What if We Discovered an Alien Civilization Less Advanced Than Our Own?

Readers of this blog know that I'm a big fan of Quora, because it lets non-experts raise the kinds of speculative questions that don't normally come up in formal scientific discussions. One frequent theme that comes up is the issue of what we would do if we found intelligent life on a planet around another star. A recent posting in particular caught my eye: "What would we do if we found an Earthlike planet with intelligent life that is 500 years behind us in technology and advancements?"

Low-energy RHIC electron cooling gets green light, literally

Scientists have produced a powerful green laser‹the highest average power green laser ever generated by a single fiber-based laser that will be crucial to experiments in nuclear physics at the Lab¹s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC).

ATLAS experiment seeks new insight into the Standard Model

Ever since the LHC collided its first protons in 2009, the ATLAS Collaboration has been persistently studying their interactions with increasing precision. To this day, it has always observed them to be as expected by the Standard Model. Though it remains unrefuted, physicists are convinced that a better theory must exist to explain certain fundamental questions: What is the nature of the dark matter? Why is the gravitational force so weak compared to the other forces?

Wavy energy potential patterns from scattering nuclei reveal hidden information

Anomalies always catch the eye. They stand out from an otherwise well-understood order. Anomalies also occur at sub-atomic scale, as nuclei collide and scatter off into each other—an approach used to explore the properties of atomic nuclei. The most basic kind of scattering is called 'elastic scattering,' in which interacting particles emerge in the same state after they collide.

Proving Einstein right using the most sensitive Earth rotation sensors ever made

Einstein's theory of gravity, also referred to as General Relativity, predicts that a rotating body such as the Earth partially drags inertial frames along with its rotation. In a study recently published in EPJ Plus, a group of scientists based in Italy suggests a novel approach to measuring what is referred to as frame dragging.

Thin-film ferroelectrics go extreme

Scientists have created the first-ever polarization gradient in thin-film ferroelectrics, greatly expanding the range of functional temperatures for a key material used in a variety of everyday applications. The discovery could pave the way for developing devices capable of supporting wireless communications in extreme environments.

Tiny tug unleashes cryogenic currents

Researchers have found that a small stretch is enough to unleash the exotic electrical properties of a newly discovered topological insulator, unshackling a behavior previously locked away at cryogenic temperatures.

Exploring the conversion of heat to electricity in single molecules

The direct conversion of a temperature difference into electricity, known as the thermoelectric effect, is an environmentally friendly approach to directly harvesting electricity from heat. The ability of a material to convert heat to electricity is measured by its thermoelectric figure of merit. Materials with a high thermoelectric figure of merit are thus widely desired for use in energy harvesting. Quantum confinement effects in nanomaterials arising from their discrete electronic states may increase their thermoelectric figure of merit.

Molecular dynamics simulations reveal chaos in electron transport

Plants are very efficient at turning photons into electrons. But the transport of these electrons is a chaotic process, University of Groningen scientists have discovered. They used molecular dynamics to visualize the working of photosystem II and published their results on 10 May in Nature Communications.

NASA TV Coverage Set for 200th Spacewalk at International Space Station

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer will perform a landmark 200th spacewalk at the International Space Station Friday, May 12. Live coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.


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