Friday, March 7, 2008

Posted on: March 5, 2008,
Now this is pretty bizarre! An unidentified object near Saturn was
photographed by Cassini, shooting out a plasma-like jet. Incredibly,
the subsequent frames do not show the jet, indicating that the object
had probably switched it off!! If it was a natural phenomenon like
dust emanating from an asteroid or a small moon, then it is
inconceivable that this jet of 'dust' would have disappeared so
quickly in space.

It looks as if the jet has been switched off at the flick of a button!

Also notice the protrusion at the top (and bottom) of the object from
where the jet emanated. Is it some sort of a gigantic plasma gun? NASA
has absolutely NO explanation to offer.

NASA baffled by unexplained force acting on space probes
USA Today - Feb 29, 2008
The researchers looked at six deep-space probes — Galileo I and II to Jupiter, the NEAR mission to the asteroid Eros, the Rosetta probe to a comet, ...

NASA Stumped by Mysterious Force Affecting Space Probes, Germany - Feb 29, 2008
Five spacecraft that have flown past the Earth have displayed unexpected anomolies in their motion through space, and NASA can't explain it. ...

A Ringed Moon of Saturn? Cassini Discovers Possible Rings at Rhea
The Planetary Society, CA - Mar 6, 2008
Wave System (RPWS), picked up telltale signals Several of Cassini's other instruments, including the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) and the Radio and Plasma...

Million-Degree Plasma May Flow throughout the Galaxy, VA - Feb 7, 2008
While much of this space is cold and empty, researchers have recently discovered the phenomenon of funneling hot plasma. Flowing plasma may funnel from one ...

NASA’S SDO Mission to Improve Predictions of Violent Space Weather
Space Fellowship, UK - Mar 3, 2008
HMI will reveal the magnetic and plasma flow activity behind the event. Together, SDO’s three instruments will enable scientists to understand when violent ...

So, you want to take over the Galaxy. A good career move. Ultimately, you're hoping to communicate with extraterrestrials, colonize entire sets of star clusters, and eventually lord it over the entire Milky Way.

You've got the motive, but what about the means?

Well, forget about generation ships, suspended animation or ringworlds – the best way for you to explore, colonize and ultimately rule the Milky Way will be through the use of self-replicating robotic spacecraft – what are sometimes referred to as von Neumann probes.

Von Neumann's idea

Back in late 1940’s the brilliant mathematician John Von Neumann wondered if it might be possible to design a non-biological system that could replicate itself. Von Neumann wasn’t thinking about space exploration at the time, but other thinkers like Freeman Dyson, Eric Drexler, Ralph Merkle and Robert Freitas later took his idea and applied it to exactly that.

The strength of Von Neumann's idea lies in the brute efficiency of exponential growth. Given enough time and patience, a single self-replicating probe could produce millions upon millions of offspring; it would be like a massive bubble expanding outward into the Galaxy. It’s possible that these probes could come to occupy all four corners of the Milky Way in as little as half a million years – even if each probe travels at an average cruising speed of one tenth the speed of light.

In order to work, however, a von Neumann spacecraft would have to be put together using advanced nanotechnology and artificial intelligence -- technologies that we have yet to develop. In fact, the device itself would be a molecular assembler, capable of reconstituting matter into copies of itself.

A number of scientists and sci-fi writers have speculated over the years about the different kinds of probes we might want to construct once we're ready to explore space in this fashion. Other thinkers, namely astrosociobiologists, have wondered if extraterrestrials have constructed probes of their own.

I recently took a look at these visions and came up with a Von Neumann probe taxonomy. I came up with 7 basic spacecraft functions:
1. Exploration
2. Communication
3. Working
4. Colonization
5. Uplifting
6. Berserking
7. Policing
These tasks don’t have to be exclusive to a single probe. It’s possible that probes will be fairly versatile, able to change their functions as circumstances dictate. That said, you're likely going to need all these probes in your effort to take over and control the Milky Way.

Here’s how the different probes will work:

1. Exploration probes

These probes would be designed strictly for space exploration and surveillance; they would not contact or interact with other intelligent civilizations. We have already created such probes, namely Voyager 1 and 2 – although strictly speaking they are not von Neumann replicators.

Exploration probes could remain local and explore our Solar System (what has been dubbed Astrochicken probes), or they could be sent on interstellar missions to explore and transmit their findings back to Earth.

Admittedly, the timescales in question are significant – at least to modern human lifespans and our reasonable expectations for return on investment. But the information these probes could provide would be invaluable. They could study foreign solar systems in exquisite detail – and even alert us to the presence of extraterrestrial life.

These probes could also act as stationary reconnaissance stations. They could take residence in a data rich area and continuously beam that information back to Earth--all without ever being detected.

Controlling the Galaxy with Von Neumann Probes
io9, CA - Mar 6, 2008
Over at Sentient Developments, George Dvorsky has written a great essay on the seven best ways to control the galaxy with Von Neumann Probes. ...

Saturn's Moon Rhea Sports a Dusty Halo, VA - Mar 6, 2008
News of Rhea's hidden ring and its plasma-depleting capabilities is appearing in a Science magazine paper March 7, 2008, "The Dust Halo of Saturn's Largest ...
A Ringed Moon of Saturn? Cassini Discovers Possible Rings at Rhea The Planetary Society
Cassini finds possible rings around Saturn moon Las Cruces Sun-News
all 204 news articles »
NASA Running Out of Plutonium
Slashdot - 8 hours ago
For instance, they now power the Cassini probe exploring Saturn and its moons." The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. ...
Saturn's Giant Sponge: One Of Saturn's Rings Does The Housecleaning
Science Daily (press release) - Feb 12, 2008
Next, the whole magnetic environment of Saturn was found to be weighed down by the material spewing from Enceladus, which becomes plasma -- a gas of ...
One of Saturn's rings 'does housecleaning'
Hindu, India - Feb 16, 2008
Now, the astronomers have found that the plasma, which creates a donut-shaped cloud around Saturn, is being snatched by the planet's A-ring, which acts like ...

Evidence of rings around Saturn moon
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia - 5 hours ago
The Cassini spacecraft investigating the planet Saturn has found evidence of what may be rings around one of its moons, Rhea, the European Space Agency ...
Saturn Moon Rhea May Have Rings
The Associated Press - 5 hours ago
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — New observations by a spacecraft suggest Saturn's second-largest moon may be surrounded by rings. If confirmed, it would the first ...
Saturn's Ringed Moon
Discovery Channel - 14 hours ago
March 7, 2008 -- Of the many surprises unearthed at Saturn during the ongoing survey by the Cassini science probe, few rival the delightful find that Rhea, ...

Spacecraft images show rings of Saturn's 2nd largest moon
Xinhua, China - Mar 6, 2008
LOS ANGELES, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Saturn's second largest moon, Rhea, may have rings, according to images from a spacecraft managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion ...
Saturn's moon might have rings, too
MSNBC - Mar 6, 2008
By Clara Moskowitz Saturn's moon Rhea could be a mini version of its ringed parent and the first moon known to have rings of its own. ...
Saturn Moon May Have Rings -- A First
National Geographic, DC - Mar 6, 2008
Rhea, Saturn's second largest moon, may be the first known moon with its own small system of rings, astronomers announced. Although no one has actually seen ...
Evidence points to ring around Saturn moon: study
Reuters - Mar 6, 2008
By Michael Kahn LONDON (Reuters) - Saturn's second-largest moon Rhea may have a small ring around it -- the first time a moon has been found to have a ring, ...
Saturn satellite reveals first moon rings
New Scientist (subscription), UK - Mar 6, 2008
Rings are not just for planets anymore – astronomers have found them around Saturn's moon Rhea, the first ever observed around a moon. ...
JPL Says A Saturn Moon May Have Rings Around It
Pasadena Now, CA - 6 hours ago
Saturn's second largest moon, Rhea, may have rings, according to images from a spacecraft, said a JPL spokesperson. A debris disk, measuring several ...
Scientists spy rings around a moon for first time, UK - 13 hours ago
Scientists believe they may have spotted rings around Saturn's moon Rhea, the first time such material has been seen orbiting a moon. ...
Rings Around Rhea?, MA - 13 hours ago
A fascinating article in the March 7th issue of Science magazine describes how, when NASA's Cassini spacecraft skimmed within 300 miles of the Saturnian ...
Discovery of the First Moon with a Ring System: Scientists sight ...
innovations report, Germany - 15 hours ago
The most famous feature of the planet Saturn are its rings: these are visible from the earth using just a simple telescope. This ring system is the most ...



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