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Big Revolution - How little we know

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Welcome to Wednesday's Big Revolution. Today I'm feeling... philosophical about the future of humanit
 
November 7 · Issue #255 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Wednesday’s Big Revolution. Today I’m feeling… philosophical about the future of humanity(!) but there’s plenty going on in the immediate here and now, too.
Martin

Big things you need to know today
  • Dropbox has launched Extensions that allow users to integrate their account with third-party services. Users can “edit video in Vimeo, edit images in Pixlr, edit PDFs in Nitro, airSlate and Smallpdf and send faxes with HelloFax,” TechCrunch reports.
  • The Guardian and Google are partnering to experiment with content for Google Assistant. “(A) dedicated multidisciplinary team of journalists, developers and designers will create and test innovative voice-driven audio experiences.”
The big thought
Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser
How little we know
Harvard astrophysicists think Oumuamua, the pencil-shaped object that whizzed past Earth last year, might have been a probe sent to observe Earth.
“The theory is based on the object’s ‘excess acceleration,’ or its unexpected boost in speed as it traveled through and ultimately out of our solar system in January.
”'Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that 'Oumuamua is a light sail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment,’ wrote the paper’s authors, suggesting that the object could be propelled by solar radiation.“
Other experts don’t think the idea stands up:
”'I am distinctly unconvinced and honestly think the study is rather flawed,’ Alan Jackson, fellow at the Centre for Planetary Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough, wrote in an email. 'Carl Sagan once said, 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’ and this paper is distinctly lacking in evidence, never mind extraordinary evidence.’“
But even if Oumuamua is of boringly natural origin, it’s a reminder how little we really know. The fact we’ve never seen anything like it before shows we’re still at the very beginning of our understanding of the universe we inhabit.
We could spend the next thousand years or more developing ever-better technology, inhabiting Mars and exploring the possibilities of intergalactic space exploration.
…and yet we’re so narrow minded and short-termist in our viewpoint that we’re happy as a species to throw it all away by potentially wiping ourselves out through climate change and declining biodiversity. We know enough to understand what could be our undoing, but are too obsessed with what we have right now to take effective action.
It makes me wonder if every advanced species has its limit – a maximum level of achievement it can reach before it burns itself out through its own inherent flaws.
I just hope we’re self-aware enough to save ourselves, explore the universe… and maybe even one day find out what Oumuamua really is.
One big read
Seed The Future: A free report on early-stage tech startups in Europe Seed The Future: A free report on early-stage tech startups in Europe
This 102-page report into the current state of the early-stage startup scene across Europe is well worth your time.
One big tweet
There was a time when I’d have agreed with this. But now ‘tech’ is now so big that there’s room for all sorts of 'hubs…’
Paul Graham
You don't become a tech hub by being the new home of Amazon, but by being the home of the new Amazon.
6:51 AM - 7 Nov 2018
That’s all for today...
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