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China's search for life in space

A long, kind of meandering article, but worth a read. The main point is that China is leap-frogging the US on space tech. In addition to the headline point about China building a Mega-SETI, the article also mentions China's plans to build a station on the dark side of the moon and to send a manned flight to Mars.

But beyond that, there's a nudge to get me to get around to reading The Three-Body Problem. And an interesting summation of China's history, although it weirdly skips China's communist period, jumping from WWI directly to the 1980s (it does briefly go back only to gloss over Mao). The article also raises the cool (!?) possibility that a civilization that we encounter in space might already have reached its singularity and been taken over by AI. And most importantly there's a nod to my brilliant idea to bombard Venus with seeds:

They have looked into the feasibility of "Genesis probes," spacecraft that can seed a planet with microbes, or accelerate evolution on its surface, by sparking a Cambrian explosion, like the one that juiced biological creativity on Earth.

By fnord12 | November 19, 2017, 12:04 PM | Boooooks & Liberal Outrage & Science | Link

The Zombie Diseases of Climate Change

I don't know how real this threat is, but it sure sounds like a good set-up for a horror movie:

"We know, and the Russians know, there are a lot of resources there. Very precious metals, rare-earths, petrol, there is gas and gold," he told me. Greenland is not separate from these pressures.

Getting at the minerals and petroleum deposits throughout the Arctic, he says, will require moving a lot of permafrost--an amount properly measured in millions of tons. "At once, you are going to excavate 16 million tons of permafrost that has not been moved or perturbed in a million years of time," he said.

He imagines towering heaps of rotting permafrost stacked up next to mining cabins, their contents open to the sun and air and summer rain. "We are really reaching places where, if there are microbes infectious to humans or human ancestors, we are going to get them," he says.

...Even more worrisome are the microbes we don't know. "No one really understands why Neanderthals went extinct," Claverie said. Sometimes, he catches himself when talking about these possible permafrost-locked diseases--they may have threatened humans or human relatives in the past, he'll say. Then, he'll change tense, emphasizing that they could do so again.

By fnord12 | November 6, 2017, 12:55 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Link

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