25
   

Aliens Check Out the Earth

 
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 02:54 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

...None of that changes that you have not offered any good reason to accept your ipse dixit that any alien, space-faring civilization we meet is likely to be greatly superior to us technologically.

I didn't assert that. I asserted that it is improbable that a random encounter would bring together two civilizations at similar enough levels to make it a contest.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 02:56 pm
@Brandon9000,
Quote:
This is based on the idea that the universe is 14 billion years old and that even 100 years of technological difference in our own history between 2009 and 1909 renders a battle one sided.


But this statement is neither demonstrated, nor plausible. You also don't know whether or not technological development can reasonably be graphed as a diagonal rising from left to right. It could well be a bell-curve or a plateau. You simply don't know enough to make the statement.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 03:01 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

Quote:
This is based on the idea that the universe is 14 billion years old and that even 100 years of technological difference in our own history between 2009 and 1909 renders a battle one sided.


But this statement is neither demonstrated, nor plausible. You also don't know whether or not technological development can reasonably be graphed as a diagonal rising from left to right. It could well be a bell-curve or a plateau. You simply don't know enough to make the statement.

The current estimate for the age of the universe is something under 14 billion years, but even a much smaller age, say a billion years would be enough to support my argument. And, yes, I am assuming that given age differences of billions of years, there is the potential for widely different levels of technology, even among spacefaring civilizations. I don't see this as a particularly bold assumption.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 05:23 pm
@Brandon9000,
The assumption with which i take issue, and i note that you completely avoid that in my post, is that the rate of technological development is a constant. The age of the cosmos is meaningless without knowing that.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 05:26 pm
@Setanta,
What on earth does that mean?
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 06:22 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
Quote:
the rate of technological development is a constant.
. No way. Its almost logarithmic. Thats why a short interval of say, 100 years in 2100 will have a much \higher rate of acceleration of tech than the 100 years between say, 1700 and 1800.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 06:37 pm
@farmerman,
I didn't say it's a constant, i'm saying it is unlikely to be a constant.

As for any suggestion that it will grow at an even more rapid pace, i'm not buying that. Technologies are interdependent. We knew, for example, all of the advantages of the use of aluminum long before we were able to exploit them. As one scientist (i believe it was in the 19th century) put it, every clay bank in the world was an aluminum mine. But it was godawful expensive to get it (and still is). The common use of aluminum was not possible until cheap electrical generation on the order of megawatts was available. Aluminum was not produced in large quantities until hydroelectricity was available from the Niagara River. But the properties of aluminum were known, and many of the future uses of it had been envisioned when Westinghouse and Tesla provided the means.

Firearms are more sophisticated than they were 600 years ago, but the basics of handguns were known and exploited by the Bohemians beginning in the early 15th century. The principles of steam power were understood thousands of years ago--but it awaited the technological advances in metallurgy and mechanics which allowed Watt and others to develop (relatively) efficient steam engines.

I also have some serious problems with the so-called Fermi paradox, which i consider to be a false paradox, but we've been down that road before.

However, i don't accept that it is axiomatic that any space-faring civilization we encounter will be far advanced technologically than we are. Leaving aside many of my objections to the core assumptions of the Fermi paradox, i would point out that we are space-faring, but we haven't done much about it because of socio-political considerations. I suspect that those considerations are a constant. You could accomplish large-scale space-faring with a totalitarian state employing a command economy, but the experience of the human race is that such societies smother the very human characteristics and freedom necessary for technological advancement. The Soviet state accomplished a great deal with a command economy (which was headed down the road to self-destruction), but the advances in technology which they exploited were either "borrowed" or "stolen" from the societies of the West. If the NKVD/KGB and Stasi (the state police/intelligence services of the DDR) had not stolen critical information from the West, it is doubtful if the intellectual environment of the Soviet state and the Warsaw Pact states would have come up with it on their own.
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 06:47 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
Quote:
What is your point ?


The point was that, particularly in dealing with space aliens, you should throw punches in groups of three and not one or two. Best possible example to be had was that first Duran Leonard fight in Montreal, second round where Leonard managed to get out of the way of the first two punches of a combination like that and then got clocked by the third one which he wrongly assumed would be aimed at his body:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIGEWFxhgGQ
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 07:09 pm
@Setanta,
sorry, I misread and didnt read the previous post.

Aluminum manufacture was actually a problem from a chemistry side, not a power side. Power was just needed in great amounts to have large smelting operations. That was relatively easy to work up either DC or as AC (better for travelling). ACtually the big holdup was because electrolysis required a liquid flux, something that bauxite couldnt do. When cryolite flux was discovered in the late 1800's, and then synthetic cryolite was made in te early twentieth century, power needs were merely ramped up by electricity and then coal fired power plants.
(ACtually BIG power plants big holdup was to discover a suitable bearing for the generators.

I recall your position on the Fermi Paqradox. I dont have much of a stake either way, because its mental masturbation that can only be upheld or disproven by contact events.

The limitation of physics , namely (c) will , if true, constrain all travels in our own Milky Way,since its 100000 LY wide. We can expect to be aiting many light years for any travellers.
NOW, if theres any loopholes, warps, spatial shortcuts, or multi universes with convenient off ramps, then we may have a chance to say howdy to our neighbors.

Remember: "if you cant see the future, you aint driving fast enough"




0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 09:52 pm
My problems with the Fermi paradox stem from its naivete with regard to "people," whether those people resemble us or not.

By the way, with regard to Brandon's 14 billion years, unless he is proposing that we can expect some inter-galactic visitors which is even more absurd, then its only the age of this galaxy that matters.

I doubt that there would by many "manned" flights, even if there were "worm holes." The really expensive side of the equation is getting people and material out of the mother well, and then shooting them off to a worm hole site, while shielding them from cosmic radiation, and providing a reasonable substitute for gravity. Its unlikely that most societies would tolerate the costs unless everyone or nearly everyone concerned could see a benefit for themselves in it--which is itself unlikely.

The most likely scenario is "unmanned" exploration drones.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 05:53 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

The assumption with which i take issue, and i note that you completely avoid that in my post, is that the rate of technological development is a constant. The age of the cosmos is meaningless without knowing that.

I never asserted that the rate of technological development is a constant, nor anything like that. And I must repeat that I also never asserted something which you have mentioned at least twice, that anyone we encounter will be way ahead of us. What I actually did assert is that in a universe billions of years old, there is the potential for widely different levels of technology. Therefore, one should find a very wide range of technological levels. I asserted that the potential range of technologies in a universe billions of years old is likely to be so great that a random encounter in space between two species is unlikely to bring together two close enough in level to make it a contest, especially when you consider how far humans have come in the last century. The only way my assertion can be false is if the stage of technology at which interstellar travel is possible is close to some kind of effective maximum, so that spacefaring civilizations are all pretty close in ability. Few people would endorse this idea.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 06:28 am
@gungasnake,
gungasnake wrote:

Quote:
What is your point ?


The point was that, particularly in dealing with space aliens, you should throw punches in groups of three and not one or two. Best possible example to be had was that first Duran Leonard fight in Montreal, second round where Leonard managed to get out of the way of the first two punches of a combination like that and then got clocked by the third one which he wrongly assumed would be aimed at his body:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIGEWFxhgGQ

This means that u anticipate pugilism with extraterrestrials ?
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 07:38 am
@OmSigDAVID,
The real point is that just about anything you can name is more worth worrying about than having to deal with space aliens. The distances you'd have to travel are so vast that just about the only reason there would ever be for anybody to try to travel across cosmic distances would be their own home system having been rendered unhabitable via some catastrophe, and the odds of any one planet such as ours ever encountering any such wanderers is basically indistinguishable from zero.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 08:25 am
@Brandon9000,
Brandon9000 wrote:
I never asserted that the rate of technological development is a constant, nor anything like that.


Then you have just beggared your own argument about the age of the universe--and as i have pointed out, unless you are alleging that inter-galactic space-faring were plausible, likely, then it is only the age of this galaxy to which we should refer.

Quote:
And I must repeat that I also never asserted something which you have mentioned at least twice, that anyone we encounter will be way ahead of us.


Yeah, you're saying that now. Above, Brandon, you write:

Brandon9000 wrote:
I didn't assert that. I asserted that it is improbable that a random encounter would bring together two civilizations at similar enough levels to make it a contest.


It is to this statement, in your post #3741625, to which i am consistently referring:

Brandon9000 wrote:
It's not very logical, because the other species you meet will either be so far behind you that they couldn't possibly threaten you, or so far ahead that you couldn't possibly threaten them.


I realize that you have now changed the terms of your assertion, in order to have a more defensible position from which to argue. That does not alter that your original statement implies enormous discrepancies.

Quote:
What I actually did assert is that in a universe billions of years old, there is the potential for widely different levels of technology. Therefore, one should find a very wide range of technological levels.


No, that was not your assertion--see what i have quoted above, and for which i have provided a link.

Quote:
I asserted that the potential range of technologies in a universe billions of years old is likely to be so great that a random encounter in space between two species is unlikely to bring together two close enough in level to make it a contest, especially when you consider how far humans have come in the last century.


No, that was not your assertion--see what i have quoted above, and for which i have provided a link.

Quote:
The only way my assertion can be false is if the stage of technology at which interstellar travel is possible is close to some kind of effective maximum, so that spacefaring civilizations are all pretty close in ability. Few people would endorse this idea.


Leaving aside the silly contention that you know what ideas most people would endorse, the possibility that space-faring possibly represents the arrival at a technological plateau is simply one idea which i provided which would falsify your thesis.

I understand the basis for your assertion, i just don't think that you've given it much thought. For example, you continue to refer to the age of the cosmos. This can be seen as naive. The oldest galaxies very likely did not originally contain very much metal. The reason i say this is because elemental metals are produced in the furnaces of stars which formed from the detritus of stars which died, which formed from the detritus of stars which died, which formed from the detritus of stars which died, etc., etc. It is therefore not only possible, but likely that technological civilizations which achieve the level of space-faring all have pretty much the same starting point, because, so far as we now know, metallurgy is crucial to arriving at that level of technological sophistication. Certainly we have made great strides in recent decades in the production of ceramics--but that production is only possible because we have achieved a high order of metallurgy.

Also, as i have now several times pointed out, the age of the cosmos is considerably less significant than the age of the galaxy which we inhabit. An allegation that inter-galactic space-faring were sufficiently common to suggest that we might be visited by aliens from other galaxies is even more unlikely than the rather dubious proposition that inter-stellar space faring were common. I think this rather on the order of simple science fiction, because there is so much which it has not considered. Who knows were here? The Germans were distributing closed-circuit television signals in the early 1930s, but the first open broadcast of a television signal was that of Hitler opening the 1936 Olympic games in 1936. That means that that signal has only been moving out into our galaxy for less than 75 years. That drastically reduces the probability that any other technological civilization even knows we are here. As FM has pointed out, the circumference of our galaxy is 100,000 light years. It's going to take a long, long, long time for the image of Hitler's charming mug to reach the other side of this galaxy. This is why i consistently suggest that it is highly unlikely that we have ever been visited by sentient beings alien to this planet.

I made my remarks about the Romans and the Gauls, and the persistence of the Mapuche in surviving literally more than five centuries of attempts to exterminate them precisely because technological discrepancies don't guarantee victory in warfare. I know that examples from the history of our planet may not be conclusive, but they are the only examples we have to consider. As i have already conceded, we would likely be powerless in the face of an alien civilization which was willing to destroy the biosphere of this planet, or simply to destroy the planet itself. But in my never humble opinion, those are the only scenarios which make Roswell's suggestion plausible. Otherwise, it is by no means assured that other space-faring civilizations would be so far in advance of us as to make it "no contest" (which was the burden of your original assertion, no matter how you now attempt to characterize it), nor is it by any means assured that we would automatically lose any such confrontation. If any alien civilization did not willfully destroy the biosphere, or the planet itself, there are any number of very plausible scenarios in which we would survive. It would never do to ignore the War of the Worlds possibility--that an alien species attempting to exterminate us would fall victims to the least of the life-forms of our planet, the bacteria or the virii.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 08:30 am
@gungasnake,
gungasnake wrote:

The real point is that just about anything you can name is more worth worrying about than having to deal with space aliens. The distances you'd have to travel are so vast that just about the only reason there would ever be for anybody to try to travel across cosmic distances would be their own home system having been rendered unhabitable via some catastrophe, and the odds of any one planet such as ours ever encountering any such wanderers is basically indistinguishable from zero.
I certainly hope that thay never arrive here,
or I expect that we 'll go the way of the American buffalo.

Thay 'd almost certainly possess the technology of dominance.
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 09:04 am
@OmSigDAVID,
As I see it, there is only one shot at our encountering an advanced civilization from beyond our own solar system within the foreseeable future and if that were to occur, they would be people like us and not aliens. That would be if there were any remnant of the antediluvian Martian civilization living around Proxima Centauri on some planet too close for us to see.
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 09:39 am
@gungasnake,
You know......

I mean, sunny beaches, if you look at that thing close enough, the announcers and every commentator who's ever tried to analyze that fight have been wrong for 29 years, Leonard got hit with TWO of those punches and not just the hook, he took most of that straight right too and Padilla's head was pretty much in the way of the most common camera angle shot so it's hard to see but if you look close enough you can see Leonard's head snap back from the right and THEN he gets clocked with the hook.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 10:07 am


?????
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 12:16 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

Quote:
And I must repeat that I also never asserted something which you have mentioned at least twice, that anyone we encounter will be way ahead of us.


Yeah, you're saying that now. Above, Brandon, you write:

Brandon9000 wrote:
I didn't assert that. I asserted that it is improbable that a random encounter would bring together two civilizations at similar enough levels to make it a contest.


I have been completely consistent from the first moment, although I may have added detail as is normal in a discussion. You present these two quotations as being inconsistent, but they aren't. In the first quotation here, I state, correctly, that I have never asserted that anyone we encounter will be way ahead of us, because, as you can see from the second quotation, what I said was that anyone we encountered would be likely to be way ahead of or way behind us. I didn't say way ahead of, I said they would be unlikely to be at a similar level, which means that they would be either way ahead or way behind. Therefore, when you ascribe to me the idea that anyone we encounter will be way ahead of us, I correct you because, as you should be able to see from the second quotation, I only said they would be unlikely to be at the same level, not that they would be ahead. I absolutely dare you to present two and only two quotations of mine (not 10) in this thread and show me how they're inconsistent.

You have raised only one point of interest, when you say that not much development is likely until stars have lived, died, exploded, and scattered heavy elements, but any way you look at it, we're still talking about billions of years. Therefore, as I have said, the amount of time involved is so great, and civilizations have had so long to develop, and we have come so far in only the past hundred years, that a random encounter is unlikely to bring together species at near enough the same technology level to make it a real fight. And, incidentally, my original post wasn't intended to refer to us particularly, but to any two species who meet each other in a more or less random encounter.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 12:24 pm
I think that all of these posts, which refer to the time it takes to travel between stars, are flawed in discounting the possibility that advanced technology could either shorten or remove that time completely. We really have no idea what the eventual capabilities of technology will be, so we shouldn't assume that other species will be bound by the restrictions we are.

Cycloptichorn
 

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