Friday, November 11, 2011

I Want To Believe

Water bear, slightly enlarged

But, I gotta say, despite the characteristic skeptical take, the Rationally Speaking podcast on intelligent alien life is still quite interesting, and deserves a listen by all self-respecting nerds and nerdgassers.

Visit the show page to stream or download, or right click this link to download the MP3 directly. If you do the latter, visit the show page anyway for the links.

One issue that struck me as rather conspicuously absent from the discussion, especially given that both Massimo and Julia acknowledged that one has to be very careful of anthropomorphic biases in any SETI speculation: it seemed to me that the assumptions underlying most of M&J's thinking would imply a rather narrow definition of life (and, by extension, intelligent life). To her credit, Julia brought up extremophiles as one broadening of these assumptions; I think nonetheless that we should be careful in crediting ourselves for knowing completely what it means for something to be alive (even here on Earth), much less in believing that, say, life must be carbon-based, must require liquid water, and so on.

And speaking of extremophiles, thanks also to Julia for mentioning something I'd never heard of before just now: water bears in space, bitchez.

Another water bear, slightly more enlarged(embiggen)

(pic. sources: Jolle Jolles at Mudfooted and Island Creek Elementary School)

[Added] See APOD for 2013-03-06. (h/t: TC)

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