The guy who was shooting at the police a few days back in Ferguson, Missouri, has been caught and his defense (rather ingenious, really) is that he wasn’t actually shooting at the police. I don’t think anybody’s buying it, but it’s interesting. Theoretically, philosophically, it shouldn’t make any difference. Shooting at people is shooting at people. However, as somebody famous once said (I’ve seen it attributed to Yogi Berra) “In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.”
Police here in Prague caught the guy who stabbed a guy at my local Metro station; a homeless man, just 21, with mental problems. It took a couple of days, but he hadn’t even managed to get out of the neighborhood. Glad that’s over.
Putin has resurfaced, so those of us who were hoping he’d been kidnapped by aliens or fallen into a Siberian sinkhole are a bit disappointed, but we’ll just have to learn to live with it.
What I really want to talk about tonight is the Drake Equation. You know: N=RxfpxnexflxfixfexL, which is the formula for calculating how many different alien, spacefaring civilizations are out there.
L is the bugger. We know there are gazillions of planets out there, we know a fair number of them have water and are in their Suns’ Goldilocks Zones. There’s no reason to assume that life doesn’t evolve pretty much everywhere it can, and judging just by the extremophiles we know, it can evolve in a pretty broad range of environments. So, the universe is teeming with life. There is also no reason to believe that lots of those life forms wouldn’t evolve intelligence. It’s happened more than once right here on Earth. Given intelligence, technology becomes probable. Yet, we haven’t been contacted yet. So, technological life forms who are attempting to contact other intelligent life forms must be rare, and all that’s left is L. This does not bode well. We have to figure out a way to survive electromagnetic pulses, incoming asteroids, super volcanoes, and our own self-destructive tendencies. We have to do it before we go extinct.