Political correctness started out as a good idea, but went bad in a very big way. Leave it to John Cleese to express this perfectly.
Now, before you get too excited, there are plenty of arguments that this is wrong — but for the sake of Science Fiction let’s suspend any disbelief and take this paper by Alexei Sharov and Richard Gordon at face value.
Here’s the idea: if you apply Moore’s Law to the demonstrated exponential rise in genetic complexity over time, it suggests that life as we know it formed roughly ten billion years ago. This is significant as the current estimated age of Earth is only 4.5 billion years.
(Graph borrowed from MIT Technology Review)
This suggests all sorts of intriguing possibilities. For one, in this scenario, Panspermia is a foregone conclusion. Life did not form on Earth.
Sure this is not a new idea, but now Science Fiction as a genre has some numbers to play with. One of them is the possibility that in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, we’re not the backwards baby intelligence in a galaxy teeming with far more advanced races. We could very well be the ipso facto advanced intelligent race.
Consider this: We’ve always assumed that it takes at least 4.5 billion years for an intelligent race to develop. Now there’s evidence it might take as long as 10 billion years. Sure, we are leaving out a lot of factors, such as asteroid strikes and other mass extinction events – that you’d think would throw off the time table – but we’re not looking at that kind of physical history. We’re looking at the uniform rise in complexity of genetic material. Information. The assumption is that it somehow endures through these disasters and continues progress. After all, it somehow migrated through interstellar space through untold and unimaginable disasters – possibly the destruction and reformation of solar systems – to take root on this pretty little blue orb of ours.
And so, this theory argues, thus explains the Fermi Paradox: We’re not hearing from any other intelligent species because they’re either close to, or behind, our own sophistication. That’s why we’re not being invaded by bug-eyed-monsters, or grey hive space aliens, or multi-trunked Pachyderms from Alpha Centari. If anything, we’d be the invaders, a la James Cameron’s Avatar.
But beyond that lies the really intriguing questions:
- Where, exactly, did life begin roughly 10 billion years ago?
- Was it localized, as in a star that existed, and then perished, and the material reformed to become our current star and set of planets?
- Is it spread through our entire galaxy, which means it permeates space and seeds all other hospitable environments such as Earth?
- Are there other, wholly other alien forms of DNA-like substances which formed in a different time and frame, and that seeds other sections of the galaxy?
The premise leads to endless conjecture – which is fuel for good Science Fiction – but more importantly it gives a more solid jumping off point, as – despite the inconclusive and tenuous evidence – it’s really the best we have right now. It’s something, other than nothing. Because before this paper came out, that what there was: nothing. Wide open nothing.
This gives us something to test. Now, if we do finally find conclusive samples of life beyond planet Earth, we can see if it fits this model.
That’s what science is about.
And that is the best fuel for good Science Fiction.
XKCD Discussion Forum (lots of dissenting views)
I’ve seen questions about this for the Surface PRO 3, but no one has answered this question for the base model Surface 3.
The answer is…
Quite excited to have all the covers ready for my Bridge of Eternity series.
This may, or may not, end up being the cover to my upcoming book.
A society is like an organism. Very much so.
All the various parts and conflicts mirrors exactly the internal cells that make up, say, a human being. Even the negative, destructive ones are in there. There are stupid cells, smart cells, aggressive cells, passive cells, creative cells, and cancerous cells … everything you’d find in society can also be found, microscopically, in a human body.
Now with the Internet, this organism also has a brain.
Just like in the human brain, you’ll find conflicting emotions, warring ideas, randomness, love, anger, bigotry, art, and beauty.
Humanity is a single giant organism that has covered this planet.
And I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that this organism hates itself.
You’d have to think that another intelligent race, which has been around long enough — and has become sophisticated enough — to achieve interstellar travel, would see us in this way … and want to have nothing to do with us.
In fact I’d go so far as to say that if they had any desire to take over our planet, they’d simply leave us alone and wait for us to commit suicide.
They’d let the place settle for a while, then begin landing and settling the new real estate.
Just ran across this and thought it was interesting…
This is believed to be the very first spam email ever sent, back on May 3rd, 1978:
DIGITAL WILL BE GIVING A PRODUCT PRESENTATION OF THE NEWEST MEMBERS OF THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY; THE DECSYSTEM-2020, 2020T, 2060, AND 2060T. THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY OF COMPUTERS HAS EVOLVED FROM THE TENEX OPERATING SYSTEM AND THE DECSYSTEM-10 <PDP-10> COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE. BOTH THE DECSYSTEM-2060T AND 2020T OFFER FULL ARPANET SUPPORT UNDER THE TOPS-20 OPERATING SYSTEM. THE DECSYSTEM-2060 IS AN UPWARD EXTENSION OF THE CURRENT DECSYSTEM 2040 AND 2050 FAMILY. THE DECSYSTEM-2020 IS A NEW LOW END MEMBER OF THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY AND FULLY SOFTWARE COMPATIBLE WITH ALL OF THE OTHER DECSYSTEM-20 MODELS.
WE INVITE YOU TO COME SEE THE 2020 AND HEAR ABOUT THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY AT THE TWO PRODUCT PRESENTATIONS WE WILL BE GIVING IN CALIFORNIA THIS MONTH. THE LOCATIONS WILL BE:
TUESDAY, MAY 9, 1978 – 2 PM
HYATT HOUSE (NEAR THE L.A. AIRPORT)
LOS ANGELES, CA
THURSDAY, MAY 11, 1978 – 2 PM
DUNFEY’S ROYAL COACH
SAN MATEO, CA
(4 MILES SOUTH OF S.F. AIRPORT AT BAYSHORE, RT 101 AND RT 92)
A 2020 WILL BE THERE FOR YOU TO VIEW. ALSO TERMINALS ON-LINE TO OTHER DECSYSTEM-20 SYSTEMS THROUGH THE ARPANET. IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT THE NEAREST DEC OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXCITING DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY.
It was not well received.
[Source: Reaction to the DEC Spam of 1978]