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About ProjectOrion

  • Birthday 09/26/1969

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  • Favorite Area of Science
    Nuclear rocketry.
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    Struggling Writer.


  • Lepton

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  1. Oh well. That's life. There is no answer to the question of intelligence. Except for Dolphins we don't have many parallels here on Earth. Even Dolphins, living in a 3 dimensional viscous environment simulating zero gravity have a great deal in common with us. We are both mammals and genetically similar. The most alien intelligence we know is the octopus. Remarkably it has developed a two lobed brain just like us Vertebrates. Yet it evolved from mindless molluscs long after our joint ancestors separated ways. Which is a good argument for Alien intelligence. Clearly it has survival value and can be expected to appear in a vibrant challenging ecosystem.....eventually. Brains are a bit slow off the starter blocks in evolutionary terms. Things like fins and teeth are much simpler and more patently useful. It's the contest between hunter and hunted which predominantly drives animals towards intelligence. Foxes and Rabbits. Lions and Zebra. Man and Mammoth. Having taken such a long time for intelligence to evolve it should be equally slow to diminish when no longer absolutely necessary for survival. Like eyeless deep sea fish. Which is a good thing for us. For while competition with one another certainly helps the more intelligent get ahead in life its rarely a life or death challenge. I know families with 12 kids on welfare. Mind you, its possible that successfully taking advantage of societies generosity while others work their butts off supporting you constitutes a higher intelligence than the rest of us poor fools. In nature life is savage, with the majority dying before ever reaching adulthood. Luck is tempered by fortuitous genes and in the long run(millions of years) survival of the fittest in this fashion ensures a healthy species. I'm tempted to think that humanity reached its peak millenia ago and has since been going backwards through random mutations being no impediment to survival. Everything we do today has been accomplished on the shoulders of our forefathers. Call me pessimistic but I think we are headed for an evolutionary dead end if we don't start opening new frontiers. I can see it happening.
  2. Source. This has been kicked around by biologists for millenia. What a pointless question. How can we define something when we only know of one inhabited world to draw definitions from. That's like defining language when you only know one letter of the alphabet, which in any case would make writing up such a definition rather challenging. Hhh. H hhh hh hhhh hh h hhhh hh hhhhhhh hh hhh hhhhh. Hhhh h hhh hhhhh h hhhhh h hhhh.......... Everything is measured or described in relative terms. If you don't have any reference points you're just lost. The same problem arises with 'intelligence'. Ask a psychologist what intelligence is and he'll balk. Corner him with a broken bottle and you will get the typical reply that 'Intelligence is what intelligence tests measure'. Psychologists routinely throw up such zen-like answers to life's questions. In the article at Space.com the dilemma of pinning down life and pigeonholing it is spelled out. Fire reproduces and breathes for example. Many things are borderline. Perhaps we should just stop splitting hairs because every rule has its numerous exceptions and life undoubtedly arose from inorganic matter anyway. Where in the evolutionary scale do you take a ruler, draw a line and say 'Ok, everything above is robotic chemicals and this guy here is the ancestor of all life on earth.' How is he more deserving than the squishy proto-proto-protozoa that divided into him/her/it/whatever. We have two hemispheres to our brain for good reason. The answers to some questions can't be engraved in concrete. Like abstract terms they are imagined and only serve to fill a gap in complex calculations. They require an artists subjective intuition. We will likely know life on other worlds when we see it, and if we aren't certain, then it probably won't matter much anyway.
  3. Are you talking about the X prize which was won by scaled composites? that result was foreseen months back. I talked to the comittee members last year and they were really down to earth optimistic fellows you couldn't help liking. You know, do gooders but with a long term plan. The only trouble with the X prize is its geared towards small payload delivery. Which is better than nothing ofcourse. Some complain but I see it as a step in the right direction. God knows, if we leave everything to NASA we'll never get off this rock.
  4. Budget Analysts Call For NASA Cuts Washington DC (UPI) Nov 29, 2004 This seriously ticks me off. They have the hide to deal out favourable contracts to all their buddies in the Arms industry like Lockheed Martin, essentially cutting the knees out from under potential privateers NASA competes against, then with NASA left in a monopoly position the penny pinching bureaucrats looking for someone to villify and squash, turn their forked tongues on a long awaited Space vision. One thing you can say thats positive about the Butcher of Baghdad Bush junior is he doesn't worry about going after what he wants. I find it a genuine breath of fresh air to see a political leader unafraid to knock down archaic walls of convention and say "lets go for it". Achieving anything is mostly a matter of taking that first step and he was atleast bold enough to declare an ambitious deep space objective. We've been farting around with tin can probes and 500 million dollar a shot shuttle flights around and around the earth long enough. Its time we actually went somewhere. People need dreams, excitement and heroes just as much as they need housing and food. We are more than just mindless cattle. We need frontiers and if anything can bring the international community together it has to be an endeavour so technically challenging it reaches beyond this world completely. But ofcourse the polliticians have to whinge about something. If it isn't minority groups then its scientific progress. Why? Because neither is likely to seriously affect their position at the next state elections. All these ex-lawyers and reporters make me sick. You will hardly ever see scientists in government because science is based on truth and politics is built of bullcrap.
  5. Elevators are pipedreams. Maybe in some farflung future they could find a practical application for lunar or martian payload delivery but earths gravity well is too intense. There is also the problem of ballast. You would need a big asteroid or equivalent mass to hang Jack's beanstalk on to. That begs the question, if we are capable of moving minor planets into earth orbit(which we presently aren't due to lack of political will), then why do we need an elevator? I'm afraid elevators belong in the realm of cold fusion, warp drives, anti-matter engines and magic. Cute and fun to talk about but little more than mental masturbation really.
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