Wednesday, 13 February 2008

dinosaurs in space?

We philosophers pride ourselves on the crazy ideas we come up with in order to prove our points, but scientists really take the cake. NASA's Chris McKay thinks we should look for artifacts left by dinosaurs... on the moon. Why? Well, because if we found some, it would be pretty incontrovertible evidence of their intelligence. [via Overcoming Bias]

But what is truly distressing about this view is that it is in some respects so very reasonable:
One might speculate that perhaps Stenonychosaurus or her progeny did build radio telescopes, but their civilization was destroyed by some internal or external catastrophe. Perhaps the lifetime of their civilization was so short compared with the resolution of the geological record (typically millions of years) that it is simply lost without a trace in the depths of time. It is difficult to say what evidence would survive of human civilization - if it was terminated now - after 65 million years of tectonic activity, erosion, and sea level change. It is interesting to note that there is one place where the record of human technology will be preserved for times much longer than 100 million years. ... The Apollo landing sites on the Moon would bear mute testimony to technological humans.
Kinda makes me want to revisit an early plan to use a giant space-laser to etch "Isaac was here" in fifty-mile-tall letters on the surface of the moon. I still can't decide whether to face it in or out.

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