Posts

Ten Key SETI Moments

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, was founded fifty ago. Here are 10 notable moments that deserve honourable mention. Interesting enough, the invention of the Drake equation was noted as one of those key moments. Of all listed candidates, my vote goes to the Arecibo Message. With our technology today, it is difficult to conceive that we will discover extraterrestrial life forms in the near future. We may as well let a technologically superior alien civilization track us down from our interstellar broadcasts. What is your favourite moment? -PTS

The Drake Equation

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Ever heard of the Drake equation? Devised by Dr. Francis Drake in 1960, the equation estimates the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy with which we might come into contact. The main purpose of the equation is to allow scientists to quantify the factors that determine the number of such extraterrestrial civilizations. The Drake equation states that: where: N is the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible; and R * is the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy f p is the fraction of those stars that have planets n e is the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets f ℓ is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point f i is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life f c is the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space L is the

Harnessing Energy from Speed Bumps

Here is an interesting post on the use of special speed bumps to harness, convert and store energy from braking cars only to be released back to the grid. This seems like an interesting innovation that holds promise for the environment. I have always hated speed bumps with a vengeance. Next time I work the brakes on these bad boys however, I can take comfort in helping the world. Hopefully, this will become mainstream some day. -PTS

A Prelude to the Origin of Life on Earth

I was looking to do a deep dive into the origin of life on Earth, a topic that has always intrigued me. Two main schools of thoughts today generally revolve around creationism or abiogenisis. Before engaging in serious research however, I came across this interesting post . Scientists theorize that Earth's oceans may have been 'delivered' by comets during massive collisions. It was comets and not asteroids because of specific amounts of iridium found in Greenland's rocks. In case you are wondering, here are the common differences between comets and asteroids: Comets display comas and tails due to sublimation of water and ejection of dust particles from solar radiation. Comets have more eliptical orbits than asteroids around the sun. Comets may become asteroids when they run out of watery particles. This article is exciting because it opens up a whole new perspective on the origin of life. It is commonly believed that life first formed in bodies of water. Is it po

Finally, Something Good from Global Warming

The words global warming are often frowned upon. Amid the negative press, can this article help turn the tide? Scientists claim that climatic changes due to global warming has seen increased rainfall in parts of the Sahara Desert. More islands of green are beginning to show, especially in the southern borders. In time, these areas can be reclaimed for agricultural activities. So why the phenomenon? One theory suggests warmer air being able to hold more moisture, which in turn creates more precipitation. However, it is too early to cast your vote. There are other competing climate models that predict decreased rainfall, pointing the finger at global warming. The split is virtually a dead heat. - PTS

SaaS is Green

I usually keep my day job within the 9 to 5, but couldn't help thinking about a recent advertising campaign from a Software as a Service (SaaS) company with which I am intimately familiar. NetSuite has claimed that a company going SaaS will save an average $10 300 USD per year in energy bills. These savings result from removed server and ventiliation costs. With over 6 000 customers, total savings are $61 million per year. This is equivalent to 595 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, or nearly 423 000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or 1 million barrels of oil, or the average electricity consumption of 56 000 homes a year. For the sake of the environment, wouldn't you turn off your servers and let NetSuite host your business? For me, it takes a little more than those numbers alone. However, I commend the company for shrewd advertising! Perhaps future green energy subsidies in the US will tip the scale. Regardless, this is a very interesting topic given my vested interest i

Profanity for Pain Relief?

Thanks to this recent study , now we all have an excuse to swear! According to the findings, cursing not only is an expression of agony, but also a means to pain relief. I must admit my reservations about the experimental results. In a race to see who could keep their hands in uncomfortably cold water, subjects were allowed to mutter an expletive of their choice or use a neutral word. IMHO, the free use of profanity in the experiment -- as opposed to any social situation -- could have created intrigue or amusement in the swearing subjects, which in turn swayed the results in thier favour. However, I did like Steven Pinker's theory that "swearing taps into the defensive reflex in which an animal that is suddenly injured or confined erupts in a furious struggle, accompanied by an angry vocalization, to startle or intimidate an attacker." What's the verdict? Cursing is good for you if you mean it with vengeance. Don't over do it though, as the soothing eff