astrophysics, logic

Signaling to Aliens

How hard could it be?

I very much love an old idea of dumping plutonium, tons of it every year in our beloved Sun. Nothing bad will happen because of that, only the light of our dear life giving star would be marked this way by some absorption lines.

So, every advanced alien who noticed this strange occurrence would be forced to conclude, that something odd is going on. Plutonium cannot arise in a star by some natural process. It must come from a planet. How and why?

The most sober conclusion for an alien would be – someone intelligent is signaling he is there!

Actually, astronomers have searched for “unnatural” absorption lines in many stars’ light around us, long ago. Nothing has been found. Aliens don’t dump plutonium on their stars.


A Midnight Debate

Him: I see your pain! Physics was the grand science of the 20th century, but now it’s  delicate biology, to which even our technology is somehow converging, even though it can never succeed this goal.

Me (thinking): LOL, you can’t imagine how devastated I am because of this!

Me: Biology is just a physics’ department. See how well everything fits together? Genetics, DNA, quantum chemistry, which is quantum physics in fact, but who cares for the names that much.

Him: The new science – Ecology – has opened our eyes, broadened our horizons. While Darwin thought that the survival of the strongest is the key, now we know that it’s not so. A species retreats into its own niche to further develop!

Me: Predators follow them there and that’s their niche suddenly, as well. Forget about this ecology thing, it is mainly a digression back to the mystic! Besides, I have told you, it’s not the survival of the strongest, it’s the survival of those with the most grandchildren. It helps to be strong, but it’s not enough.

Him: Ecology has nothing to do with mysticism.

Me: Sure it does. The human head is build to host a god, or better The God to remain sane. Now, when the Christianity is all but dead, the Virgin Mary has been substituted by the Green Mother Nature. People adore her, but I am commit blasphemy whenever an opportunity arises.

Him: I was the first who criticize any idolatry of the Nature. But this is not the point here. The point is that your rigid ideological structure, as impressive as you may find it, is wrong. It holds you back, personally.

Me: You know me. I only see a cloud of quarks and electrons governed by the electroweak, the strong and by the force of gravity. That’s all there is, it’s all there ever was even when we did not know it.

Him: These reductionist views are terrible. But let me ask you something. How do you manage to incorporate your beloved Darwin into this overly reduced physics and mathematics.

Me: I see evolution as an algorithm performed by this quark-electron cloud. More stable substructures persist.

A third person: This is really stupid! You can’t explain even why the Moon is dead and Earth is so much alive!

Me: Of course I can. Gravity. Gravity does not permit an atmosphere on the Moon, so it’s difficult to live there unaided. There are some other reasons as well, but even this one is sufficient.

Him: He’s right here. But let me point out that our friend (that would be me) – had an accident when he was 13 years old. He broke his arm and concluded that the whole biology is somehow flawed. I clearly see this pattern here.

Me: It was not that bad, really. Almost everybody else had it worse or much worse. Still, our biology sucks, I give you that.

Him: When then, have you acquired those radical views?

Me (thinking): Well boys … It’s really quite sad, how far apart some old friends can get. Or even how far they always were. In fact the sad part is how deeply wrong you are. I can be mistaken as well. Besides of quarks and electrons, there might be some other particles or forces or maybe electrons are just special quarks or whatever. I can be wrong, but you can’t be even remotely right. That is really sad.

Him: We should really build an industry out of those electrical engines 20 years ago. Now everybody uses them and we missed the great thing.

Me: I didn’t care for those motors back then, and I still don’t. It’s not my game.

Him: Yes, but (some inventor, name omitted) spoke highly of one of your suggestions.

Me: What I said in 1990 was to use his electric engine for bicycles; don’t  wait for electric cars.

Him: Yes, but inspired by this, he improved his design! He repeatedly said so.

Me: We have a much bigger problem here. In 1990, it was 10 years AFTER someone traveled in an electric ultralight plane over the Channel. Now, 25 years later after the discussion of ours and 35 years after the original event, we have news about the first Airbus-Siemens-Boscarol charade. Nobody seems to remember the facts from 1980 – when electrical motors were nearly as good as today? Do you recall the Rosetta mission? The first landing on a comet? Which was also just a remake of some older asteroid landing – namely the NEAR.

Him: There were Americans first, in both cases?

Me: Affirmative.

Him: You may be right, for your memory is quite exceptional.

Me: I would rather see you admit that I know a lot of stuff. This “exceptional memory” sounds too freaky when you say it.

Me: Our American cousins are quite capable. And my fellow Europeans should honestly say so, instead of all that propaganda. Still the race isn’t over yet. But it will be not about electric motors, electric cars, environmental friendliness, carbon footprint reductions and such craps. It will be about AI.

Him (thinking) : You are saying basically that everything we do is of a little importance at the best. Only your fantasizing about AI is of tremendous value?!

Me: Still, I want our over Atlantic competition to remain friendly.


Google’s NNN (Neural-Network-Nightmares)

A lot has been said about this all over the internet. Images, where the labeling program sees too many eyes in the sky, too many dogs in a horse and so on. Quite disgusting, I concur!

On top of that, this machine labeling is already more accurate than some humans at recognizing what’s in the picture. Another blow against sanity?

Not really. In fact, it is just a poor early approach. Overfitting is everywhere. A better version of the same algorithm should learn that it is unlikely for a horse to have more than one eye on each side. And that no doberman dog is in the sky hovering over the landscape. Unless it is quite a distinctive dog, and not a fractalized weasel monster.

Some old OCR software may have had the same problem, reading something as “TO7AL SUM”. It is unlikely that there is “7” there – much more likely it is the letter “T”. Newer, better OCR products just don’t make this mistake anymore.

Context is important, the rules of the context are very important. They should be learned and used. Then, this stupidity or insanity will go away.

When every small square of almost any picture will be computer-labeled exactly, like horse nostril hairs or reflection of the house in the horse’s left eye and so on … THAT will be a fine, sane, not crazy software package.

As Patrick Wilson once said: I want this picture to be automatically labeled as toasting and this one as drinking! A small but essential difference we understand quite well.

Then, it will be the time to brag!


Chances are

That one of these  days, weeks or months, an Ebola infected refugee will land on Lampedusa.

A crisis with such a humble begging could be quite severe. Oh, My Lord, couldn’t we rather get some financial crisis, even 10 times as big as anything we know? A possible prayer for many days which can follow such an event.

Evolution will select then. Humans and viruses who are going to survive. Countless viruses and perhaps many million of humans will die in the process.

Chances are, that it will simply not happen. That we are going to be lucky, once again.

EU parliament could and should discus this matter. So fellow Europeans, ask your elected representatives about this, now, while we are still fortunate!


Polar Bears on Antarctica

I am quite surprised no one has tried it. Capturing and caging something like 20 to 40 polar bears from the Arctic and sending them south on a ship, wouldn’t be that difficult.

Releasing them in springtime would give them two summers in a row and they should be able to adapt.

Penguins would suffer and all the south seals as well. But after the initial population explosion, the invasive species would stabilize (more or less) in a few years. Perhaps, for the sake of a balance, a lot of penguins can be transported in the opposite direction, to try to populate the north with them.

Some arctic birds do travel between the poles on a regular bases. So they would recognize bears, easily and wave to them from afar. Also orcas and some other whales are those kind of travelers. But bears, walruses and penguins can’t walk that far. We should give them a helping hand, don’t you think?