Underlinings (#66)

Foundations of xenocryptography:

If we find signals that obey Zipf’s Law, for example, that would encourage us to go ahead and look for syntax-like structure within the signals in order to quantify how complex the candidate message actually is. […] To transmit knowledge, even a very advanced extraterrestrial civilization would still have to obey the rules of information theory. While perhaps not being able to decipher such a message because of lack of common symbols (the same problem we have with, for example, humpback whales), we would get an indication of how complex their communication system — and thereby their thought processes — may be.


A viral robbery-murder case:

In one of the most unexpected genetic thefts ever, a virus that infects bacteria appears to have stolen the gene coding for the poison of the black widow spiders. The virus, named WO, probably uses the gene to help it attack its targets. …

(That surely has to be a plausible guess.)

Underlinings (#57)

Scientists are hard at work of course, trying to detect and understand these phenomena. And they may one day succeed. But their failure to understand the depth of their ignorance until very recently speaks to a problem with the scientific method itself. […] The long climb to scientific supremacy begun by Aristotle in his invention of symbolic logic has in the end taken us to the summit of what turns out to be a very small hill, as we crane our necks upward at a looming, unseeable, unending mountain range. […] Worse, the mountains we cannot see or understand will nevertheless affect us in ways we can’t imagine. It is positively Lovecraftian.