Thursday, August 31, 2006

Today's Politics.

I try to avoid politics. Politics, any politics, is so fleeting as to be almost pointless. I generally consider politics to be the games fools play while the truly dedicated and intelligent work behind the scenes.

Think about it. Name a single politician who has really changed the world. I bet you anything you'll be able to count them on one hand. Now name scientists who have changed the world. You're gonna' need a whole lot of hands.

As to politics ephemeral nature, think about the great poltical debates of ten years ago? No one remembers. No one cares. No one even thinks about the fact that Bill Clinton got a bit freaky in the Oval Office, but scientific work that has long been superceded, say, Newton's Laws, continue to get discussed. No matter how important whatever subject the local politicians are raging about seems now, it will be incredibly unimportant in a few years.

It's for this reason I don't usually get involved with politics. It's just too short-lived for me to care. Unfortunately, our current government is acting in ways that can have far-reaching and dangerous effects. I consider the gravest duty of any government to be the protection of freedom. Freedom from fear, danger, and oppression. Instead of protecting us, our current government is using all three as tools and propaganda in ways rarely seen before.

Today, it is our government that is taking our freedom. And that can not be abided. The rampant limp-dickery in the media as it desperately attempts to not insult anyone has been sickening. Over four years of lies, anguish, corruption, and failure has seemingly gone unnoticed by wide swaths of the US. This apathy is leading to ever deeper intrusions into our privacy and our freedom. There is NO safety that is worth the surrender of fundamental freedom. I consider this freedom so crticially important because science, and thus all of humanity, can not advance without it.

All throughout history, poets, artists, politicians, firebrands, and revolutionaries have said that there are worse things than death. I say a life without freedom is the worst thing of all, because while we may draw breath, we can hardly be called alive. I would rather fear injury from my fellow human than fear my government.

Finally, the media appears to have grown a set of balls. I'm not talking about bias, I'm talking about having a position at all. Instead of living perpetually in this nether realm of "just delivering the news," and actually providing insight into the events for those too oblivious or too stupid to figure it out for themselves.

This video is fantastic. We finally have a voice against this horrid administration outside of Comedy Central. I'm very proud of MSNBC. Good boy.

Keith Olbermann Delivers One Hell Of a Commentary on Rumsfeld (Via

Also available here. (Via YouTube)

Scientists vs. Bumps In the Night: FIGHT!

It at first seems silly to debunk something like vampires. Creatures that are, especially now, so a part of pop-culture that we actually have space vampires on TV.

But no, there are people who actually believe in these things! Ghosts are one thing. There are tons of people who believe in ghosts. They're no less idiotic, but at least the group is larger.

So some scientists have taken it upon themselves to disprove both ghosts and vampires. The vampire one is beyond reproach, but they don't seem to get the concept of "supernatural" for ghosts. They don't need feet to walk! They have GHOST FEET.

The Professor Vs. Vampires & Ghosts (Via
Physics proves horror movies get it wrong (Via

Politics as Science- Part 3: Packs and Pachyderms.

Humans are pack animals. Did you know that? We’re kind of like wolves. We naturally develop a hierarchy of dominance and, most importantly for this discussion, determine who is part of the in crowd, and who is part of the out crowd. Howsoever is part of the out crowd is automatically hated. They aren’t with us, so they’re against us, to steal a phrase from our illustrious leader.

These are not the functions of the reasoning human. They belong to the primal parts of our brain that evolved with our ancient ancestors. Those same ancestors didn’t care too much about whether we need tort reform or not. They were much more concerned with surviving, and being in a group is a much better way to survive. As such, it’s really no surprise people get so heated about politics. When someone attacks a person’s political party they are attacking their in crowd. The response is emotional, not logical, and now we have proof.

In a recent study done at Emory University, researchers used Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging on the brains of 15 men self-reported as either strongly democratic or strongly republican. Both groups were shown videos of their preferred presidential candidate, this was just before the 2004 election, blatantly contradicting themselves. Both groups let their own candidate off the hook while being highly critical of the opposing candidate.

The brain imaging helps to explain. Areas of the brain most associated with logical reasoning were dark, whereas areas of the brain most associated with emotion, conflict resolution, moral judgment and accountability, and, once a conclusion had been reached, areas associated with reward and pleasure. There was absolutely nothing associated with logical reasoning in these people’s conclusions. It was all irrational emotion.

These people were literally getting a high from confirming their own candidate’s superiority to themselves. And absolute none of us can say “Oh, well I’m different.” No. No you’re not. Unless parts of your brain are missing or in different locations, you are exactly the same. We can all fall victim to this kind of bias. All of a sudden, and very easily, the correct answer becomes immaterial as we desperately try to rationalize our preexisting conclusion.

The importance of this simple study is far reaching. We now have a neurological base to help explain how so many people can ignore evidence that is seemingly self-explanatory to outsiders and reach illogical conclusions which they then defend vocally and sometimes violently. And what seems obvious to me and doubly depressing is that scientists have been well aware of these biases for hundreds of years.

Science has a strong self-correction mechanism whereby biases are put into the bright light of raw, logical criticism for exposure. Yes, some of the opponents of some particular research will be biased, and this bias will be the true basis of their opposition. But they, as must all scientists, must develop criticisms within the framework of logical thought and argument.

So, ironically, in science, your most vocal opponent is your most trusted cohort because you can rest assured that if there are problems in your work, they will find them. In politics, since this isn’t the case, your opponent is someone whom you consider having whacked. You do not rely on your opponent to find problems in your thought to allow you to develop and ever more refined law, or bill, or whatever. You want to have the right answer, and have it now, and anyone who says otherwise must be beaten to a pulp.

I do not entirely blame the politicians for this. Politicians are, by the nature of politics, some of the savviest people to have ever walked the Earth. They are keenly aware of what people want of them because, if they aren’t, they will get voted out before you can say governator. They not only want an answer and they want it now, they know that if they don’t get an answer now another politician will rise up with the answer to the electorate’s problems, right or wrong. Because, remember, people don’t care about the answer being correct.

Politicians are, in many ways, forced into this in-crowd/out-crowd conflict because people so naturally fall into it. People want to fall into it. It easily defines who is part of your group and, most importantly, who you are. Self definition is a strong drive. While the population must put politicians’ feet to the fire, so must politicians do the same to those they lead.

People are stupid. We’re all stupid. We naturally and easily fall into irrational and emotional thought. As in the world of science, we must all work together to catch ourselves. We must teach logical thought from an early age. We must remind politicians and allow ourselves to be reminded by them. We must literally force ourselves, regardless of how bad it can feel sometimes, to recognize that we can be wrong, and our group may not be defined as we would like.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

God Intended it This Way!

Hmmm, a seemingly watery creature that spends all of its time on land. Almost as though it changed from being aquatic to land dwelling via some, some process... some development over time... Where have I heard that before?

Phreatobius walkeri: A Catfish Out Of Water (Via

SETI In The Crosshairs

My previous writings about SETI can be found here, here, and here.

In a recent article on The Committe for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal's (CSICOP) website discusses that SETI, an icon of geeky intelliectual expression for decades, needs a solid dose of skepticism. This is a difficult point for me because while I agree wholeheartedly with his conclusion, I don't agree with most of his premises.

The full article can be read here. It was written by Peter Schenkel.

There are two major points to his argument. First, the fact that SETI has never successfully detected a signal of indisputably intelligent origin. Second, that life is likely to be much more rare than we assumed. It's impossible to argue with the first point because that's just a fact. He admits that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, though.

Obviously, explanations for a lack of contact run the gamut from scientific (we lack the technology), to philosophical and humanistic (we're evil, hence they avoid us). He says "...they may use communication methods unknown to us." May use?? I see this is the real problem with our detection methods. Any civilization that has advanced to multi-planetary status would require a faster form of communication. Light travels slowly enough where just communication within our solar system is problematic. The fact that we have not discovered alien signals, I think, proves nothing. Since it's highly likely that any civilizations are either incredibly far away or are at a greatly different stage in advancement. I consider the proposition that SETI will never detect a signal to be likely for the reason that the signals, not the civilizations, are just not there.

Schenkel goes on to discuss the "Fermi Paradox." It asks why, if the universe is just teeming with intelligent life, have we not made contact. First, aliens of sufficient technological advancement have no interest in us. He considers this highly implausible. I sort of ride the fence on this subject. If we assume the universe is teeming with life, then we will most likely be of little interest. Think of how nascent our civilization actually is. We've barely made it into space. Our civilization runs rampant with violence, stupidity, corruption, and disorder. We are mortal creatures of a remarkably short lifespan with tiny perceptions to go with it. The horizons of immortality are visible even now, 10,000 years in the future our world would be beyond imagination. On a cosmological scale, we would be barbarians.

In what I consider the greatest oversight of the article, he explains why the great distances of space as an impediment is not so.

"...this explanation also stands on shaky ground. Even our scientifically and technically adolescent civilization is exploring space and sending probes-the Voyager crafts-which someday may reach other stellar systems. We are still far from achieving velocities, near the velocity of light, necessary for interstellar travel. But some scientists predict that in 200 or 300 years, maybe even earlier, we are likely to master low "c" velocities, and once we reach them our civilization will send manned exploratory expeditions to the nearest stars."

I consider faster speeds to be the greatest impediment to interstellar travel. The faster we go, the more our time slows down. At near the speed of light this time dilation becomes enough to nearly freeze the travelers in relation to the rest of the universe. This makes merely faster speeds an untenable option for interstellar travel. By the time we actually reached another planet, hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, will have passed on Earth. In that time, the world to which the explorers would report would change entirely. They would perhaps even discover a faster-than-light form of travel that doesn't involve that pesky time dilation. We could set out for a planet, only to discover it already colonized when we arrive. Exploration by merely going faster is impossible. Since exploration by other means, say, worm holes, would require a not only advanced but massive civilization. The amount of work required would neccessitate millions, perhaps billions of skilled people. I consider the construction of a Dyson Sphere to be more likely within any kind of measureable time frame. A civilization advanced enough to explore to our planet would be so mind-blowingly more advanced than us, I would consider us possibly worthy of monitoring, but not contact.

Schenkel then goes on to discuss why civilizations more advanced than us would bother to make contact.

"Advanced ETI civilizations would engage in such explorations not only out of scientific curiosity, but in their own interest, for instance for spreading out and finding new habitats for their growing population, or because of the need to abandon their planet due to hazards from their star, and also because with the help of other civilizations it may confront dangers, lurking in the universe, more successfully than alone. The Fermi Paradox should therefore put us on guard, and foster a sound skepticism. Lack of interest in meeting a civilization such as ours is the least plausible reason why we have not heard from ETI."

Curiosity is something I can't deny, but the others are absurd. A burdgeoning civilization could easily be contained on planets within the species' own system and on artificial planets. Yes, I consider even the construction of whole planets to be plausible before faster-than-light travel. A civilization would have no practical need to make contact with a backwater species such as us. We could provide nothing. Curiosity is the only undeniable reason for exploration, but it seems that curiosity would not neccessarily foster direct contact. I could easily imagine a species interested in monitoring us but doing so from a distance. Once again, the lack of contact supports no argument.

Schenkel's final argument is that life is not as ubiquitous as we would like to believe. "The evolution of life forms and eventually of intelligent life on Earth was due to a large number of very special conditions and developments, many of a coincidental nature." He then lists a variety of Earth characteristics to explain the complex system of variables that was in effect to bring about our own evolution. He makes it sound as though only with these circumstances could intelligent life evolve. I think intelligent life could evolve in almost any, suitably complex system. It doesn't matter which variables are there, just that there are enough of them. We don't need the Moon, or mountains, or great extinctions. These events led to us. Other events would have led to others. Experiments showing the building blocks of life emerging from electrically charged clouds shows that it's easy for it to start. Thrown into a complex system, I think increasingly intelligent species is then inevitable. Even if it takes a good, long time.

This assumption flies in the face of a man who is much more highly regarded than myself and was most likely a whole shit-load smarter, as well; Ernst Mayr.

In this regard we should note also the caveat of the distinguished biologist Ernst Mayr, who underscored the enormous complexity of human DNA and RNA and their functions for the production of proteins, the basic building blocks of life. He estimated that the likelihood that similar biological developments may have occurred elsewhere in the universe was nil.

He finishes with the conclusion that "The conditions in our universe are not as favorable for the evolution of life as optimists like to think." I do not take what I consider an optimistic view. Life seems able to eke out a living in almost any environment. Articles such as this and this express how extreme an environment life can evolve. I'm not saying that intelligent life will neccessarily evolve here, if anything, it will be very primitive because of limited resources. As Schenkel says "...the evolutionary path from such primitive forms to complex life as human beings is-as we have seen-a long one, studded with a unique sequence of chance and catastrophes." But where he concentrates on chance, I concentrate on just whether the environment can support it. If life exists, and it can, it will advance. It may take billions of years, but it will eventually advance to the point of intelligence.

Finally, Schenkel explains that he's not actually bashing SETI and does not suggest it to be a waste. I, on the other hand, am. I do not suggest this for his reasons, though. I suggest it because no matter how one looks at the variables, the outcome is an infinitesimal chance at detecing a signal. For all intents and purposes, statistically, we will never detect anything. So yes, his conclusion of "Whoa! Hold on a minute" is correct, but I think his premises are wrong.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Linky Linky, Click Click.

Almost There!

Scientists have found a way to trick cancer cells into committing suicide. The novel technique potentially offers an effective method of providing personalized anti-cancer therapy.

Synthetic Molecule Causes Cancer Cells to Self-Destruct (Via


Drunk Fetuses? Greeeeaaaaat.

Most studies of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) have been linked to heavy and/or binge drinking, especially in minority and poor populations. Popular thought contends that drinking in Western Europe is more moderate than it is in the U.S. New findings indicate that drinking levels among some women in Italy are similar to those of high-risk drinkers in the new world, reflected in coexisting levels of FAS and FASD.


Honestly, I get tired of parents. Not only is the planet already over populated, but parents are honestly getting stupider. There is a wealth of information out there and, yet, countless parents the world over disregard this information because they apparently possess the common sense of a tub of Cool Whip.

It has gotten bad enough where, beyond all common sense on my own part, the mere fact that someone is a parent sends their default status in my book to "shit list." They actually start off interactions with me already in the hole.

What is it with parents not accepting the immense responsibility that comes with children. I've seen it time and time again in psychological practice (not my own, thank God) and just watching parents in the grocery store. Anecdotal? Perhaps. But I feel safe in saying that at any given moment one in ten parents could actually be classified as doing a good job. The rest range from "almost there" to "Wicked Stepmother."

When you have kids, your life is over for a decade. I'm not some curmudgeon who thinks kids equals the end of fun. That's not the case. Having kids is obviously a great experience that many people treasure. The problem is that millions of parents have kids than try to do the same things they always did. This is impossible. It is the end of life as you knew it. If you aren't willing to accept that, don't have kids.

First-of-its-kind Italian school study finds high levels of prenatal alcohol exposure (Via


In Related News.

Women who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) early in their pregnancies may be more likely to give birth to babies with congenital defects, particularly cardiac septal defects.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and congenital anomalies (Via


Wandering Poles Sounds Like a Dirty Movie

Imagine a shift in the Earth so profound that it could force our entire planet to spin on its side after a few million years, tilting it so far that Alaska would sit at the equator. Princeton scientists have now provided the first compelling evidence that this kind of major shift may have happened in our world's distant past.

Planet Earth may have 'tilted' to keep its balance, say scientists (Via Princeton University News)


Everyone Else is Saying "Duh," But I Think it's Actually Really Cool

Fuel ethanol could be cheaply and quickly converted into the purer, cleaner alcohol that goes into alcoholic drinks, cough medicines, mouth washes and other products requiring food-grade alcohol, say Iowa State University researchers.

Iowa State researchers explore turning fuel ethanol into beverage alcohol (Via Iowa State University News)


Not as Cool as That Frog That Freezes Itself.

Cooling water temperature during the fall prompts the crucian carp to store vast amounts of glycogen in its brain and at the same time reduce the amount of energy its brain needs. These physiological changes keep the brain functioning from February to April, when there is no oxygen in its ponds. The carp, a goldfish cousin, avoids predators this way.

Remarkable physiology allows crucian carp to survive months without oxygen (Via


I'm Sure Hostess is Really Hoping This Works.

Treatment of obese and diabetic mice with compounds that act as chemical chaperones called PBA and TUDCA restored healthy glucose levels and normal insulin action — and reduced the presence of fatty liver disease — according to a study published in the August 25 issue of Science. The work was conducted by a team of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Chemical compounds restore normal glucose levels and insulin action in obese mice (Via Harvard School of Public Health)


It Would be Great if People Were Like This.

Researchers at the Bar-Ilan University and the Israel Institute of Technology have used quantum mechanical calculations to identify the first class of chemical compounds that get thicker when stretched and thinner when compressed (molecular auxetics).

Get thicker when stretched, thinner when compressed: simulations identify auxetic molecules (Via


It's What Job Would do if He Were a Scientist.

The best science experiments are conducted carefully and often slowly, some taking years of painstaking work to yield results.

The World's Longest-Running Experiments (Via


Wow. I, uh... I Wonder If That's Happening to Humans. Where's My Tape Measure?!

The icecap may not be the only thing shrinking in the Arctic. The genitals of polar bears in east Greenland are apparently dwindling in size due to industrial pollutants.

Study: Polar Bear Genitals are Shrinking (Via


This Has Video, So It's Cool.

Scientists have discovered the fastest bite in the world, one so explosive it can be used to send the Latin American ant that performs it flying through the air to escape predators.

Ant Power: The World's Fastest Bite (Via

Friday, August 25, 2006

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lovely SPAM! Yes wonderful SPAM!

Earlier today, I was forced to delete every single comment on my blog. I had a couple dozen. At first, I was shocked to see comments on some of my earliest posts. I then looked at them only to be crushed by the sight of post after post of spam.

I was so sad! I thought people were finally discovering this blog in large enough numbers to actually have someone interested enough to post. Oh how wrong I was! Cruel, cruel world!

I look at the links only to discover that my blog has been desecrated by some scumbag spammer! Judging from the strange grammar, I'd say whoever it was was from Eastern Europe or Asia. Most likely Eastern Europe. For some reason it's a hotbed of blog SPAM over there.

Being a relatively recent entrant into the world of blogs, I was initially hesitant. Considering everything I heard said a new blog was created every second, I could not even fathom that my views and words could at all be useful. Anything I had to say was already being said by thirty people.

I had nothing to worry about.

I was curious as to why there were so few science blogs. Everything I heard meant that there had to be gazillions. Where were they? Where were my fellow thinkers, undoubtedly waiting to welcome me with open arms! The world is very different from what CNN had me believe.

In the newest issue of WIRED magazine, September, they discuss the problem. I'm glad I'm not alone. There's a damn good reason a new blog is created every second, because most of them are fake.

"Some 56 percent of active English blogs are spam, according to a study released in May by Tim Finin, a researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and two of his students. "The blogosphere is growing fast," Finin says. "But the splogosphere is now growing faster.""

I had heard of splogs before this and generally knew what the deal was, but I had no idea the problem was so far reaching. As far as I knew, the biggest problem facing the net today was click-fraud, namely competitors of a particular company clicking on said company's pay-per-click ads until they ran out of money.

I figured splogs were a minor problem because the major companies, such as the home of this blog, Blogger, would simply filter their new blogs and any foreign services that became known for spolgs would be eliminated from search results. Obviously, this isn't the case.

"A recent survey by Mitesh Vasa, a Virginia-based software engineer and splog researcher found that in December 2005, Blogger was hosting more than 100,000 sploggers."

This is insane! The very service I use is home to countless, well, almost countless droves of scumbag sploggers! This is of grave importance to me and I'm sure many other legitimate bloggers who will have the reputation of their service ruined and well earned ranking in Google and other search engines obliterated. The spurt of SPAM postings I got is, I'm sure, only the tip of the iceberg in an all-out assault on my comments that may come if this blog grows.

In fact, I'm getting less than 100 hits per week, right now. Most of them are probably finding that they want to be elsewhere. With less than 100 hits per week, I'm getting spammed. I worry about becoming one of the mega-blogs who have actually just shut down comments. It sucks hard because the idea of feedback from others about my ideas is something that gets my heart all a-flutter.

"Statistics compiled by Akismet, a system put together by WordPress developer [Matt] Mullenweg that tried to filter out blog spam, suggest that more than nine out of ten comments in the blogosphere are spam. Partly as a result, prominent blogs like Instapundit, The Corner, and Talking Points Memo simply refuse to turn on the commenting."

Also of importance to me, since it makes me feel that I am a somewhat unique voice on the net, is the massive number of dead blogs. Of the 12.9 million blogs on Blogger, over 10 million of them are dead, meaning inactive or were stillborn. These still have comments on them, so sploggers actually take over dead blogs and annex them into their splog empire. I will never die. I didn't hop on the bandwagon for so long because I had nothing to say. I had not made the choice. Now I have, and I will be one of the good ones.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Did You Know...?

On the subject of raging American stupidity on evolution and genetics, here are a few of the questions that were on that test. This is only a sample of one section of the entire test.

I actually got one of them wrong, but because I thought too far into it and didn't know what they consider animals. For questions about plants and animals, assume all they mean are flowers and puppies.

Aside from that question, I certainly hope all of you will marvel at the ease of the questions and wonder, really wonder, how anyone can be so ignorant as to get SIX (the median score) of them wrong.

1. Ordinary tomatoes do not have genes, whereas genetically modified tomatoes do.

2. Genetically modified animals are always larger than ordinary animals.

3. Cloning is a form of reproduction in which offspring result from the union of sperm and egg.

For the remaining questions, click the link.

What’s your genetic literacy score? (Via

Evolution Schmevolution.

I already mentioned this study on one of my link days, but I had to come back to it. It's almost unbelievable.

Obviously, the primary point of the study is, effectively, how laughably stupid the United States is. As far as religious fundamentalism goes, we're in such fine company as Lithuania, Cyprus, and Bulgaria. I would bet people from those countries would have a hard time finding those countries on a map. The only country lower than us on the survey? Turkey. Well... Turkey's a toilet.

There are two things about this survey that come to mind. Firstly, I feel the United States on the whole may be nothing to write home about, but sectioned off, I would wager that the US is doing just fine and could very well be at the top.

I am, of course, referring to the existence of two countries within the United States. It's an easy delineation, so we can call them the RED states and the BLUE states. I don't think there's anyone who would argue about the incredible intellectual, economic, and social differences between the southern US and the north east and western US. Because of this, I think if the survey split the US into two groups, the blue group would be very high on the list. I feel like this somewhat redeems our poor showing.

Secondly, take a look at this graph. Yes, the US is effectively the bottom of the barrel, but look at all the other countries! Look at all the red! It's not just the US, it's everywhere.

I would probably find this angering if I was more self righteous, but instead I find it bordering on humorous. Are there really that many idiots out there? I guess this is a good time to point out that I disagree with Carl Sagan's stance of treating these people as people, same as us, who are ignorant of the knowledge we take for granted. They are people who deserve respect and deserve to be "shown the light," as it were. We can not mock them for it could have just as easily been us in the ignorant position.

I think that's an honorable point and a point well made. I also think it may very well work. You catch more flies with honey, and all that rot. But I'm tired of treating these people with respect. They are more than ignorant. They revel in their ignorance. The knowledge is ubiquitous, sitting there, waiting to be acquired. They are idiots. I also don't think they deserve respect. A person, in my book, does not deserve respect my mere function of their humanity.

By being human, every person I meet is assigned a respect value of "0." This means I will neither respect them or disrespect them. They soon move up or down the scale. I respect actions and words that are thought out and intelligent. These people are the antithesis of that. It's the equivalent of a kid in 8th grade who still believes in Santa Clause, argumentatively so. You don't calmly and kindly lead him down the path of enlightenment. You make fun of the dumb bastard. He stops believing in Santa very quickly. Is it pretty? No. Is it kind? No. But it made one less idiot.

The people represented in this study deserve to derided. They deserve to made fun of because they're ignorant. I'm not going to take them seriously. I'm not going to treat them with respect. I'm going to mock them. Because anyone who is so absurd as to live one hundred years in the past deserves to be laughed at, mocked, and left to the sands of time.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Poor Sci-Fi Writers Just Can't Keep Up.

In my previous post about how I think SETI's search for ET is doomed to failure because I suspect that alien civilizations, because of pure statistics, are either far behind us or far in advance of us. This means it's highly likely they don't use radio.

I only really have historical evidence to support the claim they will use a communication medium different from radio. This story, I think, supports the idea further when we take into account our own stratospheric advancement in technology. We are advancing so fast we can't even predict what's going to be around in a mere fifty years.

The story reminds me of Minority Report. It was well publicized that during the production of the movie they enlisted a number of futurists to capture a realistic feel for a world fifty years off. The movie came out four years ago, so that's now forty six years off. One of the little gadgets in the movie was a telephone that resembled an ultra-compact Bluetooth headset. This is FORTY SIX years in the future, and we already have one.

We can't even predict the world's technology in half of a life time. It's impossible to predict a society five hundred, or five thousand years away.

Micro Bluetooth Earpiece: Smaller Than a Dime, Spytastic, Handmade (Via

Politics as Science- Part 2: No Baloney.

Carl Sagan is famous for having written about a Baloney Detection Kit. Its original purpose was to recognize and deconstruct pseudo-science, it applies equally well to politics because it, too, is scientific.

Sagan’s kit was rooted firmly in the world of science. Skepticism, analysis, investigation, and finally conclusion. While this seems like the only way to go about things, and that any rational person, especially those in politics, would obviously solve problems in this way, politics seems to operate in reverse. People make a conclusion, investigate for things to support this conclusion (confirmation bias), analyze this new concoction to ensure everything fits, then fashion a hammer from this with which to bludgeon any skeptics that may wander along.

For glaring examples of this, look no farther than your closest cable news channel. If none of you have yet done so, I recommend listening to, or reading a book by either Ann Coulter or Bill O’Reilly. In fact, you can swap these two out for almost any other political celebrity. I find Rush Limbaugh, Al Franken, and all talking heads to be equally annoying. These people are exceptional in their skills at misrepresenting, distorting, posturing, and at times, outright lying. Yet, all of them garner significant attention.

Some of them are so off the charts that I have seriously wondered if their public persona is nothing but a show. Ann Coulter is seemingly so out of touch with reality that I have a hard time believing she actually subscribes to what she says. Rush Limbaugh has been exposed as the hypocritical jackass that he is, and Bill O’Reilly makes a habit of distorting truth nearly to the point of complete lies. These are not difficult conclusions to reach. They can be easily come to with the Baloney Detection Kit. Research what these people say and suddenly, most of their arguments fall apart.

Baloney infests politics even on the semantic level. Just as the words ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ have become loaded terms, as has the word ‘politics’ and all its variants. For example, stem cells, we have people decrying that the science has become politicized. That shouldn’t even make sense, but it does. Just the world ‘politics’ is laden with baggage with which it shouldn’t even be associated. Science is just science. It has no opinions, no beliefs, and no bias. It is what it is. Most of politics should be the same. I think we should drop the political cover of these beliefs and reveal them for what they are. They have absolutely nothing to do with politics and everything to do with ideology, namely, religion.

I dislike anyone who subscribes to either side, but I can at least stand to be around liberals. Conservatives (I feel the need to point out I am now using the two terms in their pop-definitions) really seem to be wrong a majority of the time on actual problems. I don’t have any evidence, although I feel confident that some driven liberal has analyzed assertions made by conservative talking heads to determine the percentage that is right or wrong. I’m sure it’s depressing.

Pop liberals are correct, but not because they're informed, intelligent people who reach conclusions. They're right because the people who they blindly follow are. This is the distinction I see. Just because what someone is spouting happens to be correct or somewhat correct doesn't mean they're not a fool. Both groups have reached their conclusions using the exact same process. Since my primary concern, in the end, is the solution of problems, sheep who are correct are better than sheep who are incorrect.

And that’s what this is all about, problems. As citizens, it is our responsibility and our duty to the precepts of this society to forever check up on our leaders. We must constantly put them to task. We must demand full, thoughtful explanations of every action. We must force them to remain focused on the problems that we have elected them to solve. We can not afford to be sheep and just hope that those who we decide to follow to not lead us off a cliff.

Obviously, this is something that career politicians are behooved to avoid. For if they actually solve all the problems, there’s not much reason for them to be around. Much like you’re average executive, career politicians spend most of their time convincing us why we need them, and rarely ever doing anything of importance.

Every single time they feed us a line, we can use our political Baloney Detection Kit to ensure that no sly-tongued career politician will ever pull the wool over our eyes.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Who ya Gonna' Call?

There's a show on SciFi called Ghost Hunters. I find the name misleading. The word 'hunter' seems to indicate that upon finding the ghosts they try to capture or kill them. How one kills a ghost I have no idea. I bet it would look killer above the mantle, though.

Most importantly, Ghost Busters wouldn't do because, aside form copyright concerns, they do nothing of the sort. They don't bust. They don't do much of anything! They wander around haunted houses with high-ish tech equipment until they find some spooky shit. Upon the discovery of said spooky shit, they call it a day.

They expend a few brain cells theorizing about what the spookiness could be, but they never make any testable claims. They never find the spooky shit, then dig down until what caused it is definitively determined. They find spookiness, and if no blatant explanations are forthcoming, they declare a haunting.

It is the worst kind of pseudoscience. They play around with equipment their audience understands just enough to know it's really cool. Most egregiously, they wrap themselves up the flag of skepticism, saying they go into every house determined to prove the haunting false. They then proceed to toss out the window any semblance of actual, skeptical thought.

One of the best magazines out there and easily worth the monthly cost (screw Time), is Skeptic Magazine. It's headed up by Michael Shermer, who, in the world of science and scientific thought, is god-like. Their online magazine, eSkeptic, recently did a debunking of Ghost Hunters. They give it a jolly good thrashing. I recommend you read it.

TAPS vs. SAPS (Via

Monday = Funday!

The glorious future of sewing!

Researchers at the University of Alberta have made the sharpest object in the world. It is a needle fashioned from tungsten which comes to a point that is one atom across.

The Sharpest Object Yet (Via


Wasn't deuterium a catch-all word in Star Trek, like 'tachyon?'

Scientists using NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer satellite have learned that far more "heavy" hydrogen remains in our Milky Way galaxy than expected, a finding that could radically alter theories about star and galaxy formation.

Hidden Milky Way Deuterium Found (Via Eurekalert)


Uh oh, maybe my psych degree wasn't such a good idea.

Earning a bachelor's degree in science or engineering (S&E) appears to serve the recipient well in the workforce, regardless of the job they do. In fact, according to a National Science Foundation (NSF) survey, people who have earned an S&E bachelor's degree generally report that science and engineering knowledge is important to their job.

A science or engineering bachelor’s degree is good for you (Via Eurekalert)


Different kids get bullied? Nooooo.

More than one-quarter of the children with OCD who researchers studied reported chronic bullying as a problem, according to University of Florida researchers. The name-slinging could cause symptoms of OCD to worsen.

Kids with OCD bullied more than others, study shows (Via Eurekalert)


They may be fat, but they kick ass at trig.

The American Heart Association recommends that schools lead the way to ensure that all children and youth participate in adequate physical activity during the school day. The scientific statement, "Promoting Physical Activity in Children and Youth: A Leadership Role for Schools," is published in Circulation.

Schools should take the lead in increasing kids' activity (Via Eurekalert)


I feel kind of bad for schools today. I can imagine the school superintendent reading parents' letters... Make kids smarter! Make kids thinner! More class time! More exercise! What the fuck do you people want?!?!

We have buffoonish parents yelling at schools because our kids our stupider than Japanese kids. They don't offer solutions. Nooo, that's not their problem. Fat, dumb child? It's not MY fault. It's the school's fault.

I would bet money that some other, education-oriented association will recommend that schools take the lead in increasing test scores within the next month or two. I've got a great idea! Let's just remove the parents from the equation all together! They're just problematic, anyways. Kids should be in school 24/7 from 5-years on. Besides, I bet the parents will be happy! Kids stop being cute after that.


This explains all those thin people who vibrate like tuning forks.

Some brains may be wired to encourage fidgeting and other restless behaviors that consume calories and help control weight. Researchers found that the brains of rats bred to be lean are more sensitive to a chemical produced in the brain, orexin A, which stimulates appetite and spontaneous physical activity such as fidgeting and other unconscious movements. Compared to obese rats, lean rats had a far greater expression of orexin receptors in the hypothalamus.

Being obese and a couch potato may have a biological basis in the brain (Via Eurekalert)


Don't fret about fretting, the baby's fine.

According to a review of the research on anxiety and pregnancy outcomes, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch found that experiencing anxiety symptoms during pregnancy is not associated with an increased risk of a number of pregnancy complications such as having a longer labor or a low birth weight baby. These results will be presented at the 114th annual convention of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Research shows no direct association between anxiety symptoms and adverse pregnancy outcomes (Via Eurekalert)


When I visit other countries, I'm really going to start saying I'm from Canada.

A comparison of peoples' views in 34 countries finds that the United States ranks near the bottom when it comes to public acceptance of evolution. Only Turkey ranked lower. (It's freaking Turkey!)

U.S. Lags World in Grasp of Genetics and Acceptance of Evolution (Via


Babies. Squirrels on my college campus were beasts. Size of beavers.

Several people attacked by a squirrel at Central Park said they had one word for the animal: nuts. On Wednesday some expressed frustration that the animal was not caught sooner, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Squirrels Attack People in Park (Via


How the hell do have an overweight baby? Donuts in the formula?

Chubby cheeks and dimpled thighs have long been a mother's proof of a healthy, well-fed baby. But those roly-poly infants now may be a sign of something much different: America's growing problem with weight.

More Babies Too Fat (Via LiveScience)


Remember, David Attenborough spit up the honey ants after the camera stopped.

The first loud crackle tastes and feels like popcorn, but by the time the juices spray wildly in your mouth and the filament-like legs slide down your throat, there's no mistaking this toasted ant queen.

Edible Ants Being Eaten Up (Via

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Politics as Science: Part 1- Politics as Science

If there is anything in this world I hate it’s politics. Politics is shit. I mean that in its most literal sense. I consider politics to be an actual pile of dung. It’s useless to say politicians are full of shit, because that goes without saying. They are shit. They are giant piles of poop excreted from some giant ass… or elephant, depending on the party.

There are a number of reasons why I hate politics, but I think the thing I hate the most is its ability to function for decades without ever actual doing anything. All the government seems to do today is increase its budget and get all riled up in controversial subjects which have little to do with anything.

Unfortunately, politics today attracts those very dung-filled politicians in droves. Politics sometimes attracts the idealists and thinkers, yet they never seem to hang around for very long. What happens? Where do they go? Why are the only ones who seem to stay are the ones who are the most egregious offenders of career politics? Politicians aren’t supposed to be shit. In fact, they shouldn’t be shit. When the gears are shit, so is the machine. So by extension, compliments of today’s politics, modern America is shit.

Now, I’m not so deluded as to think we are not like the “good ol’ days” where politics was clean and the ideals of America were pure. America has been full of shit since the very first days. The world, and our government, if nothing else, is getting much better as time goes on. I’m just saying that the change isn’t happening fast enough for my tastes.

Considering the exponential speed at which our civilization is growing, and the even faster growth of science, the fact that modern governmental functioning appears mired in thoughts and ideas that seem fresh out of the 1800’s is absurd. If our government had advanced at the same speed that science has our government should be nearing Star-Trek levels. Yet here we are. Clogged with ideologues, religious fundamentalists, never-ending arguments that go nowhere, and career politicians who only care about the next election, our government has a terrifying tendency to screech to a halt.

Something has gone terribly wrong.

Part 1: Politics as Science.

Politics isn’t that much different from science. Even the word politics just means the mechanics of the government. Even the janitor that cleans the bathrooms of the Capitol building is technically part of politics. So really, politics is the functioning of a machine that is designed to provide a framework in which society functions. Politics is not meant to be big and important. It is the building, but it’s the machines inside that make the products.

Unfortunately, that analogy is imperfect. We are imperfect. We have problems and since the mass of people are incapable of solving the problems we rely on an overseeing body to do the job. This is modern politics. This seemingly small aspect of the grand governmental machine is where everything that is modern government takes place.

Ideally, this would be a part of government that would arise when needed then disband when the problem has been solved. As time has gone on, this ideal has died. It has been replaced with a fleet of career politicians who can’t seem to stay away from the television cameras. And most depressingly, if these career politicians actually did their jobs well, they wouldn’t be able to be career politicians.

What’s mind bogglingly silly is that the only things about which we should be arguing are subjects related to the first part of government, the building. These are subjects of how government should be structured. Effectively, we are arguing about how the building should look and operate. At one time, very long ago, the terms ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ had to do with how the building should look. Should we have big state government and small federal (conservative), or the opposite (liberal)? Now, these terms have been loaded up with 97,000 metric tons of baggage and saying either attaches a whole fleet of characteristics to the offending person.

96,500 of those tons have nothing to do with the structure of the government. Instead, they have everything to do with problems. Problems that should be solved like any problem a scientist may encounter in the lab. You acquire all the data you can. You weigh the data. You experiment. You acquire other viewpoints. You then publish a paper and get offered a job at Harvard.

Ok, I made that last part up.

The politics about which everyone argues is easy. You have problems. You find solutions. As such, on matters of the structure of the building that is our government, I’m very biased (I’m very conservative). Everyone is. Everyone has a personal viewpoint as to how they want the government to work. Mostly, any viewpoint is as valid as any other. Being a conservative, I want the government to stay the hell out of my life. This allows me to solve my own problems. There are others who want the government to provide solutions to problems so they can then worry about other things. Either viewpoint gets the actual problems solved.

I’m biased strongly ideologically. About the problems, I’m biased to the point where I will not listen to any other viewpoints. As far as I’m concerned, they are all wrong. Don’t even bother arguing with me. You won’t win. You can’t win. I’m biased alright. I’m biased to the correct answer.

For any problem, there is a correct answer. In fact, I am of the opinion that for any problem there is only one correct answer. If you have multiple answers that seem to solve the problem, you haven’t effectively expressed the problem. This is, in fact, a problem in all of government. No one seems to even know what the god damned question is!

For example, Medicare is broken. This is a problem and must be solved. We hear about it every day. We see ads from AARP and opposing groups talking about how Medicare must be “fixed.” Well, no. It doesn’t. Medicare is not a problem. Medicare is a solution. A system is never the problem because systems only exist to solve problems. Medicare is the correct answer to a problem we don’t have.

The problem, the real problem, is that we have an exponentially growing elderly population that needs medical care. That means that Medicare may not even be the answer at all to our actual problem. We may need to create an entirely new answer. We’ll probably come up with some catchy name for that, too. I recommend ElderMed.

Things can get complicated after this, with greedy politicians lining their own pockets, pork barrel legislation and whatnot, but all that requires is a strong leader to keep hammering home the fact that there is a problem that needs solving. There is no bias, there is no argument. All ideas will be accepted and weighed by the group.

Instead, we have bickering fueled by ignorance, arrogance, and outright stupidity. When posed with 2+2. Some will scream 2, and immediately be attacked for having a bias for below 3. Others will scream 6, and immediately be attacked for having a bias for above 5. These two groups will then take to news channels and make asses out of themselves and the problem they’re attempting to solve by appearing on some insipid “debate” show. Eventually, the media, debate clubs, international politicians, talking heads, and everyone else who wants to be heard leaps into the fray. People take sides, others say everyone can be right, and some just move to Canada. What’s astonishing is that everyone overlooks the fact that the answer is 4.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Damned Fetuses are Too Sensitive.

In developmental biology there is a term to describe something that can cause deformations or growth abnormalities in a growing child, teratogenic, literally monster-making.

Any prospective parent who asks about a particular something being safe or not, any good doctor can only every respond with "it has not been determined to cause problems." Nothing is actually safe, we just don't know if something is dangerous or not. I consider this important for parents to understand fully. Doctors can be wrong and, boy, when they're wrong, they're REALLY wrong.

This really kind of drives that point home.

Ultrasound can affect fetal brain development (Via

All we need is HAL

For some reason, this causes memories of Pauly Shore's Bio-Dome to run through my head.

Russians want volunteers for fake Mars mission. (Via

Saturday, August 05, 2006

You Ain't Gunn' Take My God!

The recent upheavals involving evolution, something I really thought we had all agreed on, like, 80 years ago, had my stomach in a knot. I couldn't believe this was being discussed. Even worse, I couldn't believe these ideas were being taken seriously.

I'm not being dismissive. I'm not saying I espouse a certain way of thinking only to disregard it when I see fit. It's just that this evolution/creationism thing has already been discussed. We have gone through the critical thinking, the analysis of data, and all that good schtuff. The arguments have all been made. I can safely dismiss creationism because all the research to back that position up has already been done.

So when these zealots, these, these loonies actually make progress on something that's been known to be false for nearly a century, I not only get irritated, but scared. So when stuff like this happens, it soothes my very core to know that this "moral majority" is, has been, and hopefully always will be, a very vocal minority.

Evolution Opponents Lose in Kansas Primary (Via

Amos, Eat Your Heart Out.

I don't know about any of you, but I'm trying this first thing tomorrow morning.

Link Via

Scotty, Full Power to the Shields!

One of the most daunting prospects of interplanetary travel for our species is finding a way to effectively protect ourselves from high energy particles from the Sun. These cosmic rays, while not much of a problem in orbit because of Earth's magnetic field, or on the relatively short jaunts to the moon, would be dangerous on long trips to, say, Mars.

There are a number of ways we know of to protect the ship, one of the most effective includes putting three feet of water all around the habitat area of a craft. Not the easiest thing to implement.

I was thinking about computer chips. At very short distances, within 100 microns, the magnetic field surrounding the average computer chip is immensely powerful. It's so powerful there have recently been successful experiments creating Bose-Einstein condensates (a collection of super-cooled atoms that condense to an almost fluid-like clump that can be seen with the naked eye) near the surface of a chip (Scientific American, Feb, 2005).

Unfortunately my knowledge on the subject is highly limited, and I don't know if there is some inherent problem I'm missing. But couldn't a space ship be fitted with a shield of simple computer chips, layered outside the habitat, generating a magnetic field so small outside of microscopic distances as to not disturb other equipment but strong enough within to deflect cosmic rays?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Extension to both extensions.

I just found an article that sort of covers what I said in my previous post. You can read it here.

One thing that is important for this is to confirm that my earlier post is in no way unique or original.

Four out of the three arguments are silly, but one of them is similar to mine.

"In other words, SETI’s technical approach is wrong. Variations on this theme are to suggest that we should instead be looking for gamma rays (more bits per second), gravity waves (unclear benefit, except that some people think they move faster than light), or taking advantage of what is somberly and imposingly described as "hyperdimensional physics."

This is similar to my argument, but different from the real core. In a sense, my argument is actually useless because I pose no solution. All I say is that I consider it very unlikely that a civilization that is most likely of an interstellar nature would still be using a communication medium that's slow enough as to be problematic. And since a time when they did use radio waves took up such a tiny amount of their species' life, it is highly likely that their radio waves have long passed us by or are thousands, perhaps millions, of years away. It is so unlikely that we will find a signal that I consider it a waste of money.

I guess I should say now that I also consider it nigh on impossible that we are the only intelligent species in the galaxy, much less the universe. We have shown how electrical activity can react with commonly occuring chemicals in a planet's atmoshphere to create the building blocks of life. We know how easy it is for planets to form, and I doubt there are any scientists out there who would deny that there must be millions of stars in our galaxy alone with planets of approximately Earth's mass inside the correct orbit. We're almost positive of the planets' existence. We know how easy it is for the required chemicals to form. Put two and two together and I consider the idea that life does not exist to be far more unlikely than the converse. I think there is life everwhere.

All we need to find out is how advanced it is. Remember, our current state accounts for an infinitesimal amount of time. It's very likely that planets orbiting nearby stars are, on cosmological and geological time scales, almost exactly the same age as Earth, but on the time scale of us, the creatures there still have 200,000 years to go before they even brew their first beer. I think we are the big boys in our neighborhood, because if we weren't, I think our neighbors would have stopped by, said hi, asked how our mum was doing, etc., a long time ago. Since they haven't, as far as our neck of the woods goes, I consider it likely we're the most advanced.

So I do not claim to have any ideas on how SETI could be done better. We are doing SETI in the only way we can. The only way we can run SETI better is by giving it more money and perhaps just buying it the Arecibo Radio Observatory as a Christmas present.

I'm also not arguing against the existance of ET. I am utterly positive they're out there, it just doesn't matter enough right now to me or to them to bother doing anything about it.

I'm just saying that no matter how thourough we are, or how sensitive our equipment becomes, I seriously doubt we'll ever hear anything.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Science is cool, kids!

Boo nasty cuts! Hooray bees!

Honey, a household rememdy for wounds apparently for millennia (how did I not know about this?), is now receiving newfound attention from the scientific community. In a recent study, it was found that honey was better at healing wounds than modern antibiotics. Personally, I think this is fantastic. I was getting tired of carrying around both a first-aid kit and condiments for tea.

Via EurekAlert

More evidence that the world appears to be ending.

For the last few years, what has been called a "dead zone," has been forming off the coast of Oregon. This doesn't mean the fish there have psychic powers, it means they're literally dead. A condition know as hypoxia is robbing the fish of the oxygen and, alarmingly, it's spreading.

Via EurekAlert

Fiddy would be proud.

A recent analysis of ornamental beads by researchers at University College London have shown that humans made jewelry over 25 thousands years earlier than previously thought. This is an incredible find because the existance of frivolous self ornamentation is a good sign of both symbolic thought and the level of advancement in social groups.

Via EurekAlert


An apple a day...

Researchers in Massachusettes have discovered in animal testing that apple products boost a neurotransmitter associated with a slowing of mental ageing and mental decay in Alzheimers. They speculate it may become a standard part of treatment. This is just the excuse I need to eat nothing but apple pie.

Via EurekAlert

The government incompetent? Nooooo.

Modeled after the Department of Homeland Security's, exists to show people how to actually prepare for emergencies. Somewhere, a government official sighs in relief because someone else took care of the problem.

Via Federation of American Scientists

New genetic information on Parkinson's

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada (fantastic school), have found what they believe to be the gene responsible for the inherited form of the disease.

Via McGill University


Get out the jetskis!

Giant lakes of liquid gas have been confirmed on the surface Saturn's moon, Titan. I just think this is reaaaally cool.


Setting yourself on fire may be cooler.

The current heat wave may set records. There is a bright side. You can conserve energy by cooking stuff on your driveway.


Extension to the extension.

I think another important question is the amount of known history where there were planets that could support life. This gives us an idea of how much of a head start some other species, given perfect evolutionary conditions, could have on us. We can then use our history of the cosmos to determine at what points in the life of the universe the most life-supporting planets arose. This also would help us understand what percentage of other civilizations are more advanced than us and to what degree.

Extension to the Drake Equation

N=N* Fp Ne F1 Fi Fc FL

N*- Number of stars in the galaxy
Fp- Fractions of stars with planets.
Ne- Number of planets per star capable of life
F1- Fraction of those planets where life actually evolves.
Fi- Fraction of those where life is intelligent.
Fc- Fraction of those that can communicate
Fl- Fraction of their planet’s life where the civilization lives.

To those who are familiar with SETI or any area of cosmology concerned with the existence of life on other planets, the above equation should look pretty familiar. It’s known as the Drake Equation.

Named after a certified smarty-pants, Frank Drake, the equation was first written out in 1961, by, whom else, Frank Drake. It’s concerned with trying to figure out how many intelligent, suitably advanced civilizations exist in our galaxy and, by extension, the known universe.

I think there is an important extension that should be applied to the equation, one that is important if this equation is to have any real ramifications on how we engage in science related to extraterrestrial life. Namely, even if they’re out there, can we see them? I don’t know if there have been any papers that have already addressed this topic, and any of you know of one, please send me a reference.

In many ways, this goes back to my earlier post about our entire modern civilization being the product of just one human lifetime. We have been around for such a spectacularly short amount of time, even if you include all of our evolutionary ancestors, that we have actually achieved very little. We’ve only just begun, as it were.

If we expand our personal scale to a cosmological scale, we are nonexistent. Our great civilization is nothing. If we again take the number of 5,000 years as a good number to describe the age of our civilization, and we then take the age of the universe to be 13 billion years, we are less than one half of one percent of one percent of one percent of the universe’s timeline. 0.0001%.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m bashing the human race. I’m really amazed with the amount of progress we’ve made in such a short time. Especially in the last one hundred or so years our civilization has exploded with innovation and advancement. We haven’t even been using radio waves for a full human lifetime.

We can barely imagine where we will be 100, 200 years in the future. Just look at Star Trek. With every variant of the show to come out, their technology gets more incredible. Aside from the interstellar travel and transporter that are hallmarks of the series, we have all the goodies they had in the first series. We’re advancing so fast, our story tellers can’t keep up.

I think it would be arrogant to think we would be unique in our speedy advancement. So imagine a race, equally driven, that had a two million year head start. Actually, don’t bother, because I don’t think we can. In fact, they would have been beyond our imagination for the vast majority of the history of their species.

Because a race in our stage of advancement takes up such a tiny amount of cosmological time, sheer statistics dictates that we are most likely to discover a race that is still at chimp-level, or beyond our wildest imagination.

Because of this, I consider it downright absurd to think that a race that advanced is using something as ancient as radio waves. The speed of light is just so passé. We’re already touching upon the edges of discovery with postulated gravity waves and entangled particles. We may not even use radio in a hundred years.

So assume a communication medium that’s beyond our ability to detect, which, again, makes up the vast majority of this species’ history. Statistics again says that any radio waves emanated by this civilization are either way far away, or have long passed us by. We’re looking for something that, even if we assume the existence of other species, is so improbable as to be useless to seek. We’re effectively sitting in the dark, hoping that the little spurt of radio waves emitted by a civilization thousands/millions of years ago just happens to pass us by.

In this case, it’s not a question of whether they have the ability to transmit, Fc, but whether we have the ability to receive.