Is calling E.T. a smart move?

Jan 29, 2010 by Richard Ingham
A NASA imageof Stephan’s Quintet, also known as Hickson Compact Group 92 as seen from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. As the citizens of Planet Earth strive ever more enthusiastically to reach E.T., some experts say numerous messages zipping through the cosmos are confusing or little more than space spam.

In 2008, NASA beamed the Beatles song "Across the Universe" into deep space, sending a message of peace to any extraterrestrial who happens to be in the region of Polaris, also called the North Star, in 2439.

"Amazing! Well done, NASA!" Paul McCartney said. "Send my love to the aliens."

Who could argue with such a well-meaning, positive initiative?

Quite a few, actually.

As the citizens of Planet strive ever more enthusiastically to reach E.T., some experts say numerous messages zipping through the cosmos are confusing or little more than space spam.

Others ask who has the right to represent our world to the galaxy -- or question the wisdom of bellowing out our presence in what may be a hostile neighbourhood.

"A lot of the stuff is very responsible, but I do wonder about some of the other stuff that's being transmitted," Albert Harrison, a professor of social psychology at the University of California at Davis, said at a conference at the Royal Society in London on Monday.

"There's pictures of celebrities, of two political candidates -- one identified as good, the other identified as evil -- snack-food commercials, love letters to rock stars and so on."

He added: "When you start broadcasting and drawing attention to yourself, you have to be very cautious about the image you give. We might appear as a threat to them.

"We don't know what will be made of these messages and it could be years and years before we find out."

The thirst for contact with alien civilisations has a long history.

The US probes Pioneer 10 and 11, launched in 1972 and 1973, bear plaques of a naked man and woman and symbols seeking to convey the positions of the Earth and the Sun.

Voyager 1 and 2, launched in 1977 and now on the outer fringes of the Solar System, each carry a gold-plated copper phonogram disk with recordings of sounds and images on Earth.

But, relative to the vast distances of , these four scouts are crawling along.

It will take around 40,000 years for 1, the most distant man-made object in space, to get anywhere close to a star.

No-one knows if there is any intelligent life there to pick up the time capsule... or whether our species will still be around to get a reply.

As a result, the electromagnetic spectrum offers a far quicker channel.

For the last 50 years, enthusiasts have been listening out for signals, discernible in the background noise of space, that might point to another civilisation.

Apart from a couple of brief, intriguing events, nothing has really shown up, which has prompted the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) to shift more and more from "passive" to "active" mode.

We are already spewing out diffuse signals through TV and radio broadcasts that pass through the ionosphere.

With "active SETI", the idea is to use powerful radio astronomy transmitters to beam out to interesting stars or extrasolar in the hope of eventually hitting paydirt. The transmitters are operated by space agencies or institutions, which in some cases are paid for the service.

Projects have included a tiny 1,679-bit message beamed in 1974 to star M13, 25,000 light years away; two "Cosmic Calls" in 1999 and 2003; a 2006 TV show by the Franco-German channel ARTE which beamed messages from the public to the star Errai, 45 light years distant; and a "Message from Earth" to a planet orbiting the star Gliese 581, incorporating contributions from users of social networking site Bebo.

If they exist -- and if they are able to figure out the messages -- alien civilisations are in for a smorgasbord of human culture.

Messages range from the earnest and the philosophical to the cerebral, such as an "Interstellar Rosetta Stone" of symbols that give information about Earth and Homo sapiens.

The missives include the jokey: "Please send money. Any kind of money. Universal money is OK. Alien currency OK. Meteorites are good. Gold, Moon rocks, space junk also good. Send to: Maura, Planet Earth."

And there is the political: an image of George W. Bush as the personification of evil, juxtaposed against Barack Obama as the embodiment of good, sent out by "X-Files" actress Gillian Anderson.

Any life forms at Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti, meanwhile, will receive recordings of the vaginal contractions of ballerinas with the Boston Ballet, a renegade 1980s art project aimed at giving the galaxy an idea of human conception.

European Space Agency (ESA) astrophysicist Malcolm Fridlund says that in the absence of any evidence so far that extraterrestrial life exists of any kind, active SETI may well be a waste of time.

Even so, he urges caution about drawing attention to ourselves.

"I'm not lying awake at night worrying about the overlords of the galaxy or anything like that," he told AFP, "but when you don't know of anything that's out there, you should maybe be a little careful, you should know something about the (star) system first."

Those who share his concern include the British cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who suggests "we should keep our heads low," given any possibility of encountering a hostile, technologically superior civilisation.

"The risk posed by active SETI is real," the prestigious British journal Nature warned in 2006, in an editorial that unleashed divisions among enthusiasts as to who had the right to be ambassador of Earth.

"It is not obvious that all extraterrestrial civilizations will be benign -- or that contact with even a benign one would not have serious repercussions for people here on Earth."

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User comments : 81

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CreepyD
5 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2010
I think finding any kind of ET life will have big repercussions for us on Earth.
PS3
1 / 5 (6) Jan 29, 2010
It is not smart to have people figure things will be all good because if evil we all are doomed from the few.^Kinda sounds like LHC huh.

There is always that chance.

Rdavid
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 29, 2010
The assumption here is that we are benign. Are we?
Skeptic_Heretic
2.9 / 5 (8) Jan 29, 2010
I don't think it'd be a good idea to attract attention to ourselves.

At least on Earth, the dominant life forms are the predatory ones. Better hope that those with the ability to visit Earth are not the dominant species, or that life finds other patterns of progression.
croghan26
3 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
"recordings of the vaginal contractions of ballerinas with the Boston Ballet"

HOHOHOHOHOHOHO LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
El_Nose
4 / 5 (4) Jan 29, 2010
I think finding any kind of ET life will have big repercussions for us on Earth


Big understatement.

The real issue i believe and what was missed by the article are two things: A) if you need to convey information over long distances aliens that have interstellar flight are not using the elctromagnetic spectrum- its just too slow. B) If we, humans, are any example of intelligent life then we must assume that if alien life is quote "good" then they will leave us alone until we achieve interstellar flight or need to trade with us for resources or quote closer to humans and "normal" or evil then they will make the assumption we lack their technological sophisication and will take our resources by force or our planet if it suits their needs.

The danger of the latter is why we should keep quiet and learn to be better listners than talkers.
Adriab
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 29, 2010
The assumption here is that we are benign. Are we?


I'd argue that we are not. If we could only stop our infighting we could make some real progress towards growing out from Earth to other planets. At that point I guess we could be considered very aggressive.

Just look at history. The European explorers weren't very nice and friendly.
PS3
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 29, 2010
I guess if they are smart enough for interstellar travel they wouldn't kill us. BUT, if their planet or star went boom then they very well could mean and try and take over.
otto1923
2.2 / 5 (5) Jan 29, 2010
Euro Planners knew the american civilizations were a threat because of all the gold and drugs they possessed, along with their million-man armies, knowledge of navigational astronomy, and metallurgic skills. It was only a matter of time before they would pose an agressive and direct military and economic threat to eurasian cultures. And so the invasion was planned and technologies developed generations in advance, to conquer the americas and the surrounding oceans and to neutralize this substantial threat. Indications are that these doomed cultures were infiltrated by a priesthood in order to prepare them for destruction.

What makes you think an alien culture wouldnt regard us in the same way, or us them? Omni-directional communication has got to be a very small blip on the timeline of tech evolution; any shockwave of this sort would be followed by silence.
otto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 29, 2010
Contact would only occur after much reconnoitering and preparation, and then only with Leaders who would be able to effectively limit knowledge of this contact, for their good as well as ours. Exactly as it was done in the Americas. Aliens would send an expeditionary force which would establish itself in the outer system just as Spain did in the Caribbean. They might first try infiltration or instruction with the intent to stabilize and consolidate the indigenes. Whether we posed a threat to them would depend upon the extent of their experience and their view of the future.
antialias
5 / 5 (5) Jan 29, 2010
If you do the mathy you'll figure out that the signal to noise ration of the signals sent to date drops way below receiving capabilities of even _theoretical_ receivers at a bout 2 light years distance. So we shouldn't be unduly worried about what we have sent so far.

Apart from that I agree with ElNose: If they have FTL then using EM-waves for communication is pointless. If the have FTL then they likely have limited AI and robotics and can harvest whatever they need from elsewhere. There's _nothing_ we have that they could want.

The only thing we'd be good for is for watching. And watchers usually take great pains not to disturb the object of their curiosity.

If you think about aliens making contact ask yourselves this: What is in it for them? Answer: nothing.

We'll make contact when they can't evade us anymore (i.e. when we have developed spaceflight capability ourselves)
El_Nose
5 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
@PS3 -- your reasoning depends on that civilization being benign or 'good' or at least interested in communication, the chances of that are about 33% if there are only three choices in another civilizations temperment good, nuetral, and bad. Those adjectives are all in reference to their view of earth.

@otto The conquistadors did not believe the America's native population to be a real threat to Europe, they came to trade and eventually subdue the population with a lot less than 1000 people. Europe new they were(the erupoeans) technologically advanced enough to deal with men still throwing spears. This case is repeated in Africa... there was no threat it was all about imperialism and the control of land and resources for future exploration and exploitation. -- other than my disagreement with your view of history the rest of your statement make perfect sense.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 29, 2010
{q]If you think about aliens making contact ask yourselves this: What is in it for them? Answer: nothing. Altruism? Company? Its lonely out there.They may favor variety as much as we do.
The conquistadors did not believe the America's native population to be a real threat to Europe
Yes, they did. Read beyond the history books. Their gold would have ruined euro economies and their drugs euro culture, if independent trade networks had been allowed to develop. The idea that eurasian Leaders didnt know what was across the atlantic (or Pacific) is ludicrous. The timing, preparation, and efficiency of the invasion- and the results of it- betray its true nature.

You think if it had been Planned, that 'we the people' even today would know anything about this? You think our history books would say anything different? Much much evidence to support this conclusion, most of which you already know. It was a military invasion- reconnoiter first, then invade and destroy.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 29, 2010
technologically advanced enough to deal with men still throwing spears.
Imagine if Cochise had had a million braves armed with rifles manufactured in Apache cities, using knowledge bartered from euro or chinese traders. Europe had seen backward cultures such as the mongols arise in a generation with bartered knowledge. Incas and aztecs were a dire threat.
antialias
5 / 5 (3) Jan 29, 2010
Altruism? Company? Its lonely out there.They may favor variety as much as we do.

So how much do we really want to make contact with some aboriginal village in a jungle? Company? Altruism? Can't see that happening. Not much of a conversation when they don't have anything to say which you didn't know already for the past billion years.

Contactophile aliens are likely way ahead of us. To be of any interest they would have to bring us 'up to speed' (which would merely turn us into copies of them - and there goes any 'variety' they could be interested in)

Altruism? What for? Even altruism is always motivated by something. And they would take away our ability and drive to find our own way (look at how aboriginal cultures fared which are 'altruistically' being helped...australian aborigines, american indians, ... they don't really seem to benefit from that sort of help as a society)
El_Nose
5 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
@otto

Their gold would have ruined euro economies


How when they did not value gold as a means commerce. Remember their gold was taken and brought back to europe ANYWAY. It did not destroy the economy. It didn't even devalue gold.

if independent trade networks had been allowed to develop. The idea that eurasian Leaders didnt know what was across the atlantic (or Pacific) is ludicrous.


Europe was never kind to people they deemed uncivilized or beneath them. Look at Africa it was carved up by the Dutch. THE DUTCH... come on. The Americas were unknown and too expensive to get to. It had no infrastructure at all... its diseases laid waste to europeans and vise versa. You claim that the leaders of Europe knew the Americas were there makes no sense at all -- that is a wild statement with nothing at all to back it up.

If you look back if they knew about the Americas then they were the WORST military planner in history cause their conquest sucked.
Skeptic_Heretic
2.4 / 5 (7) Jan 29, 2010
Altruism? Company? Its lonely out there.They may favor variety as much as we do.

You're assuming they're social animals.

They could be hive like, individual, or even a conglomerate entity of many physical individuals with a single conciousness.

The imagination is limited only by its experiences, and we all know that our experience, when it comes to the cosmos, is quite limited indeed.
El_Nose
5 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
it took over 80 years to conquer South America.. 70 years to found saint augistine and another 40 to get Jamestown up and going.

There was no planning... no mythical knowledge of the Americas or its people. To believe in this line of reasoning you have to then take into account that this prior knowledge was VERY POORLY used. Spain, England, and France were accomplished Imperialists. They knew how to do it... had been doing it for 200 years. Then when they went to America all that prior knowledge just vanished??? Suddenly people with knives and spears are a problem?? No, they underestimated the native populations numbers but that was about it. They traded with the native americans they bartered for goods that were mutual beneficial. Gold was nothing to keep to the Americans.

And the idea of drugs undermining European culture is unfounded. China had been pushing Opium into England and France for hundreds of years. America only offered Peyote and Salvia.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 29, 2010
How when they did not value gold as a means commerce. Remember their gold was taken and brought back to europe ANYWAY. It did not destroy the economy. It didn't even devalue gold.
Euro traders valued gold very much and would have traded weapons, ships, and the knowledge to make and use them, for it.
It had no infrastructure at all...
You dont know much history I guess... One pertinent fact; in the decades prior to its conquest Incas drained 1/3 of its economies to build a vast network of 25,000mi of paved roads, bridges, and paths which were of little use to them but were essential to the removal of gold by their conquers. This gold and mines were quickly commandeered and secured. That which was brought to europe was thus done so in a strictly controlled and metered fashion- not by independent traders but by agents of the aristocracy. Much of it was 'lost' at sea (scuttled). Some was 'stolen' by british-sanctioned buccaneers- the 'enemy' needed their cut too didnt they?
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 29, 2010
Peyote and Salvia.
You forgot cocaine and tobacco, arguably the 2 worst drugs addiction-wise. The conquest was done in the most efficient manner imaginable. It was not attempted until firearms tech (donated from the orient) Had been proven on euro battlefields.
El_Nose
1 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2010
@ skeptic --

the collective consciousness is doubtful even sci-fi writers take great liberties with this wonderful fantasy. The idea is plausible on a very limited scale but you need an organism to have enough chemical energy at its command to generate an EM siganl another individual can detect.

Hive-like after cafe consideration limits technological advancement to a crawl. and has the same issues as collective consciousness in the long run -- the dissemnation of information.

But you are right we are limited to our imaginations and that is a very powerful wall to get over becasue it is limited by our experiences. But we still know chemisty and the conservation of energy... and those as guiding tools tell us that telephaty is improbable -- and things like telkinesis are impossible. So we are grounded in reality.
Skeptic_Heretic
1.8 / 5 (6) Jan 29, 2010
And the idea of drugs undermining European culture is unfounded. China had been pushing Opium into England and France for hundreds of years. America only offered Peyote and Salvia.


The idea of drugs undermining European culture is actually well founded. The Chinese used Opium for that very reason as the English abused them through their trade practices involving tea and silver. Part of the reason why hallucinogenics are looked down upon in western society is because of the machinations of the eurasians.

The idea is plausible on a very limited scale but you need an organism to have enough chemical energy at its command to generate an EM siganl another individual can detect.

We're talking about a creature that can cross interstellar space. I'm fairly sure they'll be well outside the bounds of biological limitation.
otto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2010
VERY POORLY used. Spain, England, and France were accomplished Imperialists.
Spain had been tasked with the bulk of it because of its strategic location. Portugal may well have been created for its future role in south America and the Indies, as an extention of British aristocratic influence. The Portugese aristocracy relocated en masse to brazil and left the country to berber chaos and ruin. Brits and French got north america- the fight took longer because there was no central empire to take over. But this continuing fight with all parties arguably made the US a formidable world power as it emerged in the 1800s.
Skeptic_Heretic
1 / 5 (6) Jan 29, 2010
Also, don't forget, the majority of animals on this planet use electromagnetic communication.

We view the world using visible light and communicate through vibrating the air, how silly would that look to a being that uses infrared or ultraviolet communication?

We've found beetles that creat compunds stronger than diamond and our strongest titanium alloys. Don't discount the chaotic nature of evolution too soon.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2010
I think it's unlikely aliens would want to settle here. Think of all the factors that must be just right (and if they can terraform or adapt their own physiology then they could just use another, uninhabited planet - no point in conquering):
- gravity
- radioactivity levels
- temperature range
- toxicity of _all_ necessary fundamentals (soil, liquids, air)
- ...

The only reason people on earth had an interest in conquering (and living in) other places on earth was: we could be reasonably sure that all of the above were _not_ a problem.

Any one of them is out of whack and it means living in sealed environments and walking around in HAZMAT suits 24/7.

And what are the chances of life from other planets requiring _exactly_ a 78% nitrogen 20% oxygen atmosphere at 1ATM pressure to breathe without a mask? Infinitisemally small.
sproket
not rated yet Jan 29, 2010
any real contact will be a joy if its ever possible
croghan26
not rated yet Jan 29, 2010
Refering to the question of the gold - the inflation rate of Spain did zoom up to an outrageous figures with all the gold pouring back - even if most of it went to Italy and (the famous) Fuggers in Germany.

It seems that Spain, like certain modern N. American Imperialists financed their adventures with other people's money.

As for drugs, tobacco was and is certainly a curse .. but that may be offset by the importation of the potato - that if sanely cultivated and not fried by MacDonalds can support thousands.
NameIsNotNick
not rated yet Jan 29, 2010
The assumption here is that we are benign. Are we?

we can't seem to be able to stop killing each other. God help the aliens!
Skepticus
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 29, 2010
Advertising our presence at this stage is hardly wise at all. We barely get to the Moon and back with tremendous efforts. Our spaceflight capability is embryonic, our energy generating capacity, control, and application are too weak for planetary consumption, let alone planetary defense purposes.
If a hostile ET or desperate ET who is looking for a new home comes, we have nowhere to run, can't get anywhere, can't defense ourselves - all the nuclear weapons probably won't help much - perhaps for a last stand, or used to mess up the planet so much (and kill most of us) that the invaders grudgingly moves on.
Even then, it's no guarantee that they would. "ET Fleet Commander:"...oh crap, 21% O2, 78% N2?, Radioactive residues?... We have to made do as best as we could, there is nothing else barely livable on within 500 LY, and our space arks engines are mostly burned out..so here we stay!"
goldengod
1 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
We have radio, gsm, wifi and bluetooth to communicate wirelessly. What makes you think aliens will not have integrated that biologically and bypassed physical evolution for technology?
jj2009
3 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
In my opinion, these activities don't really pose a risk to us.

i think its safe to say, if there was an antagonistic alien race out there, that possessed significant technology to pose a threat to us (capable of interstellar space travel, and also successfully countering our armament of 20,000 or so ICBMs) , they would also have detected us a long time ago, with or without us sending stupid radio messages.
blento
3 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
Messages are good and/or evil?! Truly ridiculous! The only aliens that might hear our call will be glad they are not the only ones in this vastness. Trade? What trade? Everything the species needs to become intellectual is already there (otherwise they wouldn’t have enough energy to succeed). Once they are smart enough, they will use energies from the stars (neutron stars to small black holes) to obtain any material (or even 70% of the universe energy; dark energy; got to find a way to use that expansion to our advantage). Can’t wait till we stop thinking like the monkeys who are still trying to defend our tree, and realise life is great and hopefully not lonely.
droid001
5 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2010
we're just a small laboratory.
our planet or entire Universe
AAhhzz
2 / 5 (7) Jan 29, 2010
Oh gee..increadibly paranoid conspiracy theories raise thier collective nutty heads again....Yeah, Right... Queen Isabella was a meglomaniac that was plotting the distruction of the American natives on the thought they would be rivals in a generation or three...*sighs*

As to the actual topic, it seems very unlikely that Technologically Sophisticated Aliens are close by, ( ie closer than 1000 Light years ) so even with the Kombahya crowd screaming out with a 1000 megawatt radio bullhorn its going to be a long time before anyone notices. Does that mean I think there are none out there? No, I think they are, but thier homes are likely Very Very far away and any in the neighborhod are likely on voyages of exploration and discovery

As to what Aliens would find of interest around here...Well..Us...I can imagine we would make an interesting study case in agressive behavior...or perhaps more accurately...socipathically unballanced behaviour

Be well
Skeptic_Heretic
2.7 / 5 (7) Jan 29, 2010
they would also have detected us a long time ago, with or without us sending stupid radio messages.

Let me introduce you to the Supremacy Paradigm.

"We will not address the actions of others until they pose a threat to our ability to crush them into dust." -Stalin

Perhaps they ignore us because they know we're ignorant of them. When that changes, perhaps their views would as well.

Hypothetically speaking of course.
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
@ahhzzhz
Bite me
So how much do we really want to make contact
We crave knowledge about life, technology, the true nature of things. We need knowledge for survival. Aliens might know far more about our particular form of life from simulations or prior contact elsewhere, and so might learn little from contact. I don't know, intellectuals seem to make a big deal of altruism lately, we certainly don't want remote tribes to suffer and die out do we? We could be on the verge of game-changing discoveries: limitless energy, ftl travel and communication, Von neuman devices. Given our reproductive rate, aliens could indeed be concerned.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 29, 2010
As for drugs, tobacco was and is certainly a curse .. but that may be offset by the importation of the potato
The thing about tobacco was that it's euro import was able to benefit the euro colonies and not the precolombian cultures. The potato was easy to import, as was the blight, both of which came from the Andes. The Irish were indeed hooked on the tuber, and the most pragmatic and ambitious of them were compelled to emigrate when famine hit. A melting pot needs raw material.
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2010
Queen Isabella was a meglomaniac
Just keep in mind dear readers that the 'crime families' in charge of europe at the time were all related, all intermarried, and all were direct decendents of Charlemagne. There interests were not the interests of the people they governed; they often could not even speak the native language. Their interests were rather the maintenance of Stability and Progress that they had struggled to establish. You would expect to see war because war was and is inevitable; but above a certain level there were no enemies among rulers; only the tacit understanding that the people were the enemy, and it was they who were a constant threat to Order. War could thus be used to maintain it.

These families were the ones who established the colonies and settled them according to Plan. Do you really think they would set them loose to the whims of their inhabitants after all the effort they put into establishing them?
Jayofalltrades
1.5 / 5 (6) Jan 30, 2010
@otto

Despite, or maybe because of your rather conspiracy theory themed ideas, you really should try to use the English language a little more fluently. Not many will take you seriously when they can point out that your command of the language you're using is less than perfect. What I'm saying is, if you are going to encounter opposition because of what you're saying anyways, then don't give any other reasons to disagree. Personally, if someone confronts me with an idea that is unpopular to me and do it poorly with regards to the language, its easier to just call them dumb and thus their idea must be unsound. To put it nicely. That being said, I still think you're a crackpot. Sorry ;)
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 30, 2010
@otto

Despite, or maybe because of your rather conspiracy theory themed ideas, you really should try to use the English language a little more fluently. Not many will take you seriously when they can point out that your command of the language you're using is less than perfect. What I'm saying is, if you are going to encounter opposition because of what you're saying anyways, then don't give any other reasons to disagree. Personally, if someone confronts me with an idea that is unpopular to me and do it poorly with regards to the language, its easier to just call them dumb and thus their idea must be unsound. To put it nicely.
Echt? Muss ich deutlicher werden?? Would sound better out loud, with much pointing and fist-thumping. These ideas arent just my own, and they do explain a lot- and they do make sense-
That being said, I still think you're a crackpot. Sorry ;)
Doesnt mean otto is not right..
Jayofalltrades
2 / 5 (4) Jan 30, 2010
Echt? Muss ich deutlicher werden?? Would sound better out loud, with much pointing and fist-thumping. These ideas arent just my own, and they do explain a lot- and they do make sense-
That being said, I still think you're a crackpot. Sorry ;)
Doesnt mean otto is not right..


Yes, they do seem to make sense, but only in a hindsight point of view. Another reason that most people won't believe is that it was long ago and therefor, in some minds, those in charge were not as smart as the average fast food worker today. Looking back at some leaders of the past and their decisions, its not hard to imagine that as being true. Another reason for non belief is that these ideas are non mainstream and so will be scrutinized much closer, if not dismissed out-of-hand. I like the ideas and value the intellectual commodity of them, but I would need stronger evidence, and google and wikipedia didn't return much supporting your ideas. However, that doesn't mean you're not right.
Truth
5 / 5 (4) Jan 30, 2010
One dangerous weakness with our Western world is that millions of Christians fervently believe that Jesus will one day return with a blast of trumpets and other show-biz paraphenelia, This is exactly the same mistake the Mayans made when they allowed the "white gods", who were actually Spanish conquistadores, to take over and destroy their empire. Same thing could happen to us. Malevolent aliens, knowing about this childish religious weakness, could easily present themselves as the angels returning with the Messiah, thereby circumventing any initial confrontation. Once our guard was down, our pants would be down too. Sure, not everyone on Earth would fall for this trick, but with a substantial number of humans on their knees weeping with religious ecstacy at the aliens arrival and vehemently opposing any military confrontation with the supposed "Rapture", half the battle would be lost and it wouldn't be long before the rest of us would be too.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 30, 2010
@Jay
Jesus will one day return with a blast of trumpets and other show-biz paraphenelia, This is exactly the same mistake the Mayans made when they allowed the "white gods"
You want evidence? Its all around you. Quetzalcoatl the man-god returns to save your soul, and Cortez gets to slaughter your emperor. Conquistadors/Crusaders, whats the difference? One was a dry run, practice. The old man-god ruse had been used many times before, and since. Ever see kiplings movie adaption 'The Man who would be King' with connery and caine? Works every time, if they dont get greedy.
otto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2010
Looking back at some leaders of the past and their decisions, its not hard to imagine that as being true.
This is only if you believe that they were trying to avoid what they were actually trying to instigate, manage, or foot the blame for. WAR is INEVITABLE. But it can nonetheless be staged and controlled, if Leaders are all in agreement. They are NOT stupid, they are NOT greedy, and they are NOT insane; but they or their representatives must often appear as such because it is what we are taught to expect. And at times they must give their lives for this ruse. Saddam did his job to a T, as he was instructed; and so did Bush and Blair and Osama; and they still serve, in life or in death. Some, like the pleasant nutter David Icke say evil reptilians landed millenia ago, which only reinforces the ruse that evil must be responsible. But I believe it is only human beings who do these things, duty-bound, and committed to the preservation of all that is good.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 30, 2010
And I do believe this is on-topic because if contact has been made it would have been with the People in Charge, which is ample explanation for why, even though the universe is looking more and more hospitable toward sentience, we the people have heard nothing of it. It leaves open the possibility of contact at any time in the past, of instruction and gifts of knowledge at the proper time. But really, how much intelligence does it take to realize overgrowth causes war? A few generations of recordkeeping and the priest-kings knew they were up the creek. And they knew what they had to do. Ask Solomon. Read Ecc3 again.
Aliensarethere
1.5 / 5 (4) Jan 30, 2010
This is just the typical human fear of the unknown. If you look at the facts, there's no danger at all to transmitting information to space.

The most likely scenario, if aliens in our galaxy exist, is that they are way ahead of us technologically. That means they have already observed and cataloged most or all life-bearing planets in the galaxy.

That's right, they know of Earth and the life here.
But, if the aliens are a few thousand light years away, they will only observe light transmitted from Earth a few thousand years ago. So they might not know of humans.

Even if they have observed the Roman Empire, what can they do ? Or will do ? Saying that they are interested in taking over Earth is ridiculous at best.

Would they travel several thousand years in their high-tech spaceship just to conqueror a big stone with a bit surface water ? Of course not.

I hope you can sleep better now..
Jayofalltrades
1 / 5 (3) Jan 31, 2010
You know what aggravates me? When everyone starts talking about aliens or E.T.s or what have you, they always think that they would be so much more awesome than us. I'm not saying they wouldn't be, but WHAT IF we are the first sentient life in our neighborhood to even be able to get off of the planet? Maybe the rest of them are still throwing spears. More than likely, any messages we send/ sent would be so distorted by the EM field surrounding our solar system that nothing would get through with any clarity. We'll know when Voyager I gets far enough away.

@ Otto - IF there are "Powers-That-Be" controlling everything, then I have to be honest. I don't think they are doing a totally horrible job. So I'm not all that worried about it. However, if they are there, then I'd bet they are a lot higher than the Pres and the rest of the Gov. If not, then we are all doomed. uh oh, gotta sing the 'Doom' song now!
Sonhouse
not rated yet Jan 31, 2010
I think finding any kind of ET life will have big repercussions for us on Earth


Big understatement.

The real issue i believe and what was missed by the article are two things: A) if you need to convey information over long distances aliens that have interstellar flight are not using the elctromagnetic spectrum- its just too slow. B) If we, humans, are any example of intelligent life then we must assume that if alien life is quote "good" then they will leave us alone until we achieve interstellar flight or need to trade with us for resources or quote closer to humans and "normal" or evil then they will make the assumption we lack their technological sophisication and will take our resources by force or our planet if it suits their needs.

The danger of the latter is why we should keep quiet and learn to be better listners than talkers.


That is all well and good but it's a bit late for second thoughts, the cat is irretrievably out of the bag, already broadcasting.
BROWNWARRIOR
not rated yet Jan 31, 2010
There are probably two main things to consider.The first being that throughout human history when ever we have come across a new aboriginal population in ou voyages of discovery,we have to all intents at purposes destroyed thier culture - eg Spanish/Portugese and South American cultures.This is a warning to us as to what could happen and the dangers of contacting an alien society could hold.
The other side of the coin ,being that any alien culture that has reached the level of technology to actualy read our messages and locate/contact us,is probably somewhat more advanced,and as is shown by human history ,again,they will have recognised this problem and modified thier society's behavioir to such an extent that compared to us,they are vary benign race,and therefore it would be very benificial to our own society that this contact take place.
Perhaps this to idealistic view,but the alternatives (the Incas) would be disasterous for this planet as a whole.
Sonhouse
not rated yet Jan 31, 2010
I ran out of letters for my last statement but I was trying to say it's a bit late for gnashing and wailing, the cat is out of the bag anyway, Earth having been broadcasting thousands of megawatt UHF signals into space, TV and such, which goes right through the ionosphere like a knife through butter. The point about that is the natural solar system emission at those wavelengths is far less than that given off by our own planet in artificial broadcasts. So there is an ever expanding wavefront now more than 100 light years in diameter spreading out into the Milky Way. That means several million stars have already had signals pass by that OUR OWN technology can pick up at that distance and a lot further. So any halfway technological civilization within 50 light years already knows about us.
Sonhouse
not rated yet Jan 31, 2010
I ran out of letters for my last statement but I was trying to say it's a bit late for gnashing and wailing, the cat is out of the bag anyway, Earth having been broadcasting thousands of megawatt UHF signals into space, TV and such, which goes right through the ionosphere like a knife through butter. The point about that is the natural solar system emission at those wavelengths is far less than that given off by our own planet in artificial broadcasts. So there is an ever expanding wavefront now more than 100 light years in diameter spreading out into the Milky Way. That means several million stars have already had signals pass by that OUR OWN technology can pick up at that distance and a lot further. So any halfway technological civilization within 50 light years already knows about us.


The only caveat there is life like ours may be extremely rare in which case we COULD be the only techno civilization in the entire Milky Way. Maybe we are only allowed one techno per galaxy.
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 31, 2010
I don't think they are doing a totally horrible job.
I agree, when you consider the alternative- that most of the world could resemble northern Iraq by now. Ruined.
So I'm not all that worried about it. However, if they are there, then I'd bet they are a lot higher than the Pres and the rest of the Gov.
Absolutely. They are safely beyond public scrutiny, either in character or position, as Plato described them. I don't like to waste time on wondering who They might be- another Diversion.
If not, then we are all doomed. uh oh, gotta sing the 'Doom' song now
Is that black metal? I only listen to black metal.
Jayofalltrades
1 / 5 (3) Jan 31, 2010
@otto - I agree with your agreements, lol. the "Doom Song" to which I was referring is from the first episode of Invader Zim, a cartoon that used to air on Nickolodeon but was pulled due in part to its adult nature. I found it quite funny, and it is definitely relevant here.

@Sonhouse - Yes, our own tech can hear signals, or background radiation, but suppose they were communications... we've only in the last two decades developed error checking for our own communications. Suppose mixed in with all that background noise is a horribly corrupted signal using a base-3 or base-4 system or something even more confusing. We would never think enough like 'them' to figure out which was part of the broadcast and which was just background noise. Suppose they started communicating wirelessly at first using natural radiation as opposed to the EM spectrum. Maybe they upgraded to using neutrinos? To even begin to look for us, they would have had to develop very similar to us, with their scientist
Jayofalltrades
1 / 5 (3) Jan 31, 2010
making extremely similar judgments and taking the same leaps of knowledge that we did. Its just highly improbable is all I'm saying. Of course, so is sentient life developing in the first place. There is strong evidence that someone has already visited us in the past, meaning the reptile people legends to which otto1923 referred. Anyways, just as you already stated, its kind of late to worrying about it now. Perhaps it will end up being a "Galaxy Quest" type of encounter...
otto1923
not rated yet Jan 31, 2010
@jay
Anything like this? Song of Empire
http://www.youtub...be_gdata
-'sokay, Satan don't exist- (frontman is Jesus)
yyz
not rated yet Jan 31, 2010
@otto
More like Evil Ways
http://www.youtub...beiq-DLA
otto1923
Jan 31, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MadMikeScott
Jan 31, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antialias
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
making extremely similar judgments and taking the same leaps of knowledge that we did.


What kind of logic is this based on? You are making inferrences from an insufficient statistical basis.

We have a statistical basis of exactly one type of intelligence (us). There is no way to extrapolate from that whether this is the norm, a fluke, whether there are wholly different ways of going about life, knowledge and judgements (and how many)...

Speculating on what aliens are like is (for now) SciFi and not science.
mauinut
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2010
Any of you people ever read L Ron Hubbards' " Battlefield Earth"(not the movie,that was a felonious waste of film!) An "evil race of aliens called Psyclos come across voyager in deep space and find lots of gold in it, with a map telling them how to find it!
(it seems gold is universally sought after) Anyway they nearly wipe us out,but of course "the righteous hero" saves the multiverse---food for thought?
antialias
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
No. Food for the document shredder. Yes, I read it. Probably the worst ScFi I ever picked up. There's loopholes so big in the story you could drive a star destroyer through. (And no, I wasn't aware of Scientology at the time I read it, so I'm not judging it based on that)
Jayofalltrades
1 / 5 (3) Feb 01, 2010
@antialias - That is exactly my point. There is no way to know if they even realize they could use the EM spectrum as a way to communicate. Of course I'm making inferences from insufficient data, there is no other way to do it! So, because we have no knowledge on which to base a hypothesis, then we shouldn't form any, is that what you're saying? That's exactly what 'science' is, it couldn't work any other way. Perhaps I should have said "I propose", as in I propose that the chances are increasingly slim that E.T. life developed on a line similar enough to us that they would be able to detect, receive, translate our broadcasts, and understand them. ALSO, I liked the movie more than the book because I like to be entertained, not bored. I even watch the original Sci-Fi channel movies... some of them. I love B-movies! Which, I know B.E. wasn't supposed to be, but hey. What can you do, you know?
finitesolutions
Feb 01, 2010
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El_Nose
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
@sunhouse

We are boradcasting with radio waves --- No intelligent species would be looking for another intelegent species to use radio waves. THey are too slow. we just starting using them here on earth in the last 150 years. they haven't gone very far at all. the issue is if we find a better mode of communication we should not use this to randomly say hello.
mrlewish
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
Silly humans. If you have the technology to cross interstellar space then you have no need to. No need for resources or energy because they are plentiful where you are. No need to colonize other planets because if you can cross interstellar distances you will durn well have the technology build your own colonies locally if you want to expand.
fourthrocker
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2010
Ask yourselves this question. If you were on a planet technologically inferior to Earth, would you want us to come there? And then ask yourselves which nation from earth you would like to come there?

Look at what we did to central and north american natives. Look at what we are doing now to south american natives if you think we have changed. If you think any planet we contacted that was inferior to us would be better off afterwards you are dreaming. Why would you think any ET race that could travel to other stars would be any better than us? Be scared, be VERY scared.
fourthrocker
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
Last time I checked, our signals will fade into the background after a few hundred light years. If there were any ETs within that distance we would have picked up signals by now. And I'm not buying any ideas that they aren't using the Em spectrum.
Jayofalltrades
1 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2010
And I'm not buying any ideas that they aren't using the Em spectrum.


Yeah, me either. I was just stating that with all the possibilities out there as far as communication goes, the chances that they are using the EM spectrum exactly like we do is just as possible as them being able to detect minute changes in the atmospheric temperature on the horizon of their home and using THAT as a means of wireless communication. Maybe they use radiation from a heavy metal. Maybe they swim in liquid methane. Thinking they are sure to hear us is exactly the same as buying a lottery ticket and quitting your job because you are THAT sure you'll win. For all we know, the majority of the background noise of the universe is EM short distance communication that has been bent and warped by solar winds and gravity wells and radiation and magnetic fields that all we hear is buzzing. Hell, maybe the buzzing is the communication and the galaxy is infested with BEES. Giant Invisible Bees, and that is
Jayofalltrades
1 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2010
Where all the dark matter is. They could excrete gravity waves and that is where the dark energy is. Maybe they fly around and push galaxies and suns around for fun. We have no proof about E.T. lifeforms, just what we THINK are the best chances based on our own existence. What if we are actually the odd-men out, and the rest of the universe is filled with energy based lifeforms?
Skeptic_Heretic
1 / 5 (3) Feb 01, 2010
Hell, maybe the buzzing is the communication and the galaxy is infested with BEES. Giant Invisible Bees, and that is

The mendoka cascade.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
And I'm not buying any ideas that they aren't using the Em spectrum.


If you can travel faster than light then a courier is better than an EM message.

If you can't travel faster than light then distances are so large that there is nothing that would be of any value to transmit (what would be the point of sending a message that is 10 years old when it gets anywhere? What could you possibly tell anyone that they would want to know? It's not like you can have a meaningful dialog with a lag like that)

So in either case EM-communication is pointless.
fourthrocker
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
Good points but they would still be using EM communications for short distances like intra-solar system. Even if we had FTL tech, we wouldn't use it to talk to the rover on Mars.
rkolter
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
I have to assume that an alien civilization would do unto us what we would do onto ourselves, believing that this would be the simplest means establishing a repoire. Unfortunately, we're not that good at dealing with ourselves.
jselin
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
I don't think signal quality or decodability are important factors... it will still obviously be an intelligent signal originating from a source. The strobes on an airliner tell me its flying overhead and where to look, no need for much more than that.
Jayofalltrades
1 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2010
Its been proposed that using quantum entanglement could not only provide energy, but instantaneous communication. Provided that aliens had advanced beyond us (which would be a given if they found us) then they might would be using this method. We are headed that direction ourselves simply because instantaneous is faster than FTL.
I recently read a series of Sci Fi books by Ian Douglas where-in he gives his ideas relating to the Fermi Paradox. I thought they were quite good and gave me a different perspective that I hadn't really considered before. Basically, the most paranoid survive by destroying ANYTHING that could ever be a threat. A good read if anyone cares.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2010
The strobes on an airliner tell me its flying overhead and where to look, no need for much more than that.


What do the strobes tell you in a sky full of flashing lights? Is the plane distinguishable from the neon in Vegas when viewed at similar distances using eachother as the backdrop?

The scale of the Universe has to come into your analogy otherwise it just reads foolishly.
danman5000
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
Good points but they would still be using EM communications for short distances like intra-solar system. Even if we had FTL tech, we wouldn't use it to talk to the rover on Mars.

Why not? No lag is always better than a few minutes of lag, especially if FTL comms becomes the norm. If a cassette tape was sufficient to hold your music, would you use that over CDs?
pauljpease
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
While it's exciting to debate what FTL travel or communication would mean for us or for aliens, there is no sound theory that suggests either is technologically possible. What if traveling to other worlds or communicating with aliens just takes patience? My gut tells me that this is how the Universe is supposed to be. If it were easy to travel between worlds then aggressive cultures would dominate. I think the expanse of space separating worlds, and the limited size of any biosphere, is the perfect solution to the problem of aggressive cultures taking over the galaxy. Any culture sufficiently aggressive will snuff itself out and won't have the level of patience and cooperation necessary to even theoretically threaten other civilizations. We are pretty good evidence of that theory...
SDrapak
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2010
Ummm M13 is a galaxy, not a star....
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Feb 01, 2010
While it's exciting to debate what FTL travel or communication would mean for us or for aliens, there is no sound theory that suggests either is technologically possible.
Quantum entanglement and the sub-science of quantum computing beg to differ.
ALZ
not rated yet Feb 02, 2010
I already wrote several times that there are two kinds of IRMs (Interstellar Radio Messages): scientifically substantiated IRMs and clownish ones.
Arecibo Message, Cosmic Call 1999, Teen Age Message, Cosmic Call 2001, AMFE are the scientifically substantiated IRMs. And NASA Beatles Transmission "Across the Universe" is an example of clownish IRM. Quote from Wiki: "This IRM project has some significant defects in that the message was aimed at Polaris, which is 431 light years distant from us and whose planetary system, even if it exists, may not suited for life, because it is a supergiant star, spectral class F7Ib. In addition, the transmission rate was very large, about 128 kbps, for such moderate transmitter power (about 18 kW)", see:

http://en.wikiped...messages
Thex1138
not rated yet Feb 02, 2010
You honestly think that a civilization that can travel between stars or galaxies like you or I travel between cities or towns is going to have the vaguest interest in a primitive ant mound like us for any other reason that curiosity... 'send a probe' call me again in 100 years... Any contact will be a civilization shifter for everyone on the planet, even if they pop visibly over a city for an hour then disappear... the world will change, and they know it!
Of course other life forms exist on other worlds, we'd be naive not to believe that...
Thex1138
not rated yet Feb 02, 2010
...one more thing.
If an intelligent being can travel efficiently between stars or galaxies were to communicate... we would not even know what to look for... If they could travel those distances reasonably then they can travel faster than we can communicate, let alone with them!... yes the quantum world has a lot of ideas with instant communication...especially persistent. entanglement
BetterByDesign
not rated yet Feb 06, 2010
Abductions are a sign that aliens are hostile.
But they have a different agenda besides just
abducting people for their DNA. They want world conquest by causing problems on all fronts.

Their methods are subtle but malicious. They are among us, in more ways than one.