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Comment Re:What are they thinking? (Score 1) 728

Ok, so then what's your definition of philosophy? Tell me specifically why you believe they are different.

If you're referring to the 'faith' aspects of some religions vs the 'scientific method' -- or 'rational argument' for philosophy, then you have a very specific definition of the word 'religion'. laxman was right in saying that my definition of religion is very broad, but to me, if you can lump Buddhism and other non-violent, seemingly rational, almost poetic religions into the same category, then both philosophy and science (in their many forms and interpretations) get very close to fitting the more general definition of religion.

Many (but certainly not all) atheists reject 'religion' as outright stupid -- whereas their own life practices are unique and superior. Sure, whatever. They're just making general claims about specific instances, and spouting off the same bullshit words that everybody everywhere at all times says when they don't agree.

Comment Re:What are they thinking? (Score 1) 728

Oh spare me. Calling science a religion (however slyly) just shows your ignorance. And then you go on to suggest we should somehow filter religions? Yes you can define God very broadly. Most people, especially ISIS, do not.

So are you one of those folks that thinks all religion is just a mass delusion? Please. The only difference between philosophy and religion is connotation.

And yes, ISIS has a specific -- and deluded -- viewpoint on reality. Nobody said otherwise.

Comment Re:What are they thinking? (Score 1) 728

Keep in mind that the constituents of ISIS are literally fanatics. They are so strongly attached to their religious ideologies that they are willing to blow themselves up just to kill a single civilian. There's very little real political strategy in killing civilians. Only tunnel vision.

That said, some of the commenters are arguing that this evidence that all religion is ill-suited for humankind. This is a naive thing to say. Irrational violence and religion are not mutually inclusive. Similarly, an omnipotent god with free will (i.e., the Christian god) and monotheism are also not mutually inclusive, Brahman from Hinduism being a good example of a non-anthropomorphized god. People often seem to place a very narrow definition on 'God' and on 'religion', calling themselves atheist or non-religious, while they themselves are faithfully ascribing supreme importance to their own moral pursuits, such as science.

So to me it's not a question of whether or not religion is worth keeping around, but rather which religions are worth keeping around, and how we can improve upon them.

In every myth, cosmology, origin story and/or religion, the singular existence of our reality reveals the essence of the idea of God, regardless of how you choose to define God.

Comment Re:Okay, So Why Should I Be Paranoid? (Score 5, Insightful) 373

What exactly is there to be worried about?

The main takeaway, to me at least, is that very personal information of yours is not as personal as you think it is anymore. Do your google searches indicate that you've been diagnosed with an STD? Do they infer that you're a frequent marijuana user? Do your posts reveal that you're paranoid about your lover cheating on you? Do they flag you for an NSA interesting persons list?

Your searches reveal information about your interests, and they are most definitely recorded in order to advertise to you. As we have learned with the OPM, or with Ashley Madison, or with one of the many other thousands of instances of data theft, much of your information is unprotected. It can be used to blackmail you, to out you as a minority or stereotype, and to reveal your (mildly or severely) illegal activities.

You may think that you're a moral person, but most people have character traits that give them shame.

Comment Re:With the best tech that we know of (Score 1) 365

The definition of "advanced civilization" they used was Kardashev III, which uses total power on the order of 4.E37 watts. You're talking about a civilization that uses much less power. It still could be incredibly advanced compared to us, using energy incredibly efficiently (there's limits to the efficiency, so I'd suspect we're talking over Kardashev II here), or it could be operating on some principle we're not going to find for another million years.

As I said, it's silly to assume that any truly advanced civilization could/would consume or generate that much power. 4 × 10^37 watts is equivalent to 4.5 × 10^20 kg / s. That would mean they consume three Jupiter masses per year... the mass TOTALLY gone... poof. To give some perspective, the sun doesn't even do that. The sun doesn't even do 1 trillionth of that in its total output/year. It would take that civilization 1000 years to eat up an entire star (and they've been doing it for how long again?). Welp, let's just head to the next closest star and consume that. Wait a minute, it's gonna take 1000 years to get there? We need more power though!!!

Comment Re:With the best tech that we know of (Score 1) 365

However, one must agree that most radio communications are not point sources (not even "omni" antennas) and most high gain antennas are absolutely not so.

Consider our recent communications from earth to the New Horizons mission. These are "highly-collimated" (I'm putting that in square quotes because of course at the wavelengths being emitted it's not as collimated as a laser through an optical telescope would be) beams of radio waves leaving a 70m aperture (Tidbinbilla DSN) here on earth and going in one direction. Now I don't have time right now to dust off my college optics textbook to compute the diameter of that radio beam at the edge of the solar system, and at say 10 light years, or 100 light years away, but it will NOT be a compete sphere of radio waves and it will not be dropping off in intensity as the inverse-square of the distance.

I hope you can see this and I hope others can as well.

Like I said later in the post, a directed beam would have the best chance of getting to Earth; however, despite a high gain antenna's increased directional strength, the intensity still drops off in proportion to the inverse square. This is fundamental to the radiation field. In a perfect world, you can construct phase in such a way that intensity does not drop off, but this requires an infinite aperture with infinite power (see, for instance, airy beams).

So, yes, you can increase the range of communication, but you have to know who to shoot the beam at. This is why I suggested that we search for communications along the Earth-Sun ecliptic, since another civilization is more likely, perhaps, to have discovered us along that plane (which is still a long shot).

In theory, an advanced civilization with access to an extreme amount of energy (on the order of an entire star) could send out a sustained omni-directional signal strong enough to propagate throughout the galaxy. I find this to be far less likely, considering the already slim prospects for intelligent life.

Comment With the best tech that we know of (Score 2, Informative) 365

You couldn't detect radio signals from a planet. The electric field of a radio signal drops off inversely with the distance that it's traveled, the intensity inversely with the square of the distance. The closest large galaxy is about 2.4 million light-years away. Compare that to the measly 100 light-years that our radio signals have traveled. In Andromeda, the intensity of our radio signal will have dropped off by a factor of about a billion -- 2.4 million years from now-- compared to the already weak signals that we sent 100 years ago. So we will not likely find a signal from another civilization like our own.

As far as detecting extremely advanced civilizations goes, it's silly to assume that they will output enough infrared heat to be detected on a galactic scale. Assuming they're able to overcome their population constraints (lack of resources, planets, living in space far from another star, etc), the heat that they generate on their own would still be negligible compared to even the dimmest brown dwarf stars that we can detect... unless you think that their population exceeds the mass of many thousands of stars. It's not downright impossible for a civilization to have spread throughout a galaxy -- it only takes about 250 million years to orbit your own galaxy -- but it's rather unlikely that we could see them from such distance.

Furthermore, it took Earth about 4 billion years to form (mind you, just the planet... the evolution was much quicker with a bit of luck). As far as we can tell, the universe has only been churning out planets for 13.6 billion years. So you might be hard pressed to look at galaxies much farther than 9 billion light-years, since we can only receive light from civilizations that have had the time to develop on formed planets with good chemicals.

I suspect that our best bet is looking at exoplanets within our own galaxy. As of now, we don't have a sun-sized telescope, so we'll have to stick with examining planetary atmospheres via transits (so absorption spectra of light coming from the star through the atmosphere). With some extreme amount of luck, we may be able to see the byproducts of an organic life-form within a planetary atmosphere, but there's no reason that it'd be life with advanced intelligence.

If you wanted to search for a signal from another civilization similar to our own, they'd probably have to be directing a strong signal towards us intentionally (and from within our own galaxy). I suggested to Geoff Marcy during a colloquium that we should look for signals within our own ecliptic, since if we've been discovered as a non-advanced life-form (remember we've only been technologically 'advanced' for less than 100 years), they would most likely have discovered our atmosphere via the transiting technique. You can actually detect transits in mass simply by observing the intensity of thousands of stars over a few decades. No need to zero in on a planet with a *giant* telescope. He seemed to think it was a decent idea, but I probably would have been better off by emailing someone at seti :P

Comment legitimacy of the business (Score 2) 54

If your operations can be carried out in specific countries, you might be able to bypass some anti-hacking laws, or at least diminish some of the potential legal blame of 'going too far'. If you have to limit your offensive capabilities, there are probably ways of cataloging/surveying/classifying incoming attacks and thwarting them without doing anything illegal. The main factor in the success of this business relies on them providing monetarily valuable information to potential targets.

That said, what they say they're doing is not illegal, and it is probably already practiced by most security companies. It's just a business pitch. From TFA, they spend their time

monitoring underground chatter and markets, analyzing computer code meant to cause harm, watching the networks of potential attackers and poring over social media channels for signs of imminent attacks.

Comment SUBJECT LINE YEAAAAH! (Score 1) 73

Arts and crafts transcend science as a recognition of the fact that you can do whatever the fuck that tickles you during your short period of awareness of immanent existence.

Hobbies also give you:

- confidence (mad G-chord skillz!!1)

- a peaceful break from your current mindfuck

- a diversification of perspectives

- a sense of personal satisfaction security

- an extra way to relate to other people

- other stuff

Why wouldn't they help you in science?

"The most important thing in a man is not what he knows, but what he is." -- Narciso Yepes