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Is Anyone Out There?

 
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 06:46 pm
How do we know, to posit something completely alien to our own experience, that sentient species might not arise which are not cooperative, and which reach high degrees of technological sophistication in groups no larger than a family? How many sentient species might arise in a atmosphere inimical to oxidation-based combustion; how many might arise in a type of aquasphere, making combustion impossible? How many might reach a high degree of intellectual development without having extremities with digits (no fingers, and/or no opposed digits) and therefore never take up tool-making? How many might arise which achieve an ecological equipoise which obviates the necessity to leave the cradle planet?

Once again, i think the thesis ascribed to Fermi is too, too facile.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 06:53 pm
Considering the Fermi paradox, Im not aware that it even considers the % of civilizations that can overrule"c". After all, it's all merely time dependent. Our milky way is within the 16 billion year origins envelope and I have noted no compelling evidence that anyones projected an "Age topographic contour " on the visible galaxy and universe.(Other than a huge concentric circle of "outer light means older and older origins)

The dark matter and UV scans that look at the uniformity of our galaxy all look like a randomly scattered but relatively even spread of minor sytems separated by the "dark matter" . Wouldnt this imply that life, even if intelligent, is stymied by the boundaries of time since each systems formation? In other words, we have no real evidence that some systems have had a "jump start" and achieved either a really long perod of time to accomplish sub c travel or hyper "c" capabilities.

Now, I have always had a sneaking suspicion that "c" isnt really an insurmountable barrier, mostly because the field equations dont prohibit it. I know Im gonna take **** for this . Be gentle.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 07:21 pm
Is anyone out there?

Not bloodly likely.
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NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 07:47 pm
There may be a variety of ways to traverse the universe which we have not even dreamed of yet. I'm sure when aliens civilizations are ready to contact us they will -- or when we are ready to be contacted.
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djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 07:57 pm
Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem of World Contact Day)

In your mind you have abilities you know
To telepath messages through the vast unknown
Please close your eyes and concentrate
With every thought you think
Upon the recitation we're about to sing

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Calling occupants of interplanetary, most extraordinary craft

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Calling occupants of interplanetary, most extraordinary craft

You've been observing our earth
And we'd like to make a contact with you

We are your friends

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Calling occupants and interplanetary ultra-emissaries

We've been observing your earth
And one night we'll make a contact with you

We are your friends

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Calling occupants of interplanetary, quite extraordinary craft

Please come in peace we beseech you
Only a landing will teach them
Our earth may never survive
So do come we beg you
Please interstellar policemen
Won't you give us a sign
Give us a sign that we've reached you

With your mind you have ability to form
And transmit thought energy far beyond the norm
You close your eyes
You concentrate
Together that's the way
To send the message
We declare World Contact Day

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
Calling occupants of interplanetary, most extraordinary craft

Ahhh

Calling occupants
Calling occupants
Calling occupants
Calling occupants
Calling occupants of interplanetary, most extraordinary craft
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 08:00 pm
Sooner or later, somebody in this conversation was gonna post this - in fact, I'm surprised it hasn't shown up already. I've really been expecting it - the suspense has been all but unbearable. I figure we'll just get it outta the way right now.


Hello.
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone home?

Come on, now.
I hear youre feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain,
Get you on your feet again.

Relax.
I need some information first.
Just the basic facts:
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre saying.
When I was a child I had a fever.
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I got that feeling once again.
I cant explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

Ok.
Just a little pinprick. [ping]
There'll be no more --aaaaaahhhhh!
But you may feel a little sick.

Can you stand up?
I do believe its working. Good.
That'll keep you going for the show.
Come on its time to go.

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre saying.
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.



OK - we got that done. I feel much better now.
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djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 08:35 pm
i was gonna post that one, but went for the obscure 70's canadian rock thing instead
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Dec, 2006 08:47 pm
Gotta say in context here Klaatu is appropriate.




http://www.pivot.net/~jpierce/images/Gort%20-%20Klaatu%20barada%20nikto.jpg
"Gort! Klaatu barado nikto!"
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 08:32 am
This is a most entertaining thread.

Several questions occur to me. Were a civilization so technologically advanced as to be able to easily engage in interstellar travel, would said civilization necessarily have any reason to continue to expand ever outward? (Once again, such a thesis assumes that any civilization which becomes sufficiently technologically sophisticated for convenient interstellar travel represents a unitary culture on its home planet, which can command the huge resources originally necessary to escape the gravitational "mother well" with sufficient resources to get the enterprise started--an assumption for which there is little warrant.)

Might not a highly advanced civilization have reached a degree of sophistication which allows them to live in ecological harmony? It that were so, why would they need constantly to colonize--why would they wish to do so? If their motive is simply exploration, then mechanized exploration makes far more sense in terms of energy expenditure and ease than would "manned" exploration. If that were the case, then this planet may well have been visited, and we simply have no way of knowing it. Additionally, the planet may have been visited four million years ago, when there would have been no immediately obvious reason for the exploring civilization to assume there were technologically intelligent species on this planet.

Other technological civilizations might not yet have arisen in reasonable proximity to us. Such civilization might have arisen, and passed us by before we were sufficiently sophisticated to have known it. Such civilizations may have arisen, and are now defunct. We may be in a "pause" between the appearance of "alien" technology.

Once again, i don't consider the "great silence" to be founded upon reasonable bases. I consider that thesis to be thoughless, and naive. The first sustained, coherent microwave signal to escape this planet was of Adolf Hitler (Godwin's Law invoked) opening the 1936 Olympic Games in Munich. That was 70 years ago. Anyone care to calculate the odds that a technologically sophisticated civilization or its "colony" is within 35 light years of this planet? (After all, to have picked up the signal, understood its significance and then come here, the expedition would have had to have been well within 35 light years at the outset, and travelling at very large fraction of light speed to have gotten here by now.) The routine emission of microwave signals from this planet only date to the Second World War--someone might be on the way here, and everyone in this thread will be dead long before they get here.

I see no plausible basis for this thesis.
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 10:02 am
Setanta wrote:
This is a most entertaining thread


I agree. And I want thank Brandon for getting bored and starting it. It's nice to have something to actually debate, rather than the usual creation/evolution stuff which isn't really worthy of debate.

Also, I didn't mean to derail the thread onto the Fermi Paradox. Even though I still find that paradox compelling (and valid), I know there are several who disagree with me... which is good, since debate is what we're here for.

I just hope I have more time to respond here. Sometimes regular old Earth tasks get in the way.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 10:10 am
As the above is a mere exercise in literary composition, which could with a little tidying up fit easily into the mouth of one of Harold Pinter's characters, beind devoid of any sense within the ordinary conception of the word as it is, I thought I would offer one or two pointers in order to improve it so that it might serve as a vehicle in such a play to portray a character totally off his rocker rather than one only half-way which is all it does as it stands.

I would find another word for the second "resources" for a start. Repetition tends to jar on the nerves I feel particularly when ideas of unmeaning are conjured up.

And I'm not convinced that "coherent" is a suitable term in the fifth paragraph.

I know I'm being a bit pernickety but the two errors could cause the laughs to be inhibited a tiny amount.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 12:35 pm
rosborne979 wrote:
Setanta wrote:
This is a most entertaining thread


I agree. And I want thank Brandon for getting bored and starting it. It's nice to have something to actually debate, rather than the usual creation/evolution stuff which isn't really worthy of debate.

Also, I didn't mean to derail the thread onto the Fermi Paradox. Even though I still find that paradox compelling (and valid), I know there are several who disagree with me... which is good, since debate is what we're here for.

I just hope I have more time to respond here. Sometimes regular old Earth tasks get in the way.


Yes, it is an interesting discussion.

Your last sentence goes to the heart of what i see as the basic and fatal flaw in the thesis of Fermi and company. The thesis depends upon an assumption that the huge resources necessary to interstellar colonization (never mind intergalactic) can be sequestered and deployed by a unitary culture which will be willing to make the inherent sacrifice of all other practices. All other practices can include the local equivalent of "regular old Earth tasks." Hedonism and selfishness are common in the one experience of a highly sophisticated technological society with which we are familiar--the thesis assumes a unitary culture, and one without distraction in the form of other demands for the use of resources, because you would otherwise need to deploy almost all surplus resources to the project to get out of the cradle planet's gravity well with sufficient resources to begin the colonization effort. That is the same objection to the notion that an ever wider spread of colonization would constantly go forward--there would be little reason to continue the process at any such time as sufficient new living space and resources were obtained in the colonization process.

That's the principle reason why i object to the thesis--that it is too facile and naive in ignoring the character of culture and the social and political processes inherent in culture. However, were mere curiosity the guiding principle, a culture might well send out mechanized exploration expeditions for a very small fraction of the resource cost of colonizing missions. Were that the case, though, there would be little reason to think that mechanized expeditions would continually search every star system of any given galaxy with sufficient frequency to assume that "they" would notice a nascent technologically sophisticated culture such as ours. "They" may have sent a probe our way, once, or even several times, and still have missed the rise of homo sapiens sapiens.
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Terry
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 12:52 pm
Brandon, there are probably many other planets on which intelligent life has evolved. There is no way to know at present whether we are one of the first or one of the last to have developed the technical knowledge to attempt interplanetary contact.

But IMO, we are one of the dumbest if we broadcast signals saying "here we are" without first knowing whether the dominant lifeforms in our galaxy are benevolent types seeking knowledge, trade, and friendship, or as is more likely, aggressive territory-seeking monsters who would like nothing more than to find an unsuspecting planet with mineral resources already mined, refined and sitting on the surface waiting to be grabbed. And the indigenous lifeforms could be broken down into amino acids if their proteins are not suitable for alien metabolisms.

There could be many reasons why we haven't heard from anyone out there yet. Alien species who communicated by chemical means or body language might not send or look for electromagnetic signals. Those on planets enveloped by clouds might never suspect that there was anything beyond. They might not have surplus resources for space exploration, or any desire to leave their planet. Our planet might not have the right chemical composition or gravity, and with billions of planets to choose from, they are only interested in ones exactly like their own. If they have no ready source of copper and other metals, they might not have discovered electricity or invented radios. They might be too small to use fire or draw wire. They might not have suitable appendages. Their religion might discourage scientific research. Their culture could still be as stagnant as ours was for hundreds of thousands of years.

Or they could have figured out that that hiding from possible predators is more conducive to survival than waving flags at them.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 01:17 pm
maybe the limitations of our detection devices are at point and as we learn to move the sensitivity decimal to the left a few orders of magnitude will we be hearing signals that are a nonetillionth of a watt. Even witn Aricebo and some of the big array interferometry at Green Bank our sensitivity and selectivity is kind of primitive by space standards.


Set, I think that we all realize that "Contact" was a movie, but there are great distances involved even within our galaxy. !00000 light years wide is a lot of real estate.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 01:29 pm
farmerman wrote:
Set, I think that we all realize that "Contact" was a movie, but there are great distances involved even within our galaxy. !00000 light years wide is a lot of real estate.


I'm not sure what your point is in taking note of this, unless it is simply to re-enforce the point that we may be missing signals--which i consider a cogent objection to the "great silence."

Interstellar and intergalactic distances are just another reason why i remain unconvinced with the thesis advanced. I'll create another analogy which i hope will clarify what i mean. We are now involved in constructing a space station with the Russians (and do a lot of PR work bringing people from other nations there--but basically, is a Russo-American project). We have had the necessary technology to have begun the project for 40 years or more. Why did we not begin such a project until recently? I know that everyone in this discussion (except perhaps Spurious) is sufficiently perceptive to know, but i'll rehearse the reasons in aid of making my point.

In the 1960s when we were involved in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, we also were involved in the civil rights movement, the voting rights movement, the "War on Poverty," the Vietnam War, and had major military commitments in Europe and in Asia apart from Vietnam. The Russians had an even larger military commitment in Europe, and had large military commitments within the borders of their "empire," because so much of their territory was the homeland of people who were necessarily less than enthused with being a part of the Soviet system. They also made huge grants of resources in the form of military hardware and expertise to middle eastern nations. Both nations were deeply committed to huge military budgets which dwarfed their space exploration budgets, and the space programs of both were an outgrowth of the development of atomic weaponry delivery systems. We can only make the space station effort now because neither nation is any longer involved in the huge military outlays which characterized the period 1945-91. Even as it is, both nations are doing the current project on a shoe string, relying upon the huge Russian boosters to do the heavy lifting, and American prosperity to write the checks.

In other words, we did not then and do not now have a planet-wide unitary culture which would allow us to concentrate resources for the effort. The notion the even over billions of years, many, many civilizations would have arisen which would have committed significantly large portions of their resources to colonization, or even just to exploration, ignores the realities of culture as we know them based on the only technologically sophisticated civilization of which we have an example.

Fermi and company ignore the "human" factor in this question.
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NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 01:32 pm
Terry wrote:
But IMO, we are one of the dumbest if we broadcast signals saying "here we are" without first knowing whether the dominant lifeforms in our galaxy are benevolent types seeking knowledge, trade, and friendship, or as is more likely, aggressive territory-seeking monsters who would like nothing more than to find an unsuspecting planet with mineral resources already mined, refined and sitting on the surface waiting to be grabbed.


I doubt that any civilization that has managed to evolve to the point of intergalactic travel would be anything other than the more benevolent types. As mankind had clearly proven, the more aggressive and hostile we are, the more likely we are to destroy ourselves before we reach that point. And I doubt that a civilization that can travel infinite distances is seeking a pre-mined world and can't find abundant elements elsewhere or even create them themselves.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 01:51 pm
The central line in Contact was "Its all done in little steps"
We wont be contacted until we have the advanced systems to differentiate these very weak signals that began journeys in measurable time/space terms.I believe that , if sentient beings exist, they would, by definition, be curious about their environments and would , if toting a brain capable of developing reason and abstract thought, would stumble upon electromagnetic energy and radio.

After we do recieve signals, Our "humanness" will force us to begin to recalibrate what our responses should be. (Knowing that there is someone out there at the other end of the line does spur further technology and modi of approach IMHO).Eg, If it looked like the big iron rock from space had our name on it, Id imagine that wed suddenly be trying to develop all sorts of means to thwart it or migrate off the sod.

Once life develops, a technology based endpoint is inevitable. I actually think that the 5 extinction events on our planet stifled the development of say sentient fish, or brilliant dinosaurs.



.
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Terry
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 01:55 pm
Conflict has driven many of our technological advances. A peaceful society would be more likely to stagnate. If one side dominated all others in a planetary conflict, they would not wipe themselves out but could continue their war of conquest to the stars. And why not go for the easy pickings, instead of having to expend time and energy mining resources yourself? Alien species might develop intelligence without having any more emotions or empathy than reptiles. They might not care about us, or even consider that we have feelings. They might believe that they have a right to take anything within their grasp. They might be a lot like earthmen after all.
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Terry
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 01:57 pm
farmerman, what are the chances that dolphins will ever stumble across electromagnetic energy, or learn to build radios?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Dec, 2006 02:06 pm
Leaving aside the huge meteor, about which i doubt we'd be able to do anything--even if we contact someone, they are likely to be, as you point out, a vast distance away. 186,213 miles per second may not be the cosmic speed limit, but we know that absent technological advances which we cannot yet even imagine, it is the speed limit for electromagnetic signals. There won't be much of a productive conversation when you have to wait literally millennia for a response:

How are you?

Global warming kicks in with a vengeance, and our technological ability to deal with the consequences of a runaway greenhouse effect slowly fails until the human race is extinguished.

Fine, how are you?

Slowly, the natural energetic processes of the oceans begin to reduce the average annual temperature in the absence of continued artificial inputs of gases and heat in the atmosphere, and a slim selection of life forms manage to survive the unintended holocaust of our hubris.

Hello?

Slowly, oh so slowly, new life forms crawl out onto the land.

Hello?

New land-dwelling life forms begin to evolve into increasingly complex forms.

Hello?

Land-dwelling life forms become sufficiently sophisticated that larger life forms begin to appear and survive.

Hello?

Larger life forms fall a prey to smaller, but infinitely more clever and adroit life forms.

Hello?

The newer life forms begin to proliferate, and gradually to become dominant on land.

Hello?

Population pressure and ecological niche opportunities eventually lead to the rise of species which depend upon their perceptions and the ability to manipulate their environment rather than relying upon mere bulk, speed or brawn.

Hello?

Newer species begin to use artifacts of their environments to manipulate said enviroment.

Hello?

Those species begin to fabricate artifacts to manipulate their enviroment, thus become technological, albeit primitve.

Hello?

Those species become technologically sophisticated, and one, destroying the others, recreates civilization.

Hello?

Said successful species finally discovers electromagnetic radiation, and learns to detect it.

Hello?

What?
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