Solution They Are Somewhere But the Universe Is Stranger Than We Imagine

Listen there's a hell of a good universe next door let's go. e. e. cummings, pity this busy monster, manunkind The theories of modern physics are remarkable in their range of applicability. They explain phenomena at scales as small as the electron and as large as super-clusters of galaxies. They explain events that happened a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang, and we can use them to determine the fate of the universe. Some might say physicists are arrogant, filled with hubris for...

What Is Intelligence

In terms of SETI activities, we can reasonably define a species as intelligent if it can build a radio telescope. The problem with this definition is that mankind apparently became intelligent only about 50 years ago So although in a practical sense it might be a good definition, it fails on philosophical grounds. There must be a better way of capturing the essence of intelligence. A common approach is to define intelligence in terms of certain mental tasks that we find difficult, such as...

Solution Berserkers

During the 1950s, Cold War strategists toyed with the idea of a Doomsday weapon. Such a weapon was terrible, uncontrollable, capable of destroying all human life on Earth including the owners of the weapon. If your enemy knew you were willing to deploy a Doomsday device then so the Cold War logic went they would not dare attack you. I suspect that Fred Saberhagen had the Doomsday weapon in mind when he wrote his famous berserker stories.138 Berserkers are sentient, self-reproducing machines...

Solution Earths System of Plate Tectonics Is Unique

What we want is a story that starts with an earthquake and builds to a climax. Our planet has been destructive in recent years. Earthquakes in Turkey and India have caused huge loss of life smaller quakes in America and Japan have caused inconvenience and as I write, Mount Etna is spewing forth lava that threatens the livelihood of several hundred villagers.208 It therefore seems strange that some geologists consider the existence of plate tectonics the process that gives rise to earthquakes...

Solution The Planetarium Hypothesis

Stephen Baxter has proposed an interesting variant on the zoo scenario. He calls it the planetarium hypothesis.64 The speculation is far wilder than Ball's idea, but it merits the term hypothesis rather than scenario because it offers testable predictions. Is it possible, Baxter asks, that the world we live in is a simulation a virtual-reality planetarium engineered to present us with the illusion that the Universe is devoid of intelligent life The physics behind such an idea has a modern feel...