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Is Anyone Out There?

 
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Dec, 2006 07:01 pm
I say we start a cargo cult.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Dec, 2006 07:16 pm
IF life as we on this planet know it is a consequence of natural processes - a circumstance of substantial possibility, lacking any compelling contraindication - and given that, by observations we have made and overmultiply confirmed, the physics and chemistry local to us are ubiquitous throughout the observable universe, it must be allowed that the existence not just of life but of intelligent life elsewhere is probable to within a vanishingly small fraction of absolute certainty.

As to why it might be we seem to have no evidence of same, a number of potentialities present; among which - IMO signal (implied pun not entirely unintentional) among which - well could be that at our current level of technology we simply are unable to discern said evidence; it may be there without our being able currently to recognize it. Would an observer of a hundred years ago have had any means by which to detect, let alone decipher, sub-millimeter wavelength microwave communication?
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Pauligirl
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Dec, 2006 09:44 pm
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/image/0612/ngc1097_gabany_c720.jpg

"Well, if there wasn't, it'd be an awful waste of space."
Contact
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Dec, 2006 10:29 pm
Setanta wrote:
rosborne979 wrote:
When Fermi spoke of a 'Great Silence' he wasn't just talking about EM communication, he also meant, 'why aren't they here already'. And he was right. When you compare the distances involved to the TIME the Universe has been here, the distance are small. For example, at only a fraction of the speed of light, our entire galaxy could be crossed in a million years, and the galaxies are probably at least 10 billion years old. So with regular old inertial propulsion, they could have colonized 10000 times over by now. And that's assuming just one space faring race in all the galaxy.


This is, dare i say it?--naive to an extraordinary degree. Why would anyone have come here? Ours is a small planet of a small star in the galactic boondocks. Why would anyone have come here? What purpose would it have served to have randomly sent out sufficient interstellar or intergalactic vessels to have stumbled across this planet? The required energy expenditures to have covered all the possible star systems in which intelligent life could have arisen would be ruinous. The distances combined with the number of possibly life-supporting star systems make the effort prohibitive. That smacks to me of a childish conceit. How many people of our six billion are sufficiently interested in such an exercise that they are willing to sacrifice the energy surpluses of the entire planet for thousands of years to come on a crap-shoot attempt to find intelligent life elsewhere? Why should we assume that any other intelligent society is going to be any more inclined to make such sacrifices just on the off chance of coming across intelligent life? In particular, what is so special about Sol and its planets that anyone would have come nosing around here?


There's nothing egotistical about it Set. Fermi didn't think things would come here because they knew about us, he reasoned they would be here just because the swarm would have sufficient density within a certain period of time. It was math, not ego. Granted he was making a series of assumptions, but each one seemed logical. And to this day nobody has answered the paradox effectively. I suggest that before you go off on a tiff about childish conceit, you do a little background on the subject. I expect thoughtless bullshit from Spendi, but I expect better from you. You do your research on other subjects, and I respect what you have to say, but you're not impressing me with your thoughtfulness on this subject so far.

Geoffrey A. Landis Ohio Aerospace Institute NASA Lewis Research Center, 302-1 Cleveland, OH 44135 U.S.A wrote:
The galaxy contains roughly a hundred billion stars. If even a very small fraction of these have planets which develop technological civilizations, there must be a very large number of such civilizations. If any of these civilizations produce cultures which colonize over interstellar distances, even at a small fraction of the speed of light, the galaxy should have been completely colonized in no more than a few million years [1]. Since the galaxy is billions of years old, Earth should have been visited and colonized long ago. M.J. Fogg, for example, suggests that they should have already completed the expansion to fill the galaxy before the emergence of life from the ocean [2]. The absence of any evidence for such visits is the Fermi paradox. [A more proper name for this would be the Fermi-Hart paradox, since while Fermi is credited with first asking the question, Hart [1] was the first to do a rigorous analysis showing that the problem is not trivial, and also the first to publish his results].

Many proposals for solutions to the Fermi paradox exist, all of which are unsatisfactory in one way or another


One of many sources
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Dec, 2006 10:49 pm
Given the size of the universe it would very UNLIKELY for life not to have formed elsewhere. SOME of that life would be "intelligent", although I'm not sure how much that intelligence with take forms (forget degree) similar to ours. That refers to motivations, languages, and other cultural ingredients necessary to take part in the kind of StarTrek story where it is assumed that all we would need to communicate with them is a "universal translator". What about the thoughts (assuming their "mental activity" can be called thoughts as we know them) behind their languages. It is very (but intentionally) naive how we depict StarTrek aliens, once their WORDS have been translated, as having American middle class cultures.
It's my guess that aliens once engaged will be unfathomly alien, exotic to a mind-boggling degree.
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Dec, 2006 10:57 pm
JLNobody wrote:
It's my guess that aliens once engaged will be unfathomly alien, exotic to a mind-boggling degree.


I've wondered about this as well. The degree to which our perception of reality is universal is just as unknown as the other variables in estimating the commonality of life itself.

However, I'm inclinded to think that physics are the same everywhere, and that most life will have at least some degree of primary foundation.

None the less, extremely advanced life may have moved very from from an interaction with elementary physics indeed. The 'information singularity' theories are particularly daunting since they assume that physical organisms might evolve toward cybernetic data systems rather than biological systems.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Dec, 2006 11:08 pm
If they come to us, knowledge of physics (and other skills) may be assumed. If we go to them, we may find that they have not used their intelligence to develop mathematical knowledge or to transform the physical world for ends similar to ours. Maybe their goals are drastically different from ours, and, if so, their knowledge/skills (or means for achieving their goals) would also be very different. That is very likely IF, as I like to say, knowledge is a function of the knower.
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 06:55 am
JLNobody wrote:
If they come to us, knowledge of physics (and other skills) may be assumed. If we go to them, we may find that they have not used their intelligence to develop mathematical knowledge or to transform the physical world for ends similar to ours.


Right. The Universe might be filled with Dolphins who never want to leave their oceans.

But since we evolved a technological intelligence, it just begs the question of how many technology intelligent civilizations there are.

Most people who have responded to this thread so far seem to think there is other life in the Universe, and I think most people believe some of it is intelligent. The next question is the probability of technological intelligence. Based on what we see here on Earth, I think (just my opinion), that there should be other technology intelligent species out there as well.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 07:58 am
I heard that it is not only virtually certain, within a vanishingly small fraction, to borrow timber's original idea, that there is life elsewhere in the universe but also that it is equally certain, ignoring vanishing fractions, that somewhere up there, or down there, or off to the side, left or right, but that at the exact moment in time when the ball hit the post with a thud from Wayne Rooney's drilling shot in front of 76,000 fans last Sunday there was a similar thud, maybe a lot, that's guesswork, of identical drilling drives and with the team all having the same names, on both sides, and the officials, and the 70,000 fans and all with identical appearence and with similar cars down to the same registration plates and so on and so forth.

Whether there's anybody somewhere, at this very moment , typing out this post to pass on a few moments of time is a possibilty even though it beggars belief.

What's a cargo cult dys.

Three more pints landlord please!
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NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 11:05 am
For many years some scientists debated as to whether or not there were even other planets in our galaxy. They were not visible and there was no evidence of their existence. Finally, about 12 years ago someone saw the first ones. Now we have discovered hundreds. I suspect the same will hold true for extra terrestrial life.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 11:48 am
spendi wrote:
... What's a cargo cult ...

That one engaged in a discussion having both scientific/academic and religiophilosophic overtones might not know what a cargo cult is says an awful lot about that one's credentials relevant to the matters at discussion.
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 02:05 pm
NickFun wrote:
For many years some scientists debated as to whether or not there were even other planets in our galaxy. They were not visible and there was no evidence of their existence. Finally, about 12 years ago someone saw the first ones. Now we have discovered hundreds. I suspect the same will hold true for extra terrestrial life.

Not quite true. Large planets have been detectable for some time from perturbations in the motion of stars. Also, when I was a boy, I read a book in which a scientist talked about inferring that 2/3 of stars have planets, from their rates of rotation.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 02:06 pm
timber wrote-

Quote:
That one engaged in a discussion having both scientific/academic and religiophilosophic overtones might not know what a cargo cult is says an awful lot about that one's credentials relevant to the matters at discussion.


I was interested in dys's definition you pompous ass.
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 02:11 pm
The term cargo cult refers to South Pacific aborigines who have come to believe that duplicating the observed superficial actions of westerners will result in them obtaining the same manufactured goods that westerners are observed to possess.

"Cargo cult programming," refers to taking sections of code that are observed to work in one computer program, and copying them with little comprehension into another program where the same functionality is desired.
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NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 03:05 pm
Brandon9000 wrote:
NickFun wrote:
For many years some scientists debated as to whether or not there were even other planets in our galaxy. They were not visible and there was no evidence of their existence. Finally, about 12 years ago someone saw the first ones. Now we have discovered hundreds. I suspect the same will hold true for extra terrestrial life.

Not quite true. Large planets have been detectable for some time from perturbations in the motion of stars. Also, when I was a boy, I read a book in which a scientist talked about inferring that 2/3 of stars have planets, from their rates of rotation.


I believe you will find the first planets detected through this method were no more than 12-15 years ago. Everything prior to that was simply conjecture.
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NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 04:09 pm
Here's a link: http://www.isat.ie/WorldOfKnowledge/wobbly_stars_-_pointers_to_distant_worlds.htm
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 04:37 pm
rosborne979 wrote:
There's nothing egotistical about it Set. Fermi didn't think things would come here because they knew about us, he reasoned they would be here just because the swarm would have sufficient density within a certain period of time. It was math, not ego. Granted he was making a series of assumptions, but each one seemed logical. And to this day nobody has answered the paradox effectively. I suggest that before you go off on a tiff about childish conceit, you do a little background on the subject. I expect thoughtless bullshit from Spendi, but I expect better from you. You do your research on other subjects, and I respect what you have to say, but you're not impressing me with your thoughtfulness on this subject so far.


Yes, this does make a series of assumptions, and the core assumptions are seriously flawed. I did not go off on a tiff, and that's a rhetorical device i would not have thought you would use. I'm amused at this thesis, but not angry about.

This thesis assumes for example, that technological civilizations would be monolithic socially and politically, because i assure you, that in order to colonize, you're going to need huge energy expenditures to transport colonists and their necessary life-support, even if one could have perfected supsended animation of the colonists. Our one example of a sentient, technologically-sophisticated species offers not reason to believe that technologically-sophisticated species can be expected to produce a unitary civilization on a single planet, never mind on several planets.

If a civilization were space-faring, then we'd want to have a plausible reason for them to colonize other planets. The most obvious reason for this would be for more living space and resources. If that were the goal, even were there a planetarily-unitary (just made that up, and don't know if "planetarily is a word--the spellchecker doesn't think so) society, the enormous energy expenditure to leave the mother-well (speaking of the gravitational well of the home planet) with colonists, and all the resources necessary to support them on a long voyage at a modest fraction of light-speed, even with suspended animation, strongly suggests that they would colonize the nearest plausible planets--which might even entail "terra-forming" (in their own planetary terms) of other planets in their system.

Which leads us back to the problem that our star and planet are in the galactic boonies--so once again, why would anyone have come here? Every plausible mathematical estimate which i have seen, ignoring the gross assumptions entailed, reach the conclusion that there may be tens of thousands of technologically-sophisticated societies--which means that even with a concerted division of labor, they'd have millions, even tens of millions, of star systems to explore. Fermi and company, for all of their mathematical and scientific expertise, are almost embarrassingly naive in political and social terms.

Our experience is that species unity is difficult, if not actually impossible of attainment. Our experience suggests that only great resource wealth combined with strikingly important motivation lead to huge technological projects (the Manhattan Project was spurred by the possibility that the Nazis were working on an atomic bomb--it was not product of free research with unlimited funds; the space race was motivated by the undoubtable evidence that the Russians had prefected intercontinental ballistic missiles which could operate in space--Sputnik proved it, and for all the glamour and hooplah of NASA, the motivation was military threat--not the egocentrism of demonstrating the excellence of our system). Our experience suggests to us that technological civilizations can only be organized politically, and that politically effective systems function through compromise--settling for second- or even third-best is usually how large social and political projects get accomplished.

Fermi and company do not factor into their calculations the probabilities of a unitary civilization arising which spans the entire cradle planet of the species. Their calculations do not factor the probability that technologically sophisticated civilizations may stagnate or even destroy themselves before reaching a level of sophistication necessary to engage in interstallar colonization. Their calculations do not take into consideration the myriad competing claims on a civilization which is the consequence of intelligent individualism--and our experience on this planet is that civilizations which do not encourage individual enterprise and research are likely to stagnate, and become the prey of vigorous barbarians.

The estimates to which you refer fail to account for a host of social and political factors which act upon civilizations--and which our experience over thousands of years (literally) show transcend culture. I consider the thesis naive because it fails to take into consideration what would pass for the equivalent of "human nature" in the putative sentient, technologically-sophisticated species.

Before the Great War, the brilliant German military planner, von Schlieffen, wrote an operational plan for invading France, via Belgium, and taking Paris within five weeks. But von Schlieffen failed to take into account simple facts of human nature--his deployments were not used exactly as planned, because of the politics of the Prussians dealing with the Bavarians; his planned assumed (as almost all Europe assumed) that the Russians would require six weeks to mobilize and set their armies in motion--the Russians promised the French (who didn't believe it) that they would mobilize and invade East Prussia within three weeks, but they were wrong, they did it in two weeks; von Schlieffen's plan assumed the English could be brushed aside, but they weren't. Finally, von Schlieffen's plan took absolutely no account for human frailty--German junior officers were drunk almost every day after the second week, because they were losing so much sleep, that they constantly drank coffee, and then chased it with wine or hard liquor, trying to keep awake and take the edge off. German soldiers were so fatigued after four weeks, that the French had to wake them up to make captives of them, and often unable to accomplish that, loaded them into trucks while they slept through the entire capture.

I don't suggest that the two cases are parallel, but i do wish to point out that the estimates, and the claims about colonization, ignore the realities of what it means to deal with billions of sentient, intelligent individuals in the aggregate. There are too many assumptions, and too many of them which ignore "human nature" (the equivalent of which can be assumed to exist in other species as or more intelligent than are we) for them to be plausible to me.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 06:19 pm
You're crackers Settie.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 06:24 pm
ros-

Do you think-

Quote:
thoughtless bullshit from Spendi,


is an assertion or a scientific fact?

If it is the former, and there can be no discussion about the latter, do you think it is helpful to your own sense of self importance?

If it is, as I expect it is, do you think we should all bow down to it?
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 06:40 pm
Spreading crackers with butter and cheese raises cholestorol levels if indulged in too often.
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