Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Will we find other intelligent life?

Background


         The beginnings of 
     belief in 
     extraterrestrial intelligence


     Can you think of 
     any early example?




















Many religions!


     For example:


     God is intelligent


         ...and everywhere


    "Everywhere" 
    must include 
    interstellar space





A tale of two Well(e)s


    Novel written in 1898 by H.G. Wells
          Here are some 
          more interesting covers



    It inspired an 
    Orson Welles radio show

                    The show was broadcast
          Halloween, 1938

          What happened?




Intelligent Martians was a widespread concept


     1800s:


           Percival Lowell and the canals


           Numerous novels


          See
          "Imagining Mars: a Literary History"
          (by R. Crossley)


     1900s:

        1912: Edgar Rice Burroughs 
        "A Princess of Mars"


             The princess had 
             beautiful green (of course!) hair
             ..and so on


    2000s: 

        2012: Story back in the news again


            Why?





Let's move to more technical approaches



Fermi Paradox


     (Enrico Fermi
     was a 
     renowned physicist)

             Italian-born American physicist (1901-1953)

      Awarded Nobel prize 1938

      Considered a father of the atomic bomb

      Died of cancer
      (possibly due to radiation exposure)


     His "paradox":

        Over 100 billion stars 
        in our galaxy,
        the Milky Way


        Roughly (very) 
        there are 
        100 billion
        to 1 trillion
        galaxies



    So how many stars in the universe?


      What fraction have planets?

           What fraction have 
           Earth-like planets?

                 These are called
                 "Earth analogs"

                      1.4 - 2.7%

                      Do pictures exist 
                      of a few of them?                       


     So why no sign of intelligent life?
         (Er, except here)


    That's the "Fermi Paradox"!





So....
1) Why no sign of intelligent life?
         . . . and . . .
2) Will that change?












Fish supposedly live in the ocean


If you fill a cup at the beach...
...where are the fish?






Drake Equation

N=R  x  fp  x  n x  f x  f x  fc  x  L


N:  # advanced civilizations 
     in Milky Way with which
     we could communicate
R new stars formed per year
fp:  fraction of stars with planets
ne:  Suitable planets per star with planets
fl:   Fraction of suitable planets that do develop life
fi:   Fraction of those planets that develop intelligence
fc:  Fraction of intelligent civilizations that are detectable
L:  Length of time civilizations are detectable



N=R  x  fp  x  n x  f x  f x  fc  x  L
Suppose R is 10/year
Let's estimate the others ourselves!
Note: estimate of 100 billion Earth-like planets in Milky Way as of 2013
   Then what is N?


   Why no little green men (or whatever)?




   Crop circles, UFOs, what other evidence?




   How could we 
   communicate with
   extraterrestrial beings?




Possible problem: 
     we can't communicate with dolphins
     (for example)
     and they're
     right here on Earth!




How to find extraterrestrial life


    (Intelligent or otherwise)


    Find planets


    How to do that?


    Find oxygen


    Why so important?


    Detect radio waves, etc.




Discovering Earth-like planets


    Zero extra-solar planets 
    were known when 
   you were born


   They are being discovered 
   (at an increasing rate)


   First ones were huge and hot


   We are getting better 
   at finding more 
   Earth-like ones


   Here are three:


   Gliese 667 Cc


   Gliese:
       from "Gliese Catalog of Nearby Stars"


   Gliese 667:
       A triple star
       all of them small
   
   Gliese 667 C:
       Star C of Gliese 667


       37% of Sun's mass
       42% of Sun's radius
       1.4% of Sun's brightness
  
    Should last a lot longer than the Sun!


   Gliese 667 Cc
       2nd planet of Gliese 667
       3.9x mass of Earth
       Orbits Gliese 667 every 4 Earth weeks
           Imagine what the year is like
       Its star would be 
       2.3x as wide in the sky 
       as the Sun
         ...but dimmer per unit area
         ...reddish, since cooler than Sun
         ...temperature should allow liquid water
         ...do photos exist?



         ...well artists' impressions do
         ...let's check!
         ...only 22.1 light-years away
           (oops)


Gliese 581:
    Red dwarf star
    Might not exist
       But it might!
    Gliese 581 g is a planet
    Roughly 4x Earth mass
    Tidally locked to star
         That is a problem (why?)








         A thick atmosphere could solve the problem
             What would it be like there?
    




   Gliese 370 b
       Another interesting planet
       wikipedia, etc., has artist's impression
       Also called HD 85512 b
              (we use nicknames, so why not?)
       At least 3x Earth mass
       Gravity 1.4x Earth (at least)
       What would that feel like?
       May have liquid water
           Temperature depends on
           various unknowns
    

Monday, March 26, 2012

Transit: people on the move

Transit: People on the Move


Transportation: 
. . . moving whatever

Transit: 
. . . moving people

Future of transit:

    One of the few areas in which 
    the US has a serious 
    longer-term planning effort

    In central Arkansas:
        http://metroplan.org
                 630 Monorail Concept: 
                     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqB8RwnmZb4


        http://imaginecentralarkansas.org/
                         As of 11/22/16 it is somewhat out of date


What is a good way to organize transit discussion?

. . .  small to big 

. . . . . . e.g. roller skates to cruise ship

. . . # people

. . . . . . personal transit to ... what?

. . . distance

. . . . . . In-store drivable shopping cart to space ship

. . . speed... ?

. . . impact on society

. . . . . . for example:
. . . . . . let's list your topics on the board
. . . . . . then refer to them as appropriate as we go along



Methods of transit

For as long as people have existed

. . . we have needed to go places 

. . . let's list past, current, & future methods

. . . . . . start by picking a way from previous slide

. . . . . . put list on board first, then see below

. . . . . . . . . how does your topic relate to each?








Substitutes for Walking

. . . walking

. . . unicycles (see images)

. . . . . . unicycle of the future:

. . . . . . . . . solowheel!
                  short video


. . . bikes

. . . . . . what will bikes of the future be like?

. . . . . . . . . let's figure it out

. . . . . . . . . then let's check the web

. . . . . . . . . . . . images.google.com
. . . . . . . . . . . . general web search


. . . scooters

. . . . . . wheels front-and-back

. . . . . . wheels side-to-side

. . . . . . . . . Segway

. . . . . . which has more future potential?

. . . . . . what will be the scooter of the future?


. . . trikes

. . . . . . will they displace bikes?

. . . . . . . . . what will trikes of the future be like?

. . . . . . . . . . . . let's think first, then check the web


. . . pedibuses

. . . . . . Do they have a future?


. . . roller skates

. . . . . . from traditional to rollerblades

. . . . . . . . . (check online pics to see?)

. . . . . . Skates of the future?

. . . . . . Basically, shoes of the future!



. . . skateboards

. . . . . . Skateboards of the future?



Substitutes for Horses

. . . horse

. . . future of horses?


. . . cars

. . . . . . horses are mobile

. . . . . . cars are "auto-mobile"

. . . . . . . . . "auto" means "self"

. . . . . . so what is an autoautomobile?




. . . . . . Will self-driving cars differ from today's cars?






. . . . . . . . . fewer of them needed, personal ownership not needed, use garage and $ for other things, Uber et al. could use, municipalities could replace bus fleets, commuting could become less problematic, use your car as a cab while you sleep or work, prices lower (why?), 



. . . hovercraft

. . . . . . Why might hovercraft become important in the future?










. . . . . . . . . roads could just be flat grass strips: cheaper!

. . . . . . . . . what if hovercraft happen?



. . . jet packs (1, 2)

. . . . . . we could check youtube also


. . . small planes?

. . . . . .  is there a future there?


. . . rocket ships?


. . . . . . multiple pilots works better

. . .  how about flying cars?

. . . . . . check youtube for examples

. . . . . . is there a future there?


. . . autogyro?

. . . . . . check wikipedia/whatever for definition

. . . . . . check youtube to see them in action

. . . . . . is there a future here?



. . . helicopter?

. . . . . . is there a future for them?



What are the future prospects for these?


. . . powered parachutes
. . . trains
. . . subways
. . . buses
. . . spaceships
. . . moving sidewalks
. . . escalators
. . . elevators
. . . planes
. . . boats
. . . evacuated tube transport
. . . . . . e.g. a hyperloop
. . . . . . . . . (do web search)
. . . shoes that produce electricity
. . . tiny robocars with telepresence function
. . . current telepresence bots



Some other questions to ask about these


What would change for you if each of these took hold?

. . . quality of life?

. . . privacy? 

. . . security?

. . . career impacts?

. . . what else?

. . . how have these things impacted the past?

. . . what other possibilities for future impacts?

What about other people?

What about businesses, governments...?

What about society as a whole?


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Earth 2100 Discussion


integrate more. Takes 150+ minutes even without the science discussion

Discussion related to "Earth 2100" (an ABC production)

Let's finish the movie as needed first

In small groups:

How would you
rate or critique
the movie itself?
 










     For example -
     What about the
     female-centric
     narration?

 

      Should we all become
      "preppers"
      (survivalists)?




Story starts in 2009
   How has the movie's predictions,
   since 2009,
   tracked reality so far?






Here are some observations on this
(see youtube version LUWyDWEXH8U):

4:45-5:30 - 2012. Assessment?

6:47-7:20 - 2015. Assessment?

8:00-8:30 - 2015. Assessment?

9:40-10:05. Disruptive innovation from artificial meat:
Like grid parity for PV, there is "meat parity"

26:07- . This is unlikely but appeals to our worst fears.

28:01-29:30. The worst mass extinction was recently discovered to be by proliferation of methanosarcina organisms which took advantage of a previously unused resource. We are the first to take advantage of such a resource as well: information. So maybe we are like the methanosarcina, and the 62 million year cycle continues...

32:40-33:37: Famous example, but with a fatal flaw pointed out in the book Questioning Collapse

36:00-36:18: "...and a few books": what is wrong with this picture?

38:07-38:23: Remember "grid parity"? I think 2050 is too pessimistic for this scene!

41:11-42:00: See Greensburg in Wikipedia. But this concept of small self-sufficient communities is attractive to some but problematic and unnecessary as well as economically regressive

45:30-45:45: Ties into technology decreasing in cost, also ties into grid parity. What we need: spray-on solar power paint. Solar power in a spray can.

46:55-46:15: Well, 2009 was before self-driving cars were invented...

46:35-46:48: the self-sufficient commune idea again. Arkansas was a popular destination for that a few decades ago. But what about agbots and such, which were not well developed or visible in 2009?

51:40- : The whole methane thing is reminiscent of the methanosarcina-induced mass extinction long ago. Methane is still a biologically untapped energy resource even now!

53:50- : What do you think of geoengineering solutions? We could check the proposals online...

55:11- : The concept of destroying the ozone layer has a precedent: freon.

56:40- : The barrier design is wrong. The Netherlands has had a working sea gate for decades. Holland is below sea level. The Dutch gov't made a sea wall after a disaster several decades ago.

One proposal is to copy the Dutch storm surge barrier
 http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2012/11/hurricane_proofing_new_york_city_dutch_style_storm_surge_barriers_across.html
 
  • We live in Arkansas,
    • which is in the United States,
    • we are Americans and
    • speak English

  • Some people live in Holland
    • What is the elevation in Holland,
    • what country is it in,
    • what is the nationality of its people, and 
    • what language do they speak?

        North Sea flood of 1953
        Called the Delta Works (DutchDeltawerken)

            Includes the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier (Oosterscheldekering) 

            Also includes the Maeslant Barrier (Maeslantkering)
                 Wikipedia article
                 Video #1
                 Video #2
                 "Closure of the van Maeslantkering"
                        Video #3
                Video #4
                Video #5
               "Maeslant barrier" (aerial view)
                     Video #6   
              See also images.google.com, query Maeslant


Ever see the doors of the lock of the Big Dam Bridge?

58:46- : After the movie was made, NYC did flood!
      What happened?
      Hurricane Sandy, 2012

1:00:50- : Well, Boston is already part of New England. Whatever.

1:03:50- : Transportation network shutdown might end civilization as we know it. Solution: local PV power, agbots everywhere, self-sufficient communities...

1:05:12- : What if the internet shut down? 10 years ago, a biggish deal but not that big. How big now?

1:09:25-1:09:40: I think building collapses will take awhile. And remember NYC did get flooded and no buildings fell down.

1:10:00- : Sounds a bit like some other products of the dystopian story theme in American culture. Examples?

More comments and questions

They had San Diego build salt water desalination plants
   See carlsbaddesal.com
 
The family moves to a big city
   That's the trend worldwide
   Why?
   Good, bad, or neither?

They say if climate change
is not controlled by 2015
it will be too late
   Will something happen by, say, 2016?
   Too late for what?

They said if
everyone eats an American diet
we'd need 4 Earths
to produce the food
   What should happen?
   What might happen?

They show a simulated
climate control summit
that fails
   Why?
   What has happened before with international climate control agreements?
 
What about just moving north or inland?

2030: "shortages and high prices will be a fact of life"
   What do you think?

2040: Millions of desperate refugees trying to cross into the US
    Realistic?

2060: NYC ("The Big Apple")
    What do people say about it?
    Could disease strike in a big way?

2070: Sea level up 3 feet
    Realistic?
         Sea graph at
         http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/RisingCost/rising_cost5.php
    What would happen if that happened?
   
2070: Massive methane spike
    What is methane?
    Where does it come from?
    Why might there be a spike?
    What would a spike cause?

2084: Society starts breaking down for real
    Disease shuts down transportation network
        Possible?
        What then?
        Can one prepare?




Temporary Digression...............

1. What is Science, Really? What is Pseudoscience?


(More discussion related to "Earth 2100")

Some initial comments and questions
before the general discussion

What is the difference between:
science
   and
mathematics?




2. Math: 
prove new things 
     based on 
existing knowledge

Mathematical reasoning is:
deductive

  • 1+1=2
  • 2+2=4
  • Therefore, 
    • 1+1+1+1=4
    • (proof by substitution)

  • All men are mortal
  • Socrates is a man
  • Therefore, 
    • Socrates is mortal 
    • (proof by "syllogism")

  • Deduction can prove things
  • Mathematics uses deduction
  • Therefore, 
    • mathematics can prove things 
    • (proof by syllogism again!)



3. Science is different from math!

  • Science is based on:
    • induction
    • (not deduction)
  • All apples that break off the tree, 
    • fall down
  • Therefore, if I shake this apple tree,
    • and an apple breaks off,
    • it will fall down
  • Not a proof! 
    • Can you think of a counterexample?


  • That which goes up has always come down
  • Therefore, if I throw this up, it will come down
  • Not a proof! Can you think of a counterexample?


4. Science needs more than induction

Humankind has always sought reasons

Scientists call those reasons
       "theories" and "hypotheses"

Theories are the big ones
  • relativity
  • evolution
  • continental drift/plate tectonics

Hypotheses are the ---little--- ones
  • If the ground gets waterlogged,
    • water will get into my basement
  • IFSC students learn 
    • more employable things than physics majors

Conclusion. . .
Math proves; 
science does not prove!

Science disproves 
      (by refuting inductive "truths")

Science explains
     (using theories)

Science predicts
     (because the theories predict)

5. The phrase "scientific proof" makes no sense!
  • Science does not prove things!
  • It explains things and finds evidence
  • If only everyone actually knew that
  • Not just you, but also
    • reporters, 
    • spokespeople, 
    • politicians
    • the average person

6. Comments on Earth 2100

. . . Worst case scenario
      consistent with best science available

. . . The main cause depicted was






           global warming

. . . Secondary causes were








           deadly disease
           rising sea level
           poverty and hardship

. . . Effects were ultimately






           Governmental collapse
           Technological regression


. . . . . . So things could be that bad, but might not

7. Climate science uses theories
implemented as complex
computerized models
  • There are variations among 
    • different models
  • Their global warming computations make
    • different predictions

Almost all (never all, right?)
climate specialists agree:
  • Global warming is happening, will get worse, and is a serious problem
  • That is the consensus among climate scientists
  • No math-style deductive proof is possible

8. Politics and special interests 
are a different ball game

. . . Some economic interests 
      benefit most 
      if nothing is done

. . . . . . Naturally, they will impede change

. . . . . . . . . That is one case of
                  famous economist Adam Smith's  
                 "Invisible Hand"



9. Your turn: 
Earth 2100 further discussion


In small groups:

What technologies are envisioned 
and what are their plausibilities?


10. Ok, so How to Prevent a Global Warming Disaster?


. . .The hard way:
      reduce CO2 emissions

             Why is this hard to do?

. . .An easier way?
     Geoengineering!
          What's that?


. . .Volcanoes are a clue
     Large volcanic eruptions cool the climate
           (Temporarily)

. . .Mt. Pinatubo (Philippines), 1991
     Major eruption caused global cooling
     About a degree (F) for a few years

. . .Other eruptions associated with global cooling:
     Mt. Tambora, Indonesia (1815)
     Laki, Iceland (1783
     Krakatoa, Indonesia (1883)
     . . .and other smaller ones

. . .Why?
         Volcanoes emit CO2
          ...but...
        They emit SO2 as well
         SO2 causes cooling!
       
. . .What is SO2?










10a. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)


Mixes with water vapor in stratosphere

Turns into sulfuric acid solution droplets

They block and reflect sunlight

Results:

. . .spectacular sunsets worldwide

. . .less sunlight reaches Earth

. . .Global cooling

So why not do it on purpose?

. . .Well, why not?


10b. Putting SO2 into the Stratosphere On Purpose


A gallon of liquified SO2,
every couple seconds,
would be enough
(some think)

SO2 is easy to make
. . .but how to get it high enough?

. . .stratosphere starts about 6 miles up

. . . . . .use lots of airplanes to spray it

. . . . . .use balloons with sprayers

. . . . . .would special guns work?

. . . . . .use a real long hose
but how to get the end of the hose up so high?
Let's try to design such a hose...

Advantages:

. . .much, much cheaper than reducing emissions


Problems:

. . .would the technology really work?

. . .if the technology worked, would the SO2 really have the predicted effects?

. . .ozone layer damage

. . .ocean acidification

. . .people waste time gazing at the sunsets :)


10c. What should we do?


Environmentalists don't like SO2

Business interests deny global warming exists

Governments so far show no interest in SO2

What do you think?




10d. Another Way to Do the Same Thing


Spray sea water to make more clouds over the ocean

Salt particles nucleate water droplets

Cloudier skies result

Less sunshine warming the dark oceans

Need to persuade ships to spray as they go








11. What is the connection between 
epidemics and global warming?
  • Any diseases already spread to the US?
  • Any that may soon?

What are some tipping points to social stability?









  • Long-term blackouts
  • Transportation network breakdown
  • Where would you want to live if things went bad?
  • How about Arkansas?
  • Little Rock?

What can you do now?

12. Could Earth 2100 
really happen like that?


There are different cases:
   best
   worst
   intermediate (many)

Earth 2100 depicts the worst case
   Probably won't be that bad
   But it is possible
   Hard to predict for sure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUEnXOX-qEQ (Chaos (Lorenz) wheel as a garden water feature)
   Still, 
      ...buy beachfront property cautiously


What signs portend a worst case scenario?
   CO2 is a relatively known factor
   CH4 (methane) is less so
   . . . but it has strong greenhouse effects
   If northern ice melts
   . . . and dark permafrost ground is exposed
   . . . and warms up from sunlight
   . . . and melts
   . . . and releases methane
   Then start worrying more
  
   If oceans start releasing methane
   . . . due to warming waters
   Then start worrying more

   No methane spike, no worst case
   . . . probably
   Bottom line:
   . . . watch for news on methane releases



13. Hyperpowers are historically limited in time
  • Mongolia
  • Rome
  • UK
  • US

We're #1!

But how can we stay that way?









14. What are the natural tendencies that 
cause hyperpowers to be time-limited?








  • Rigidity
  • Over-confidence from past successes
  • Inner rot


What can be done to prevent it or delay the inevitable? 











Why successful societies collapse

Earth 2100 quotes someone asking what
the person who cut down
the last palm tree on Easter Island
could have been thinking

That is straight out of Diamond's book

(Diamond appeared several times in the movie)

Easter Island, Rome, the Anasazi, the Mayans, the Greenland Norse, ...