Good things, like valuable parcels being delivered by the Royal Mail, often take a long time in arriving. Just this morning the Daily Telegraph reported that Sri Lankan-born scientist Chandra Wickramsinghe has claimed that all humans are in fact aliens from outer space. What the Daily Telegraph failed to point out that Wickramsinghe, along with his late mentor and colleague Fred Hoyle, has been saying the same thing for around thirty years or more. There’s nothing like up to the minute reportage!
The basis of Wickramsinghe’s claims is a phenomenon termed Panspermia, the notion life on this planet was in fact “seeded” by organic material brought to earth by passing (or in some cases impacting) comets. If you are thinking at this point that this sounds like a plot device from an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, then you are correct – the show’s writers lifted the idea from Hoyle & Wickramsinghe’s work.
Note however that the theory of Panspermia does not by itself, contrary to the Telegraph’s headline writers, suggest that we are in fact aliens, or that alien life does exist elsewhere in the universe – merely that the seeds of life may come from outer space. However there is at least one theory by Francis Crick (he of DNA fame) that Panspermia might in fact be “directed” – i.e. brought either deliberately or inadvertantly by our extraterrestrial brethren. Apparently the rationale for directed Panspermia is that the probability of such life-seeds hitting earth by mere chance is literally astronomic.
See also: The Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology.
News today that scientists are apparently working on a Star Trek style cloaking device. Overlooking the fact that we are banned from doing so after having signed the Treaty of Algeron, this apparently works by manipulating the speed at which light reaches the viewer to create an apparent time-gap in which an event could be hidden. What this will do will in fact amount to making real-life look as if you are trying to stream an HD-video clip on a low-bandwidth connection.
Star Trek technology around the corner?
The maximum size of time-gap this can create is apparently 2*10^-9 seconds – so it is pretty pointless for creating an invisibility device given that the human brain apparently only processes information at the speed of 60Hz (i.e. if you can perform an event within 2*10^-9 seconds, there is no point turning on your cloaking device as no-one will realise you have done it anyway). Realistically though such a cloaking device could have an application hiding events not from humans but from computers which have a processor speed of 476mHz or greater – which is actually most of them nowadays.
In any event, one must bear in mind that the figure of 2*10^-9 may well be improved upon in the future, and given the rate at which, e.g., artificial telepathy has come on in the past twelve months, the likelihood that this will be sooner rather than later cannot be discounted.
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Tagged as Cloaking Device, daily telegraph, Invisibility, star trek