XZBN InfoCasts

XZBN InfoCasts

Welcome to InfoCasts, a division of REL-MAR McConnell Media Company, bringing you topics that inform, educate and entertain.


June 19, 2023 7 mins
Alex Berezow - We Are Effectively Alone In The Universe

It does not matter if intelligent life exists elsewhere. We will never find each other. Key Takeaways
  • The debate over extraterrestrial life has shifted from fringe to mainstream.
  • The belief that humans eventually will encounter aliens is based on two assumptions: (1) life evolves easily, and (2) interstellar travel is possible and practical.
  • Neither of these assumptions is lik...
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Adam Frank - Why Oxygen Isn’t Needed To Make Things Burn

Oxygen isn't strictly necessary for combustion, but it is ideal. Any advanced (alien) civilization probably uses oxygen to burn things.

Key Takeaways
  • Would combustion always be a potential energy source on any planet capable of incubating a technological civilization? That simple question has led to an examination of an essential chemical process.
  • Combustion reactions transf...
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Tim Brinkhof - Did Ancient Greek Philosophers Believe In Aliens?

Speculation about the existence of aliens goes all the way back at least to the Greek philosophers. Their arguments will sound familiar.

Key Takeaways
  • Speculation about alien life dates back to the ancient Greeks, and perhaps even further.
  • The Scientific Revolution expanded our vision of the Universe and revived our belief in the possibility of extraterrestrial life...
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Dirk Schulze-Makuch - How The “Face On Mars” And Other False Positives Impact The Search For Alien Life

We may have discovered alien life already but rejected the evidence too quickly because it seemed false at first glance.

Key Takeaways
  • Perhaps the most famous "evidence" of life on Mars came from a photograph that supposedly depicted a face on the Red Planet. It was subsequently shown to be nothing but a mountain.
  • The Viking Li...
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Ethan Siegel - Why Scientists Can’t Give Up The Hunt For Alien Life

There will always be "wolf-criers" whose claims wither under scrutiny. But aliens are certainly out there, if science dares to find them.

Key Takeaways
  • All throughout human history, we've gazed up at the stars and wondered if we're truly alone in the Universe, or if other life — possibly even intelligent life — is out there for us to find.
  • Although there have...
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Louis Rosenberg - Mind Of Its Own : Will “General AI” Be Like An Alien Invasion?

According to surveys, approximately half of artificial intelligence experts believe that general AI will emerge by 2060.

Key Takeaways
  • According to surveys, approximately half of artificial intelligence experts believe that general artificial intelligence will emerge by 2060.
  • General artificial intelligence (also called AGI) describes an artificial ...
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Alien Abductions : What Are We To Make Of These Bizarre Stories?

From succubi to aliens, stories of abductions or other unsettling encounters have been with us for millennia. What explains them?

Key Takeaways
  • Accounts of strange and inexplicable encounters with beings — including sexual encounters — go back millennia.
  • Widespread fascination with alien abductions began in the 1950s and continues to this day.
  • The most likely explanat...
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We May Not Be Alone In The Universe. Should We Reach Out?

A conversation with an advanced alien species is likely to be simple and to take 1,000 years. It might also be dangerous.

Key Takeaways
  • We have sent messages into space before, hoping to reach out to any interstellar intelligences. Such a message is challenging to compose.
  • Some argue that maybe it’s better not to send an intentional message at all.
  • In any case, any message w...
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Where Is Everybody? A New Hope For Solving The Fermi Paradox?

If life is common in the Universe, then where is everybody? Known as the Fermi Paradox, a new project may help solve the riddle.

Key Takeaways
  • The Fermi Paradox refers to the puzzling observation that we have as yet seen no clear evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life, despite the vast number of stars out there and the expectation that most of ...
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Is Your Mind Just A Parasite On Your Physical Body?

What if intelligence can thrive without consciousness?

Key Takeaways
  • Blindsight is a unique kind of first-contact novel. Its focus is not on humanity's first meeting with an alien civilization, but rather that this civilization is highly intelligent, yet lacks consciousness.
  • What if there is nothing special about self-awareness? What if it is just evolutionary dead weight, boun...
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The Search For Biosignatures Is Hard. Should We Look For Technosignatures Instead?

Should we be searching for life on other planets, or technology?

Key Takeaways
  • Our quest to find life on other planets is currently tuned to biosignatures. But this search is far from straightforward, and there is always the risk of false positives.
  • The best scenario we can hope for is to find a complex biosphere that produces multiple lines of evide...
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Aliens, Seti, And The Legacy Of Frank Drake: 1930-2022 Remembering Frank Drake, who transformed the search for alien life & extraterrestrial intelligence into a full-fledged scientific endeavor.

Key Takeaways
  • Perhaps the biggest question we've ever asked about existence is whether we're alone or not: are there any other intelligent, technologically advanced civilizations out there besides us?
  • Where might the aliens be? Are the...
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4 Psychological Techniques Cults Use To Recruit Members

Hint: They hold off on talking about their alien god until much later. Key Takeaways
  • The beliefs of cults and other extreme ideologies are patently bizarre to any outsider observer.
  • Despite how strange their beliefs are and the stereotype, most people who get sucked into cults are relatively normal and healthy at first.
  • Watching out for these four manipulative tactics can help...
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Perhaps we should be searching for “other Mercurys” rather than “other Earths.”

Key Takeaways
  • Fundamental biological limitations will make long-distance space travel all but impossible for organisms. AI is more suitable.
  • In fact, it is just about inconceivable for any advanced civilization, particularly a spacefaring one, to exist without AI.
  • Therefore, we should expect more planets in the Universe to be populated by AI than by Li...
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We should not expect aliens to look anything like us. Creatures that resemble octopuses or birds or even robots are legitimate possibilities.

Key Takeaways
  • Life is incredibly diverse, spanning from microscopic organisms to skyscraper-sized trees. Alien life would be just as diverse.
  • There is little reason to believe that aliens would take on human-like forms. Perhaps an octopus- or bird-like creature is more likely.
  • Because all li...
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There are pros and cons to sending interstellar messages to aliens that may or may not exist.

Key Takeaways
  • A research team plans to beam a message to an alien solar system, called TRAPPIST-1, later this year.
  • The message will contain information about Earth's environmental crisis, along with selected pieces of music.
  • Scientists debate whether initiating contact with aliens is a good idea.
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Key Takeaways
  • How would it change us to make contact with an intelligent species from elsewhere in the Universe?
  • For one, it would refocus the human tribe, bringing an accelerated and much needed sense of unity to our species.
  • If intelligent aliens survived for millions of years, what are their secrets? By imagining that they do exist, we can plot our own path for survival.
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If aliens are driven mostly by biological imperatives, humanity could be in big trouble if we ever meet technologically advanced beings.

Key Takeaways
  • Ethics derived from biological evolution can be harsh — parasitism, invasiveness, and survival at all costs.
  • Ethics derived from human culture is far more benevolent.
  • Would alien ethics be based more on biology or culture? Let's hope the latter.
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  • Key Takeaways
    • Exoplanets are the hottest topic in astronomy right now. But if we really want to know what is happening on planets many light-years away, we need to image them.
    • According to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, massive objects bend spacetime in such a way that they can act like giant lenses.
    • By the 2060s, we might begin to record images of alien planets, revealing alien river systems, alien mountain ranges, ...
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Key Takeaways
  • Humans do not respond well to "otherness." We are frightened and divide ourselves into "us" versus "them."
  • We need to overcome this tendency if we are to have a successful encounter with alien beings.
  • One possible solution, should we make contact with an intelligent alien species, would be to use "neutral" robots to facilitate interaction.
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