Back in 2011, particle physicist Sean M. Carroll wrote a guest blog at Scientific American, dismissing the idea of life after death or the immortality of the soul. He began by responding to astrophysicist Adam Frank’s reflections at NPR: For myself I remain fully and firmly agnostic on the question. If ever there was a place where firm convictions seem misplaced this is it. There simply is no controlled, experimental verifiable information to support either the “you rot” vs. “you go on” positions. In the absence of said information we are all free to believe as we like but, I would argue, it behooves us to remember that truly “public” knowledge on the subject — the kind science exemplifies — Read More ›
University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank looks at the possibilities of interstellar travel, given the “insane scale” of the distances between stars and galaxies, in relation to space exploration, whether by ourselves or by intelligent extraterrestrials. Science fiction usually starts with the assumption that the distance problem is somehow already solved. What real-world proposals are out there now for solving it? At Big Think, Frank offers four: Cryosleep, solar sails (or light sails), wormholes, and warp drives. Cautioning that they may all be pipe dreams, he offers some thoughts. Possibly the most intriguing is cryosleep: Cryosleep technology would basically “freeze” the body’s metabolism (or at least slow it down) for the duration of the journey. Despite being a staple of Read More ›
Exoplanets were first confirmed in 1992. Before that, it was easy to simply mock the search for the flying saucers and the little green men. After that, the obvious question became: If planets, why not habitable planets? If inhabited, why not by intelligent life forms? It was the naysayers who had more to prove. More recently, astrobiologists looking for signals from intelligent extraterrestrials (technosignatures) have started to doubt that the old standby, radio, is the best choice, as science writer Corey S. Powell reports, ‘I was never a big fan of what might be called “beacon SETI”,’ the astrophysicist Adam Frank from the University of Rochester tells me. ‘The idea is that you’re waiting for somebody to send you a Read More ›
Many of us might need a pause to recall just what the word “reductionism” means. But we surely recognize it when we hear it: “Humans are nothing but big-brained apes,” “The mind is just what the brain does,” or “The Earth is a mere speck in a not-very-interesting galaxy.” That, materialists tell us, is What Science Shows. But is it? Really? In an article at BigThink, University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank (pictured) argues that reductionism is — for good reasons — fading in science: “Reductionism offers a narrow view of the universe that fails to explain reality.” It is slowly being replaced: Reductionism is the view that everything true about the world can be explained by atoms and their Read More ›
In recent months we’ve been looking at science writer Matt Williams’s coverage of the many reasons (links below) that have been advanced as to why we do not see extraterrestrials except at the movies. Last Saturday, we considered the Percolation Hypothesis, whose beauty is its common-sense simplicity: The aliens can’t overcome the laws of physics, any more than we can. In the real world, barriers like years between communications even at the speed of light would take a toll on adventurousness. Another hypothesis that Williams has examined is our focus today, the Aurora Hypothesis, “just because planets are habitable doesn’t mean that intelligent life can colonize there.” (Williams) The thesis has had a busy life in science media. Its earliest Read More ›
Frank’s computational research group has developed advanced supercomputer tools to study how stars form and die. So he would incline to a materialist view, surely? But no, he says, quantum physics blew all that away. And some neuroscientists just haven’t caught up.