News Briefs 13-05-2017

“To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.”

Quote of the Day:

“The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

News Briefs 11-05-2017

On the next episode of The Apprentice: White House edition…

Thanks to Baby Groot.

Quote of the Day:

"Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty."

˜ Plato

Solving the Fermi Paradox: Could Advanced Aliens Be Lovecraftian 'Old Ones', Sleeping Through Eons?

Aliens in hibernation

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It's not often that you find academic papers about the possibility of alien civilisations that cite H.P.Lovecraft. But that's exactly what you'll find in a new article authored by Oxford University researchers, "That is not dead which can eternal lie: the aestivation hypothesis for resolving Fermi’s paradox".

The researchers, from Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, ask if advanced civilisations - who would likely be burning through power sources due to vast increases in computational ability - might make the decision to go into a hibernation of sorts ("aestivation") in order to take advantage of more energy-friendly conditions in the deep future:

[E]arly civilizations have a far greater chance to colonize and pre-empt later civilizations if they wish to do so. If these early civilizations are around, why are they not visible? The aestivation hypothesis states that they are aestivating until a later cosmological era.

The argument is that the thermodynamics of computation make the cost of a certain amount of computation proportional to the temperature. Our astrophysical and cosmological knowledge indicates that the universe is cooling down with cosmic time. As the universe cools down, one Joule of energy is worth proportionally more.

...Hence a civilization desiring to maximize the amount of computation will want to use its energy endowment as late as possible: using it now means far less total computation can be done. Hence an early civilization, after expanding to gain access to enough raw materials, will settle down and wait until it becomes rational to use the resources.

We are not observing any aliens since the initial expansion phase is brief and intermittent and the aestivating civilization and its infrastructure is also largely passive and compact.

In short, the paper says, very big civilisations might have a small footprint because they have "relocated most of their activity to the future". Advanced civilizations might have “seen it all”, the researchers say, and so "do not gain much more information utility from hanging around in the early era".

To 'relocate their activity to the future', the researchers say, advanced aliens could have figured out a way to either just 'hibernate', or otherwise perhaps even regulated their "mental speed" to change their subjective experience of time to enable them to 'traverse' large periods of time with minimum impact.

The paper is obviously all very speculative, even if they do offer real science (much of it too complex for me) to try and back up their hypothesis (they also note that the paper didn't originally aim to solve the Fermi Paradox, but rather was a consideration of how advanced civilizations might manage their resources).

But if you're going to have some fun speculating about hibernating ancient aliens, why not go hog wild and throw in some Lovecraft to paint a picture? That's exactly what the authors do to illustrate their scenario of 'sleeping Old Ones', inserting the two following quotes into their paper:

That is not dead which can eternal lie.
And with strange aeons even death may die.
H.P. Lovecraft

The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be.
Not in the spaces we know, but between them. They walk serene
and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.
H.P. Lovecraft, The Dunwich Horror and Others

Maybe they should have put 'eldritch' in front of every second noun just to really set a Lovecraftian tone...

Link: "That is not dead which can eternal lie: the aestivation hypothesis for resolving Fermi’s paradox" on arXiv.org

Related: SETI Should Consider Black Holes As Potential Targets

(thanks Norman)

News Briefs 10-05-2017

Slow news day...

Quote of the Day:

If I see eleven
You can say it's seven
Still I wish you heaven

Prince, "I Wish U Heaven"

News Briefs 09-05-2017

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe...

Thanks to @AnomalistNews.

Quote of the Day:

More human than human is our motto.

Tyrell, 'Blade Runner'

The Earth is Trashed in the Trailer for 'Blade Runner 2049'

We could debate all day whether Blade Runner should ever have got a sequel, but the fact is that Blade Runner 2049 will be coming out later this year (October 6th). At least, with the brilliant Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario) directing, we can have some faith that the film should be quality. And the first official full-length trailer (posted above) has plenty of wonderful visuals and nods to the original.

Here's more info on the movie:

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

From executive producer Ridley Scott and director Denis Villeneuve, #BladeRunner2049 stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana De Armas, MacKenzie Davis, Sylvia Hoeks, Lennie James, Carla Juri, Robin Wright, Dave Bautista and Jared Leto.

News Briefs 08-05-2017

Current status...

Quote of the Day:

Fascism arose in Europe [in the 1930s] with the help of enormous corporations.

Howard Zinn

The Witch - An Upcoming Book from Historian of Paganism, Ronald Hutton

Professor Ronald Hutton is a widely acknowledged expert on the history of paganism and folk beliefs, authoring a number of influential books, including The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft and The Druids: A History, as well as featuring in a number of documentaries on those topics, such as the embedded video above, A Very British Witchcraft, on the history of Wicca and its founder, Gerald Gardner.

Those who have enjoyed Hutton's previous work should therefore be very happy to learn that he has a new book scheduled for publication later this year (August 1 in the UK, September 5 in the US), titled The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present (Amazon US / Amazon UK):

Why have societies all across the world feared witchcraft? This book delves deeply into its context, beliefs, and origins in Europe’s history

The witch came to prominence — and often a painful death — in early modern Europe, yet her origins are much more geographically diverse and historically deep. In this landmark book, Ronald Hutton traces witchcraft from the ancient world to the early-modern stake.

This book sets the notorious European witch trials in the widest and deepest possible perspective and traces the major historiographical developments of witchcraft. Hutton, a renowned expert on ancient, medieval, and modern paganism and witchcraft beliefs, combines Anglo-American and continental scholarly approaches to examine attitudes on witchcraft and the treatment of suspected witches across the world, including in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Australia, and North and South America, and from ancient pagan times to current interpretations. His fresh anthropological and ethnographical approach focuses on cultural inheritance and change while considering shamanism, folk religion, the range of witch trials, and how the fear of witchcraft might be eradicated.

The Witch, by Ronald Hutton

You can pre-order The Witch from Amazon US or from Amazon UK now.

News Briefs 06-05-2017

“All mass is interaction.”

Quote of the Day:

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”

R. Feynman