This year, apart from the traditional economic concerns, the program of the World Economic Forum in Davos is scheduled to address a number of highly controversial issues which have been kept classified for decades. Called the ‘X factors’, these issues include the potential risks of medically induced enhancement of cognitive abilities, prolongation of human life, and discovery of extraterrestrial life.
After reading the Executive Summary of the WEF 2013 one is left with an impression that he has just read the scenario for the next ‘X Files’ episode. Runaway climate change, rogue deployment of geoengeneering, and digital wildfires are just a few issues that the readers of the Executive Summary can find not only unconventional but also futuristic. Nonetheless, all of these themes are due to be discussed under the rubric of the ‘X Factors’.
Developed in partnership with the editors of Nature, a leading science journal, the ‘X Factors’ category looks well beyond the landscape of 50 traditional global risks and identifies the most significant game-changers of the next decade. Apart from the already mentioned runaway climate change, digital wildfires, and rogue geoengeneering, which seem to be at least minimally realistic, the list of ‘X Factors’ also includes the possible implications of people living longer, getting smarter, and meeting extra-terrestrial ‘Others’. While some remain highly skeptical regarding these issues, the editors of Nature together with the WED team seem to be convinced that in the very near future these risks will not only become very real, but will also profoundly challenge the existing social and scientific paradigms.
In WEF team’s opinion, super-human abilities are no longer the preserve of science fiction. Instead, the time of human prodigies is fast approaching the horizon of plausibility. At the time when researchers all over the world are working hard to develop the medical cure to such mental illnesses as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia, it is conceivable that in the not too distant future scientists will identify compounds that will be more effective than existing cognitive pharmaceutical enhancers such as Ritalin and modafinil. While these new compounds will be prescribed only for treatment of severe neurological diseases, it is highly likely that they will also be used off-label by healthy people seeking for an edge in their every-day endeavors. effective new compounds which appear to enhance intelligence or cognition are sure to be used off-label by healthy people looking for an edge at work or school.
Interestingly, WEF experts believe that significant enhancement of cognitive abilities can be attained through hardware as well as drugs. Laboratory studies indicate that direct electrical stimulation through the implanted electrodes can significantly improve memory. Unlike drugs, such cognitive enhancement therapy is less easily available and is thus less likely to be adopted by healthy people. Nonetheless, the scientists suggest that within 10 years time intra-brain devices and sensors will open a new realm of enhanced neurobiology for those who can afford it. In this context, the scientists wonder whether it can be ethically acceptable for the world to be divided into the cognitively-enhanced and unenhanced. Will the humanity accept the idea that significant cognitive enhancement should be available to purchase on the open market or will there be a push for legislation to maintain a more level playing field?
The other question that the experts are asking is what happens if cognitive enhancement program goes awry or if it falls in the wrong hands. Cognitive enhancement drugs and devices have a very wide-ranging effects on various systems of human body since they work by targeting neurotransmitter systems. In this respect, WEF scientists argue that “there is a significant possibility of (un)intended effects on other systems – for example, drugs to enhance learning may lead to a greater willingness to take risks; drugs to enhance working memory may lead to increased impulsive behaviour”. Indeed, recent research into the field already suggests that, in addition to improving long term memory, it is possible to use TMS to manipulate or even suspend a person’s moral judgement of right versus wrong. The technology can also be used to “erase” memory and deliberately cause permanent brain damage. In this sense, it is not difficult to see how new cognitive enhancement drugs and technologies can open up a space for their misuse by criminal organizations and terrorist networks.
Another issue that the WEF experts decided to present for discussion this year is the implications of longer life-span among humans. The WEF team suggests that while “medical advances are prolonging life, long-term palliative care is expensive. Covering the costs associated with old age could be a struggle”. Indeed, according to official statistics people all over the globe now live up to 35 percent longer than hundred years ago and more funds are needed to provide adequate care for the millions of elderly. However, the problem of funding is not the only concern which is related to longer life-span. The risk of over-populating the planet is yet another issue which the world will soon face.
In this respect, most radical commentators were quick to suggest that the only solution to the problem of longer living humans is euthanasia. The proponents of this view contend that with medical advancements even the weakest and the sickest people will survive and live to their late 90s and possible 100s, which will not only lead to a significant increase in global population, but will also negate the fundamental law of the survival of the fittest. In this context, some suggest that euthanasia might be the only way out from the vicious circle of artificially healthy individuals living unnaturally long lives.
The last and probably the most controversial X Factor that will be discussed during the Davos Forum is the possible discovery of extraterrestrial life. While it is the first time that the Forum addresses the aliens, the issue has recently become a frequent theme of discussion among the world leading politicians and military officials. In December 2012, Russian Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev mused on topic of aliens after completing an on-camera interview with international reporters in Moscow. Back then, Mr Medvedev jokingly claimed that “I will not tell you how many of them [aliens] are among us because it may cause panic”. It turns out, however, that Mr Medvedev’s concern with the aliens did not end last December. A shocking Davos Forum agenda aims to bring the topic of aliens beyond the realm of jokes.
WEF experts contend that “given the pace of space exploration, it is increasingly conceivable that we may discover the existence of alien life or other planets that could support human life. In 10 years’ time we may have evidence not only that Earth is not unique but also that life exists elsewhere in the universe.” In this context, WEF team urges the global elite to prepare themselves and their nations for such discovery. The scientists suggest that new funding and new brain power will be needed to overcome the challenges that the humanity will face as a result of its encounter with an extra-terrestrial civilization. The world might even need to create artificial-intelligence emissaries to survive an inter-stellar crossing. The discovery of an Earth 2.0 or life beyond our planet might also inspire new generations of space entrepreneurs to meet the challenge of taking human exploration of the galaxy from the realm of fiction to fact.
At the same time, WEF experts do not believe that the discovery of alien life will change the fabric of human society in the short-run. While the discovery would certainly be one of the biggest news stories of the year and interest would be intense, it would not change the world immediately. Over the long run, however, the psychological and philosophical implications of the discovery could be profound. In the opinion of WEF scientists, “the discovery of even simple life would fuel speculation about the existence of other intelligent beings and challenge many assumptions that underpin human philosophy and religion.”
All in all, it seems that humanity is heading to exciting times, and Davos may be the first trigger that will unleash a series of most extraordinary worldwide revel worldwide revelations.
Aliens blamed for spate of cow mutilations in Argentina after ‘strange lights’ seen in sky
© Express, UK
Local farmers in Santa Fe, north-eastern Argentina, have seen seven cows killed and mutilated with some believing extraterrestrials are killing the bovine animals.
Witnesses claim the cows look as if they were attacked with lasers, while strange markings were also found on their tongues and genitals.
Farmers in the region are blaming aliens or the mythical chupacabra – a myth from South America which supposedly feeds on animals’ blood.
Norberto Bieri, owner of one of the seven cows, told local media: “They did not have tongues or flesh around the jaw, but they did not take any animals away or remove their bones.
“It seems as though the clean incisions were done with a laser as there is no trace of a knife being used. The cows did not have signs of blood and nothing had appeared to eat them.
“Some people say chupacabra or aliens did it. Others believe it was rodents.
“The truth is, the cows are dead and there are no answers as to why.”
Mr Bieri added that there had been other recent cases of mutilated animals.
Samples were sent to the lab to be analysed and results indicated the cattle had not been shot or poisoned, adding more mystery to the case.
However, experts offered their, more logical, opinion.
A rat-like animal called hocicudo is endemic to South America and some believe they are responsible.
The day that the Aliens attacked Tuscany, in Italy
During the autumn of 1954 throughout western Europe several surprising events occurred of encounters with strange flying objects (UFOs) and encounters with extraterrestrial beings, according to the sources of the testimonies and victims that relate their experiences, most were peasants and villagers. Let’s talk about a case that happened in a small town in Tuscany, Italy.
Rosa Lotti Dainelli was a forty-year-old peasant, mother of four children, owner of a farm called “La Collina” in the locality Cennina7 (a small town near Biicine, in the province of Arezzo, Italy).
Monday, November 1, 1954. That morning Rosa was going to go as usual to the church in her town where she used to go, that day she had got up very early at half past six in the morning as the feast of all was celebrated Saints and had several important things to do. Rosa that day decided to release a new dress that she had kept for the occasion and some new shoes.
He left his house with a large bouquet of flowers that he had taken the day before with the intention of going to church after going to the cemetery to visit his deceased relatives as usual on that day. He took a small path that would take her first to the place where he was going. Halfway through he realized that there was a lot of humidity at night because of the abundant morning dew, he stopped to take off his shoes so they would not get wet holding them with his left hand since in the other hand he was carrying the bouquet of flowers and he continued the path barefoot on the path.
Rosa went somewhat distracted looking at the flowers she was carrying and went through a small forest, when she suddenly stopped and was surprised to see a strange device parked on the ground by the side of the road.
Rosa for a few seconds remained motionless and not knowing how to act but minutes later decided to continue moving slowly down the path of the forest. The farmer, without being able to look away from the apparatus, was curiously observing this strange object as she continued to walk, an object which has the shape of two cones, was of a brilliant brown metallic color with golden reflections.
Afraid of this, she decided to approach very slowly to observe more details of that machine. Approached about 5 meters away from the device, Rosa from there could already appreciate the dimensions of that object, which had a height of more than 2.5 meters by almost 2 meters in diameter and a little further down there was a small door which was totally open.
Curiosity overcame him at that moment, making him approach the opening, where he could see two small armchairs facing what looked like a very illuminated board. A kind of broad band surrounded the junction of the cones and above this band were observed several small windows similar to blinking lights similar to “portholes”. Suddenly Rosa heard a noise among the branches and in the distance, a few meters away, she saw two little beings appear among the bushes, which caused the woman to be petrified by such an apparition.
They were beings that seemed very smiling, gesticulating, without giving any sign of being a threat to her. In fact it seemed as if they were trying to make themselves understood and wanted to start a conversation with her, they had small and very dark eyes (according to Rosa), they were short (they would not be more than one meter tall), they looked very Similar to humans, their faces were almost perfect, although their trail was rather aged by the wrinkled skin.
The beings wore a bluish-gray one-piece suit with a cape on their backs and over their heads they wore a kind of helmet. They approached her slowly with a funny and friendly face speaking loud and sharp in a strange language. Rosa at that moment remained motionless, so the beings took the opportunity to jump on him and snatch the bouquet and his shoes. At that moment, Rosa proved that despite the size, these beings had great strength.
She tried to recover her belongings, but the one who was closest to her insisted on taking everything she had in her hands. Then Rosa already panicked for fear of being harmed and ran to the trees, hiding as she could in the forest.
When he left, he saw how these creatures stayed in custody and with great curiosity inspected the bouquet of flowers, took some objects that had been left on the ground and then approached the ship, deposited everything inside and then returned to the place and began to search the surroundings are supposed to be looking for Rosa who already died of fear, continued crawling among the grass and thus managed to get away more than 50 m. Once refugee, from that place he observed how those beings, climbed the small ship minutes later and closed the door of the ship. Soon after, with a great sonic vibration and releasing a lot of smoke and flames, that device began to rise and in an instant disappeared into the sky ..
Life on Enceladus? complex organic molecules on Saturn’s satellite?
From stories about the inhabitants of the Moon to the costly research programs set up by space agencies, identifying the presence of life on another heavenly body seems to be an endless concern for mankind. As the margins of the known Universe are still moving away from the Earth, the possibility of discovering living beings on another planet is increasing even though we have no certainty, but only hope and probability.
For the moment, we are grateful for these probabilities, awaiting the day that it will undoubtedly confirm that we and our planet do not represent the only life-assembling complex of this huge universe.
But to host life, a heavenly body must give it certain conditions. (Here, it seems that we still need to expand our ideas a little, because we tend to believe that any living thing on another planet must be made up just like the living things on Earth, not necessarily like them, but be the same at the molecular level.
If one of the great scientific discoveries of recent years – bacteria capable of using arsenic instead of phosphorus – is confirmed – that means that our perspective on what is living must change. And then, it is possible that some planets with attributes that today seem inappropriate to become more interesting in the future in the light of our changed concepts.)
But, by the way, all people, at all times, think about the ideas of their time, so let us also thank ourselves to the contemporary ideas regarding what life means and the conditions that a planet must fulfill for that the miracle of life should appear there and perpetuate.
Extraterrestrial life could develop into Enceladus’s hidden oceans
The first observations of Saturn’s satellite were made in 2005 when hydrothermal jets were detected for the first time. Now, there may be the answer that raises the chances of alien life.
“From where Enceladus has the energy to support the phenomenon has always been a mystery to us,”said astrobiologist Gael Choblet of Nantes University in France.
“I have now considered with greater detail how the structure and composition of the solid core can play a key role in generating the necessary energy,”he added.
It is estimated that the ice thickness is 25 kilometers, but only one kilometer around the southern polar region, where these hydrothermal phenomena occur.
The small pieces of minerals detected in jets suggest that salts and silica dust are formed by the interaction of water that can reach up to 90 degrees Celsius with the rocks of the Enceladus satellite. For this interaction to take place, there must be space in the core for water to coexist, so the core must be porous.
“Whatever the mineralogical composition of the core, it must contain water,” Choblet explained, “maybe 20-30% water.”
In the new simulations, the team found that the tides generated by the orbit around Saturn can heat the water inside Enceladus due to the frictional force produced as the liquid circulates through rock fragments.
When the water rises in temperature (reaching up to 90 degrees in the orange sections in the image below), it rises through the porous core through the ocean to the surface in the form of jets.
Previous studies state that this heat would have been from radioactive material, but if that was the case, the process would have provided the heat needed to emerge the jets for several million years, so somehow the radioactive material would have appeared recently on Enceladus.
The new theory offers a more plausible explanation, with a phenomenon that takes place over a longer period.
What’s most interesting is that the warm water, the long time and the chemical composition found on Enceladus are key elements in the emergence of life.
Thus, this study can be the basis for the search for extraterrestrial life.
Scientists have found evidence of complex organic molecules on Saturn’s satellite
Using mass spectrometry data collected by NASA’s Cassini probe, scientists have found that large organic carbon molecules are ejected through the cracks on the frozen surface of Enceladus, one of the many natural satellites of the giant gas giant, Saturn.
Researchers at the Southwest Research Institute, who discovered the presence of these molecules, believe that the chemical reactions between the solid core of the satellite and the warm water in the ocean under ice are responsible for these complex compounds, Phys.
“ONCE AGAIN, WE ARE AMAZED BY ENCELADUS. PREVIOUSLY, WE IDENTIFIED ONLY THE SIMPLEST ORGANIC MOLECULES CONTAINING A FEW CARBON ATOMS, BUT EVEN THOSE WERE VERY INTERESTING, “SAID CHRISTOPHER GLEIN, A SCHOLAR AND CO-AUTHOR OF THE WORK RECENTLY PUBLISHED IN NATURE.
“NOW WE HAVE FOUND ORGANIC MOLECULES WITH MASSES OF OVER 200 ATOMIC MASS UNITS. THESE ARE TEN TIMES HEAVIER THAN METHANE. WITH COMPLEX MOLECULES EMANATING FROM THE LIQUID WATER OF THE OCEAN, THIS SATELLITE IS THE ONLY BODY BESIDES THE EARTH THAT SIMULTANEOUSLY MEETS ALL THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE AS WE KNOW IT. ”
“EVEN AFTER ITS END, CASSINI CONTINUES TO TEACH US ABOUT ENCELADUS’S POTENTIAL IN ASTROBIOLOGY,” GLEIN ADDED.
During the flight, near Enceladus, on October 28, 2015, with the help of the INMS (Neutral Mass Spectrometer) instrument, molecular hydrogen could be detected when the ship passed through a jet.
Previous studies have already shown that the satellite has an ocean under the ice layer and above the solid core. The molecular hydrogen jet is probably formed by the geochemical reactions between water and rocks in hydrothermal environments.
“HYDROGEN PROVIDES A SOURCE OF CHEMICAL ENERGY THAT SUPPORTS MICROBES LIVING IN THE EARTH’S OCEANS NEAR HYDROTHERMAL SPRINGS,” SAID HUNTER WAITE, THE SCIENTIST WHO HEADS THE TEAM AT INMS AND CO-AUTHOR OF THE NEW STUDY. “ONCE YOU HAVE IDENTIFIED A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF FOOD FOR MICROBES, THE NEXT QUESTION IS ABOUT THE NATURE OF COMPLEX ORGANIC COMPOUNDS IN THE OCEAN. THIS WORK IS THE FIRST STEP IN THAT UNDERSTANDING OF THE COMPLEXITY OF ORGANIC CHEMISTRY BEYOND OUR EXPECTATIONS. ”
“ALSO, THE FINDINGS IN THIS STUDY HAVE IMPORTANT SIGNIFICANCE FOR EXPLORATIONS OF THE NEXT GENERATION,” GLEIN ADDED. “A FUTURE SHIP CAN FLY THROUGH THE JET TO ANALYZE THESE COMPLEX ORGANIC MOLECULES USING A HIGH-RESOLUTION MASS SPECTROMETER TO HELP US DETERMINE EXACTLY HOW TO FORM THEM.”
Year after year, benefiting from advances in exploration technology, astronomers discover more planets that seem to be “good for life.” Let us understand: we do not necessarily speak of “good for us”, that is, good to live on, but some that offer similar conditions – identical – to those on Earth, conditions that could allow them to live there beings, adapted to those conditions.
And on Earth there are many places where people do not live, but they live enough life forms, some with a very original metabolism. And some creatures on the Earth can withstand almost unimaginable harsh conditions.
If experts will persuade those who decide the money destination to provide funds for the preparation of such a mission, Enceladus could become the next star on alien life searches.
He deserves it, say “his admirers”, because he has a lot to offer – he has qualities that can feed hope much more than the planet Mars, the one that “consumes” currently the funds for the research of the profile.
Well, what can I say? Let’s be healthy to take the time when the world explodes the news that the space mission to Enceladus has found signs of biological activity there, undeniable evidence that there is what we have been looking for decades – life-forms living on another heavenly body from our solar system.
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