Young Somali refugees living in the world’s largest refugee camp, in Kenya, have sent letters of encouragement to Syrian refugee children who have also had to flee their homeland. The young Somali students reside in the Dadaab refugee camp, in north-eastern Kenya. It is home to nearly 400,000 refugees, the majority of whom have fled conflict, drought and famine in Somalia over the last 23 years. Care International, the aid agency that provides many basic services at the camp, organised the pen pal exchange and delivered the handwritten letters to Syrian children at the Refugee Assistance Centre in Amman, Jordan.They offer messages of solidarity, encouragement and advice to their “dear brothers and sisters”.Perhaps the best line: “Be the stars and the new presidents of Syria.”
Radio and television broadcasting may be only a brief passing phase in our technological development. When we imagine alien civilizations broadcasting signals with radio telescopes, are we any different from earlier generations who imagined riding cannon shells to the moon? Civilizations even slightly more advanced than ours may have already moved on to some other mode of communication, one that we have yet to discover or even imagine. Their messages could be swirling all around us at this very moment, but we lack the means to perceive them just as all of our ancestors, up to a little more than a century ago, would have been oblivious to the most urgent radio signal from another world.
But there’s another more troubling possibility: Civilizations, like other living things, may only live so long before perishing due to natural causes, or violence, or self-inflicted wounds. Whether or not we ever make contact with intelligent alien life may depend on a critical question: What is the life expectancy of a civilization?
- Episode 11: The Immortals, Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey
Everything you need to know about this book can be found in this wonderfully thorough review by Astrobiology Magazine from 2003.
I plan on doing a full writeup/review about this book; however, I can tell you it’s one of the best Carl’s ever written and is still heavily referenced by scientists across multiple fields regarding the search for extraterrestrial life, be it intelligent or otherwise. A review on the book and the study of astrobiology itself can be via a PDF by Charley Lineweaver of the Planetary Science Institute at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Research School of Earth Sciences.
The most fascinating aspect of this book is that it was originally written by I.S. Shklovskii in Russian, re-translated into English, whereby Carl adds his scientific “two-cents”, expanding on subjects and explaining further in a way only Carl, himself, can. For instance, the last paragraph in Chapter 31: Interstellar contact by automatic probe vehicles:“At this point in the Russian edition of the present work, Shklovskii expresses his belief that civilizations are not inevitably doomed to self-destruction, despite his description of contemporary Western literature as filled with details of atomic holocaust. He expresses his belief that as long as capitalism exists on Earth, a violent end to intelligent life on the planet is probable. There is reason to assume, he asserts, that future peaceful societies will be constructed on the basis of Communism. I am able to imagine alternative scenarios for the future. No one today lives in a society which closely resembles Adam Smith capitalism or Karl Marx communism. The political dichotomies of the twentieth century may seem to our remote descendants no more exhaustive of the range of possibilities for the entire future of mankind than do, for us, the alternatives of the European religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As Shklovskii says, the forces of peace in the world are great. Mankind is not likely to destroy itself. There is too much left to do.”
SETI Scientist Jill Tarter provided a beautiful TED Talk about this subject, and in this interview with NOVA, she speaks on being the inspiration for Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan’s book/film ‘Contact’ whereby Jodie Foster portrays Dr. Tarter.
Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer for SETI, presented an enriching TED Talk about why he’s convinced we’re closer than ever in detecting, contacting, or receiving signals from ETI; and recently, had a Q&A conversation with Science 2.0 appropriately titled “Why I Believe We’ll Find Aliens.”
ClimateWorks is a San Francisco based foundation whose mission is to support public policies that prevent dangerous climate change and promote global prosperity. This infographic about wlkable neighborhoods is part of a document called Planning Cities for People, which was prepared for the Chinese government. The document, which contains 8 research-based recommendations that lead to prosperous, low-carbon urban areas, uses richly illustrated maps and diagrams to present examples of street-grids that promote walking, prioritize bicycle networks, create mixed-use neighborhoods and support high-quality transit.
This is how you do walkability.
“My mother told me as I was growing up that being a black man in this society was going to come with great difficulty. At first I wasn’t sure what she meant. I always thought that no matter what we were all treated as equals. I’m sitting here at 18 years old and now I finally understand what it is my mother was trying to say. Growing up in a neighbor that is no stranger to crime, I’ve always been looked down upon by people. I was expected to fail. They predicted my association with drugs, and concluded that my life would be one of utter turmoil and self-destruction. However this simply is not the case. My mother always told me that the color of my skin would bring obstacles throughout my life, and that in order to win the fight against discriminatory injustice, I’d have to show the world my mind and use my voice to make a change. I take those words to heart to this day. Yes I may be a person of color, but that color does not define my character. The color of my skin does not limit the amount of success that I am able to attain, nor does it gives anyone the right to treat me as though I am of little significance. I take pride in knowing that I am a well-spoken, and intellectual man of color. I do not “talk white”. I speak as though I’ve gotten an education. I don’t listen to “black people music”. I am an eclectic individual with a passion for the beautiful artistry within sounds. I am not a wild animal. I am a human being and I expect to be treated as such. As I sit here preparing to leave for college within a few days I cannot help but think about my many peers who have been shot down too young. I cannot help but wonder how many more of us are going to have to be stigmatized and branded as the typical criminal before this society begins to acknowledge not only our flaws but also our successes. I asked myself this question today. If they gunned me down, which photo would they use? Would they choose the image of me giving a public speech to young children about the importance of anti-violence, or would they use the photo of me dressed in an old t-shirt, worn sneakers, and angry look upon my face? Personally I am tired of being swept under the bus. I’m sick of being treated like racism isn’t an issue any longer. And really, I think that it’s about time for all of us to start making a change.”
Meet Jedidah Isler
She is the first black woman to earn a PhD in astronomy from Yale University.
As much as she loves astrophysics, Isler is very aware of the barriers that still remain for young women of color going into science. “It’s unfortunately an as-yet-unresolved part of the experience,” she says. She works to lower those barriers, and also to improve the atmosphere for women of color once they become scientists, noting that “they often face unique barriers as a result of their position at the intersection of race and gender, not to mention class, socioeconomic status and potentially a number of other identities.”
While Isler recounts instances of overt racial and gender discrimination that are jaw-dropping, she says more subtle things happen more often. Isler works with the American Astronomical Society’s commission on the status of minorities in astronomy.
She also believes that while things will improve as more women of color enter the sciences, institutions must lead the way toward creating positive environments for diverse student populations. That is why she is active in directly engaging young women of color: for example participating in a career exploration panel on behalf of the Women’s Commission out of the City of Syracuse Mayor’s Office, meeting with high-achieving middle-school girls. She is also on the board of trustees at the Museum of Science and Technology (MOST).
“Whether I like it or not, I’m one of only a few women of color in this position,” she says. “Addressing these larger issues of access to education and career exploration are just as important as the astrophysical work that I do.”
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOST YES DAMMIT!
Damn this is amazing!
US begins air strikes in Iraq, Pentagon says
August 8, 2014
American warplanes began bombing Islamic militant targets outside the Kurdish city of Irbil on Friday, in the first offensive action by the US in Iraq since it withdrew ground troops in 2011.
Following authority granted by Barack Obama on Thursday, the Pentagon said two FA-18 jets dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on fighters with the Islamic State, also known as Isis or Isil.
The US claimed the militants were using artillery to shell peshmerga forces defending Irbil and threatening US personnel in the city.
“As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against Isil when they threaten our personnel and facilities,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.
Obama’s orders to his military commanders were widely drafted and included permission to take action against Isis forces threatening either the thousands of Yazidi refugees trapped on Mount Sinjar, or the cities of Irbil and Baghdad, where US “military advisers” are based.
The US portrayed its initial action on Friday as a necessary step to protect its joint operation centre in Irbil, which is being used to co-ordinate defences with Peshmerga fighters. “The fact of the matter is we have people in Irbil and if Irbil is allow to fall, they will be at risk,” said national security adviser Ben Rhodes on Friday.
But US jets have been operating over Kurdish areas for some time and the Pentagon believes the Islamic militants advancing toward Irbil pose a significant threat to the city.
Since Obama spoke from the White House on Thursday night, there has been relatively little criticism of his return to Iraqi military interventions in Congress. However there is thought to be deep unease within the White House about the risk of being sucked back into a prolonged campaign against Isis.