February 21, 2006

Milan Ćirković's updated Website

Cosmologist, transhumanist, and friend Milan Ćirković has revamped his Website. He's the Senior Research Associate at the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade and Assistant Professor of the Department of Physics at the University of Novi Sad in Serbia and Montenegro.

Ćirković's interests include astrobiology and SETI studies, the evolution of galaxies and baryonic dark matter, the philosophy of science (especially philosophy of cosmology and quantum mechanics), future studies (in particular related to existential risks and transhumanism), and the history of physical sciences.

I consider Ćirković to be a worldclass authority on the Fermi Paradox and issues pertaining to SETI and the future of intelligence. He has written a number of academic papers on these subjects that I find to be extremely imaginative, informative and useful.

Ćirković has been both critical and supportive of SETI, attempting to steer their attention and resources in the right direction. Along these lines, he penned a paper for the Journal of Evolution and Technology called "On the Importance of SETI for Transhumanism." Ćirković has extremely interesting things to say about the inadequacies of the Drake equation.

Along with Robert J. Bradbury, Ćirković recently conceived of the "migration hypothesis," a particular solution to Fermi’s paradox. He describes it as an attempt to join postbiological digital perspectives to current SETI studies.

He is currently preparing an academic book for Oxford University Press on "Global Catastrophic Risks" with Nick Bostrom as co-editor. They're hoping to publish this by the end of 2006.

Be sure to check out Milan's site for a number of excellent articles.

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1 comment:

John Umana said...

by John Umana http://johnumana4.blogspot.com/

Dr. Milan Cirkovic, I thought I'd share my current thinking on the deep questions of astrobiology and the emergence of life:

(1) There is no other life in this sun system. Mars contains no life and never did, notwithstanding that 70% of scientists polled believe that there is or was life on Mars at one time. This conventional wisdom is mistaken. Saturn's moon Titan contains no life and never did. No other planet or object, no comet, no asteroid in this sun system contains any form of life. Europa does not contain liquid seas under the ice. When NASA gets there after 2010 or so, we’ll see that there are no fishes swimming around. Only Earth in this sun system contains seas of liquid water at this time, though Mars once did have shallow seas as the rovers Spirit and Opportunity and the orbiters have found. Where did/does the water come from on Earth and (billions of years ago) on Mars? Volcanoes produce large amounts of water steam, and they are largely responsible for Earth's oceans. Other released gases from volcanoes included carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), hydrochloric acid (HCl), hydrogen fluoride (HF), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon monoxide (CO), molecular hydrogen gas (H2), NH3, methane (CH4), silicon tetrafluoride (SiF4), and minor amounts of nitrogen (N2) and argon (Ar). But no oxygen. … And no life. Plenty of hydrogen, however, is a great start. The name is derived from the Greek ‘hydro genes,’ meaning water forming. Though most of our water came from volcanoes, carbonaceous chondrites, among the most primitive objects in our sun system, contain water locked up in phyllosilicate minerals with the water content making up about 10% by weight of the meteorites. Comets and meteorites also gave us some water.

(2) In my respectful opinion, the Universe including our galaxy is teeming with life. All life throughout the vast cosmos is nucleotide, DNA-based. (OK, you're right, I don't have the proof today but hoping that mankind will come up with the proof during this new millenium.)

(3) In my respectful opinion, the Universe including our galaxy is teeming with intelligent life. (The reason SETI is not picking them up is they are unlikely to be communicating by radio or any type of electromagnetic communication -- far too slow for the distances involved.)

(4) Extraterrestrial astronauts did not “seed” mankind or life on Earth. The theory of panspermia is way off the mark. No need to keep worrying about whether comets could have carried spores of life here; that's not what happened and the distances are too vast for a living spore to hitch a ride on a comet in any event. There is no life beyond Earth for a long, long ways.

(5) Darwin's/Wallace's theory of the evolutionary theory of common ancestry is proved conclusively by the convergence of the entire scientific and fossil record, including paleontology, molecular biology, genetics, mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosome DNA, comparative anatomy and physiology, biogeography, geology and archaeology. I do not believe there was a single common ancestor RNA strand, rather; there was differentiation right from the first period of emergence into what would become the plant and animal kingdoms. No common ancestor with life on other habitable worlds. Life emerged separately and independently on Earth.

(6) The Darwinian theory of "natural selection" as the mechanism for origin of the species is unsubstantiated, overly simplistic, and runs contrary to what is observed in modern microbiology. It is bad science as theory of emergence or origin of species, though natural selection is a true force of nature and accounts for such phenomena as pesticide resistance of insects (e.g., the mosquitos that survive an application of a given pesticide eventually develop an immunity to it over time) or the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics. Natural selection (NS) is not the causative mechanism for the evolution of a single species on Earth or anywhere else. The neo-Darwinists are way, way off the mark as to the specific mechanism of evolution as microbiology is beginning to demonstrate. NS was an interesting guess back in the 1800’s. Less interesting today with microbiology. Whatever the right answer is as to emergence and origin of species, it isn't NS.

(7) Life emerged on Earth independently of other habitable worlds -- just shy of 4.0 billion years ago at the tail end of the Heavy Bombardment.

(8) Where/how first life emerged on Earth? Just shy of 4 billion years ago. Pick an area where the critical amino acids are found. Prep needed. Areas under the shallow seas at that time and sheltered puddles where seas met rocky shore, protected from UV rays. Black smokers come much later; emergence of life there was much more difficult. Sheltered areas protected from lethal and destabilizing UV rays including areas under the seas. Still massive comet strikes nearly every day or few days, equivalent to thermonuclear blasts, sending massive seismic shock waves throughout mantle and core. Temperature out a balmy 200-300 degrees; more inhospitable as approach areas adjacent to live volcanos. Pre-biotic Earth temperature range roughly -288 F to +260 F. At night, temperatures dropped sharply as on the moon without protective atmosphere. No free oxygen to speak of on Earth. No ozone screen 10-15 miles up in atmosphere to protect emergence of first life from lethal UV. Earth highly radioactive as remnant of solar nebula, creating enormous challenge to emergence of first RNA strand; no membrane at first; highly unstable molecule. Thin atmosphere of H2O, CO2, SO2, N2. Stark sunlight. Pristine earth. No blue sky. Whispy clouds occasionally high up. More like sunlight falling across face of moon or Mars (but no pink sky like Mars). Because of gamma radiation, UV and wild temperature swings, only rapidly reproducing self-replicating strands possible, containing backup DNA files for self-repair when damaged by radiation or UV -- until Earth cools off radioactively within the next few billion years (as of 4 bya). That's the reason why there was no evolution beyond single cells until 583 million years ago or so with emergence of Ediacara biota and some 40 million years later with the Cambrian explosion of life. [John Umana All rights reserved.]

Have a good day!