Friday, February 15, 2013

On The Origin of Space-faring Species

On cosmic and species time-scales, natural selection must ultimately select for space-faring species. If the dinosaurs had a colony on Mars, they might still be alive today. These Russian meteorite videos are a helpful reminder that all our metaphorical eggs are in one tiny, fragile basket - if we don't set our sights on inhabiting new worlds, we'll probably eventually go the same way the dinosaurs went, or via some other 'galactic threat', such as a nearby supernova.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Some Beautiful Images of Mars

Some beautiful high-resolution images of Mars.

(Mars has a few interesting geological features we don't really have on Earth, like subsurface sublimation of frozen carbon dioxide, cf. "Spring Fans" and "Seasonal Erosion".)

Moderate Rationality

From this post, "Moderate Rationality":
"First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice ... who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom" - Martin Luther King Jr.

"Imagine what "moderation" in mathematics would mean. It would mean not that 2 + 2 = 4, but that it's more or less 4, maybe we can "agree" that 2 + 2 = 4.2. You don't land a man on the moon with this sort of attitude about ideas. The field of ethics is even more important than the field of mathematics ..." (more ...)