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Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category: Page 8

Feb 5, 2019

Russian media threatens US with 100 megaton nuclear doomsday device after key arms treaty fails

Posted by in categories: existential risks, geopolitics, military, treaties

With the dropping of the INF treaty, Putin and Trump have brought the dangers of nuclear war back into a more realistic possibility. I’m not posting this to engage in a political discussion but nuclear war is definitely a lifeboat type of issue.


Russia’s military and state-sponsored media have reacted with a fire and fury of their own to the news that the US will exit the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaties, one of the last barriers to a full-on Cold War-like arms race in Europe — and there’s already talk of a nuclear doomsday device visiting the US.

The INF treaty banned land-based nuclear capable missiles with a range between 300 and 3,200 miles in 1987 when Russia and the US had populated much of Europe with intermediate-ranged nuclear missiles. The ban eliminated this entire class of missiles and went down as one of the most successful acts of arms control ever.

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Feb 3, 2019

The Search for New Physics & CERN’s FCC Future Circular Collider

Posted by in categories: astronomy, engineering, environmental, ethics, existential risks, particle physics, physics, quantum physics, science

It is a few years since I posted here on Lifeboat Foundation blogs, but with the news breaking recently of CERN’s plans to build the FCC [1], a new high energy collider to dwarf the groundbreaking engineering triumph that is the LHC, I feel obliged to write a few words.

The goal of the FCC is to greatly push the energy and intensity frontiers of particle colliders, with the aim of reaching collision energies of 100 TeV, in the search for new physics [2]. Below linked is a technical note I wrote & distributed last year on 100 TeV collisions (at the time referencing the proposed China supercollider [3][4]), highlighting the weakness of the White Dwarf safety argument at these energy levels, and a call for a more detailed study of the Neutron star safety argument, if to be relied on as a solitary astrophysical assurance. The argument applies equally to the FCC of course:

The Next Great Supercollider — Beyond the LHC : https://environmental-safety.webs.com/TechnicalNote-EnvSA03.pdf

The LSAG, and others including myself, have already written on the topic of astrophysical assurances at length before. The impact of CR on Neutron stars is the most compelling of those assurances with respect to new higher energy colliders (other analogies such as White Dwarf capture based assurances don’t hold up quite as well at higher energy levels). CERN will undoubtedly publish a new paper on such astrophysical assurances as part of the FCC development process, though would one anticipate it sooner rather than later, to lay to rest concerns of outsider-debate incubating to a larger audience?

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Jan 24, 2019

Eve of Destruction: Doomsday Clock Hovers at 2 Minutes to ‘Midnight’

Posted by in category: existential risks

Today (Jan. 24), experts with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) updated the imaginary timepiece, which measures the proximity of humanity’s destruction based on the position of the clock’s hands relative to midnight — the hour of the impending apocalypse.


The hands on the hypothetical Doomsday Clock suggest the world is still in dire risk of apocalypse.

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Jan 23, 2019

$225 billion drug giant Novartis is taking a fresh approach to cancer treatment, and it could help prepare it for a ‘doomsday scenario’

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, existential risks

Pharma giant Novartis is developing drugs that could prevent cancer before patients get it. One big question: how will we pay for them?

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Jan 23, 2019

Don’t Bring Extinct Creatures Back to Life

Posted by in categories: biological, existential risks

What if woolly mammoths could walk the planet once again? De-extinction – or the process of creating an organism which is a member of, or closely resembles, an extinct species – was once a sci-fi fantasy only imaginable in films like “Jurassic Park.” But recent biological and technological breakthroughs indicate that reviving extinct creatures could become a reality. Even if advancements get us there, should we do it?

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Jan 22, 2019

Asteroid Impacts Increased Around Time of Largest Extinction Event

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Dinosaurs never stood a chance once asteroid impacts more than doubled some 290 million years ago.

By studying the Moon, an international team of scientists revealed that the number of asteroids crashing into Earth and its satellite increased by two to three times toward the end of the Paleozoic era.

Contrary to popular belief, most of the planet’s more primitive asteroid-produced craters were not erased by erosion and other geologic processes.

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Jan 22, 2019

NASA will attempt to knock an asteroid out of orbit for the first time in 2022

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

  • If an asteroid were to head towards Earth in the foreseeable future, we would be quite defenceless.
  • To change that, NASA has approved a mission to throw a “small” asteroid off course in October 2022.
  • The aim of the project is to establish whether we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact.

If an asteroid were to head towards Earth, we would be quite defenceless as we have not successfully developed a method that could reduce the impact of — or entirely avert — a devastating collision.

However, that may be about to change. NASA has approved a project called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the aim of which is to throw a “small” asteroid off course in October 2022.

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Jan 21, 2019

Time to Say Goodbye to Coffee?

Posted by in categories: climatology, existential risks, finance, sustainability

Saying farewell to coffee isn’t that easy. According to research about three-fifths of all our beloved coffee species are going to go extinct. This is a phenomenal amount of coffee that we risk losing.

Here’s something to think about as you sip that morning mochaccino:?Deforestation, climate change and the proliferation of pests and fungal pathogens are putting most of the world’s wild coffee species at risk of extinction.

At least 60 percent of wild coffee species are considered “threatened,” according to a study published this week in Science Advances. And fewer than half of all the wild species are safeguarded in so-called germplasm collections—banks for seed and living plants kept in protected areas as backups.

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Jan 19, 2019

Why it is dangerous to build ever larger big bang machines

Posted by in categories: alien life, astronomy, cosmology, energy, engineering, ethics, existential risks, general relativity, governance, gravity, innovation, law, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, quantum physics, science, scientific freedom, security, singularity, space travel, supercomputing, theory, time travel

CERN has revealed plans for a gigantic successor of the giant atom smasher LHC, the biggest machine ever built. Particle physicists will never stop to ask for ever larger big bang machines. But where are the limits for the ordinary society concerning costs and existential risks?

CERN boffins are already conducting a mega experiment at the LHC, a 27km circular particle collider, at the cost of several billion Euros to study conditions of matter as it existed fractions of a second after the big bang and to find the smallest particle possible – but the question is how could they ever know? Now, they pretend to be a little bit upset because they could not find any particles beyond the standard model, which means something they would not expect. To achieve that, particle physicists would like to build an even larger “Future Circular Collider” (FCC) near Geneva, where CERN enjoys extraterritorial status, with a ring of 100km – for about 24 billion Euros.

Experts point out that this research could be as limitless as the universe itself. The UK’s former Chief Scientific Advisor, Prof Sir David King told BBC: “We have to draw a line somewhere otherwise we end up with a collider that is so large that it goes around the equator. And if it doesn’t end there perhaps there will be a request for one that goes to the Moon and back.”

“There is always going to be more deep physics to be conducted with larger and larger colliders. My question is to what extent will the knowledge that we already have be extended to benefit humanity?”

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Jan 19, 2019

Scott Aaronson — The Winding Road to Quantum Supremacy

Posted by in categories: computing, existential risks, neuroscience, quantum physics

This was the first part in an interview series with Scott Aaronson — this one is on quantum computing — other segments are on Existential Risk, consciousness (including Scott’s thoughts on IIT) and thoughts on whether the universe is discrete or continuous.


First part in an interview series with Scott Aaronson — this one is on quantum computing — future segments will be on Existential Risk, consciousness (including Scott’s thoughts on IIT) and thoughts on whether the universe is discrete or continuous.

Continue reading “Scott Aaronson — The Winding Road to Quantum Supremacy” »

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