A New Perspective On The Fermi Paradox


Ever heard of the Fermi Paradox? Essentially, it's this:

If there are intelligent civilisations elsewhere in the Universe with technologies that far surpass our own, why do we see no sign of them?

The article The Fermi Paradox, Phase Changes and Intergalactic Colonisation, posted June 26 online at the Technology Review, two gentlement from the National Technical University of Ukraine have come up with a new take that's yielding some interesting insights:

Their approach is to imagine that civilisations form at a certain rate, grow to fill a certain volume of space and then collapse and die. They even go as far as to suggest that civilisations have a characteristic life time, which limits how big they can become.

In certain circumstances, however, when civilisations are close enough together in time and space, they can come into contact and when this happens the cross-fertilisation of ideas and cultures allows them both to flourish in a way that increases their combined lifespan.

What's this mean? Well,

The result gives a new insight into the Fermi Paradox. Bezsudnov and Snarskii say that for certain values of these parameters, the universe undergoes a phase change from one in which civilisations tend not to meet and spread into one in which the entire universe tends to become civilised as different groups meet and spread.


Of course, this doesn't resolve the question definitively, but certainly provides some interesting additional sparks that could catch and burn brightly in a fertile imagination.

What do ~you~ think -- is there any intelligent life in the universe? (Outside of Earth, that is -- effectively avoiding whether or not you'd qualify humanity itself as "intelligent.")


Saturday Evening Open Thread: Personal Jet Packs, Flying High Edition, Part Deux

Personal jet packs have been around, theoretically, since 2007 from companies like Jetpack International and Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana. (really cool product offerings and images on the landing page of the TAM site -- GH) Now, the Martin Aircraft Company has delivered a fairly inexpensive ($90,000?) solution.

Are we going to start building undersea cities and extra-terrestrial stations & colonies next? And when...? (Thursday? ...maybe a week or two beyond? 5 years...? More?)

No matter what, or when, technology is advancing. If only we could do something to ensure that our capacity for wisdom and empathy could keep pace...

Welcome to Saturday Night. This is an Open Thread.

Saturday Morning Open Thread: The Terrafugia Transition, Flying High Edition

It's finally here -- the flying car. It's been the stuff of legend and future-dreamers for decades, but now the dream has become reality. Introducing the Terrafugia Transition:

Way cool, eh?

More information is available here, here and here. Please share your thoughts about it in the comments below, and remember: this is an Open Thread.

Open Thread -- Troublesome Common Thread Edition

An article Chloe Albanesius over on PC Magazine yesterday notes the following findings in a recent PEW poll about the most tech headaches shared by people:

Of the more than 2,000 people surveyed last year by Pew, about 38 percent of them said they contacted customer support for help with a bad Internet connection, computer, or cell phone, while 28 percent fixed the problem on their own.


What caused the most headaches? Internet connections. About 44 percent of home Internet users reported having their Web connection fail in the last year.

The internet itself, which brings a growing number of people worldwide together in one form or another, is now one of the biggest headaches.

Funny how that works, isn't it?

Now, about that constant buzzing sound...

This is an Open Thread.

Open Thread -- Recession Edition

A few short articles from Reuters this morning touch upon the current health of the economy, and it's not great news.

  • Buffett sees "long, deep" U.S. recession


    BERLIN (Reuters) - The United States is already in a recession and it will be longer as well as deeper than many people expect, U.S. investor Warren Buffett said in an interview published in German magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday.


    Buffet said that the US may not be in a recession according to the default definition of two consecutive quarters of negative growth, but the people are already feeling the effects.

    Side Note: Given this White House's propensity for changing the facts to fit the policy (and propaganda), it would be interesting to see what the ~actual~ growth and performance indicators are before saying we don't yet meet the formal definition of a recession.

  • Tax rebate won't stem U.S. recession: Merrill


    SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The U.S. economy is in a recession and stimulus from a government tax rebate later this quarter will only temporarily stem a fall in consumer spending, a Merrill Lynch economist said on Wednesday.


  • Tech execs plan for economic troubles


    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Technology executives around the world are preparing for economic troubles to deepen.

    Many hope that their products will prove indispensable for customers and see emerging economies as sure-growth markets.

    But low- and middle-income U.S. consumers are struggling, and the relative strength of U.S. corporations may not last, executives said at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in Tokyo, Paris and New York this week.


The news isn't as cheery as some would like.

This is an Open Thread.

Technology and Education

Eduaction provides people with tools and knowledge they need to understand, perform, and participate in todays world. Education enhances the ability of households to manage health problems, improve nutrition and childcare, and plan for the future. It helps to sustain the human values that contribute to individual and collective well-being. It is the basis for lifelong learning. It inspires confidence and provides the skills needed to participate in public debate. It makes people more self-reliant and are of opportunities and rights.

Carly's World: Insight Into Autism

If I could tell people
one thing about autism
it would be that I don't
want to be this way but
I am. So don't be mad;
be understanding.

Those are the words that appear on the computer screen of a 13 year old autistic girl named Carly. The computer uses text-to-speech functionality to talk for Carly. I came across a video about Carly's use of technology on CNN tonight. It was heartwarming.

In a world where the news is nonstop war, death, controversy, corruption and disaster, this was an excellent change of pace. A little more research turned up a few more variants of the story and some interesting sites.

News and Notes - Technology Edition

with standingup and lefty

ePluribus Media 2.0

The technology team has been busy putting together ePluribus Media 2.0 and they are finally ready for "show and tell". The launch page, referenced in the previous link, is the starting point for exploring all things ePluribus Media -- Timelines, Journal, Community and Investigations.