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Friday, April 18, 2014

Sach's Ultimate Non-Personal Bucket List

We all have those personal desires we so hope would come true; we would like to get 'busy' with the hot waitress at Starbucks, date that hot guy you can never take your eyes off, own all the video games every made, get married and have 11 babies - wait, no, NOBODY should want that - or find all by yourself a unified theory of everything, depending on what your thing is.

But for me, there are other things that I would so dearly love to see come true before I die and thought I'd write them down. So here goes, Sach's Ultimate Non-Personal Bucket List.

1. A Supernova Explosion
Know Betelgeuse? The big red star in Orion's right shoulder? Yes that's a big ass star so much so that were it at the center of the Solar System its surface would extend to almost the orbit of Jupiter. And it's so big for a reason: the star has so much mass it burned up all its energy very quickly and is swollen to its red giant stage. Now all is set up for what is probably the coolest (not exactly the right choice of words though, given it's anything but cool over there) event in the night sky that we'd be able to see. Betelgeuse will eventually explode in a supernova, something that's so fiercely bright it can outshine an entire galaxy for a brief period, and given that it's only 640 light years from us, we should be able to see it with our naked eyes during the day. Nobody knows when it will happen, it could be in a million years, few centuries, decades or even tomorrow. I dearly hope it's tomorrow.

2. Artificial Intelligence
Not the Siri kind but the real deal. We've all heard about it, the Hollywood always think it'll spell doom for us, the Sci-Fi writers are marginally better and yet we have no idea how close or far away it would be. When it comes to technology, I think I have a soft spot, so I always like to give it the benefit of the doubt. I suppose we have to figure out what consciousness is if we are ever to construct an AI, and that's no mean feat; we probably know much more about Pluto than our own consciousness. But who are we to say that it won't evolve on it's own without any of us knowing?

3. Bring back the Dinos
If you were a kid and you didn't like dinosaurs there's something wrong with you. Like seriously. For all practical purposes it could be made a mental health test for children: you don't like the dinos, you get thrown in the mental asylum. But the fact is that even after you are grown up, which most men aren't, chances are you still like them. Big time. In all honesty it probably isn't a very good idea to bring them back, they had their shot and had to be wiped out to make way for us so humans walking alongside them dinos is just not meant to be unless you also believe the earth is 6,000 years old. But I'll be damned if I could bring them back and didn't.

4. Reboot the Space Program
I want to see a human on Mars! In the 60s if they could send humans to moon using microprocessors less powerful than my mobile phone today, we most certainly are capable of sending few people to Mras if we put our minds into it. Minds and money. How sad is it that the America's annual defense budget is larger than that of next ten countries' put together? So we are definitely capable of it, it's just we've got our priorities wrong, not just wrong but very wrong. But dreams are free and I dream the day we send someone to Mars. It'll be doubly sweet if it's a woman so they'll have to come up with something better than "it's a giant leap for mankind".

5. A World Without Religion
Organized religion to be specific. I have good reason to hope for it: most of the wars we fought throughout our human history had something to do with religion, whenever religion gathered even a little bit of power people were made to suffer, and science was made to go into hiding dragging whole civilizations back centuries, and despite the popular belief when there's religion doesn't have authority on morality (rather, morality precedes religion) and worst of all, nothing divide people like religion do. Like Steven Weinberg once so eloquently put it, "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

6. Flying Cars
Hollywood promised us them by the 1980s. Seriously, where the hell are these!?!?!?!?

And finally, with a drum-roll and all...

7. Life Elsewhere!
Yes that deserved a drum-roll and an exclamation mark. It doesn't have to be fancy aliens with warp drives, I don't want spaceships, hell they can be exceptionally dumb for all I care, I'll just take single celled extraterrestrial life as long as it's... life. Should we discover single celled most primitive life hidden beneath the Martian polar ice caps or underground oceans in Europa, it's gong to be the most profound discovery in the history of humankind. The implications of extraterrestrial life will reach far and wide, eventually, and it will force us to think again about our whole perspective of the universe while answering one of the oldest questions we ever asked; are we alone? It'll be insanely interesting to know about their biology, whether DNA based life is the only way around the problem of life (if the first form of extraterrestrial life we find is also DNA based, it's very unlikely that it's by chance, life will have to need DNA), whether it's also carbon based, will they share any similarities to terrestrial life. The list goes on. And with the amount of access we have to the outside world today, compared to a decade ago, we're in for a treat. Also, should we discover a different life form within our own Solar System, that'll all but confirm that the universe is teeming with life, that it's more common that Twilight jokes.

While we're here, let me speculate a bit more. If we ever discover intelligent life, that'll be ten times awesome not to mention outrageously lucky. The universe is so hopelessly vast, unless wormhole like traveling is a possibility, there is a good chance that we'll never come in contact with other intelligent species during the entire duration of our species even if the universe is teeming with life. If we do make contact, it could very much be some sort of radio communication at first at least, like what's in Carl Sagan's Contact. Primes FTW! Or in the extremely unlikely event, if they appeared next to earth someday I wouldn't complain. Despite what Hollywood's hell bent on convincing us, I think they wouldn't really want to laser us to death or something. For starters, if they are capable of interstellar travel that would at least suggest they are a species capable of getting their shit together - unlike us - and thus they'd probably be friendly. At least until we start firing our nukes at them. But if we somehow were able to get past that, and establish some form of communication (they could very well be a species who communicate using echolocation like the bats) who fascinating would it be to learn from them. I'd have millions of questions; what's your biology, is it carbon based, did you discover the origins of life in your planet, what's your culture like, do you have something akin to religion or beliefs, how does your economy work, governance, is there something like the concept of countries, do you have music and art, have you met still other aliens, if so are there any hermaphrodites among them, are you hermaphrodites, do you have sports, will you stand a decent chance in cricket? Oh I could go on.

Seriously, I could live with not having all the other six if I could have just one single celled alien. I could just die in peace.