Daily Archives: March 17th, 2009

St. Paddy’s Day Interstellar Musings

Paul Gilster of Centauri Dreams believes that human beings (or our AI representatives) ought to be the interstellar creatures traversing the galaxy in “UFOs” puzzling other creatures instead of the other way around by posting this announcement about Kelvin Long who organized an interstellar session on the upcoming 2009 UK Space Conference:

Tau Zero practitioner Kelvin Long has organized an interstellar session at the forthcoming 2009 UK Space Conference, which will take place from April 1 to 4 at Charterhouse School, near Godalming Surrey. The overall conference looks to be an excellent one, with symposia on rocket technology, panels and presentations on astronomy and space science, much educational material for teachers and students, and the presentation of the Arthur Clarke Awards on the evening of the 4th.


From our perspective, of course, it’s good to see the Tau Zero logo up on the site’s interstellar page, with links to all presentations. Long is a scientist in the plasma physics industry who will address inertial confinement fusion and antimatter-catalyzed fusion for space propulsion. You’ll recall that inertial confinement was the propulsion system of choice for the Project Daedalus starship design created by members of the British Interplanetary Society. Antimatter-catalyzed fusion interests me in light of recent work on harvesting antimatter in space, which suggests a way of augmenting our tiny stores of the stuff…

Project Daedalus was a 1970s thought experiment that used nuclear bombs to propel a probe to 10-20% light-speed to fly-by possible planets in Barnard’s Star solar system. Entirely technically feasible. But the mainstream nay-sayers, “chemical rocket only” and radio telescope advocates have been running research institutions for the past 40 years.

Hopefully that will end soon.

Interstellar Matters at UK Conference


Speaking of  radio-telescope-only advocates, Greg of The Daily Grail has this little tidbit about Jill Tarter, SETI maven:

Each year the TED conference hands out three ‘TED Prizes’ – a $100,000 cash award to three individuals, and the “granting of ‘One Wish to Change the World’.” One of this year’s winners was SETI pioneer Jill Tarter. Her wish? To “empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company.”

I have no beef with SETI in of itself, there could be an off chance we can detect an ET civilization via radio communication (detection).

But the organization has blinders on and is controlled by interests that places limitations on how ET civilizations can be detected.

SETI and TED, Sitting in a Tree…


Okay, if we happen to actually contact ETs (or in UFology, if they decide to talk to us), what do we say to them, if it’s even possible to communicate at all?

Well, according to a post on Nick Redfern’s blog The Redfern Files (UFO Mystic), it might not be too easy:

The forthcoming paperback edition of David McFarland’s Guilty Robots, Happy Dogs actually has nothing to do with literal ETs. But check out the blurb below from the publisher.

For those of us who have ever wondered how we might one day interact with real-life extraterrestrials of an infinitely different mindset, culture and thought-process, this could be essential and thought-provoking reading.

Here’s the background to the book:

When we interact with animals, we intuitively read thoughts and feelings into their expressions and actions – it is easy to suppose that they have minds like ours. And as technology grows more sophisticated, we might soon find ourselves interpreting the behaviour of robots too in human terms.

It is natural for us to humanize other beings in this way, but is it philosophically or scientifically justifiable? How different might the minds of animals or machines be to ours? As David McFarland asks here, could robots ever feel guilty, and is it correct to suppose your dog can truly be happy? Can we ever know what non-human minds might be like, or will the answer be forever out of our reach?

If the theory of planetary evolution is true, if we ever contact anything truly alien, it won’t resemble anything human at all.

It could look like a pack of feral male cats all tied up in knots pissing all over the place for all we know!

So there would be no common reference point to begin with!

Time will tell I guess.

Understanding the Alien

Tip o’ the tam to The Anomalist