Tag Archives: science

The Catalyst of the Story (or, The Alchemy of Breaking Bad)

I haven’t yet watched the first episode of the final season of Breaking Bad, but I’m eager to see how it all ends. I feel a slight trepidation that it’ll end poorly, but surely not as badly as LOST or … Continue reading

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THINK: What The Singularity Really Means

It’s now roughly two months since the latest Singularity Summit conference, held here in the Upper East Side of New York City.  I came away from the conference not feeling quite as elated as I did in 2009, I think … Continue reading

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Singularity Summit 2011

Just a quick note to say that I’m very excited about attending this year’s Singularity Summit on October 15th-16th, even though the program may be a little more skewed towards computers this year; I always hope to see more along … Continue reading

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The Drake Equation and Extraterrestrial Life

The Drake Equation is a thought experiment meant to provoke thoughtful consideration about extraterrestrial life. It’s an equation of factors that you multiply together to produce the “number of civilizations” in the galaxy we could communicate with.

When you make astronomical or universal calculations, you really have to think in orders of magnitude, or “powers of ten”. You may recall that short film of the same name that goes up and down in scale multiplying by 10 or -10, and seeing how quickly things jump when you keep adding zeroes to the beginning or end of a number. Interestingly, this is also very true of the Drake Equation, and really gets one thinking about the scale of things above and beyond our single, lonely planet. The factors that make the biggest impact on the equation are the number or stars, and the fraction of stars with planets around them.

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