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Panspermia & ET Origins

Date Sunday - February 10, 2019
Host Jimmy Church
Guests Isaac Arthur

Isaac Arthur is a science communication specialist and futurist. He is best known as producer of his YouTube channel, Science & Futurism With Isaac Arthur, with over 300,000 subscribers and nearly 200 episodes. He joined guest host Jimmy Church (Twitter) to discuss issues surrounding space travel and other life in the universe. Arthur said he "grew up on science fiction and science" and continued his interest into adulthood. He said that, as the Earth’s population grows, we will need to build structures in space to house more people, which could be "bigger than things on Earth to bigger than solar systems." A technology that creates structures in space would be able to replicate as a swarm of billions of smaller pieces, which could essentially build planet-sized habitations.

Although Arthur said that we should be able to extend the life of the sun with current physics, the concept of moving from one planet to another (called "panspermia") would be an option to consider, and it may be how life ended up on Earth from elsewhere. There are new planets being discovered daily, and at this rate, Arthur predicted that there are possibly "planets around every star," but only a small fraction would be habitable, at least with life as we know it. He also pointed out that the odds against physics and chemistry in our universe working as they do are "staggering," but that this could be due to anything from some sort religious explanation to simply an "example where we won the lottery."

In the second hour, Arthur discussed lightspeed space travel, and the strange effects and paradoxes that would occur were we able to approach this velocity. Since faster-than-light travel would "violate the laws of causality," Arthur considered the issues of near-light-speed space exploration. He noted that "when you get to the speed of light, time would stop" and the traveler would get where they were going instantly, from their perspective, although this would only apply at the speed of light, not during periods of acceleration and deceleration, which Arthur said would take about a year each to accomplish. Any particles at that speed would be "worse than a nuclear bomb going off," which would require a shield to absorb the impact.

Arthur also discussed the possibilities of and issues with teleportation of humans. He conceived the idea as a transfer of data from one point to another. Since a full teleportation of an entire body would be "a very high bandwidth data that would take millions of years," Arthur suggested that only the important parts of (such as the brain) would need to be 100% accurate, and that others could be compressed and extrapolated from incomplete data much as an incomplete message is reconstituted from known words into a coherent form. Arthur also discussed the possibility of "generational ships" which would travel though space for so long that multiple generations would be born and die during the trip.

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