Letter From The Editor
The Future Of Flight
- The Three Most Critical Aviation Advances This Year
- Airships Are Not The Future Of Flight
- Jet Fuel Becomes Sustainable
- Robots Are The New Wingman
By Clay Dillow
By David Hambling
By David Hambling
By David Coburn
By David Coburn
By Adam Piore
By David Coburn
The best minds in science fiction describe how we will live and work—on Earth or in space—in the decades and centuries to come
- Web Extra: Excerpt from Parasite by Mira Grant
- Web Extra: Excerpt from Abaddon's Gate by James S.A. Corey
- Web Extra: Excerpt from 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
The answers to the most nagging, fascinating, and bizarre questions of the summer movie season By Daniel Engber and Erik Sofge
- Sci-Fi Gets Real
- Evolution of the Kill Bot
- Web Extra: Director Neill Blomkamp's illustrations for PopSci
- Board Game Redux
- The Goods
- Crossing the Streams
- Foot Prints
- Gardening Circuit
- Taking the Wheel
- Data Driven
- What Would Happen If You Shot Off Fireworks In Space?
- What Are The Least Essential Organs In The Human Body?
Dear Mr Editor,
Re the Dalek Variable-Why do scientists and writers alike place so much faith in the Drake equation? It’s like a religion for them.
For some reason, many scientists have chosen to ignore what 2 scientists have recently discovered. From the MIT Technology Review:
“Of the many uncertainties in the Drake equation (Frank Drake UC Santa Cruz, 1960), one term is traditionally thought of as relatively reliable. That is the probability of life emerging on a planet in a habitable zone.
Astrobiologists argue that because life arose so quickly here, it must be likely to emerge in other places where conditions allow.
David Spiegel at Princeton University and Edwin Turner at the University of Tokyo say this thinking is wrong. Through mathematical Bayesian reasoning, they show that the emergence of life on Earth is consistent with life being arbitrarily rare in the universe.
They have shown in a mathematically sobering way that we might be alone after all.”
It’s a buzz-killer, but you have to scratch your head and wonder why with so much evidence of a miracle and ZERO evidence of extraterrestrial life, that so many consider it a given.
(ref. www.technologyreview.com/view/424795/probability-of-et-life-arbitrarily-small-say-astrobiologists/ )
The fact that life even originated here is amazing. Stanley Miller’s experiments at the University of Chicago about the natural formation of amino acids on earth have largely been proven irrelevant, due to research by NASA in the 80’s. There are generations of students that think the origin of life here has been resolved.
And here’s some numbers to chew on. There are 80 different types of amino acids, of which only 20 can be used to form a biological protein molecule. Before each of these amino acids can link, they have to meet with the correct dipole orientation, linking agent (peptide bond) and sequence. The odds are 1 in 10 to the sixtieth power. Oh, and it has to happen more than once, right? And if life is so certain to arise, why hasn’t life risen independently more than just the once?
To the Editor
Bad news. The proposed Dalek variable (fraction of civilizations that can survive an alien attack) modifying the Drake equation is zero. Consider modern weaponry against the military of 2-3 generations ago. A squadron of F-117As would wipe out, say, the Pearl Harbor Strike Force of 27 ships in one attack without a single casualty. An interstellar civilization is always several technology generations ahead of a non-spacefaring one. Movies depicting war between humans and alien invaders always ignore that. Pop Sci should do better.
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In response to Sturmdog:
One single statement disqualifies your entire comment: "It’s a buzz-killer, but you have to scratch your head and wonder why with so much evidence of a miracle and ZERO evidence of extraterrestrial life, that so many consider it a given."
There is evidence of extraterrestrial life; it has been found in meteorites that have fallen to Earth. A little small research would have discovered this, even if we have not found any planetary life as of yet. By no means does this invalidate the Drake equation, though you must keep in mind that for now it is still a theory and not established fact.
A fox preys on sheep. Don't be a sheep.
@dshowersny: Not necessarily, though in principle you may be correct. What you overlook is the local environment itself--the biology in particular. As long as that alien life remains sealed up in their ships, then their technology could wipe our civilization--as we know it. But should they then decide to colonize, there's a good chance they would fall to diseases that we are effectively immune to, giving any surviving species (maybe even humans) the opportunity to rebuild civilization perhaps without some of the stigmas plaguing us today.
Mankind is too conceited to want to accept the possibility of extraterrestrial life and so conceited that it believes all life must be like ours in societal matters as well. Because we are so warlike, all societies must be warlike. Maybe, just maybe, those alien races have progressed beyond that mindset. Maybe they're leaving us alone because they fear our influence on their society and hope we'll destroy ourselves before we achieve interstellar capability. The odds are very high that we will.
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