Shuklas : Across the Universe The Search For Life Beyond Earth
Posted 02 May 2010 - 03:18 PM
Hawking frets about dangerous aliens, but NASA has already sent them an invitation
By Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Cosmologist Stephen Hawking says it is too risky to try to talk to space aliens.
Oops. Too late.
NASA and others already have beamed several messages into deep space, trying to phone extraterrestrials.
The U.S. space agency, which two years ago broadcast the Beatles song "Across the Universe" into the cosmos, on Wednesday discussed its latest search strategy for life beyond Earth.
"The search for life is really central to what we should be doing next in the exploration of the solar system," said Cornell University planetary scientist Steve Squyres, chairman of a special National Academy of Sciences panel advising NASA on future missions.
The academy panel is looking at 28 possible missions, from Mars to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. And NASA is focused mostly on looking for simple life like bacteria in Earth's solar system rather than fretting about potential alien overlords coming here.
Just days ago, Hawking said on his new TV show that a visit by extraterrestrials to Earth would be like Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas, "which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans."
The famous British physicist speculated that while most extraterrestrial life will be similar to microbes, advanced life forms would likely be "nomads, looking to conquer and colonize."
The comment reinvigorated a three-year debate roiling behind the scenes in the small community of astronomers who look for extraterrestrial life, said Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, which looks for aliens. Should astronomers ban purposeful messages into the universe for fear of attracting dangerous aliens?
Shostak maintains it really does not matter, saying that approach is unnecessarily fearful.
While some people think broadcasting into the universe is "like shouting in a jungle, not necessarily a good idea," Shostak asked, "Are we to forever hide under a rock? That to me seems like no way to live."
There is a big difference of opinion in astronomy about the issue, said Mary Voytek, a senior astrobiology scientist at NASA headquarters.
"We're prepared to make discoveries of any type of life, of any form," Voytek said in a NASA teleconference. Much of the search for intelligent life is privately funded, by groups like SETI, she said.
About 20 years ago, NASA held a conference on this issue. Back then, most of the experts were worried about attracting the wrong type of aliens, said Christopher Kraft, the former NASA Johnson Space Center director who created Mission Control.
But Kraft, a NASA legend who received a lifetime achievement award Wednesday from the Smithsonian Institution, said he would welcome aliens. "I might just learn something," he said.
The SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, takes a passive approach, listening for any signals from aliens.
For more than a quarter of a century, however, various groups have been purposely sending out signals to other worlds. The most famous was a three-minute broadcast from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico in 1974, Shostak said.
The Canadians made a series of broadcasts using a Ukrainian antenna in the 1990s. The now-defunct Team Encounter of Houston and a prominent Russian astronomer made public and distinct "cosmic calls" out to the universe, including one just from teenagers.
NASA beamed "Across the Universe" to the star Polaris in 2008 to promote the space agency's 50th anniversary, the 45th anniversary of the Deep Space Network and the 40th anniversary of the Beatles song. And the same year, as part of the publicity for the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still," the movie was broadcast to the stars, Shostak said.
Four NASA deep space probes — Pioneer 10 and 11 and Voyager 1 and 2 — carry plaques and recordings that say hello from Earth and give directions on how to get here. Those probes launched in the 1970s are at the edges of the solar system.
And that is on top of the broadcasts Earth inadvertently sends into the cosmos as part of daily life: radio and TV signals, airport and other radar communications.
"That horse left the barn a long time ago," Squyres said, speaking from an astrobiology conference in Houston. "Whether you do it intentionally or not, the signals are out there."
Massachusetts Institute of Technology planetary scientist Sara Seager does not think much of the broadcasts to space, because so far they are pointed at random, not toward potential Earth-like planets.
"We wouldn't even know where to send our message, it's so vast out there," Seager said. That will change in a few years when new telescopes will be able to find terrestrial planets that could support life.
Even then, Seager said any aliens coming to Earth probably would be so advanced they would not need to hear our message to find us. It would not be like Columbus stumbling upon on the New World, she said.
"If they have the capability to come here, they're probably to us as we are to ants on Manhattan," said former NASA sciences chief Alan Stern.
The closest any aliens could be is a few tens of light years away. With one light year equaling about 5.9 trillion miles, that means it would take them generations to get here travelling at the speed of light, Shostak said. And even that would be unlikely, he added.
Frank Drake, who did the first modern experiment looking for extraterrestrial intelligence, estimated there are about 10,000 intelligent civilizations in the universe, while the late Carl Sagan figured it was closer to a million, Shostak said.
Given how big the universe is, our nearest intelligent neighbour is more likely about 5,900 trillion miles away, he said.
"God has nicely buffered us," he said.
On the Net:
Astrobiology 2010 Science Conference: http://www.lpi.usra....s/abscicon2010/
Posted 02 May 2010 - 03:23 PM
Could there be life-forms on worlds far beyond the bounds of Earth?
The search for life as we don’t know it begins with understanding life as we do.
From amoebas to androids to antimatter, Are We Alone? weaves together humor and compelling interviews into themed programs about the biggest ideas in evolutionary biology, genetics, paleontology, technology, and physics – as well as cosmology and astronomy.
Are you a doubting Thomas? You’ll have plenty of company as we separate science from pseudoscience and the facts from the phony in Skeptic Check, our monthly look at critical thinking.
Are We Alone? is a one-hour program, produced by the SETI Institute and broadcast and podcast every week. The show can be found on iTunes, Juice, and other podcast sites. Radio stations carrying the program are listed on our Listening page.
The show is freely available to radio stations for broadcast from the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) Content Depot, the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) and Pacifica Network.
If you are a station that would like to broadcast Are We Alone?, or would like more information about the program, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Barbara Vance at 650-960-4531.
Are We Alone? is supported in part by a grant from the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Skeptic Check is presented by a generous donation from the Trimberger Family Foundation. Some music provided by Peter Kienle.
Science radio for thinking species on any world.
Posted 02 May 2010 - 03:29 PM
The Universe : Stephen Hawking
Where do we come from? How did the universe begin? Why is the universe the way it is? How will it end?
"All my life, I have been fascinated by the big questions that face us, and have tried to find scientific answers to them. If, like me, you have looked at the stars, and tried to make sense of what you see, you too have started to wonder what makes the universe exist. The questions are clear, and deceptively simple. But the answers have always seemed well beyond our reach. Until now.
"The ideas which had grown over two thousand years of observation have had to be radically revised. In less than a hundred years, we have found a new way to think of ourselves. From sitting at the center of the universe, we now find ourselves orbiting an average-sized sun, which is just one of millions of stars in our own Milky Way galaxy. And our galaxy itself is just one of billions of galaxies, in a universe that is infinite and expanding. But this is far from the end of a long history of inquiry. Huge questions remain to be answered, before we can hope to have a complete picture of the universe we live in.
"I want you to share my excitement at the discoveries, past and present, which have revolutionized the way we think. From the Big Bang to black holes, from dark matter to a possible Big Crunch, our image of the universe today is full of strange sounding ideas, and remarkable truths. The story of how we arrived at this picture is the story of learning to understand what we see."
Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking - Time Travel HDTV XviD-MOMENTUM
Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking - Aliens HDTV XviD-MOMENTUM
Stephen Hawking hosts an epic new kind of cosmology series, a Planet Earth of the heavens. It takes the world's most famous scientific mind and sets it free, powered by the limitless possibilities of computer animation. Hawking gives us the ultimate guide to the universe, a ripping yarn based on real science, spanning the whole of space and time — from the nature of the universe itself, to the chances of alien life, and the real possibility of time travel.
Hawking joins science and imagination to explore one of the most important mysteries facing humankind — the possibility of alien, intelligent life and the likelihood of future "contact." Traveling from the moons of Jupiter to a galaxy maybe not so far, far away, he'll introduce us to possible alien life forms — in stunning CGI — that face the same universal trials of adaptation and survival as the residents of Earth.
Discovery Channel - Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking S01E02 Time Travel (2010) 720p HDTV DD5.1 x264-CtrlHD
Naked Science: Hawking's Universe
Stephen Hawking is one of the world's most famous scientists. But ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, has left him almost totally paralysed... and it is progressing. Unable to walk, talk or write, his only way of communicating is through a computer program that turns a small movement of a finger or the blink of an eye, into words from a vocal synthesiser. But Hawking remains determined to discover a theory of everything, a complete set of rules for the Cosmos.
Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking: Aliens- Watch on Mega Video
Posted 03 May 2010 - 12:28 PM
Wonders of the Solar System
Prepare to immerse yourself in an alien world as if you were standing there yourself. Giant ice fountains rising over 100km high; an ocean hidden beneath a frozen crust of ice; storms twice the size of Earth coloured blood red by a vortex of dust and gases; immense volcanoes that could rip a planet apart - this series reveals the true and awesome beauty of our solar system. Using the very latest breathtaking images sent directly from space, groundbreaking CGI transforms the static into the dramatic. Travelling from the Sun to the far-out reaches of Neptune, the series has at its heart the latest scientific knowledge beamed back from the fleet of probes, rovers and telescopes currently in space, and offers a vivid and unprecedented tour of the world beyond our planet.
1 Empire of the Sun
2 Order out of Chaos
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Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:44 PM
English | 92mins | 688x288 | 25fps | XviD | MP3 - 131kbs | 350MB
They are striking works of art by any standard: but what purpose did they serve? Some of the theories put forward suggest that the lines were ancient running tracks, runways for aliens and even a giant astronomical calculator. But after decades of misunderstanding, modern archaeology may finally have an answer to the puzzle of the Nasca lines
An international team, including National Geographic-funded scientists, has taken an array of high-tech tools to the desert in an unprecedented effort to build a comprehensive digital model of the lines. At the same time, excavations are uncovering new clues about the Nasca, their rituals and beliefs, and the extremes they went to in order to survive. The mystery of the Nasca Lines is bound up in an unforgiving climate, droughts, clan warfare and mysterious caches of severed human heads.
Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:47 PM
National Geographic Nasca Lines Decoded HDTV
HDTV | English | AVI | XVID @ 889Kbps | 624x352 - 25.00fps | VBR MP3 138 kbps | 45 mins | 350MB
The Nasca Lines are one of the most impressive structures ever made by man. Be blown away by these immense, complex lines that stretch for thousands of kilometres carved as animals, deities and geometric shapes. Discover how a people who lived as early as 100 B.C. and transformed an arid landscape into pockets of fertile oases constructed these impressive structures.
Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:51 PM
National Geographic - Taboo Drugs 2 (2010) HDTV XviD-MOMENTUM
English | AVI | XviD 941Kbps 624x352 29.970fps | MP3 128Kbps 2CH 48Khz | 00:45:27 | 350MB
NGC explores drug cultures around the world where people use drugs to enter an "altered state" — sometimes with dangerous consequences. We visit a village in Venezuela where shamans use drugs to contact the spirit world, a festival in Nepal where hashish is temporarily legalized and a club scene in Amsterdam where drugs have become a focus of both recreational indulgence and scientific inquiry.
Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:59 PM
More than 70 percent of Earth is covered in water but we've only explored roughly 5 percent of it. We've roamed even less of our solar system. Now, armed with some of the latest advances in technology, we join scientists on a voyage into the unknown - from the far reaches of space to the extreme depths of our oceans where new discoveries have experts questioning everything we know about the universe, and ultimately ourselves
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Posted 14 May 2010 - 09:02 PM
Mysteries Of Angels And Demons [2009|
Many believe there are up to 10 different planes of existence unseen, unknown, unheard of by humans. In this gripping documentary, Mysteries of Angels and Demons, we explore the shadowy secrets and mystical nature of these unseen forces that influence our daily lives. Demon experts and biblical scholars delve into this spirit world and reveal the secret shocking powers that guide our thoughts and actions. Prepare to be frightened by stories of actual events and unbelievable tales, as ordinary people share their close encounters and try to answer the question once and for all: Are we alone.
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Posted 14 May 2010 - 09:07 PM
A new episode of DISCOVERY channel documentary series called “How The Universe Works”. The programme investigates how the Universe came into existence out of nothing, and how it grew from a miniscule point, smaller than an atomic particle, to the vast cosmos we see today.
Posted 14 May 2010 - 09:11 PM
National Geographic - Volcanic Ash Chaos Inside the Eruption
Documentary charting the global impact of the 2010 eruption of an Icelandic volcano, which caused the greatest disruption to air travel since 9/11.
The devastating eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull in mid-April brought mass disruption to skies over Europe, shutting down European airspace and stranding hundreds of thousands of air passengers around the world. As news crews frantically monitored the ash cloud's progress and reported on the repatriation of tourists and business travellers, a National Geographic Channel film crew was on the ground in Iceland. They witnessed and captured dramatic events unfolding at the scene before, during and after the two eruptions.
Posted 14 May 2010 - 09:22 PM
Humankind’s greatest adventure may only be decades away. Unmanned space probes equipped with AI will soon be sent to search for life on planets beyond our solar system. But what happens if we do find it?
Posted 14 May 2010 - 09:28 PM
Dozens of ships and planes have vanished without a trace in the area of the Atlantic Ocean known as the . Bermuda Triangle. But where do they go and what is causing them to disappear? We take to the skies and seas to test the theories that could explain the. Triangles sinister reputation. We dive with a husband and wife detective team intent on unlocking the mystery of the Triangle and find ourselves on the trail of what could be an amazing underwater discovery.
Posted 14 May 2010 - 09:34 PM
What Makes a Genius
BBC Horizon 2010
Could you have come up with Einstein's theory of relativity? If not - why not?
This is what Marcus du Sautoy, professor of mathematics, wants to explore. Marcus readily admits that he is no genius, but wants to know if geniuses are just an extreme version of himself - or whether their brains are fundamentally different.
Marcus meets some remarkable individuals - Tommy, an obsessive artist who uses his whole house as his canvas; Derek: blind, autistic, and a pianist with apparently prodigious gifts; Claire, who is also blind, but whose brain has learnt to see using sound.
Marcus is shown how babies have remarkable abilities which most of us lose as teenagers. He meets a neuroscientist who claims he has evidence of innate ability, a scientist who's identified a gene for learning, and Dr. Paulus, who has discovered how to sharpen the brain... by electrically turbo-charging it.
Posted 15 May 2010 - 09:22 PM
A well put together documentary revealing a wide range of evidence that points towards NASA hiding a big secret to mankind "we are not alone and have never been alone" In the past conspiracy theorists have been branded a bad name because the theory most of the time consisted of no evidence and the story would take on all kinds of twist as the conspiracy would circulate through the public like chines whispers. In the past five years due to the rise of the world wide web a lot of conspiracy theories are now being taken serious. Information has become public because of the web, credible evidence is now to the normal person viable, we are able to validate claims made by looking through archives and company websites. Conspiracy theory is no longer "theory" but a evidential conspiracy with credible people revealing secrets within the system.
Posted 15 May 2010 - 09:27 PM
The world is coming to an end on December 21, 2012! The ancient Maya made this stunning prediction more than 2,000 years ago. We'll peel back the layers of mystery and examine in detail how the Maya calculated the exact date of doomsday. Journey back to the ancient city of Chichen Itza, the hub of Maya civilization deep in the heart of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, to uncover the truth about this prophecy. The Maya were legendary astronomers and timekeepers--their calendar is more accurate than our own. By tracking the stars and planets they assigned great meaning to astronomical phenomena and made extraordinary predictions based on them--many of which have come true. Could their doomsday prophecy be one of them? In insightful interviews archaeologists, astrologers, and historians speculate on the meaning of the 2012 prophecy. Their answers are as intriguing as the questions.
Posted 21 May 2010 - 10:23 AM
Physicists have long wondered why the universe exists when matter and anti-matter particles obliterate each other on contact.
But new data from a particle accelerator in the United States suggests a reason.
The tests showed that when anti-protons and protons collide, the resulting new particles show a one per cent skew toward matter over anti-matter. Over a long period of time, this characteristic of the universe could explain why matter has come to dominate over anti-matter.
"Many of us felt goose bumps when we saw the result," said Stefan Soldner-Rembold, a physicist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.
"We knew we were seeing something beyond what we have seen before and beyond what current theories can explain."
Every basic particle of matter has a matching anti-particle. The anti-particle has the same mass as the standard particle, but an opposite electric charge. Anti-matter is not to be confused with dark matter.
While anti-matter has been demonstrated in numerous experiments, dark matter remains a hypothesis used to help explain the effects of mass which scientists cannot currently see.
The dark matter hypothesis helps to explain why the universe hasn't expanded into a cold and relatively motionless void. The extra mass, and resulting gravity, is the reason galaxies form into clumps rather than flying apart.
Particle accelerators, such as the Tevatron collider at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, which conducted the tests, and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN on the Swiss-French border, use electric fields to smash particles into each other at incredibly high speeds.
Scientists then study the particles that are created. Researchers seek larger and larger accelerators in order to create collisions that more closely resemble those which took place soon after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago, when the temperature and density of the universe were much higher.
The new findings deviate from what is known as the Standard Model, the theory created in the 1970s to explain the complex interaction of sub-atomic particles.
Up until now, the model predicted a small preference toward matter over anti-matter, but not enough to explain the structure of the universe we see today.
The findings come ahead of an experiment to be held at CERN, called LHCb, also aimed at explaining matter's dominance.
Consequently, the results of the test in the U.S. could soon be confirmed and expanded, forming the basis for a new or amended quantum theory.
Posted 21 May 2010 - 10:27 AM
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists working to make a synthetic life form reported a major step forward Thursday, saying they had created an artificial genome and used it to bring a hollowed-out bacterium back to life.
They hope to use their stripped-down version of a bacterium to learn how to engineer custom-made microbes.
But some groups worried the technology might be used to make biological weapons and President Barack Obama asked his bioethics advisers to report on the implications. The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee scheduled a hearing for next week to discuss the implications, good and bad.
Others disputed just how far the researchers had gone in making artificial life.
"This is the first synthetic cell that's been made," said genome pioneer Craig Venter, who led the research. "This is the first self-replicating species that we have had on the planet whose parent is a computer."
Other members of his research team said later they had taken only "baby steps" toward the goal of starting with a digital file and custom-making an organism.
Venter has said he would like to try to make bacteria to produce fuel or to use in making better vaccines or to design algae that can vacuum up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
"This becomes a very powerful tool for trying to design what we want biology to do," Venter said at a news conference.
Reporting in the journal Science, Venter's team said it worked with a synthetic version of the DNA from a small bacterium called Mycoplasma mycoides transplanted into another germ called Mycoplasma capricolum, which had most of its insides removed.
After many false starts, the new microbe came to life and began replicating in the lab dish.
It took years to figure out how to make an artificial chromosome with artificial genetic sequences. The researchers, who have spent 15 years and $40 million so far, then had to figure out how to transfer this into another bacterium.
At first, nothing happened. It turned out there was a single error in the more than 1 million "base-pairs" in the genetic sequence. "Our success was thwarted for many weeks," they wrote in their report.
Venter said the team consulted many experts in ethics before it started. The institute's Dan Gibson said they also briefed the White House because of the security implications -- the technique might be used to synthesize biological weapons, for instance.
Obama asked the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to look at the issue.
"In its study, the Commission should consider the potential medical, environmental, security, and other benefits of this field of research, as well as any potential health, security or other risks," Obama wrote.
"Further, the Commission should develop recommendations about any actions the federal government should take to ensure that America reaps the benefits of this developing field of science while identifying appropriate ethical boundaries and minimizing identified risks."
Some environmentalists worried.
"We must ensure that strong regulations are in place to protect the environment and human health from this potentially dangerous new technology," said Eric Hoffman of Friends of the Earth.
The researchers do not claim to have created a completely synthetic life form but the experiment elicited some dramatic responses.
"Venter's achievement would seem to extinguish the argument that life requires a special force or power to exist. In my view, this makes it one of the most important scientific achievements in the history of mankind," bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania wrote in a commentary in the journal Nature.
"Their achievement undermines a fundamental belief about the nature of life that is likely to prove as momentous to our view of ourselves and our place in the Universe as the discoveries of Galileo, Copernicus, Darwin and Einstein."
Jim Collins, a professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University, disputed that.
"Frankly, scientists do not know enough about biology to create life," Collins wrote in Nature.
"The work reported by Venter and his colleagues is an important advance in our ability to re-engineer organisms; it does not represent the making of new life from scratch."
(Editing by Peter Cooney)