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Comment author: CellBioGuy 04 October 2017 09:36:26PM *  2 points [-]

Latest results on KIC 8462852 / Boyajians Star:

After comparing data from Spitzer and Swift - an infrared and ultraviolet telescope - whatever the heck the three dimensional distribution of the material causing the brightness dips, the long-term secular dimming of the star is being caused by dust. Over the course of a year of observations the star dimmed less in the infrared than in the ultraviolet, with the light extinction dependent upon wavelength in a way that screams dust of a size larger than primordial interstellar dust (and thus likely in the star system rather than somewhere between us) but still dust.

Still a weird situation. There cannot be a very large amount of dust in total since there is no infrared excess, so we must be seeing small amounts of it pass directly between the star and us.

The dipping is also semiperiodic, to the point that a complex of dips beginning in May was predicted months in advance.

Comment author: morganism 30 September 2017 11:04:06PM 0 points [-]

are they going to post up the presentations and posters?

Comment author: CellBioGuy 01 October 2017 12:39:41AM *  0 points [-]

One coming this approaching spring will. This one was livestreamed but not sure if it was recorded.

An update to this was presented:


Comment author: CellBioGuy 30 September 2017 07:26:31AM *  1 point [-]

Attended my first honest to god Astrobiology meeting/symposium/conference. Wow, it was amazing...

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 12 September 2017 04:36:08PM 2 points [-]

Why do people see Mars as a better target for human colonization than the Moon? Most comments on lunar colonization seem to refer to two facts:

  1. the Moon has quite low gravity, so it cannot maintain an atmosphere for a long period of time.
  2. the Moon has no magnetic field, so it will not protect us from solar radiation.

In my mind, both of these problems can be solved by a ceiling or dome structure. The ceiling both retains the atmosphere and also blocks harmful radiation. Note that a failure in the ceiling won't be catastrophic: the atmosphere won't drain rapidly, and the amount of radiation exposure per unit time isn't disastrously high even without the ceiling.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 12 September 2017 05:49:37PM *  5 points [-]

People usually point to there actually being hydrogen and carbon accessible on the surface of Mars, in the form of widespread permafrost/humidity and the CO2 atmosphere, whereas the only biomass/fuel precursor element that exists in large quantities on the moon is oxygen (in the rock, along with various metals and ions, just like rock on Earth, requiring interesing chemistry and/or molten rock electrolysis to get it out). Not much in the way of precursors to organic material on the moon.

Personally I think both places are kind of absolute shit-holes for canned monkeys. Both are science bonanzas, the moon for information on the proto-Earth, and Mars for looking at a body which has had much less geological recycling since Hadean times and an ancient second hydrosphere and for all we know biosphere.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 31 August 2017 01:58:40AM *  2 points [-]

I don't see the difference between the two.

To answer the question of the title: Yes.

Comment author: ChristianKl 20 July 2017 03:41:24PM 8 points [-]

Scott Adams claims that exactly what he predicted happened in election night. That's wrong Scott Adams predicted a landslide win for Trump. Losing the popular vote is not compatible with a landslide win.

Scott Adams argues that 'nobody is for less climate science' at 1:32:30. That's false and unfortunately Sam Harris doesn't call him on it. Trump does attempt to defund climate science.

Hearing the discussion about how the red/blue team is going to get Republicans around to accepting climate change, I feel myself wishing that Sam Harris pushes for actual predictions.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 20 July 2017 09:46:16PM 1 point [-]

Only recently seen two instances of sleazier self-promotion.

Comment author: Lumifer 19 July 2017 02:48:19PM 2 points [-]

It is profitable for a botnet -- that is, if someone else pays for electricity.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 19 July 2017 06:05:25PM *  0 points [-]

What with the way the ASIC mining chips keep upping the difficulty, can a CPU botnet even pay for the developer's time to code the worm that spreads it any more?

Comment author: Lumifer 18 July 2017 09:04:38PM *  1 point [-]

I expect them to be nice places to work (because they are not subject to the vulgar and demeaning necessity to turn a profit), I also don't expect them to be making much progress in the near future.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 18 July 2017 11:41:41PM *  4 points [-]

I have spoken to someone who has spoken to some of the scientific higher ups at Calico and they are excited about the longer-term funding models for biomedical research they think they can get there for sure.

I have also seen a scientific talk about a project that was taken up by Calico from a researcher who visited my university. Honestly not sure how much detail I should/can go into about the details of the project before I look up how much of what I saw was published versus not (haven't thought about it in a while), but I saw very preliminary data from mice on the effects of a small molecule from a broad screen in slowing the progression of neurodegenerative disease and traumatic brain injury.

Having no new information for ~2 years on the subject but having seen what I saw there and knowing what I know about cell biology, I find myself suspecting that it probably will actually slow these diseases, probably does not affect lifespan much especially for the healthy, and in my estimation has a good chance of increasing the rate of cancer progression (which needs more research, this hasn't been demonstrated). Which would totally be worth it for the diseases involved.

EDIT: Alright, found press releases. https://www.calicolabs.com/news/2014/09/11/



Comment author: CellBioGuy 06 July 2017 11:07:25PM *  9 points [-]

Postdoctoral position acquired. May be doing some work off a NASA astrobiology grant, eventually.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 04 July 2017 07:25:40AM 0 points [-]

This analysis remains predicated on the assumption that a long-lasting intelligent system is easily visible over cosmological or galactic distances with the sorts of investigations that have already been performed by us.

No it's the opposite. If (as they argue) we don't expect many nearby aliens then it's irrelevant whether or not we would be able to see them.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 05 July 2017 06:56:00AM *  2 points [-]

The perils of posting quickly in the middle of rapid apartment hunting (for a new postdoc position at a university with a bunch of yeast cell biologists AND astrobiologists! YES!).

I was referring to slide 27, with the various probability distribution graphs conditioned on various observations. The 'no colonization' conditional graphs all leave the left low-number tail intact while chopping off the probability bulge to the right of 'one in our galaxy' in various different ways. But this is only valid under the assumption that exponential colonization/galactic scale visibility with a few decades of rather poor observations against the screaming burning backdrop of the astrophysical universe is POSSIBLE. (Allow me to preemptively counter the 'but only one has to be able to' argument, this is an event that would be extraordinarily correlated across everybody). There are vast numbers of possibilities for the fate of intelligent systems that are not rapid extinction or consuming the universe that are insufficiently explored by so many people.

Without these conditional probability bounds, the given probability distribution is distinctly uninformative. It basically says 'with the distribution of probabilities that can be extracted from literature on the subject, no intelligent systems in the visible universe is as likely as thousands to a billion in our galaxy', that little bump on the right side of the distribution is pretty intense). I also happen to think that the given abiogenesis probability distributions are far too wide to the low side, that we have not excluded the possibility of multiple completely independent biospheres in our own solar system at all, and that complex life has some possibility of being limited more by geological/orbital/energetic issues than evolution which introduces interesting bimodality to that probability distribution, but that's just me (and the people whose work I follow).

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