Sunday, April 8, 2018

News You Can Use: "How to Predict An Alien Invasion" (and how to rebuild the world from scratch)

From Scientific American, September 13, 2017
It's hardly the most pressing concern for Earth, but there might be a way to forewarn ourselves

Given the current state of our home planet, and indeed our species, it can seem a bit surplus to needs to speculate on whether extraterrestrials are going to one day come and eat us (or, well, you know, do anything equally unpleasant).

Nonetheless, the question of whether there's anyone or anything 'out there' that might ever show up to cause trouble does seem to come around again, and again, and again. For example, it's become a bit of a perennial topic for Stephen Hawking to mention, and he's not alone among serious scientists in speculating on the outcome of any such encounter.

As with any effort to decode the likely thought processes or intents of entirely hypothetical lifeforms, the options are - shall we say - fairly loosely constrained.

I do agree with Hawking's general thinking that if a species goes to all the trouble of undertaking interstellar travel itself (rather than sending robotic scientific probes) the chances are that it wants more than a few nice anecdotes for the next edition of the Really Lonely Planet Guide to the Galaxy. 
But contrary to many Hollywood-style sci-fi tales, I doubt that what an alien species needs are most of the usual tropes: water (what, one of the most abundant compounds in the cosmos?), human slaves (seriously, you can traverse interstellar space and you need slaves?), or some mystical 'life-force' to be drained from us all (no, just no). ...MORE
Possibly also of interest from The Knowledge:
How to Rebuild the World From Scratch
Including such handy topics as:
And because you'll be starting from scratch, a free subscription to No Tech Magazine, for as long as the electricity holds out.
Should you get the leccy flowing again there is also NT's sister publication, Low-Tech Magazine.

And 2017's:
When the Time Comes, Will You Be Ready To Rebuild Civilization?
Yes you will !!
With the Global Village Construction Set:...

...You'll be able to extract alumina from clay to electrolyze into aluminum to make darn near anything, grow, harvest, mill and bake your own food, harvest and refine biofuels, turn trees into houses, build a still, communicate with radios and much much, more!
"In a post-apocalyptic world, which task would you assign the highest priority? Locating a sustainable food source, re-establishing a functioning government, procreating, or preserving the knowledge of mankind?" *
*The second of Sheldon Cooper's three barriers, 'Each more daunting than the last.'
  Big Bang Theory-Series 3 Episode 22 – The Staircase Implementation
Daunting? Sure it is. If it were easy everyone would be rebuilding civilizations. As The Economist put it in their prepper issue, while apparently channeling Gloria Gaynor:...

But that's not all! Here's the "Open-sourced blueprints for civilization" TED talk:
Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that's only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000). 
You read that right, get started for as little as ten thousand dollars! 

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