Discoveries In Our Universe

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Huntn, Jul 24, 2015.

  1. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #1
    Earth 2.0: Nasa says scientists have found 'closest twin' outside solar system

    And it's only 1400 light years away! There's a short video at the link regarding this discovery. I think I object to having hundreds of planets with the same name and a number, unless they are subject to change to something like Pandora! ;)
     
  2. Scepticalscribe, Jul 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2015

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #2
    Interesting story, and I read about it yesterday evening.

    Agree completely re the naming conventions for planets; a little more imagination would make it a lot more exciting and engaging, and frankly, memorable.

    For example, just ask yourself if Pluto had been named 'Planet Number Nine' instead of after the god of the underworld, whether the emotions engendered by its demotion to dwarf status (and delight at the discoveries made by the recent 'New Horizons' fly-past) would have been quite the same?

    Mind you, at the risk of raising a topic perhaps more suited to a gated sub-forum here, I do wonder a little at our obsession with finding what is termed 'life' (or the 'conditions for life') elsewhere when we seem to be making a damned poor job of safe-guarding much of whatever life currently exists on our own blue planet in the proverbial Goldilocks zone.
     
  3. Huntn thread starter macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #3
    I agree! But after thinking about this, I guess I don't object to that kind of categorization due to there being ga-zillions of planets to categorize. I'll be happy as long as we give real names to the notable ones. One exception might be LV-426, that one should not be changed! :):)
     
  4. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Anthropocene
    #4
    This sentiment is much appreciated. Although, at the risk of rousing reactionary voices, I might suggest that it isn't the exploration of the universe that sucks so much away from life on this planet but that it is the conquests of captial.
     
  5. Huntn thread starter macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #5
    More "we", less "me", easy to observe, harder to do anything about.
     
  6. Scepticalscribe, Jul 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2015

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #6
    Oh, gosh, yes, agreed.

    Actually, I thrill to the whole idea of exploration, and still do. When I was a child, I even dreamed of working in it. (As a kid, I wanted to be a historian or a scientist, but then learned that I wasn't really interested in the sort of scientific areas that seemed to receive priority for funding, and secondly, that some members of the scientific community seemed to have a small bit of a problem regarding those of us born with two 'x' chromosomes as equal questing partners in the field of advanced academic research and teaching…)

    Candidly, re exploration, I am as excited by whatever rocks and gases are found elsewhere as I am by manifestations of 'life', irrespective of how sentient they are. What does interest me are theories on how 'life' came to develop or evolve.

    As for conquests of capital……..in a distant past and another life, I used to teach Renaissance (and Reformation and Counter-Reformation) history - it was the standard freshman course, rather than my own area or speciality, but I'll admit I learned a lot from it - to university students.

    One year, when trying to discuss the impact (scientific, cartographic, economic, political, cultural) of the (sea-faring) voyages of exploration (Magellan, Vespucci, Colombus, etc) with a group of unusually lethargic students (the late hour of the class - 17.00 might have had something to do with it), I switched tack, and invited them to consider these concepts from the perspective of space travel.

    Anyway, I asked them to consider whether we had the right to explore and/or exploit/or extract what we found elsewhere ( as the Spaniards did with New World gold?) Had we the right to annihilate less developed life forms - even inadvertently - by the simple fact of landing in their world and spreading our pathogens? And so on. Had we the right to define whether they lived or died because they did not fit our definition or version of what 'life' actually was? Do we have the right to define what is 'life'? As I recall, despite the late hour, the class actually got quite exciting…..
     
  7. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Anthropocene
    #7
    I anticipated this direction! Often exploration and conquest are two sides of the same coin (metaphor chosen deliberately).

    At the very least, I think we could reasonably draw a distinction between invasive and noninvasive modes of exploration. Although, fundamentally, I don't think we can fully assert this (even observation perturbs a system), we could probably come to appreciate various levels along a continuum of invasiveness.

    Re definitions of life, I've often thought it somewhat narrowly searched for, even if out of pure pragmatism (all we really have to go on is what is immediately around us), and there is a danger in letting these practical parameters become axiomatic.

    Anyway, I suspect I would have enjoyed your classes.
     
  8. Scepticalscribe, Jul 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2015

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #8
    Thank you. As you may have gathered, I hugely enjoyed teaching.

    Re drawing a distinction between 'invasive' and 'non-invasive' forms of exploration, yes, I understand (and agree with) what you are suggesting. We are back to 'The Prime Directive', aren't we? For that matter, I have long thought that there was an intelligent moral and philosophical core informing the values of the world of Star Trek, and STNG……..
     
  9. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Anthropocene
    #9
    Heehee, yes I'm reminded of quite a few ST plots regarding several of these points. ;)
     
  10. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #10
    Mind you, there is one blue print - or model - for the conduct and contours governing that sort of exploration on our Goldilocks zoned blue world, - a form of exploration and discovery predicated on a set of parameters that are not governed by the demands of capital and the dictates of profit: And it is Antartica, where a common agency - and joint control and shared authority - informed by the values of dispassionate curiosity and shared responsibility (currently) hold sway in that beautiful, but remote and inhospitable region.
     
  11. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Anthropocene
    #11
    You're right (for the time being, one day someone might learn how to profitably extract resources...), and on that subject I recently saw a nice documentary called Antarctica: A Year on Ice. I'd recommend it.
     
  12. Huntn thread starter macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #12
    STNG expresses a moral standard we as a species can only dream of or express it in a science fiction story. ;)
     
  13. Scepticalscribe, Jul 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2015

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #13
    Well, putting something of the sort into fiction can be a nice (and relatively uncontroversial) way of getting these ideas, ideals and thoughts into the public sphere. It means that you can distance yourself if the response is too splenetic, or negative, or vehement, but it also can mean that these ideas and thoughts get aired, and expressed, and possibly debated, in public, without having to be owned or defended too ferociously. Fiction can be wonderful that way, and can be a lot easier than religion or philosophy, two other routes for testing ideals in the public sphere.

    When Thomas More wrote 'Utopia' he used the 'double narrator' technique (the old: 'I met a man who met a man who told him an interesting story which he then told me') , which meant that he could distance himself from what he had written - and disown it if necessary, - or seek refuge in the fact that it was, primarily, a work of fiction, if the response was too hot.

    But, in truth, sometimes such ideas can transcend fiction, and become a part of the wider public debate and discussion on such topics, especially if they have acquired wide cultural acceptance (and here, I'm thinking of something along the lines of "Asimov's Law of Robotics").

    When that happens, the debate can become framed in such moral terms, that the onus may then fall on regulators to explain why this cannot be done, rather than blithely brushing such objections aside as a debate becomes framed in other less challenging terms.
     
  14. Huntn thread starter macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #14
    Eloquently said. I agree of course. :)
     

Share This Page