News Briefs 26-10-2006

It’s weird science day, with a few ‘normal’ TDG stories thrown in for good measure. And I use ‘normal’ in the loosest possible sense…

  • Instead of searching for signals from ET, should we start beaming noise out ourselves. As the article says, is it wise to shout in the jungle?
  • Russia says that it is ready to repel asteroids if the Earth needs saving. Just think Armageddon, but replace all the jingoistic Americanisms with hammers, sickles and lots of red.
  • Queen guitarist Brian May launches new astronomy book, co-written with Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott (Amazon UK).
  • Tombs found in Syria hold treasures, signs of ritual sacrifice, and a never-before-seen type of writing.
  • NASA’s Messenger does a fly-by of Venus.
  • Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s rotweiller for repatriating archaeological treasures. With Playboy-like shot of Hawass, for all the ladies out there.
  • Geologists turn to ancient tales in order to discover new hotspots.
  • Is there room for a soul?
  • Science finally tackles hypnosis.
  • Scientists present method for entangling macroscopic objects. I think the game is called Twister guys.
  • UK considers beaming broadband Internet into homes from airships.
  • 360-million-year-old fossil found, which is almost the same as its modern-day counterpart. Does that mean it is the ideal evolutionary specimen, or God’s perfect creature? One for both sides of the debate to ponder.
  • Researchers make important advancement in unravelling the mysteries of fusion energy.
  • Australia plans world’s biggest space-age solar power station. If there’s one thing we’ve got, it’s sun. And flies. And beer. Mmm, beer.
  • Speaking of Australia – new program to train prisoners as crocodile handlers. Yeah sure, ‘train’. Just like all those Christians who ‘trained’ as lion handlers at the Coliseum.
  • Chinese river mysteriously turns red. The best part is, it’s called the Yellow River. That’s gotta confuse people…
  • Swiss orchestra conductor goes on trial again for Solar Temple ritual deaths.
  • Self-portraits chronicle an artist’s descent into Alzheimer’s.
  • Pelican caught on video eating a pigeon. Not for the squeamish – consider yourself warned.
  • Subliminal nude pictures focus the attention. Trust me, they don’t need to be subliminal.
  • Mars rover “beginning to hate Mars“. An exclusive to The Onion.

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

The time taken to evolve a fish eye from flat skin was minuscule: fewer than 400,000 generations. For the kinds of small animals we are talking about, we can assume one generation per year, so it seems that it would take less than half a million years to evolve a good camera eye.

Richard Dawkins

Editor
  1. Those reductionists are at it again
    Brian May should stick to music – the big bang theory is no longer in vogue.

    SETI researchers may be frustrated by the long silence, but they are also naïve. They must realize that ETIs already knows we’re here. Those more evolved species choose to remain incommunicado. Consider that if Sitchin is correct, which more and more researchers are acknowledging, then WE are the experiment – we aren’t meant to communicate with our experimenters. If our god-like creators could clone themselves to produce us (humans), then they had the capability to install a frequency fence around the planet 500,000 years ago as a means to ensure we couldn’t alert other, more benevolent ETIs of our enslavement, nor could other ETIs find us without a needle-in-the-haystack type search. So let SETI transmit at full bore – all the good it will do.

    Johns Hopkins archaeologist Glenn Schwartz, who led the Syrian tomb research, believes the tombs were for members of the city’s royalty or upper class. This may be true, however he needs to think more expansively in his reasoning for equids in the tombs: “I suspect that the sacrifice of these equids in our tombs has something to do with their association with the highest rank of society,” Schwartz said. “It would be like a wealthy person today being buried with his or her Rolls Royce.” More likely it was because members of that culture ascribed the equid with the ability to transport the soul to the next realm, wherever they believed that to be. Can a Rolls Royce do that?

    “Room for a Soul” includes some of the most obtuse reasoning imaginable to dismiss the role of consciousness. “Consciousness explains things that have already been decided for you,” one source says. Decided for me by something other than my mind, which is conscious? Another reductionist cited in the article says, consciousness “is not necessary to meaning.” I challenge these reductionists to try surviving, much less evolving, without consciousness. At the end of the 9-page article, mention is made that “Experiencing spirit/soul is finding unity and wholeness in something, and suggests that we view the self as spirit in that sense: the organization-or even the emergent property-of all of a person’s subsystems, not just one more subsystem.”

  2. ET and Mars
    Perhaps the advanced societies have so many TV channels that is looks like random noise, not like a few channels that carry actual information. We just need a few more years for that.

    For the poor Mars rover robots – I guess nobody told them they have to stay there. It’s just not fair.

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