Science @ Work

Science @ Work:

Arts & Letters Daily links to an amusing "debate" between Discover and a paleoanthropologist.

To those who have linked the post: I want to let you all know that your links have directed more than 10,000 people to find some actual true information about the "Boskop race". Good work out there!
Good work yourself. It's one of the bright spots of the blogosphere that we can access, on a moment's notice, the expertise of a real paleoanthropologist, or astronomer, or whatever other sort of expert we might need. This is how we'd like to see the internet work all the time.

On another topic that skirts the edge of 'controversial science' versus 'non-science,' I ran across an interesting metaphysical argument that would appear to be another answer to the Great Filter aspect of the Fermi paradox. It does touch on quantum physics: specifically, on the issue of observation "collapsing" possible states into a single actual state.

The argument posits that 'all possible universes' evolved along the quantum theory that all possible states remain potential until an observer actually observes them. This continued until one of the possible universes evolved a sentient, conscious being; at which point, all the potential universes collapsed in the face of an observer. Thus, there would likely be only one sentient form of life -- the first one to evolve locked the universe into a single course.

That particular aspect of quantum theory has always struck me as something for which I expect future science to discover a better explanation. Schrödinger's cat probably explains why I feel that way: while, in theory, it's true that you can't really know if the cat is living or dead without looking, in fact, the cat is either alive or dead. I can't believe that my looking really makes any difference; I think we just don't understand the mechanism yet.

Still, since we were recently discussing Buddhism, it's an interesting thought experiment to play with.

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