Christian Long

Freeman Dyson: Let’s Look for Life in the Outer Solar System

In TED Talks on May 23, 2010 at 12:01 am

Reflection by COOPER T.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Freeman Dyson:  Let’s Look for Life in the Outer Solar System

The issue of biotechnology is a surreal topic to most people myself included. Freeman talks about putting biotechnology into homes which will make it a part of everyday life like computers. Theoretically people will be able to design and grow their own pets. One person commented on the point of biotechnology saying that it needs to stay out of homes because kids and teenagers could tamper with the programing and spread a detrimental virus into society. Another person said that this would not be a problem because children and teenagers don’t have the know-how to cause these problems. I have to play the devil’s advocate on this one. Teenagers with to much time can create a virus or hack a program and, if given access to this technology, could probably tamper with biotechnology. On the other hand in modern society teens don’t bring down society with computer viruses so what makes us thing they will with biotechnology.

Moving to the topic of Europa, Freeman believes we could find life there except for the expenses. It would be to hard to burrow through the ice and find out if there are things swimming around down there. He believes that if there is life down there that it would eventually move to the surface. The surface is a vacuum. There is no atmosphere, but being aquatic on that moon this would not be a problem for them. Freeman noted that this is not all likely, but possible and his philosophy is “look for whats detectable not for whats probable.”

Freeman also mentions a way of finding life in these systems. There is a term called pit-lamping that refers to using a spotlight at night to kill an animal. The light is reflected by the lenses in the animals eyes and they shoot it. Mr. Dyson believes this technique of hunting can be used to hunt for life in space. He believes that if life lives further away from the sun the reflectors in its eyes must be more powerful making it even easier to see than on earth.

Now in the Kuiper belt he believes there will be widespread life. The plants will be broken up and grown together in huge fields in space. Since the gravity is low they will be extremely wide spread. He says that even if we don’t find these things and they don’t exist at all, we can put them there and basically create our own masterpiece on the canvas of the universe.

Plenty of people are critical of this talk and Freeman’s ideas but I respect what he is striving for. He isn’t satisfied with what we have here he wants to create and discover more and hes proposing ways to do it. Millions of people can be critical, it takes one to make a difference. I for one hope Freeman is that one.

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