An excerpt from the latest (De)Extinction Club Newsletter: It’s tough times if you’re a crater hunter. The glory days are gone. On Earth at least. All the major impact sites that can be found have been found. All the big game are gone. Nothing but small fry left. Oh sure, there’s plenty of those around. […]
Welcome to a Special Edition of The Dark Extropian Report. It’s been a bumper few weeks, months and years even in the world of astrobiology, and in particular in the area related to the theory of Panspermia – the idea that life came riding in on an asteroid or comet to our planet. This is one of the very core ideas of Dark Extropianism; that we are inextricably bound to the cosmos, on a grand scale that at the very least is inter-planetary. That our fate lies there as much as our origins do. That we are more than just star dust, but part of a living system that spans billions of years, who’s distance is measured by the speed of light. That ecology is something that spans the galaxy. That we are not meant to stay here, that our destiny lies amongst the stars.
So are we alone? Well, there is one other possibility, at this point. I’ve lately been trumpeting my revision of Clarke’s Law (which originally said ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’). My revision says that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Nature. (Astute readers will recognize this as a refinement and further advancement of my argument in Permanence.) Basically, either advanced alien civilizations don’t exist, or we can’t see them because they are indistinguishable from natural systems. I vote for the latter. This vote has consequences. If the Fermi Paradox is a profound question, then this answer is equally profound. It amounts to saying that the universe provides us with a picture of the ultimate end-point of technological development. In the Great Silence, we see the future of technology, and it lies in achieving greater and greater efficiencies, until our machines approach the thermodynamic equilibria of their environment, and our economics is replaced by an ecology where nothing is wasted. After all, SETI is essentially a search for technological waste products: waste heat, waste light, waste electromagnetic signals. We merely have to posit that successful civilizations don’t produce such waste, and the failure of SETI is explained. And as to why we haven’t found any alien artifacts in our solar system, well, maybe we don’t know what to look for. Wiley cites Freitas as having come up with this basic idea; I’m prepared to take it much further, however. Elsewhere I’ve talked about this particular long-term scenario for the future, an idea I call The Rewilding. Now normally one can’t look into the future; in the case of the long-term evolution of technological civilization, however, that is precisely what astronomy allows us to do. And here’s the thing: the Rewilding model predicts a universe that looks like ours–one that appears empty. The datum that we tend to refer to as ‘the Great Silence’ also provides the falsification of certain other models of technological development. For instance, products of traditionally ‘advanced’ technological civilizations, such as Dyson spheres, should be visible to us from Earth. No comprehensive search has been done, to my knowledge, but no candidate objects have been stumbled upon in the course of normal astronomy. The Matrioshka brains, the vast computronium complexes that harvest all the resources of a stellar system… we’re just not seeing them. The evidence for that model of the future is lacking. If we learn how life came to exist on Earth, and if it turns out to be a common or likely development, then the evidence for a future in which artificial and natural systems are indistinguishable is provided by the Great Silence itself.
By reconstructing conditions in the disk of gas and dust in which the Solar System formed, scientists have concluded that the Earth and other planets must have inherited much of their water from the cloud of gas from which the Sun was born 4.6 billion years ago, instead of forming later. The authors say that such interstellar water would also be included in the formation of most other stellar systems, and perhaps of other Earth-like planets. The dense interstellar clouds of gas and dust where stars form contain abundant water, in the form of ice. When a star first lights up, it heats up the cloud around it and floods it with radiation, vaporizing the ice and breaking up some of the water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. Until now, researchers were unsure how much of the ‘old’ water would be spared in this process. If most of the original water molecules were broken up, water would have had to reform in the early Solar System. But the conditions that made this possible could be specific to the Solar System, in which case many stellar systems could be left dry, says Ilsedore Cleeves, an astrochemist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who led the new study. But if some of the water could survive the star-forming process, and if the Solar System’s case is typical, it means that water “is available as a universal ingredient during planet formation”, she says.
It could be that at some earlier time somewhere in the universe a civillization evolved by probably some kind of Darwinian means to a very very high level of technology and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now that is a possibility and an intriguing possibility and I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry or molecular biology you might find a signature of some sort of designer.
Disaster Playground is a ‘theatre of cruelty’ as defined by Antonin Artaud, a platform where scientific catastrophe and/or surprise can be more acclaimed than success. This cross and pluri-cultural project will go beyond American and European frontiers and will question the notion of disasters, widely represented in the literature of J.G Ballard and will investigate rescue reactions across culture.
Disaster Playground, PART I: The Film, is about the scientists planning the monitoring and deflection of hazardous Near Earth Objects_NEO (asteroids). It attempt to address the complex decision-making involved in developing a coordinated international response to the challenge of protecting the Earth from NEO impacts. The thrust of the film follows a real-life procedure in place in the event of an asteroid collision with the earth. It depicts the chain of command necessary where only a few experts exist who understand the technology. Hollywood relied on Bruce Willis and a big drill to save the world in Armageddon, but how real is that and what needs to be done to save our civilization from the next major asteroid impact? The film explores aspects of planetary defense, such as Asteroid Deflection and Asteroid Capture, and showcases the work of the scientists’ pioneering missions to interact with asteroids and to accelerate efforts to detect, track, characterize, and mitigate the threat of potentially hazardous asteroids.
This sounds amazing.
New life goal: play a life-giving, panspermic asteroid in local production of a Dark Extropian, “theatre of cruelty” dramatization of existential risk.
“WE GIVE LIFE. WE TAKE IT AWAY.” chorus chants: “PRAISE BE THE ASTEROID”
Superhabitability describes a perfect storm of life-friendly factors. In their recent paper, astrobiologists René Heller and John Armstrong describe no fewer than 18 of them. First and foremost, superhabitability arises on terrestrial planets with masses two to three times that of Earth. Planets that size have a number of things working for them, including: Long […]