Saturday, May 31, 2008

Balticon 42: Monday Science Sessions

It was my last day to get my geek fix. I bribed the kids with some pool time and was good to attend a few more sessions. I made it to the last few minutes of Twist and turns at Mercury by Dr. Robin Vaughan, APL, Learning disability as an analog for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by H. Paul Shuch, PhD, Life in Darwin's Universe by Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. and the first half of "Artifacts ID- Hands on 18th and 19th century pieces from Virginia" by TeriLee Edwards-Hewitt, Alexandria Archaeology.


Twist and turns at Mercury

Dr. Robin Vaughan, APL

There is a 15 min lag time for communications with the satellite.

Learning disability as an analog for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

“Aliens Among Us - SETI League’

H. Paul Shuch, PhD

We delivered a special message in 1974 which equaled a small pamphlet about earth in a binary code. At this point he pulled out his guitar and broke into a filk tune. “It takes a long time to talk to ET, EM velocity can’t exceed C”

The idea that aliens first contact with us will be our TV singles of I Love Lucy are pretty much impossible. TV signals may travel but won’t be received as a TV image and sound.

NASA had a SETI program which they started on the 500 year anniversary of Columbus landing. NASA’s SETI program was operational for 1 year when congress shut it down because we had not gotten a response. The program cost each tax payer 1 cent a year. The SETI League took over the operations with many of the same people working on the program. Their website is The SETI Institute (CA) uses large donations for a large telescope for a targeted approach to looking for communications from other galaxies. The SETI League (NY) has members in 65 countries, uses lots of smaller donations and uses a sweep approach for communications. The programs are redefining communications. In 1959 they considered gamma rays and decided against it. Instead they worked with the more possible microwaves. In 2000, they are looking for new ways to communicate such as zeta waves.

Human Learning Disabilities or Alien Communication Differences

Aspergers – geeks, poor social skills, very intelligent.

ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder, multitaskers, need to command their attention

Autism – lack of attempt to communicate, hyper focused, speak and think metaphorically (example: Star Trek September 1992 Darmok)

Different language - each industry has its own language, need to find a common language for communications (example: techno babble vs. psychobabble)

Time – how a groups sees time: a sundial has the least moving parts and time appears to move slowly; an hourglass has the most moving parts and time appears to move quite quickly. How you perceive time determines the urgency to reply to communications.

So if there is life out there we need to be patient and try to communicate in multiple ways.

Life in Darwin 's Universe

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr

Life in Darwin ’s Universe – the natural history perspectives of the search for life on other worlds. Are we alone? Yes. Frank Drake vs. Enrico Ferni.

Evolution does not expect an outcome of intelligent life or technological advanced society.

N=N* Fp Ne F1 Fi Fc FL

N= number of communication ETI in the galaxy

N* = Stars in Galaxy

Fp = stars with planets

Ne = habitable planets

F1 = planets with life

Fi = involve intelligence

Fc = want to communicate

FL = exist for billion of years (persist)

Star Trek universe N= 3,330,000 communicating universes

Carl Sagon universe N=0.1 communicating civilizations = 1 per 10 galaxies

Life needs an active recycling planet. This uplifts (volcanic, fusion, etc) and weathers the minerals etc to redistribute materials need for life. Activity can be fission (core fission, volcanic, etc) or hydro activity. 4-4.3 billion years ago pheo and proto earth collided and make up our current planet and moon. The rim region of space is metal poor and has less tectonics. The core region of space has more masses colliding.

Common assumptions for fir EIT is life progresses towards intelligence, technology and both will persist. Some animals are problem solving such as elephants, parrots and octopus. Others are tool users such as the otters, ants, and woodpeckers. Bottlenose dolphins do use sponges to pick up spiky things. Animals with one don’t necessarily evolve to do both. Floresiensis (homo flores aka “hobbits”) from 2 histories ago (1500-200ka) were another branch of humans. In the evolution of species often technology only changed when the ‘wet ware” or brains changed. Only in modern man has a group of people who were innovative and the technology changed without a ‘wet ware’ change.

Other obstacles are Sustainable (22 centuries); food growth; ‘oops’ – nuclear, bomb/accident, war, etc; environment – extinction events might not wipe out the technical group but might affect their climate and cause resources to be focused on food rather then communicating with us; fission reaction in the planet may run out and the bio sphere will die, and the sun expanding and destroying the bio sphere.

N=0.0002667 is less than 3% of milky way galaxies would have communicating ETI in any given million years. “Rare Earth” hypothesis. Yet we still have a chance to explore wonderful new worlds with low technology (N=2.667) or unique animal grad worlds (N=1,070,000). There is much to discover out there even if they can’t communicate with us.

"Artifacts ID- Hands on 18th and 19th century pieces from Virginia"

TeriLee Edwards-Hewitt

Twelve years ago they thought the oldest settlement in the Washington DC area was only 8,000 years ago. Now they have recently found proof that there were Indian settlements here as long ago as 13,000 years ago. The sites were found in Alexandria and Georgetown. Some of the discoveries were made because of the recent Wilson Bridge project expanding the bridge and the efforts to make sure the new sound barrier does not disturb graves in a American Civil War cemetery.

The American Indians used tree bark to clean their teeth. There are records of how they thought the settlers had bad teeth. Before the Civil War there was a common family toothbrush that had replaceable bristles. The bristles were commonly made out of boar or horsehair and were secured with copper wire. As the men went of to war they started to carry their own brushes and it became common for each person to have their own.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting these notes. The science programming at Balticon is always very good. I attended several of the programs you mentioned and wished I had taken notes myself. Dr. Holtz' presentations are always a highlight.