The Five Ages

The current state of the distant future

Archive for January 2010


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This morning, flying over the Basin and Range Province, a few of the higher peaks floated likely snowcapped islands in a sea of white.

Astronomy would have had a very different progression had our world been perpetually covered by clouds.


Written by Greg Laughlin

January 7, 2010 at 10:38 pm

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Dark Energy

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It occurs to me that the redshift at which the Dark Energy starts to dominate is similar to the redshift at which the first technological civilizations might reasonably have emerged (assuming that the Earth is at least a reasonable baseline example of a “standard” trajectory.)

Might there be a connection?

Written by Greg Laughlin

January 5, 2010 at 5:24 pm

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Live transmission

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Fifty years on, with the commisioning of the Allen Telescope Array, the seti enterprise continues to be long radio.

From an unscientific perspective, though, radio seems to be on the way out. I do listen to NPR all the time while I’m driving around, but the KUSP transmitter is, I believe, rather low-power. The pledge drives generally seem to fall short of their goals. Certainly, KUSP is less powerful than the 140-mile distant WLS transmitter that I tuned into with my clock radio every night in 7th grade while doing my homework.

When I moved away from Illinois, I didn’t take my clock radio.

By 1800, the mathematical sophistication evident in Laplace’s Mécanique Céleste was more than sufficient to support a profound understanding of Maxwell’s equations. The equations themselves, however, came more than fifty years later, and what might qualify as the first radio broadcasts came in the 1890s. Nearly seventy years then elapsed before the advent of interstellar seti.

Speculation of the day: we’ve got the mathematical sophistication to understand the actual mechanism of communication, but we don’t yet know the physics, and we certainly don’t have the technology.

Written by Greg Laughlin

January 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm

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Nothing on the airwaves

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It’s hard to post regularly to a blog that nobody reads. Sending communications out to an audience that might not exist, or might not be interested, and which will take years to get an answer is similar to writing an unlinked weblog. An initial flurry of activity followed by long stretches of nothing.

Unless you have an agenda.

Written by Greg Laughlin

January 1, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Posted in SETI