Radio and television broadcasting may be only a brief passing phase in our technological development. When we imagine alien civilizations broadcasting signals with radio telescopes, are we any different from earlier generations who imagined riding cannon shells to the moon? Civilizations even slightly more advanced than ours may have already moved on to some other mode of communication, one that we have yet to discover or even imagine. Their messages could be swirling all around us at this very moment, but we lack the means to perceive them just as all of our ancestors, up to a little more than a century ago, would have been oblivious to the most urgent radio signal from another world.
But there’s another more troubling possibility: Civilizations, like other living things, may only live so long before perishing due to natural causes, or violence, or self-inflicted wounds. Whether or not we ever make contact with intelligent alien life may depend on a critical question: What is the life expectancy of a civilization?
- Episode 11: The Immortals, Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey
Everything you need to know about this book can be found in this wonderfully thorough review by Astrobiology Magazine from 2003.
I plan on doing a full writeup/review about this book; however, I can tell you it’s one of the best Carl’s ever written and is still heavily referenced by scientists across multiple fields regarding the search for extraterrestrial life, be it intelligent or otherwise. A review on the book and the study of astrobiology itself can be via a PDF by Charley Lineweaver of the Planetary Science Institute at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Research School of Earth Sciences.
The most fascinating aspect of this book is that it was originally written by I.S. Shklovskii in Russian, re-translated into English, whereby Carl adds his scientific “two-cents”, expanding on subjects and explaining further in a way only Carl, himself, can. For instance, the last paragraph in Chapter 31: Interstellar contact by automatic probe vehicles:“At this point in the Russian edition of the present work, Shklovskii expresses his belief that civilizations are not inevitably doomed to self-destruction, despite his description of contemporary Western literature as filled with details of atomic holocaust. He expresses his belief that as long as capitalism exists on Earth, a violent end to intelligent life on the planet is probable. There is reason to assume, he asserts, that future peaceful societies will be constructed on the basis of Communism. I am able to imagine alternative scenarios for the future. No one today lives in a society which closely resembles Adam Smith capitalism or Karl Marx communism. The political dichotomies of the twentieth century may seem to our remote descendants no more exhaustive of the range of possibilities for the entire future of mankind than do, for us, the alternatives of the European religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As Shklovskii says, the forces of peace in the world are great. Mankind is not likely to destroy itself. There is too much left to do.”
SETI Scientist Jill Tarter provided a beautiful TED Talk about this subject, and in this interview with NOVA, she speaks on being the inspiration for Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan’s book/film ‘Contact’ whereby Jodie Foster portrays Dr. Tarter.
Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer for SETI, presented an enriching TED Talk about why he’s convinced we’re closer than ever in detecting, contacting, or receiving signals from ETI; and recently, had a Q&A conversation with Science 2.0 appropriately titled “Why I Believe We’ll Find Aliens.”
some nerd: communism will never work because human nature
A Swedish woman hitting a neo-Nazi protester with her handbag. The woman was reportedly a concentration camp survivor. 
Volunteers learn how to fight fires at Pearl Harbor [c. 1941 - 1945]
A 106-year old Armenian woman protecting her home with an AK-47. 
Komako Kimura, a prominent Japanese suffragist at a march in New York. [October 23, 1917]
Erika, a 15-year-old Hungarian fighter who fought for freedom against the Soviet Union. [October 1956]
Sarla Thakral, 21 years old, the first Indian woman to earn a pilot license. 
Voting activist Annie Lumpkins at the Little Rock city jail. 
Source with more wonderful photos
Leaf bug (Phyllium giganteum)
The constant wobbling as they move is a part of their disguise, making it seem as though the “leaf” is only moving because of a light breeze.
If you blow on one it will also shake around in the hopes of matching any actual surrounding leaves
I am not okay with the lack of continuity for Goofy’s real name
I don’t know what I was expecting, but this is bullshit.
I AM NOT OKAY WITH THE LACK OF CONTINUITY
goofy changes his name ever few years for the purpose of tax evasion, he has been dodging the government for well over half a century and owes hardworking american citizens hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes
Perception and perspective!
As far as conjoined twins go, they don’t come more famous than Chang and Eng Bunker, who in the 1800s traveled the world lecturing and generally being gawked at by rubes. They even gave us the term Siamese twins (they were from Siam, which is now Thailand). Eventually they settled down on a farm in North Carolina, married two sisters (uh…), and between them sired 21 children.
The logistics of that seem, well, a bit complicated, if not entirely awkward. There are conjoined twins in our oceans, though, that pull off something far more remarkable. These are the siphonophores, some 180 known species of gelatinous strings that can grow to 100 feet long, making them some of the longest critters on the planet. But instead of growing as a single body like virtually every other animal, siphonophores clone themselves thousands of times over into half a dozen different types of specialized cloned bodies, all strung together to work as a team—a very deadly team at that.
“In a way these specialized bodies function as organs,” said marine biologist Stefan Siebert of Brown University, who studies these glorious creatures with the help of remotely operated vehicles from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. “Some move the colony, some feed for the colony, some take care of reproduction.” Whereas creatures like you and me have over millennia evolved different parts of our bodies to work as organs, siphonophores have evolved individual bodiesthemselves into organs. It’s a bit like your liver up and declaring independence from the rest of you, even though it can’t go anywhere.
A Complicated Question
A child asks, and war answers.
go see all of it.. brilliant!
Daily Show correspondent Michael Che tries to find a safe place to report from.
Discovered in 1992 by the former Argentinean actor, Luis de los Santos, the Condor Agate comes from a difficult-to-reach 7,000-foot elevated plateau near San Rafael, in Mendoza Province, Argentina. The site can only be reached by horse back.
The agate’s bright reds and yellows are made even more vivid by their contrasting bands of cooler, more-subtle hues. This agate was named after the large Condor birds that were flying over Luis de los Santos during the trip that he discovered the agate.
Locality: San Rafael, Argentina.
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