Archive for June, 2012
Astrobiology: Does a galaxy filled with habitable planets mean humanity is doomed? –
@io9 http://io9.com/5919110/does-a-galaxy-filled-with-habitable-planets-mean-humanity-is-doomed …
Daniel Eliot Boese likes a link.
Does a galaxy filled with habitable planets mean humanity is doomed?
Last week, we reported on the astounding confirmation that all solar systems in the Galaxy probably have planets, and that Earthlike planets are more common than previously thought. While this seems like good news for SETI-enthusiasts, the revelation is actually quite disturbing.
I recently flipped through the “Cartoon Guide to Physics”, expecting an easy-to-understand rehash of ideas I was long familiar with; and that’s what I got – right up to the last few pages, where I was presented with a fairly fundamental concept that’s been absent from the popular science media I’ve enjoyed over the years. (Specifically, that the uncertainty principle, when expressed as linking energy and time, explains what electromagnetic fields actually /are/, as the propensity for virtual photons of various strengths to happen.) I find myself happy to try to integrate this new understanding – and at least mildly disturbed that I’d been missing it for so long, and with an increased curiosity about how I might find any other such gaps in my understanding of how the universe works.
So: what’s the biggest, or most surprising, or most interesting concept /you/ have learned of, after you’d already gotten a handle on the basics?
Can anyone recommend some resources, or provide actual examples, of any relevant evolutionary-biology-style equations which could describe what factors would most likely predominate to allow for the survival of sapience, given such factors as the ease which any given individual can acquire the means of killing large numbers of people, the scale of those means, the willingness o people to use those means, the ability of small groups to travel away from other groups, and so on?
Or, put another way – is there any way I can quantitatively check my intuition that a valuable way to avoid certain existential risks is to flee Earth?