Benjamin Rosenbaum

Comments on "Never trust an astronomer with a sinister goatee"

Oh, and uh, when I say "eye-rolling jaded sophisticate" I mean, within the set of overexcited SF geek fanboys who think scoffing at FTL drives is a shocking sign of world-weariness!

Just in case that was unclear.

Posted by Benjamin Rosenbaum at March 25, 2011 11:32 AM

1."What? a settlement at sea is never going to be totally independent of land -- how will the sea dwellers mine metals, for instance? And if they have constant commerce with land, how will they be immune to plague or war? And as for natural disaster, won't they be dramatically more vulnerable in that regard?", and
2."Who exactly is going to pay for this?"

I expect the second one has had far more stopping power than the first since we started swapping pointy sticks for pretty rocks. I can see it as a sign of our true human origins well after we leave the Oort cloud.

But I agree, just because it can be done, technically, doesn't mean it should (but I still kind of want a solar-powered flying car and a condo on the Moon - I blame Robert A. Heinlein).

Posted by Sarah W at March 25, 2011 03:16 PM

*pat pat* It's okay. I promise, they'll find another one before long, and it'll be real. And then they'll start finding bushels of them, too, and some of them will be even closer than your putative buddy Gliese581g. And then you can apply for work at some crazy materials company puzzling out how make that nice space elevator.

Posted by Jackie M. at March 25, 2011 07:48 PM

In the mean time, if all the gas giants have got you down (no really, all those gas giants GUARANTEES there will be terrestrials discovered soon, we just need more money and slightly cleverer instrument) this wikipedia article makes them kind of fun:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudarsky_extrasolar_planet_classification

(I didn't know there was a system for classifying them! It's even name for a guy I knew in Tucson. Huh!)

Posted by Jackie M. at March 25, 2011 07:55 PM

There is no reason to think that water is necessary for "life forms" any more than carbon is. Also. a life form might be made of non-contiguous elements, something like an ant hill or a bee hive.

In general, it is close to impossible to define what "life form" means, much less "intelligent life form".

Posted by DMR at March 26, 2011 04:42 AM

Well sure -- I'm all about the non-carbon-based life forms, and the difficulty of defining life and intelligence. Still, I find myself passionately interested in the question of whether there is something that would impress me as being enough like life out there. This is of course a recursive definition, akin to Damon Knight's of science fiction. Water, free oxygen, etc., is none of it either necessary nor sufficient for "life" -- but the question is what can we detect at a great distance, which would look like a good bet.

Posted by Benjamin Rosenbaum at March 26, 2011 04:44 PM

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