one. Scientist Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, joins Bill to describe his efforts to do what even Hurricane Sandy couldn’t — galvanize communities over what’s arguably the greatest single threat facing humanity. Leiserowitz, who specializes in the psychology of risk perception, knows better than anyone if people are willing to change their behavior to make a difference

Anthony Leiserowitz on Making People Care About Climate Change from on Vimeo.

via Yale360

Category: Psychology, Science, Video, Weekend

What’s Really Warming the World?

Click to see breakdown of human factors. Source: Bloomberg

Category: Digital Media, Really, really bad calls, Science

Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Brief History of Everything



Category: Science, Video, Weekend