36 Alien Civilizations?

This is a pretty interesting article on the likelihood of contactable, intelligent life. The article, a summary from the full report in the Astrophysical Journal, suggests that there are 36 intelligent civilizations in our galaxy capable of communicating with others, today. And the likely furthest distance to the nearest one is 17,000 light years away. By comparison, the Orion Nebula is 1,300 light years away, Alpha Centauri is the nearest star to our Sun at 4 light years, the Andromeda galaxy is 2.5 million light years away, and our entire galaxy is 100,000 light years from end-to-end. Note that this estimate of 36 is just for our galaxy and there are an estimated 100 – 200 billion galaxies in the universe.

One of the keys is the word “today”. Civilizations come and go, and there’s plenty of time for more of them to have existed previously. The report also asserts that, while it is a speculative theory, alien life would have similarities in appearance to life on Earth and that we wouldn’t be super shocked by seeing them.

One Big Trend in K-12 Education with Nexbooks

A few years ago, I wrote a glowing review of a book called “In Defense of the American Teen” by Ryan Teves.  Fast forward to today, and Ryan has started a company, Nexbooks, dedicated to fixing at least ONE of the issues he brought up: kids do better when allowed to learn things that interest them.

We all remember the choices of electives we were given … choir, band, shop, a language, and maybe a couple more.  A little has changed, but school districts, already under fiscal pressure, still do not offer a wide range of electives.  In the meantime, kids are spending countless hours learning what they WANT to learn via YouTube.  Martial arts, drums, wealth-building, fixing a car … the options are nearly limitless.

What if kids could follow their passions, but as part of a school curriculum, following standardized methodologies, but in a format they prefer?  Well, Nexbooks is building a library of video-based, self-paced, internet-enabled courses, complete with a self-grading capability.  So those school districts don’t have to hire a hundred specialists to offer a hundred electives.  Or those home-school parents can offer things they themselves have no expertise in.  When I talk about this with my friends, they all slap their foreheads and say “why didn’t I think of that”?  Well Ryan and his team at Nexbooks are doing it.  Bravo.

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