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Category: Science

The Alien Equation

Drake equation

Kevin Fong celebrates the anniversary of one of the most iconic equations ever written. The Drake Equation was created by Frank Drake some half a century ago in a bid to answer one of the most profound questions facing science and humanity: are we alone? Its creation launched a 50 year, genuine scientific endeavour to search for ET, known as SETI: The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Kevin visits the SETI Institute in Northern California, to meet the great man himself, Frank Drake, and some of his scientific colleagues who have spent most of their working lives hunting for signs of alien life, out there in the cosmic ether.

Drake equation

Drake equation


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Are We Alone?
(Video hosted on Youtube.)

Are we alone in the cosmos? The quest for alien life is a fascinating challenge for 21st-century science. Evidence of any extraterrestrial organisms, even mere bugs or bacteria, would be of huge scientific importance. But what really fuels popular imagination is the prospect of advanced life — the “aliens” familiar from science fiction… Sir Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, OM, FRS (born 23 June 1942 in York) is an English cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004, and President of the Royal Society since 2005.

Inside Area 51

Area 51 (Currently known as Air Force Flight Test Center, Detachment 3 and also known as Dreamland, Watertown Strip, Paradise Ranch, The Box, Groom Lake) is a remote tract of land in southern Nevada, owned by the United States Air Force, containing an airfield whose primary purpose is the secret development and testing of new military aircraft. It is famed as the subject of many UFO conspiracy theories. Its secretive nature and undoubted connection to classified aircraft research, together with reports of unusual phenomena, have led Area 51 to become a centerpiece of modern UFO and conspiracy theory.

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Inside Area 51

(Video hosted on Youtube.)

ome of the unconventional activities claimed to be underway at Area 51 include: The storage, examination, and reverse engineering of crashed alien spacecraft (including material supposedly recovered at Roswell), the study of their occupants (living and dead), and the manufacture of aircraft based on alien technology. Meetings or joint undertakings with extraterrestrials. The development of exotic energy weapons (for SDI applications or otherwise) or means of weather control. Activities related to a supposed shadowy world government. Many of the theories concern underground facilities at Groom or at nearby Papoose Lake, and include claims of a transcontinental underground railroad system, a disappearing airstrip (nicknamed the “Cheshire Airstrip”, after Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat) which briefly appearAliens when water is sprayed onto its camouflaged asphalt , and engineering based on alien technology.

Area 51

Area 51

In 1989, Bob Lazar claimed that he had worked at a facility at Papoose Lake (which he called S-4) on such a U.S. Government flying saucer. One major theory is that Area 51 is a place which simulates the environment of the moon. In 2000-2001, Fox Television broadcast a show about Apollo moon landing hoax accusations, in which it was suggested that the whole moon landing in 1969 was a hoax and was filmed in parts of Area 51. Others, however, claim that during the mid 1990s, the most secret work previously done at Groom was quietly moved to other facilities, including Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, and that the continued secrecy around Groom is largely a successful attempt at misdirection.In July 1996, a man named Victor came forward and said on Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM radio show that he had a videotape of an alien interrogation. He said that he copied the tape and smuggled the copy out of Area 51. The video showed the head of an alien in a dark room, possibly using telepathy to communicate with military personnel and scientists. azar says that he met Edward Teller while employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and that Teller recommended him for an employment interview with EG&G after Lazar had moved to Las Vegas. They passed him over for the job, but not soon after, shuttled him to Area 51 to work on classified projects. As Gene Huff writes, “At area 51, Bob had to sign a secrecy agreement and an agreement to waive his constitutional rights, which is illegal but was made possible by an executive order with Ronald Reagan’s signature on it. He also had to sign an agreement which allowed them to monitor his phone line. Bob already had ‘Q’ clearance, which is top secret civilian clearance, at Los Alamos but he had never gone through anything like this. The clearance he was now attaining would require perpetual monitoring of his activities and would never simply be attained and forgotten about until the next review date. After some abrupt suggestions that he honor his secrecy agreement and watch his general conduct, he and Mariani boarded a bus with blacked out windows and took a 20 to 30 minute ride down a bumpy dirt/gravel road. They arrived at a base near Papoose dry lake bed known as S4.”After some allergy tests (due, Lazar said, to the potentially hazardous substances he might be required to use) Lazar was informed that he would be “on call” as needed. He continued working at a photography shop, while making jaunts to S4 about once a week. Eventually, Lazar says he was asked to examine the propulsion system of a disc-shaped aircraft (he insists he saw nine flying saucers in various states of disrepair, but was allowed to closely examine only one of them). Lazar claims that when he first saw disc-shaped craft at the base, he concluded they were secret ? but decidedly terrestrial ? aircraft, and that sightings of test flights were responsible for UFO reports. Only on closer examination of the craft did Lazar conclude it was designed by and for extraterrestrials.

A Universe From Nothing – Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence Krauss gives a talk on our current picture of the universe, how it will end, and how it could have come from nothing. Krauss is the author of many bestselling books on Physics and Cosmology, including “The Physics of Star Trek.”

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A Universe From Nothing – Lawrence Krauss

(Video hosted on Youtube.)

awrence is Professor of Physics, Professor of Astronomy, former chairman of the department of Physics, and director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics, at Case Western Reserve University. He is an internationally known theoretical physicist with wide research interests, including the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology, where his studies include the early universe, the nature of dark matter, general relativity and neutrino astrophysics. He has investigated questions ranging from the nature of exploding stars to issues of the origin of all mass in the universe. A public intellectual who has won many prizes for his science and for his writings, he is author of over 200 scientific publications and numerous popular articles and books, including Quintessence: The Mystery of the Missing Mass; The Physics of Star Trek; Atom: An Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life and Earth and Beyond; and Hiding in the Mirror; The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions from Plato to String Theory and Beyond (an exploration of our fascination with the idea of extra dimensions, in art, literature, and science). In February 2000, he was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 1999-2000 Award for the Public Understanding of Science and Technology. Lawrence writes a regular column for New Scientist and has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, narrating Gustav Holst’s The Planets. Here is how Lawrence responded to the question, posed by The Templeton Foundation, Does the Universe Have a Purpose? UNLIKELY. Perhaps you hoped for a stronger statement, one way or the other. But as a scientist I don’t believe I can make one. While nothing in biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, or cosmology has ever provided direct evidence of purpose in nature, science can never unambiguously prove that there is no such purpose.

Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence Krauss

As Carl Sagan said, in another context: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Of course, nothing would stop science from uncovering positive evidence of divine guidance and purpose if it were attainable. For example, tomorrow night if we look up at the stars and they have been rearranged into a pattern that reads, I am here, I think even the most hard-nosed scientific skeptic would suspect something was up. But no such unambiguous signs have been uncovered among the millions and millions of pieces of data we have gleaned about the natural world over centuries of exploration. And this is precisely why a scientist can conclude that it is very unlikely that there is any divine purpose. If a creator had such a purpose, she could choose to demonstrate it a little more clearly to the inhabitants of her creation. One is always free, as some people do, to interpret the laws of nature as signs of purpose, as for example Pope Pius did when Belgian physicist-priest George Lemaitre demonstrated that Einstein’s general theory of relativity implied the universe had a beginning. The Pope interpreted this as scientific proof of Genesis, but Lemaitre asked him to stop saying this. The big bang, as it has become known, can be interpreted in terms of a divine beginning, but it can equally be interpreted as removing God from the equation entirely. The conclusion is in the mind of the beholder, and it is outside of the realm of scientific theory and prediction. Finally, even if the universe has a hidden purpose, everything we know about the cosmos suggests that we do not play a central role in it. We are, as a planet, cosmically insignificant. Life on Earth will end, as it has probably done on countless planets in the past, and will do in the future. And all the stars and all the galaxies we see could disappear in an instant and the universe would go on behaving more or less as it is doing right now. Nature seems as uncaring as it is unyielding. Thus, organized religions, which put humanity at the center of some divine plan, seem to assault our dignity and intelligence. A universe without purpose should neither depress us nor suggest that our lives are purposeless. Through an awe-inspiring cosmic history we find ourselves on this remote planet in a remote corner of the universe, endowed with intelligence and self-awareness. We should not despair, but should humbly rejoice in making the most of these gifts, and celebrate our brief moment in the sun.

Aubrey de Grey – Must We Age?

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Jim Croce – Time In A Bottle

Aubrey de Grey may be wrong but, evidence suggests, he’s not nuts. This is a no small assertion. De Grey argues that some people alive today will live in a robust and youthful fashion for 1,000 years. Life expectancy is increasing in the developed world. But Cambridge University geneticist Aubrey de Grey believes it will soon extend dramatically to 1,000. Here, he explains why. Aubrey de Grey, an elaborately bearded scientist at Cambridge University attracts almost universal derision among the ‘ageing community’ for his thesis that a ‘solution’ to old age is just around the corner, probably consisting of a cocktail of drugs and genetic therapies that will counter the effects of free radicals and other harmful metabolic processes that weaken the bones, make our skin brittle and cause our organs to slowly fail. The attacks on de Grey are motivated by rational scepticism, but also, by that puritan morality that states that life extension is a place where science has no place going.
A true maverick, Aubrey de Grey challenges the most basic assumption underlying the human condition — that aging is inevitable. He argues instead that aging is a disease — one that can be cured if it’s approached as “an engineering problem.” His plan calls for identifying all the components that cause human tissue to age, and designing remedies for each of them — forestalling disease and eventually pushing back death. He calls the approach Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS).

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(Video hosted on Youtube
Aubrey de Grey, photographed at San Francisco’s airport,
created the Methuselah Foundation to support scientific research into
extending the life span, oh, 900 years.

early all scientists who study the biology of aging agree that we will someday be able to substantially slow down the aging process, extending our productive, youthful lives. Dr. Aubrey de Grey is perhaps the most bullish of all such researchers. As has been reported in media outlets ranging from 60 Minutes to The New York Times, Dr. de Grey believes that the key biomedical technology required to eliminate aging-derived debilitation and death entirely—technology that would not only slow but periodically reverse age-related physiological decay, leaving us biologically young into an indefinite future—is now within reach.

In Ending Aging, Dr. de Grey and his research assistant Michael Rae describe the details of this biotechnology. They explain that the aging of the human body, just like the aging of man-made machines, results from an accumulation of various types of damage. As with man-made machines, this damage can periodically be repaired, leading to indefinite extension of the machine’s fully functional lifetime, just as is routinely done with classic cars. We already know what types of damage accumulate in the human body, and we are moving rapidly toward the comprehensive development of technologies to remove that -damage. By demystifying aging and its postponement for the nonspecialist reader, de Grey and Rae systematically dismantle the fatalist presumption that aging will forever defeat the efforts of medical science.

Aubrey de Grey may be wrong but, evidence suggests, he's not nuts. This is a no small assertion. De Grey argues that some people alive today will live in a robust and youthful fashion for 1,000 years.

Aubrey de Grey

Aubrey David Nicholas Jasper de Grey (born 20 April 1963) is an English author and theoretician in the field of gerontology, and the Chief Science Officer of the SENS Foundation. He is editor-in-chief of the academic journal Rejuvenation Research, author of The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging (1999) and co-author of Ending Aging (2007).De Grey’s research focuses on whether regenerative medicine can thwart the ageing process. He works on the development of what he calls “Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence” (SENS), a tissue-repair strategy intended to rejuvenate the human body and allow an indefinite lifespan. To this end, he has identified seven types of molecular and cellular damage caused by essential metabolic processes. SENS is a proposed panel of therapies designed to repair this damage.

An article about SENS published in the viewpoint section of EMBO Reports by 28 scientists concluded that none of de Grey’s therapies “has ever been shown to extend the lifespan of any organism, let alone humans”. De Grey argues that this reveals a serious gap in understanding between basic scientists and technologists and between biologists studying ageing and those studying regenerative medicine. The 15-member Research Advisory Board of his own SENS Foundation have signed an endorsement of the plausibility of the SENS approach.

De Grey is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, the American Aging Association, the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and an adviser to the Singularity Institute. He has been interviewed in recent years in a number of news sources, including CBS 60 Minutes, the BBC, The New York Times, Fortune Magazine, The Washington Post, TED, Popular Science and The Colbert Report.

See also:
* Immortality….
* Living forever….
* Read more….: The Tibetan book of the death.
* Read more….: Cryonics.
* Read more….: Near Death Experiences (NDE).
* Read more….: Immortality.
* Read more….: The mystery of life.

Further readings:

Chapter Three “Can i live forever please?” page 56, from 10 Questions Science Can’t Answer (Yet) A Guide to the Scientific Wilderness Michael Hanlon First published 2007 by
Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS and
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N. Y. 10010
Companies and representatives throughout the world
ISBN-13: 978–0–230–51758–5 hardback
ISBN-10: 0–230–51758–7 hardback

Abrey de Grey.

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Alphaville – Forever Young
Video hosted on Youtube.

See also:
* “Human regenerative engineering – theory and practice”, Humanity+ UK 2010 London, April 24, 2010
* Aubrey de Grey speaks at The Scientific Society at Trinity College, Oxford University, 2010
* Aubrey de Grey appears on CNN, 2009
* Aubrey de Grey speaking at Cass Business School, London, February 12, 2008 “Prospects for extending a healthy life – a lot”], 2008
* Why we age, and how we can stop it — Discussions on Advancing Regenerative Therapies — April 21, 2008
* Unconventional Wisdom — Thinking Digital — May 23, 2008
* Understanding Aging: Biomedical and Bioengineering Approaches — June 27-29, 2008
* Defeating Aging — NASA Ames Research Center — August 7, 2008
* A True Cure for Human Aging – Culture and Convention Centre, Lucerne, Switzerland — October 27, 2008
* Prospects for defeating aging altogether – Changing the World Conference — Convocation Hall, Toronto — November 15, 2008
* Edmonton Aging Symposium presentation (28:45) — Took place March 30-31, 2007
* Google TechTalk Video (1:01:06) — 1st Appearance (May 2007) entitled “Prospects for extending healthy life – a lot”
* Google TechTalk Video (1:13:10) — 2nd Appearance (June 2007) entitled “WILT: taking cancer seriously enough to really cure it”
* Prospects for extending healthy life — a lot. — Department of Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley — October 2, 2007
* Google TechTalk Video (1:02:26) — 3rd Appearance (December 2007) entitled “Aging of the Other Genome: A Decisive but Ambitious Solution”
* Our Right to Life: A talk advocating a pro-life stance by de Grey, 2006
* Tomorrows People Forum 2006: Longer? (2:00:58) The “Longer?” lecture (Presentation 3) for the Tomorrows People Conference Forum 2006 that took place on the 14-17 of March 2006 at the Saïd Business School at Oxford.
* TED conference 2006 – Fixing Humanity’s worst problem (23:05) Presentation at the Technology Entertainment Design TED Conference 2006.
* The unfortunate influence of the weather on the rate of ageing (10:35) Excerpt of talk at CR-IV (2006 Calorie Restriction Society Conference), held April 6-9, 2006, in Tucson, Arizona, United States.
* Immortality Institute conference presentation (29:49) Presentation at the Immortality Institute’s conference in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, 2006.
* An interview for meettheauthor.com filmed in November 2007
* GoogleTechTalks: Aging of the Other Genome (Dec. 2006, 62 minutes) On mutations of mitochondrial DNA and de Grey’s MitoSENS
* Defeating aging – held July 2005 in Oxford, England – TED (conference) (29:59) longer version with interview.
* Presentation at Popular Technology conference Poptech (45:06), 2003.

Ending Aging

Ending Aging

Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime (Hardcover)

In Ending Aging, Dr. de Grey and his research assistant Michael Rae describe the details of this biotechnology. They explain that the aging of the human body, just like the aging of man-made machines, results from an accumulation of various types of damage. As with man-made machines, this damage can periodically be repaired, leading to indefinite extension of the machine’s fully functional lifetime, just as is routinely done with classic cars. We already know what types of damage accumulate in the human body, and we are moving rapidly toward the comprehensive development of technologies to remove that -damage. By demystifying aging and its postponement for the nonspecialist reader, de Grey and Rae systematically dismantle the fatalist presumption that aging will forever defeat the efforts of medical science.
– Hardcover: 400 pages
– Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; 1st edition (September 4, 2007)
– Language: English
– ISBN-10: 0312367066
-ISBN-13: 978-0312367060

In Pursuit of Longevity.

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(Video hosted on Youtube
In Pursuit of Longevity.

ubrey de Grey is a biomedical gerontologist based in Cambridge, UK, and is the Chairman and Chief Science Officer of the Methuselah Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity dedicated to combating the aging process. He is also Editor-in-Chief of “Rejuvenation Research”, the world’s only peer-reviewed journal focused on intervention in aging. His research interests encompass the etiology of all the accumulating and eventually pathogenic molecular and cellular side-effects of metabolism (“damage”) that constitute mammalian aging and the design of interventions to repair and/or obviate that damage. He has developed a possibly comprehensive plan for such repair, termed Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), which breaks the aging problem down into seven major classes of damage and identifies detailed approaches to addressing each one. A key aspect of SENS is that it can potentially extend healthy lifespan without limit, even though these repair processes will never be perfect, as the repair only needs to approach perfection rapidly enough to keep the overall level of damage below pathogenic levels. de Grey has termed this required rate of improvement of repair therapies “longevity escape velocity”.

Hubble 20 Years of Space Discoveries

The Hubble telescope marks two decades in space this month, where it has captured stunning images that have had a profound effect on our understanding of the universe. And to celebrate, NASA has released a recent image that shows a star factory in action. NASA’s tribute to the Hubble Space Telescope on its 20th anniversary in space. This beautiful video surveys the incredible accomplishments of this revolutionary instrument: everybody’s favorite telescope.

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(Video hosted on Youtube
Hubble 20 Years of Space Discoveries

ASA’s best-recognized, longest-lived, and most prolific space observatory zooms past a threshold of 20 years of operation this month. On April 24, 1990, the space shuttle and crew of STS-31 were launched to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope into a low Earth orbit. What followed was one of the most remarkable sagas of the space age. Hubble’s unprecedented capabilities made it one of the most powerful science instruments ever conceived by humans, and certainly the one most embraced by the public. Hubble discoveries revolutionized nearly all areas of current astronomical research, from planetary science to cosmology. And, its pictures were unmistakably out of this world.

Carina nebula

Carina nebula

In celebration of the 17th anniversary of the launch and deployment of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronomers is releasing one of the largest panoramic images ever taken with Hubble’s cameras. It is a 50-light-year-wide view of the central region of the Carina Nebula where a maelstrom of star birth – and death – is taking place. Hubble’s view of the nebula shows star birth in a new level of detail. The fantasy-like landscape of the nebula is sculpted by the action of outflowing winds and scorching ultraviolet radiation from the monster stars that inhabit this inferno. In the process, these stars are shredding the surrounding material that is the last vestige of the giant cloud from which the stars were born.

The immense nebula contains at least a dozen brilliant stars that are roughly estimated to be at least 50 to 100 times the mass of our Sun. The most unique and opulent inhabitant is the star Eta Carinae, at far left. Eta Carinae is in the final stages of its brief and eruptive lifespan, as evidenced by two billowing lobes of gas and dust that presage its upcoming explosion as a titanic supernova.

The fireworks in the Carina region started three million years ago when the nebula’s first generation of newborn stars condensed and ignited in the middle of a huge cloud of cold molecular hydrogen. Radiation from these stars carved out an expanding bubble of hot gas. The island-like clumps of dark clouds scattered across the nebula are nodules of dust and gas that are resisting being eaten away by photoionization.

This brand new Hubble photo is of a small portion of one of the largest seen star-birth regions in the galaxy, the Carina Nebula. Towers of cool hydrogen laced with dust rise from the wall of the nebula. The scene is reminiscent of Hubble’s classic “Pillars of Creation” photo from 1995, but is even more striking in appearance. The image captures the top of a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being pushed apart from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks like arrows sailing through the air.

NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) are celebrating Hubble’s journey of exploration with this stunning new picture, online educational activities, an opportunity for people to explore galaxies as armchair scientists, and an opportunity for astronomy enthusiasts to send in their own personal greetings to Hubble for posterity.

Hubble, named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space, a location that affords it an unobstructed view of the universe. The telescope is about 13 metres long and does not travel to any of the celestial objects it captures images of. It orbits the Earth at a height of about 570 kilometres.

Hubble will eventually be replaced by its successor, the larger James Webb space telescope. The Webb has a planned 2014 launch date. The Webb has a much larger mirror than that in the Hubble space telescope, and means that the Webb will be able to look farther into space.

(From : Nasa)

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