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Is Anyone Out There?

 
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 11:04 am
Terry wrote:
Setanta, perhaps there are aliens who evolved in a system where they had to hibernate for months or years at a time, or who have such naturally slow metabolisms that a few hundreds of years in space are achievable without large stores of food and air. Or they might build generation ships with a self-contained ecosystem that recycles everything and travel in space indefinitely.


I have no objection to such a thesis. My point about resources necessary for colonization, in fact, was made with the caveat that a plausible form of suspended animation might be possible. Nevertheless, a minimum environmental standard would need to be met--but more importantly, they will need resources with which to survive in a new environment until they can produce their own resources in the new environment. That is why i say that any colonization mission will need to carry large amounts of resources.

Quote:
So why haven't they stopped here? Perhaps they've been here and left, or passed us by because an oxygen atmosphere is lethal to them or we don't have the right trace elements. Maybe Earth is too hot or cold (they may have come during an ice age). Perhaps they came a million years ago and found no intelligent life, or 20,000 years ago and missed any pockets of civilization.


This is plausible to me, and not substantially different from my remarks about mechanized exploration.

Quote:
A civilization that has expanded to fill its planet may stagnate and lose its collective drive for exploration. They may lose interest in maintaining SETI transmitters after hearing no response for a million years. Why waste resources with so little possibility of return on investment? We have only been doing it for a few decades and people already want to give up.

Perhaps they decided it is pointless to try to maintain a dialog when responses take decades or longer. This is also a drawback to colonizing other planets. Your grandkids could be grown and have kids of their own before you even heard of their existence.


These are all plausible considerations which i think are ignored in the Fermi paradox.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 11:18 am
Brandon9000 wrote:
Setanta wrote:
...Very high fractions of C would only be useful over very long distances (thousands of light years)...

...Once again, Brandon, great thread, despite the unnecessary distraction.

Thank you very much.

The statement above is the only one I may not agree with. If, say, one were trying to reach the nearest solar system to ours, Alpha Centauri, 4.3 light years distant, going at 10% the speed of light, the mission would take about 43 years according to all observers. However, at 99% the speed of light, if this could be attained, although planet bound observers would measure a duration of about 4.3 years, the colonists would measure the trip as taking only about 7 1/4 months, as opposed to 43 years at the lower speed. At 99% of light speed, the ratio of trip duration for the colonists to trip duration for planet bound observers is about .1411. This reduction in trip duration is certainly desirable. The practicality of expending the energy to achieve this speed may be an issue, but the benefit seems great. They might, however, have to lengthen the trip to a couple of years in order not to exceed an acceleration and subsequent deceleration that their bodes could stand.


I think your math is more hopeful than it ought to be. How far (in light years) will the mission need to accelerate to reach 99% of C? Would it no be more practical to assume that most of the distance traveled on a short mission be expended in reaching the high fraction of C, and in decelerating from the high fraction of C? That was the consideration which lead me to suggest that traveling at a high fraction of C would only be of practical use over very large distances. Of course, i acknowledge that this may be incorrect, and that technologies may be available which allow a fairly rapid acceleration to a high fraction of C. As both you and Terry take note, this would imply an ability to withstand high rates of acceleration.

The point about the amount of resources necessary, however, was the important consideration to me. In our only experience of a highly technologically sophisticated civilization--our own--we see that there is not a single, unitary culture on the cradle planet. The Fermi paradox inferentially assumes such a unitary culture in that it takes no apparent consideration of what resistance there might be, or poverty of resources available, in any situation in which there is a dominant, but not a planet-wide unitary culture.
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 11:21 am
Despite being a long term SF fan, I'm not aware of a convincing substantive counter to the Fermi paradox, speculative counters yes.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 11:23 am
Given that the Fermi paradox is speculative, and contains may inferential assumptions which its defenders do not commonly address, i think that you are missing the point of much of the discussion so far--so i wonder if you have read the entire thread.
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Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 11:27 am
Relative to the obvious no RF (or any other unnatural radiation for that matter) I disagree. Interesting counters yes, intriguing counters yes, even possibility kitchen counters.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 11:33 am
There you are really on thin ice. It is not at all reasonable to state that we have investigated any more than a piddling fraction of the "sky" in which RF or other radiation would be found. Once again, i doubt that you've read this thread. Several other posters have pointed out both that we simply don't have sufficient data to assert without fear of contradiction that there is no RF or other radiation which is could be construed as produced by an intelligent source, and have pointed out that there is little reason to just broadcast to the "sky" indiscriminately, or to expect that a technologically sophisticated civilization would attempt to communicate over long distances with RF or other forms of radiation known to us, given that C is the speed limit for such transmissions.

Once again, the Fermi paradox looks nice, but it is full of speculative inferential assumptions of no greater value than the objections to it.
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Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 11:38 am
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 11:47 am
Translation: you're indulging speculation.

I suggest you read the thread. There's more than 20 pages since the Fermi paradox was introduced to the discussion. Even if you subtract the eight or ten pages of drivel posted here, there's still more than 10 pages of discussion of the implications of the Fermi paradox.

From your link to Wikipedia's article on the Fermi paradox:

As there is no evidence on Earth or anywhere else of attempted alien colonization after 13 billion years of the universe's history, either intelligent life is rare or assumptions about the general behavior of intelligent species are flawed.

My objection to the Fermi paradox is that assumptions about the general behavior of intelligent species is not just flawed, but naive, ill-considered, or not considered at all.
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Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 12:00 pm
If they are out there, it would not be unreasonable to expect that:

a) There would be a consequential number of different space savvy civilizations
b) They would be able to convert massive amounts of technology and energy to the beacon effort via the equivalent of self-replicating machines or some such
c) They could have been doing so for a stunningly long period of time (at least by human standards)

That's not to say that there are not any number of speculations as to why they did not / could not survive, and/or why they would not / did not endeavor to generate such easily identifiable beacons, but again I find it more speculative an endeavor to second guess a bunch of different alien civilizations in terms of their intelligence / history / intent than to entertain the precepts of the Fermi Paradox.

In some sense it comes down to the argument "is there an elemental universal drive for intelligence to "seek".

And again time will tell.

As an aside, and of no surprise to those that know and love me, I'm all for space exploration, colonization, SETI etc.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 12:28 pm
We diverge significantly, because the greatest flaw in the Fermi paradox is that it is silent on the issue of intent (or motive, as we've discussed in this thread). The Fermi paradox makes far to many assumptions to leave the realm of the speculative. For you to dismiss objections to the Fermi paradox as speculative inferentially suggests that the paradox itself is not speculative. That is precisely the problem with the paradox, its inferential assumptions.

Once again, read the thread. We've discussed mechanized exploration, including the possibility of self-replicating mechanisms. It is not only possible that highly technologically sophisticated civilizations have sent out many, many mechanized exploratory missions, but it may well be more probable, because of the resource and energy equations. I and others have pointed out that mechanized exploratory missions could have been here, and we would not know it. The Fermi paradox is only compelling on the issue of "the great silence," and that entails a good deal of speculative assumption, and not very plausible assumptions in my opinion.

Read the thread, Chumly--there is little charm in simply restating everything i've already contributed here. I'm far more interested in the progressing discussion with Brandon and Terry--and of course, anyone else who has something reasonable and on-topic to add.
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Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 12:49 pm
I do not "dismiss objections to the Fermi paradox as speculative inferentially" or otherwise, but you are welcome to infer whatever you wish. I'm well aware of the thread's content, there is nothing new in it, I've read many books on the subject.

You are not obligated in any sense to respond to my posts, and I am quite reasonable in inputting my perceptions irrelative of whether you deem that someone else has said as much already or not. In fact the contents of this entire thread has been said already in many forms at many times, not uncommon for A2K, let alone the big world outside of A2K, get over it.

As to my view about "is there an elemental universal drive for intelligence to seek", contrary to your perceptions I consider it a central consideration, and I question the definition of intelligence lacking this feature, but again time will tell.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 01:07 pm
Chumly wrote:
I do not "dismiss objections to the Fermi paradox as speculative inferentially" or otherwise, but you are welcome to infer whatever you wish.


Your reading comprehension skills are poor, or you are willfully being disingenuous. The complete sentence i wrote was: For you to dismiss objections to the Fermi paradox as speculative inferentially suggests that the paradox itself is not speculative. I was not stating that you inferentially dismiss objections to the paradox as speculative--i was stating that you dismiss the objections to the paradox as speculative, and that that dismissal inferentially suggests that the paradox is itself not speculative. You have no basis for argument with what i have said if you fail to understand what i've written, which is clear, if you don't butcher my sentences in order to make a false claim about what i've written.

You wrote:

Quote:
Despite being a long term SF fan, I'm not aware of a convincing substantive counter to the Fermi paradox, speculative counters yes.


Therefore, in describing "counters" to the paradox as speculative, you inferentially assert that the paradox is itself not speculative. It is nothing more than speculation.

Quote:
I'm well aware of the thread's content, there is nothing new in it, I've read many books on the subject.


No, if you haven't read the thread, you are not aware of the thread's content. Congratulations on your snotty arrogance, however.

Quote:
You are not obligated in any sense to respond to my posts, and I am quite reasonable in inputting my perceptions irrelative of whether you deem that someone else has said as much already or not. In fact the contents of this entire thread has been said already in many forms at many times, not uncommon for A2K, let alone the big world outside of A2K, get over it.


More snottiness. This thread is intended as a discussion among those who are interested in the subject. I was immediately interested because i have given a great deal of thought to the subject for more than 30 years. I enjoy discussing it. I find your "inputting" to be silly and naive, because of your assumption that you know it all already, have heard it all already, and it is beneath your notice.

Read the thread, you don't know what anyone has said here until you do read it, and to simply dump off "Fermi paradox" in a statement which attempts to suggest that it is conclusive, and in a manner which demonstrates that you haven't read the thread makes you a borish lout interrupting an interesting discussion.

Quote:
As to my view about "is there an elemental universal drive for intelligence to seek", contrary to your perceptions I consider it a central consideration, and I question the definition of intelligence lacking this feature, but again time will tell.


That is completely false, and a strawman. At no time have i made any remark about you having a view about "is there an elemental universal drive for intelligence to seek." Putting that in quotes suggests that you are quoting me. I made no such remark--to imply that you are quoting me constitutes a lie. In addition to being a boorish lout, you are apparently a liar.

And you silly "time will tell" line which you keep throwing in is rather moronic, as well. If there is no intelligent life "out there," time will never tell us so. If intelligent life is out there, but we die off or destroy ourselves before we confirm that, time will never tell us.

You can rest assured that i will not respond any further to your posts. I am disgusted by people who attempt to argue with what i've written by chopping up my quotes in a manner which makes them nonsensical and a false representation of what i have written; if am disgusted by people who attribute to me quotes that i have not written.

I'd expect better from an elementary school student debating team.
0 Replies
 
Terry
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 04:29 pm
Setanta wrote:
Nevertheless, a minimum environmental standard would need to be met--but more importantly, they will need resources with which to survive in a new environment until they can produce their own resources in the new environment. That is why i say that any colonization mission will need to carry large amounts of resources.

Also a consideration for mechanized exploration. The success rate of self-replicating machines (von Neumann probes) would depend on their ability to find all of the resources they need to duplicate themselves. They would probably need to deep-mine rare minerals, smelt ores, manufacture plastics, build and program computers, and flawlessly build another machine-complex that could do all of that for itself. It would take a fleet of intelligent robots to do the actual work, and an assortment of tools, foundry and shop equipment. Then there's the quality-control issue to detect and fix copying errors. Given the web of support needed and problems we have had with relatively simple probes to local planets, I would not be surprised if most of the von Neumann machines encountered insurmountable technical problems or could not locate a critical resource and failed to reproduce.

Quote:
The point about the amount of resources necessary, however, was the important consideration to me. In our only experience of a highly technologically sophisticated civilization--our own--we see that there is not a single, unitary culture on the cradle planet. The Fermi paradox inferentially assumes such a unitary culture in that it takes no apparent consideration of what resistance there might be, or poverty of resources available, in any situation in which there is a dominant, but not a planet-wide unitary culture.

No reason their cultures should be anything like ours, either, whether unitary or not. They might have different biological drives (no competition for mates in an asexual species), emotions (mammalian brains evolved limbic systems which produce emotions - aliens might not have them) and motives. They may value conformity and acceptance of the status quo if they no longer have frontiers. They might be more interested in exploring themselves than outer space. They may be too busy competing for survival on their own planet to worry about life elsewhere. They might be a hive culture that cannot conceive of anything not part of itself. I wonder what common ground we would find, if we ever did hear from anyone?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 04:46 pm
The issue of a hive culture was important to me. We see quite a few examples of hive cultures in our own biosphere. I also made reference to an introverted culture (Chinese Empire) which had a policy of turning away from the outside world. One of the problems i have with the paradox is its assumption (inferential) that any sentient species which becomes technologically sophisticated will be unitary (the inference comes from the assumption that the culture will have access to all necessary resources) and that it will have an endless expansion motive (inferred from the contention that such civilizations would already have had time to colonize the galaxy).

I recognize that alien cultures will not necessarily resemble our own. However, a characteristic which i believe would transcend culture would be the inquisitive spirit--individualism. Just as individualism is the strongest reason to assume that a species would continually advance in technological sophistication and scientific endeavor, it is also the strongest reason not to assume a unitary culture in sophisticated technological civilizations. If humanity had arrived at a unitary culture, we would already have had the technology to have spread through the solar system--but absent the unitary, planet-wide culture, no single culture here commands the authority and resources to launch and maintain the effort.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 06:09 pm
Roll up folks.

Anything goes on here,

You needn't bother having your imagination restricted by reality.

This is the thread to let it all hang out.
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Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 06:42 pm
I have (alas) reported Sentena as "attack on a member" based on his following quotes:

"snotty arrogance"
"More snottiness"
"silly and naive"
"you are apparently a liar"
"I am disgusted by people who attempt to argue"

If you read my prior posts you'll see I made no such rude and uncalled for remarks to him to him or anyone else, and that I was responding to the spirit of the thread and the original poster, that being if there may be intelligent life on other planets. I've never reported anyone before but c'est la vie.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 07:35 pm
Setanta wrote:
...How far (in light years) will the mission need to accelerate to reach 99% of C?...

An interesting question. Here is my calculation of the distance travelled accelerating up to about light speed and then decelerating down to zero at a steady 1 G (Earth gravity). Of course, one cannot accelerate up to light speed, and we are really talking about 99%, so the actual distance would be slightly less.

The distance I will calculate is from the point of view of planet bound observers, so relativistic effects have no bearing. The colonists doing the high speed travelling will measure smaller distances, etc., etc. due to Lorentz contraction, but that's not relevant to the question being considered.

The letter V will stand for velocity. I will use the standard formula V-final ^2 = V-initial ^2 + 2as, where a = acceleration and s is distance travelled. In this case, V-initial is zero, since we are talking about starting from rest. This formula is derivable from the definitions of velocity and acceleration.

I will assume that acceleration is at 1 G (Earth) which is 32.17 ft/sec^2

I will use 186,282 mi/sec as the speed of light, which is 983,568,960 ft/sec.

I will translate the result for distance travelled, which initially is in feet, into light years. To calculate the number of feet in a light year, I will assume a year of 365.25 days. This gives a distance in miles for a light year of 5,878,612,843,200 and a distance in feet of 31,039,075,812,096,000.

Using this formula and these numbers, I get a value of s (distance travelled) of 15,035,870,361,757,562.9468 ft, which gives a total distance travelled of 0.4844 light years for acceleration, and then again the same distance for deceleration. Thus, the distance one would have to travel to accelerate up to almost light speed and decelerate back to zero at 1 Earth gravity is .9688 light years.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 07:36 pm
Shame on you Chum.

Let him demonstrate his vulgarity for all to see and as often as possible.

It discredits all the positions he supports.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 07:40 pm
Brandon wrote-

Quote:
Thus, the distance one would have to travel to accelerate up to almost light speed and decelerate back to zero at 1 Earth gravity is .9688 light years.


Bollocks. I've done it in 7 minutes a good few times but she was a bit special I must admit.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 08:39 pm
A photon is a particle , thats how E=mc** works, AND radio waves through atunneling diode go faser than C and they are part of the Emag spectrum. . You people need to stop buying these concepts of limits. Just because we dont have any evidence , doesnt mean that it wont come.

Why just last week (or maybe it was just before Christmas) A UFO hovered above the OHare Airport . It was seen by several credible witnesses. It hovered then streaked up so fast that it created a large hole in the overcast, that let in the sun.

Graviton propulsion sez I..

You people will be arguing about this phenom while scientists are plugging away. The radio wave throughthe tunneling diode was done at Lincoln Labs and the neat thing was that it behaved relativistically, in that thw signal arrived at its destination before it left the transmitter.

We need to think more weirdness and stop buying this "infinite mass" ****.
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