In the first half of the show, acclaimed physicist and cosmologist Paul Davies discussed why he believes the search for ET life should be expanded beyond SETI's parameters of radio signals. While acknowledging SETI's dedication in their effort over the years, he suggested we should be looking at other "signatures of intelligence" that would answer the question whether we are alone in the universe. Such signs of alien technology might even be subtly embedded or intermingled on our own planet within genetic structures or microbiology, he said.
It's also possible there could be ancient or dormant alien probes in our solar system, perhaps hidden in the asteroid belt so that we wouldn't be aware of them, said Davies, who went on to declare that he does not find UFO reports to correlate with the idea of intelligent alien visitation, and such sightings could be something like ball lightning or physical phenomena we don't understand yet. Interestingly, he noted that if life is found on Mars, this wouldn't necessarily answer the question of whether life has happened more than once in the universe, as microbes might have been spread between the two planets via meteorites.
In the latter half of the program, Prof. William Forstchen talked about the dangers of EMP (electromagnetic pulse) effects that could arise from a bomb sent into the atmosphere, as well as from solar activity like an X-class flare. He warned that Iran is moving toward development of a space orbital launch capability that could possibly deliver an EMP first strike. Such an attack on America would knock out the electrical grid, and by some estimates as many as 90% of the population would die within a year, he reported.
The solar scenario could be even more dire, Forstchen declared, citing the Carrington Event of 1859 (chronicled in the book The Sun Kings by Stuart Clark) which knocked out the telegraphy grid of England and the Northeast U.S. One analysis stated that even four years after a solar EMP, some 80% of generating capacity would still be offline. While there could be an approximately 24-hour warning before a serious solar flare hits Earth, no simulations have been done as to how to deal with it. Turning off the grid in advance of the flare might lessen its damage, he suggested. House Bill 2195 (PDF excerpt), advocated by Cong. Roscoe Bartlett, proposes investing funds to protect the grid from EMP threats, he added.
5 roller coaster riders in England got more than they bargained for when their car got stuck upside down, and they were left dangling 50 ft. above the ground before being rescued. Further details and photos at the Daily Mail.
Bumper music from Tuesday May 04, 2010