Why we know interstellar war is raging in our galaxy right now

If intelligent life is abundant throughout the galaxy, then where are they? — Fermi’s Paradox, Enrico Fermi, 1942.

Since 1942 the paradox has only deepened. Scientists have found many Earth-like planets and shown that creating the amino acid building blocks of life is relatively easy. The standard assumption is that since intelligence is a beneficial survival characteristic, life on nearly every planet will eventually evolve intelligence. Yet scientists have probed the galaxy for the artificial broadcasts of a super-civilization. They have found nothing.

In theory it’s possible that a civilization sufficiently advanced to have space flight would be so beneficent to undeveloped species that they would leave young planets like Earth undisturbed. After all, isn’t that what humanity will do when we reach the stars? I doubt it. And it happens that all of the many civilizations out there are beneficent? The probability becomes minuscule.

No, we don’t see any signs of intelligent life out there because they are hiding. The only question is, what are they hiding from? What could be more fearsome than an advanced interstellar civilization? They must be hiding from each other–because when they are not hiding, they are fighting.

Why haven’t we seen signs of war, you ask? Things like exploding stars (oh, novae) or annihilated spaceships (oh, GRB–Gamma Ray Bursts).

Yes, novae and GRBs can be explained as natural phenomena. But let’s say you are an advanced technological civilization and do not want to draw attention to yourself. Wouldn’t you disguise the blast of your weapons as a natural process?

Seven Waves of Inflation have Rocked our Universe.

OscillatingUniverseThis is huge, pardon the pun, and very much under-reported. We have supplanted the idea that there was a sudden, huge inflation when the universe was born and then a flat, smooth curve with a slight increase in inflation rate recently.

A careful, new study of Type 1a supernova brightness–the universes’s standard candles–give a different picture. Yes, we still have a huge expansion soon after the big bang, but then the evidence is for seven waves of diminishing contraction and expansion thereafter (decreasing in size like the waves around a stone dropped into the water or the ringing of a bell). We are currently on one of the waves of expansion, which will peak and then slow into the next inflationary rate trough. The new model clears up a few anomalies in the old model, like the rate of early galaxy formation. Check it out at  Universe May be Ringing like a Crystal Glass

The diminishing waves of inflation suggest that one big event probably triggered them, with the forces of the universe seeking equilibrium thereafter. Perhaps our universe collided with another baby universe. Maybe it is still recovering from the force required for expulsion from a singularity. My bet is we have the answer soon.

Why doesn’t evolution eliminate mental illness?

I was reminded by a couple recent articles that mental illness, specifically psychosis and depression, must have significant survival value, or surely evolution would have rooted it out long ago. After all, these conditions often lead to risky behavior or suicide. Where’s the value in that?

The value is to the species, not to the individual. Male black widow spiders suffer from evolution’s ruthless disregard for the species at the expense of the individual, as do those who suffer from sickle cell anemia.

The articles that caught my eye were:

Tributes to the “Beautiful Mind” of John Nash,  such as this one by   Rachael Rettner at LiveScience.com  

which reminds us that psychosis, or “thinking outside the box”, has both good and bad sides.

The Nash tributes appears on the heels of a recent study Are Entrepreneurs “Touched by Fire” by Michael A Freedman

which highlights the (to me) more surprising association of depression with successful entrepreneurship. One mechanism that could explain this association is that depression results from or in an increased sensitivity to the needs of others, which entrepreneurs then proceed to do something about.


The Truth about Paradox

Paradox exists at the boundary of knowledge  where truth collides with truth.

I became fascinated by the nature of paradox when writing a short story about Fermi’s Paradox, which received an Honorable Mention in the 2012 L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest and has since been published under the title By the Numbers.

Strictly speaking, a paradox is an apparent contradiction between two things which are reasonably true. A paradox is resolved if one of the apparent truths is in fact false, or if the apparent contradiction is not really a contradiction. Let’s take a look at how this applies to the major types of paradox:

Esoteric Paradox

These are the paradoxes that play games with your mind. Some trick of language or of a mathematical model leads to a real or apparent contradiction. Often these involve self-referential statements or statements involving mathematical oddities such as infinity. The usual resolution is to determine that the apparent contradiction is not really a contradiction. For example, Zeno’s Paradox:

In the paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise,  Achilles is in a footrace with the tortoise. Achilles allows the tortoise a head start of 100 meters, for example. If we suppose that each racer starts running at some constant speed (one very fast and one very slow), then after some finite time, Achilles will have run 100 meters, bringing him to the tortoise’s starting point. During this time, the tortoise has run a much shorter distance, say, 10 meters. It will then take Achilles some further time to run that distance, by which time the tortoise will have advanced farther; and then more time still to reach this third point, while the tortoise moves ahead. Thus, whenever Achilles reaches somewhere the tortoise has been, he still has farther to go. Therefore, because there are an infinite number of points Achilles must reach where the tortoise has already been, he can never overtake the tortoise.  [Wikipedia]

Scientific Paradox:

We may call a conflict between accepted scientific theory and fact a paradox. Usually the theory is wrong, or the observation is in error. This type of paradox is the engine that moves science forward, since it keeps challenging us to reexamine our accepted theories.

For example:

Paradox Defines Our Knowledge of the Universe by Orion Jones

The Paradoxes that Threaten to Tear Modern Physics Apart

Mundane Paradox:

We sometimes describe a conflict in personal or social characteristics as a paradox. It is the nature of people to have multiple values and emotional responses at the same time, hence this type of paradox is very common. However, the interplay of conflicting responses to a situation is often interesting and instructive about human nature.

For example:

“He wanted to be near her, but paradoxically kept pushing her away.” Presumably, he had a conflicting desire, such as wanting to avoid commitments.