If you have questions about the future of AI and astronomy, I recommend you visit Cool World Lab’s latest video titled ChatGPT Takes A College Level Astrophysics Exam. The video addresses concerns that ChatGPT can be used by students to cheat on tests and homework, and highlights how the program is far from perfect (as shown below in a clip from the video).
To test the abilities of ChatGPT, the host submitted questions from an astronomy final exam to see what would happen. The results were interesting, particularly when math was involved. I do not want to give away the final score (you should watch the video for yourself), but let’s just say a good student can do better than ChatGPT at the moment.
What happens in the future with this new technology is anyone’s guess, though in-class tests may be the best approach if a teacher truly want to know the capabilities of a student. Cheating happens all the time, and it will probably happen on the homework. We just need to ensure the final test is a real test of the student alone
Extra: The video also promotes Ground News so you can determine who is generating the “facts” you read in the news, human or otherwise. Check it out.
About a month ago, English physicist Brian Cox was discussing a variety of topics in an interview on LADbible TV titled Brian Cox On The Multiverse And Life On Other Planets. You can hear Dr. Cox respond to a number of questions about the infinite universe, multiverses, finding intelligent life off planet, black holes, the end of the Earth, and even the recent DART mission. It is worth spending 23 minutes of your time listening to his answers.
For instance, he notes that it is his reasonable guess that there are no other worlds in the galaxy like ours in terms of harboring intelligent life. He points out that it took anywhere from 3.5 to 4 billion years for intelligent life to form on the Earth, which is about 1/3 the age of the universe. If we do find other life in the galaxy, he expects it to be slime and not much more. Later on, he states that not even the intelligent life on this planet would have been possible without a planet-killer asteroid taking out the dinosaurs, so it was a fluke that made way for intelligent life.
All in all, he said it is a “big ask” to expect to find other planets with intelligent life in this violent universe with a 4 billion-year chain of life uncut by events, making our civilization quite unique. Of course, earlier in the interview he also points out that there are about 2 trillion galaxies in our “small patch” of the universe, so even one intelligent planet per galaxy can amount to a lot of civilizations. Yet ever seeing or even knowing about these civilizations is something else. Add in the idea of multiverses created by endless big bangs, and the odds of intelligent life increase again within these other unknowable universes.
It’s a lot to get your heard around, though Dr. Cox has a way of making it all sound so reasonable. For that reason, I again ask you to spend 23 minutes with Dr. Cox to clear your head and make room for some new ideas.
Hearing about the moonlet targeted by the DART spacecraft reminded me of a recent video discussing whether exomoons could have their own moons. It was a piece by Cool World Labs titled “Can Moons Have Moons?” It gets into the “Hill Sphere,” which is an astronomical body’s region in which it dominates the attraction of satellites. It can get pretty complex, as the drawing above demonstrates, but its an interesting concept that has yet to be proven in our own solar system or elsewhere. Given that Cool World Labs is already finding exomoons, it may be only a matter of time before we experience these submoons.
Last week on the The Chris Moyles Show on Radio X, Dr. Brian Cox responded to a call in question about life on Mars. He noted that NASA’s Perseverance rover may find signs of life in an ancient river delta where it is now drilling. He said he would not be surprised if Martian microbes were located.
He also discussed plans to visit Jupiter’s moon Europa to explore its seas and look for life. Interestingly, he highlighted how Europa may contain three times as much water as can be found on the Earth. That would make it quite a rest stop for future solar system voyages.
In the end, he made it clear that finding life in our solar system is “not bonkers.” That said, he also explored the idea that we may be alone in this universe in terms of intelligent civilizations.
Back in 2020, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collected samples from asteroid Bennu, named after the ancient Egyptian mythological bird associated with the Sun, creation, and rebirth. These samples are scheduled to return to Earth until next year, but in the meantime there is already a lot that NASA knows about this asteroid. Some of the key points are listed below:
Bennu is over 4.5 billion years old.
Bennu is a “rubble-pile” asteroid, meaning it is rocky debris compressed by gravity.
Bennu is likely to be rich in platinum and gold compared to the average crust on Earth.
Between the years 2175 and 2199, the chance that Bennu will impact Earth is only 1-in-2,700.