Today I am writing about investigating UFOs ?.

Last week I told you that a report from the United States Government on the unidentified flying objects that several Navy pilots sighted between 2004 and 2015 was expected. Well, the report has been published without conclusions: the Government found no evidence that they are extraterrestrial technology, as expected; although he also does not know what they are and recognizes that there are things that are difficult to explain.

That lack of answers is not a surprise either.

NASA scientist Ravi Kopparapu explained in a recent article that these phenomena have hardly been investigated: “For too long, the scientific study of unidentified flying objects has been taboo.” His proposal is to investigate them with the same rigor that we use to find life on other planets, for example, as when we send probes to take samples to Mars or when we scrutinize radio signals that come to us from outside the Earth. If those questions are taken seriously, why not flying phenomena? His proposal is to have experts in astronomy, physics, meteorology or military aviation, and investigate thoroughly: “Understanding UFOs is a scientific problem. We should treat it that way. “

Object sighted by Navy pilots, in a capture of a video declassified by the United States in April. Here you can see the video. HANDOUT / AFP / EPV

Kopparapu’s article shared it with me Alberto Fairén, an astrobiologist at Cornell and a reader of this newsletter, who wrote to tell me that in this matter “there is a lot of noise and very little science.” I took advantage of our exchange to ask you another classic question: What probability do experts assign to life outside of Earth? Here is his interesting answer:

  • “I don’t think we can assign a probability, because we don’t have nearly enough data. We can only make inferences from what we know, life here on Earth: every year we discover new strategies with which life can thrive in the most exotic and unexpected places. The example of the fumaroles that you mention is perfect [lo conté aquí: se han encontrado bacterias capaces de vivir en el fondo del mar aprovechando el calor que emana del núcleo terrestre]. We know that Enceladus, Saturn’s moon, has a layer of liquid water trapped between an outer ice crust and the rocky heart of the satellite. If at the rock / water interface there are also fumaroles promoted by Saturn’s tidal energy, could there be life on Enceladus, even if no light from the distant Sun reaches the ocean hidden under the ice? “
  • But it is not that simple. “It is not only a problem that life can exist there as in terrestrial fumaroles, taking into account the enormous differences in temperature, pressure and salinity, but also if life could have originated in the fumarolic environment, both in Enceladus and in the Earth, or has only adapted to live there in the terrestrial case, and in this case the Enceladian astrobiological analogy would not be valid “.
  • “Ultimately, the number of questions to be answered is still so enormous that I don’t think we can seriously assign a probability to extraterrestrial life today. [.] I am dismayed by the inferences (published by scientists) that go far beyond what the little data we have allows us to authorize. These outsized inferences actually undermine the prestige of astrobiology, as they quickly expire. I’m afraid we’re dying to find life out there [como le pasó a Bill Clinton en 1996]. But we must not lose our composure. I know it is a cliché, but I refer you to The opinion of [Carl] Sagan about it, I believe that since then there has not been a more serious analysis on the probability of intelligent life in the universe. “

Sagan recognized in that debate with Ernst Mayr that they were speculating with little data. They extrapolated from a single observation, life on Earth, but who knows what would be possible in the biospheres of other planets? His final message was very similar to the one that Kopparapu uses to ask for seriousness when investigating flying objects: “Let us admit our ignorance, let us forget the arguments a priori, Let’s use the technology that we have been fortunate to develop and try to find the answer ”.

Image of Enceladus taken by the 'Cassini' probe.
Image of Enceladus taken by the ‘Cassini’ probe. POT

2. Random stories

? … Was the Paleolithic violent? Despite the myth of good wild, there is evidence that our ancestors lived in aggressive societies. In this prehistoric burial of Jebel Sahaba, the corpses of men, women and children show signs of continuous attacks: “67% of those buried had wounds of violent origin”. | THE COUNTRY

??‍? … Top apps for our administrations. Mara Balestrini complains about something important that we pay little attention to: digital paperwork. “There is a tendency to think that the question of design is a minor issue; an aesthetic question. That is a serious mistake. Poorly designed digital services translate into a collapsed Administration, with deficient face-to-face services. When they are well done, on the other hand, these services increase efficiency, save money and eliminate paperwork. “| EL PAÍS

? … Soy is not used as you think. The boom of its cultivation has been linked to deforestation, it seems that with reason, but the problem is not soy milk and tofu, which barely represent 4% of its consumption, but the soy used to feed animals ( 77%). | OWID

? … A girl pushes a bear. The newsletter by Jordi Pérez Colomé always brings interesting topics, but also crazy things: yesterday he linked to the viral video of a young girl pushing a bear to protect her dwarf dogs. It’s better with sound. It seems incredible, although as Jordi says, “we are entering the era where everything will be recorded”.

? … Do you work in artificial intelligence? I am looking for people who are dedicated to doing or using algorithms that predict things. Maybe you are a meteorologist, your company sells personalized insurance or you recommend songs with an application. I’m looking for examples of all kinds, so if you want to tell me, write to me!

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