Monthly Archives: May 2014

Future success lived in the present

A theory of “future success lived in the present.”

Mars One, that downright crazy attempt to put actual people on Mars in the next N years, has convinced 700+ people that they are special enough to die en route, die from radiation poisoning, die from habitat collapse, die from 100 other probabilities. They actually convinced over 200k but selected only 700 for training.

What are these 700 thinking? What brand of lunacy have they swallowed to think that this is a good idea? I think I have an plausible answer (and this applies to explorers, experimenters, visionaries of every kind.)

These people live in world of projected future success.

Certain unpleasant death awaits those of these 700 who are chosen (if this project ever actually gets off the ground). How can you proceed with that knowledge? I posit that they are envisioning their future selves as successful heroes, as explorers having completed their mission and are now members of an elite history populated by the great discoverers of humanity’s past.

They see some future version of themselves participating in the parades, the accolades, and they are living in that false projected world and not the reality that has marked them for death. They have already won. These people have envisioned a fantastical future of their success and now live in this bubble of forecasted triumph.

I reconsidered all the real explorers of historical note and wonder if they too did not live in some future fantasy world of a victorious conquest and momentous return.

On driverless cars…

 Before there will be fully driverless cars there will be mandatory network cars that form trains, like autopilots. You get up to highway speeds and engage the train-network which will link your car up with others traveling automatically. Your car will travel in a tight pack, talking to the cars around it. You can then relax for the duration of your trip. When done, you disengage and leave the highway.


No need for CHP if you have 90% driverless cars. No CHP then no outlay of monies you don’t have from speeding tickets. 


We should start seeing autopilot drones though patrolling the highways. Why use a human at all to catch speeders if all you need is a fleet of drones patrolling their 1 mile stretch of I-5.


True driverless cars have no need for front seats, headlights, taillights, blinkers, windshield wipers, gas or break pedals, gear shifters, and yeah, steering wheels.


Chauffeurs, bus-drivers, taxi-drivers, delivery personnel of all kinds, driver’s ed teachers, nasty DMV clerks, and well, car ownership itself will become redundant — unnecessary. There will be fleets of driverless cars (AutoDrones) parked in battery charging stations around every neighborhood. You just txtmsg your request for a pickup, number of passengers, storage capacity and in 90 seconds, there’s your ride.


Driver enabled cars will be regulated to entertainment courses where you go to get your speed freak on.

Drake’s Equation Parameters or factors supporting Fermi’s Paradox

From Wikipedia:
     The Drake equation is a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.
     N = R* • fp • ne • fl  • fi  • fc • L

R* = the average rate of star formation in our Milky Way galaxy.
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets.
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets.
fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point.
fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations).
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space.
 = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space.
The Drake Equation is effectively a box of conjectures shaken periodically to produce a new estimate of the likelihood of finding exo-intelligent life. It’s like an utterly fanciful Bayesian attempt at predicting the unpredictable. Take one sample, Earth, and from it, and our observable views and knowledge of space, derive a probability that humanity will find intelligent life outside of our solar system.
There’s nothing really scientific about it even though it tries to use some basis to remain accurate. If an accurate conjecture is even a real thing… But that’s why it’s so alluring. ANYONE can play with Drake’s Equation and come up with a number that means something to them. And your number will be just as ‘right’ as anyone else’s!
With this in mind I now present a list of somewhat appropriate concepts that may or may not influence one or more of the Drake Equation parameters. In a generally descending order of importance:
  • Liquid water.
  • Goldilocks location. 
  • A heliosphere.
  • Distance from the galactic center,
    (outside most bursts of intense radiation – gamma rays, and avoidance of intense space weather which may affect agriculture).
  • A molten iron core planet producing a planet protecting magnetosphere.
  • The existence of asteroid and comet belts (Kuiper Belt, Oort Cloud) which would both deliver supplemental elements as well as disrupt stagnant evolution.
  • Volcanism, plate tectonics and the recycling of minerals and elements through volcanism, continental ridges
    (CO2, sulfur, calcium, all need to be recycled).
  • Earth tilt. Seasons contributed to the stress need to spur life into intelligence.
  • The Moon. A moon of sufficient size and limited distance to stabilize the tilt of Earth’s axis and to adsorb some portion of the asteroid/comet impacts.
  • Continental configuration. Island states would not produce intelligent life. Milankovitch cycles, the northern hemisphere’s influence on heating and cooling cycles.
  • Oceans filtered toxin free by biotic life over 3.5 billion years and the generation of oxygen by this life.
  • The generation of ozone, or its equivalent, that shields DNA from constant mutation.
  • Biotic life had an impact on the evolution of the Earth’s crust and hence an influence on higher life forms.
  • Star death required to produce higher atomic weight elements necessary for life processes. Universally young stars could not have harbored life on their planets due to low molecular weight of elements.
  • Although our solar system is in the process of emerging from the Local Bubble, the sun’s trajectory suggests that it will probably not encounter a large, dense cloud for at least several more million years. The consequences of such an encounter for the earth’s climate are unclear; however, one wonders whether it is a coincidence that Homo sapiens appeared while the sun was traversing a region of space virtually devoid of interstellar matter.
  • Disease. Humanity, and higher forms of life in general, must have survived disease. Disease has killed more human life than all the wars, religions and genocides put together.
  • Strong presence of nuclear reactive materials in Earth crust that may have contributed to the spawning of life.
  • 3.5 billion years of hydrocarbon concentration perfectly delivered at just the right time to drive humanity over the population threshold that sparked the industrial revolution.
  • The expedient use and transition from fossil fuels to non-environmental impacting technologies (to avoid calamitous climate change.)
  • Miscellaneous items of lesser importance:
    • Metal: easy access to metals of many types must be available for advanced alien life (industry, electronics, astro-exploration).
    • Guano: bird droppings strangely enough has made an enormous impact on the development of humanity.
    • Rubber: The existence of a rubber tree and the textile extracted from it also had an immense impact on the development of humanity.
Random points supporting the theory that life is unique:
  • Change. Change is probably one of the primary drivers of higher life forms. Many of the above points that would influence the evolution of life on a planet are change based. Without change, often drastic change (chemical, climate, temperature, radiative, water currents, minor planet tilt aberrations) life would get ‘stuck’ in static ecological configurations. Externally induced change spurs evolution.
    But too much change would also be detrimental to the evolution of intelligent life. Change must be of just the right amount, just enough asteroid impacts, just enough volcanism, just enough galactic radiation, just enough coronal mass ejection, just enough planetary tilt, just enough continental drift and distribution. Just enough to provoke limited change but not too much to continuously be wiping the evolutionary slate clean.
  • Earth has been emitting life signs spectroscopically for 3.5 billion years. If alien intelligences had been looking, they would have found this planet by now.

Intelligent alien life does not exist

Fermi’s paradox poses the following simplified question: if the universe is full of life then where is it?

First off, is the universe really full of life?

Secondly,  a group of answers to this question run like this:
Earth is a zoo and we, the aliens, are protecting it.
Earthlings are not ready yet to deal with alien contact.
Earthlings are not cool enough yet to join our club.
Earthlings must transcend beyond their self destructive natures first.
Interference in planetary cultures not capable of interstellar travel is verboten!

I group all of the above into what I call “standoffishness.” Aliens are standoffish.

To respond to Fermi’s question I pose two conjoined ideas that refute both the idea that the universe is full of life and that such life, when sufficiently advanced, is standoffish.

The first of these ideas is the following: Earth has been emitting signs of life for more than three billions years. The “There is LIFE here!” neon sign has been blaring for eons. The O2 and CH4 (methane) signature that Earth emits and has been emitting for as long as bacteria and photosynthetic algaes have existed, are defacto signs of life. These signs of active life, O2 and CH4, are exactly what human astrophysicists are now focused on in our own search for life in the galaxy. We’ve found extremely strong evidence for the existence of exoplanets and now we’re looking to see if any of them emit these telltale signs of life.

If this technique is one humanity has adopted, a simple method I’ll agree, but one that would mark Earth as have been harboring life — for billions of years — then one would assume highly intelligent exo-life would also use these techniques. No doubt Earth emits other obvious signs of life and has done so for, again, eons. Signs that we may ourselves start to use in our own search for ETs. Signs that ETs would have employed.

If there is intelligent life out there in the galaxy, looking for its own version of exo-life then it should have found Earth at some time in the past. I would conclude that Earth’s life signature, as a beacon for the existence of life, could not be ignored by life searching for life in the galaxy and the universe.

Having established the fact that life would have found us by now, if there is life out there, then why haven’t they contacted us? Here we get to discuss the standoff philosophy of alien life.

Without relying upon complete conjecture (what does an alien life form ‘think’ like), we need only look into the mirror to determine if ‘standoffishness’ is really how aliens would treat the discovery of alter-alien life. The answer I come up with is a resounding NO. Let’s face it, humans just want to say “Hi!”

Explorers of every culture throughout recorded human history have never held the philosophy, “Hey, there’s a new type of people on that island. Let’s just leave them alone for now because they look really primitive.” What cross-country expedition or ship’s captain would ever think that way? We explore. We are driven to it. And in exploring we want to discover, to meet, to engage, to exchange. A space faring human species would never travel for trillions of miles and when finally arriving at a location that shows a thriving alien culture sit back and say, “You know, they don’t look ready for us just yet. We better turn back.” Humans, as alien travelers, would never be considered standoffish. Can we assume anything but for other intelligent alien peoples? Explorers want to connect.

Let’s also not forget that most explorers of humanity’s past have been conquerors. Not satisfied with simply saying ‘Hi!” they wanted to step down from their ships and own the places they discovered. If this is true of alien space travelers — where are they? Where are our en-slavers? Our oppressors? One answer, they don’t exist.

Earth is a life discoverable target and has been so for billions of years. Humans, non-star traveling species that we are, are already seeking planets just like ours using characteristics we know exhibit signs of life. Intelligent alien life, were it to exist, would be as curious and invasive as humans would under the same conditions.

If there was curious life out there, looking for life like us, we would have been found by now. Becase we haven’t, we can assume that the universe is not full of life. That more than likely, Humanity is alone.