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    • The following article has created quite a buzz among those "news outlets" that seem to seek to sensationalize every scientific discussion.

      I find it interesting that the writers are speculating on the possibility of it being an object which suggests to their minds "intelligent design."

      This is an invitation to a philosophical discussion of what it is which provokes humans to project intent onto an unknown.

      Why should an object which seems to take advantage of solar radiation suggest intelligent design or an artificial origin?

      Why is it not just shrugged off as being random chance since the prevailing theory in science today is that everything is a result of chance?

    • Yes, I am fully aware that it is far more enjoyable to invent speculative theories than it is to seek objectivity. Many Ghost stories were the result of it being more fun to speculate than to discover. Gossip is more fun than giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Newspapers that are speculative sell more papers than those which seek to limit themselves to known facts.

      But I'm not seeking to discuss the pleasure motive behind legends, tall tales and belief in fairies, I'm more interested in the question of why a source that is interested in scientific discovery would not default to the big bang theory but rather jumps to some form of Intelligent Design such as an Advanced Civilization.

    • Chris MacAskill

      This is how you talk about Oumuamua so 2 million people will listen. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Why should an object which seems to take advantage of solar radiation suggest intelligent design or an artificial origin?

      After reading the available draft, this doesn't seem to be the exact conclusion the paper is drawing. It's not "it takes advantage of solar radiation, so it could be artificial" (as in, "someone must have intended for the object to be accelerated by our sun"), but a bit more involved than that.

      What the paper states is that, first, the object's acceleration is compatible with that derived from solar radiation pressure. Second, if that is the way this object is accelerated (and there's apparently no good alternative idea here), then it must have a huge surface area relative to its mass - and third, if its density is within some sensible(?) limits, then given all the other information we have, this translates to an object thickness of less than a millimeter.

      So, the statement here is more along the lines of "unless our assumptions are incorrect, 'Oumuamua is very thin and we have no idea how something like this might have formed in interstellar space naturally". In that context, it seems sensible to also bring up non-natural causes. This reminds me of a similar situation with Tabby's Star: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KIC_8462852

    • The cake interface automatically includes an image if the link is embedded and an image is available. I doubt anyone in this conversation thought that the picture included in the news media stories were actual photographs.

      @Chris is the only one who posted a link which included that image and because of what I know of Chris's reputation I am confident that he did not intend that the graphic image be taken as factual.

    • True confession: when I first saw it on that clip with Colbert and Tyson, I somehow assumed it was a photo. I noticed that Colbert seemed to as well, and some of the audience. The artist did quite a job of making it look photographic.

    • I posted my comment because I wanted everyone to be aware that was not an image of the object Oumuamua, which is a general agreement with your original post about the wacko need to sensationalize scientific discussion today.

      I had no doubt that Chris knew that was an artist's impression - he gave my post above a ๐Ÿ‘

      What I really was commenting on, was NBC's need to have that image - I actually had started a criticism of NBC for including that image without a significantly larger disclaimer statement than the one they have beneath the artist's impression.

      No criticism of anyone here on Cake was suggested, nor intended. I am sorry if my statement wasn't clear enough. I should have left my comment about NBC, but deleted it as I thought it was unnecessary.

    • Yes, I didn't watch the video until after this later sequence of posts. Dr Tyson knew it was a drawing, but not so sure about Colbert. The light rendering in the drawing was very well done. Easy to mistake - I thought it was real too, until I read the disclaimer.

    • One of the most difficult aspects of communication involves the topic of the transmission of intent and context.

      Now that I understand your intent, I am in complete agreement with your desire to make certain that this is understood.

      Space Photography has definitely come along way but stationary cameras such as Hubble rarely get such perfect composition and cameras on probes are part of projects which are planned long in advance and require some preliminary knowledge of the primary target object of the mission. It is true that there are serendipitous "glamour" shots but the odds of getting this particular image even if this object had been previously known are (sorry, but I can't bypass this opportunity) astronomical.

    • No hurries, no worries. I should have made my intent more clearly.

      If Oumuamua really were to be identified as a product of an inter-galactic species, life on Earth would certainly change in many unforseen ways. I can understand the excitement, despite the odds.

      We don't have real news programs on TV or the web, we have entertainment programs. Hence, the hype.

      The search for credible evidence of life outside our planetary system has been unsuccessful to date.

      I keep hoping for subterranean Mars ( bacteria or other microscopic forms) , or submarine aquatic life on Ganymede or Europa. Not necessarily intelligent, or sentient, but more like coral reefs or free swimming jellyfish or fishes.

      It is hard for me to avoid the idea that life exists on more than one planet - proving that it does not ( a negative ) can take a very long time.

    • Chris MacAskill

      Well I think even Tyson says if you do the maths for how many planets are out there (can't even imagine) and the chance of any having life (extremely small), when you multiply them you get: there must be life out there in many places. The problem is they're very far away and hard to detect.

      He also says if they come to visit, then they are more advanced than us because we haven't figured out how to visit them.

      Adam Frank has a fascinating book about it. I think he calculated 1 in 10 billion chance of no life out there.

    • I'm not sure that there will ever be a method of proving that life does not exist on some other planet in another galaxy far far away. ("Somebody stop me" -Stanley Ipkiss <while wearing the Mask>)

    • Really?

      But that is just like saying that anything whose existence has neither been proved or disproved might exist in some location to which man does not have access and (because of infinity) never shall have access.

      For example: The subject of the existence of metaphysical beings.

    You've been invited!