Should we call the cosmos seeking ET? Or is that risky?

February 13, 2015 bySeth Borenstein
This undated handout image provided by NASA shows a message carrying Golden Record that Voyager carried, a phonograph record-a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. Astronomers have their own cosmic version of the single person's Valentine's Day dilemma: Do you wait for that interesting person to call you or do you make the call yourself and risk getting shot down. Their version involves E.T. Instead of love, astronomers are looking for life out there in the universe. For decades, astronomers have sat by their telescopes, listened and waited for a call from E.T. only to be left alone. So now some of them want to aim their best radars and lasers out to the sky to say "We're here, call us" to the closest few thousand worlds. They can bring us all sorts of new technologies and answers to burning questions, some hope. (AP Photo/NASA)

Astronomers have their own version of the single person's dilemma: Do you wait by the phone for a call from that certain someone? Or do you make the call yourself and risk getting shot down?

Instead of love, of course, astronomers are looking for alien life, and for decades, they have sat by their telescopes, waiting to hear from E.T. It didn't happen, and so now some of them want to beam messages out into the void and invite the closest few thousand worlds to chat or even visit.

Others scientists, including Stephen Hawking, think that's crazy, warning that instead of sweet and gentle E.T., we may get something like the planet-conquering aliens from "Independence Day." The consequences, they say, could be catastrophic.

But calling out there ourselves may be the only way to find out if we are not alone, and humanity may benefit from alien , said Douglas A. Vakoch, whose title—for real—is director of interstellar message composition at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and until now it's been mostly a listening-type thing.

This dispute—which mixes astronomy, science fiction, philosophy, the law, mathematics and a touch of silliness—broke out Thursday and Friday at a convention in San Jose of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

And this week several prominent space experts, including Space X founder Elon Musk and planet hunter Geoff Marcy, started a petition cautioning against sending out such messages, saying it is impossible to predict whether will be benign or hostile.

Vakoch is hosting a separate conference Saturday at the SETI Institute on the calling-all-aliens proposal and what the messages should say.

The idea is called active SETI, and according to Vakoch would involve the beaming of messages via radar and perhaps eventually lasers.

This undated handout photo provided by Seth Shostak, SETI Institute, shows the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. The world's largest single antenna, it has a million watt transmitter. Astronomers have their own cosmic version of the single person's Valentine's Day dilemma: Do you wait for that interesting person to call you or do you make the call yourself and risk getting shot down. Their version involves E.T. Instead of love, astronomers are looking for life out there in the universe. For decades, astronomers have sat by their telescopes, listened and waited for a call from E.T. only to be left alone. So now some of them want to aim their best radars and lasers out to the sky to say "We're here, call us" to the closest few thousand worlds. They can bring us all sorts of new technologies and answers to burning questions, some hope. (AP Photo/Seth Shostak, SETI Institute)

We've been inadvertently sending radio and TV signals out to the cosmos for some 70 years—though less now, with cable and satellite sending shows directly down to Earth. In fact, each day a new far-off planet may be just now catching the latest episode of the 1950s sitcom "I Love Lucy," said astronomer Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute.

There have been a few small and unlikely-to-work efforts to beam messages out there in the past, including NASA sending the Beatles song "Across the Universe" into the cosmos in 2008. NASA's Voyager probe recently left the solar system with a "golden record" created by Carl Sagan with a message, and the space agency's New Horizon probe will also have greetings on it by the time it exits the solar system.

But what scientists are now talking about is a coordinated and sustained million-dollar-a-year effort with approval from some kind of science or international body and a message that people agree on.

It's an "attempt to join the galactic club," Vakoch said. He assured a crowd of reporters: "There's no danger of alien invasion from active SETI."

But as a author, as well as an astrophysicist, David Brin thinks inviting aliens here is a bad idea. Even if there is a low risk of a nasty creature coming, the consequences could be extreme.

"I can't bring myself to wager my grandchildren's destiny on unreliable assumptions" about benevolent aliens, Brin said.

Brin noted that European explorers brought slaughter and disease to less technologically advanced people in the Americas more than 500 years ago. He called for the science community to put efforts on hold for an ethical and scientific discussion on "why it won't go the same way as between Cortez and the Aztecs."

As Brin, Shostak, Vakoch and others sparred at a news conference, 84-year-old Frank Drake sat in the back quietly. Drake, a pioneer in the search for extraterrestrial life, created the formula called Drake's Equation that scientists use to estimate the chances that other life is out there. More than 40 years ago, Drake and Sagan beamed a message into space to look for aliens, a first for Earth.

It was a short message from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and it was aimed at a star cluster called Messier 13. It will take 25,000 years to get there, Drake said.

"The probability of succeeding is infinitesimally small," Drake said, rolling out calculations about the incredible amount of time it takes messages to go back and forth and his estimate that the average civilization will last only 10,000 years.

So why'd he do it? Curiosity, Drake said. And it doesn't matter if our civilization is gone by the time E.T. answers, if he does.

"We get messages from the ancient Greeks and Romans and Socrates all the time, long since gone. Still valuable," Drake said. "We're going to do the archaeology of the future."

Explore further: How to Respond When E.T. Says Hello

More information: SETI Institute: www.seti.org

Berkeley statement cautioning against active SETI: setiathome.berkeley.edu/meti_statement_0.html

New Horizons messaging initiative: www.oneearthmessage.org

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foolspoo
3 / 5 (4) Feb 13, 2015
The Golden Record gives me goosebumps. Since we have been broadcasting our existence for well over 100 years, lets focus the signal and take a chance. humanity needs a jolt to get past this societal stagnancy of the last few millennia.
teslaberry
1.8 / 5 (10) Feb 13, 2015
it is a huge waste of money is what it is.
petepal55
3.8 / 5 (5) Feb 13, 2015
So our own stray signals may have covered approximately 100 light-years of distance? In order to hear a response the ET's would have to be well within half that. So the soonest we'll hear from them is 50 years in the future and every year that passes adds 6 months to the response time. The sheer distance/time scale makes communications highly improbable, much less actual travel.
Doug_Huffman
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2015
So our own stray signals may have covered approximately 100 light-years of distance? In order to hear a response the ET's would have to be well within half that. So the soonest we'll hear from them is 50 years in the future and every year that passes adds 6 months to the response time. The sheer distance/time scale makes communications highly improbable, much less actual travel.
How many stars are within 100LY, and how many planets and how many hypothetically habitable planets, and with technology to receive, transmit response, or endure the centuries of travel here? Mankind will not go to the stars for the Universe is just too big.
dogbert
3 / 5 (4) Feb 13, 2015
It is impossible to estimate the probability of life anywhere in the universe except here much less intelligent life. But reasonable caution would dictate that we not invite a possibly dangerous civilization to attack us. Note that it is not necessary for aliens to travel here in order to harm or destroy us.
Doug_Huffman
4 / 5 (4) Feb 13, 2015
Note that it is not necessary for aliens to travel here in order to harm or destroy us.
LOL More spooky action at a distance?
dbsi
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2015
A few nano machines would be enough.....
rogue_ish
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 13, 2015
Why are people worried? Anyone who bothers to look at the evidence knows something is already here. Whether it's ET is another question-- it's assuredly not human and far more intelligent than us.

For those who want to, go ahead and ridicule-- I'll bet you've not read a single serious book on the subject. And when you haven't, don't also claim you are a scientist. Unresearched opinions are not science.
AZWarrior
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2015
Radio wave energy dissipates at the square of the distance. Unless pond scum (microbial) life has radio receivers, don't expect an answer until long after our star has burned our planet to a molten cinder. Odds are we will be extinct much sooner than that anyway. My advice is to stop hoping that some God or an alien civilization will come to our rescue and instead fix our problems ourselves.
dogbert
5 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2015
Doug Huffman,
Note that it is not necessary for aliens to travel here in order to harm or destroy us.


LOL More spooky action at a distance?


There are lots of ways to destroy life on a planet. As dbsi noted, nano machines are one way. Bacteria and viruses are also possibilities, none of which require a large delivery vehicle.

A Bussard ramjet slamming into the planet would do it too.
CosimaX505
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 13, 2015
I think mainstream science has failed miserably when it comes to this topic.

What I mean by making such a statement is how mainstream science has completely ignored all of the military cases, radar reports, physical trace cases, and eye witness testimony of countless numbers of persons who have seen craft with characteristics that do not appear to have originated from Earth.

For example, a reported metallic domed craft recorded going over 7,000 mph on radar and stopping suddenly that is corroborated with eye witness testimony on the ground and by military pilots who have been ordered to chase these craft by their commanders. Such military reports are easily found online and go back to the 1940s.

An internet search reveals past military documents released from the FOIA that clearly indicates the US government has been interested in UFOs but used the CIA along with the media to give the impression that UFOs are unscientific.
CosimaX505
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 13, 2015
Based upon my own reading and research into reports of anomalous sightings, I think it is too late to be concerned if an ET civilization will find us.

They already have. And based upon military reports and hundreds of testimony from air traffic controllers and missile launch officers in both the US and the Soviet Union who were sworn to secrecy but after decades decided to tell their stores, some UFOs have hovered over nuclear bases causing the missiles stored in nuclear silos to either fail with the circuitry fried or to go into launch mode on their own.

Based upon what these people believe, some UFOs are hugely interested in nuclear silos and nuclear bases.

If this is true, then ET appears to be using penetration testing of Earth's most powerful weapons.

This might sound like science fiction, but the FOIA reports are available and they are corroborated with a lot of testimony from people who worked at nuclear silos in both the US and the Soviet Union.
Solon
4.3 / 5 (4) Feb 13, 2015
We have been put on the Earth to keep us where we can't harm the residents of rest of the Universe.
ConfoundedSociety
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 13, 2015
When's the last time an advanced civilization waited until they were intentionally contacted by a less advanced civilization before finding them? If there were aggressive alien life out there, they would be looking for places to go, and we've already lit up the sky enough to get noticed. Sending directed messages isn't going to put us in any danger. At least, no more than we already are.
Vietvet
4.1 / 5 (9) Feb 13, 2015
Why are people worried? Anyone who bothers to look at the evidence knows something is already here. Whether it's ET is another question-- it's assuredly not human and far more intelligent than us.

For those who want to, go ahead and ridicule-- I'll bet you've not read a single serious book on the subject. And when you haven't, don't also claim you are a scientist. Unresearched opinions are not science.


Hard to read a book that doesn't exist.
antigoracle
3 / 5 (4) Feb 13, 2015
Perhaps the reason we haven't heard from ET is because, just like us, they are sitting scared.
dtxx
4.6 / 5 (11) Feb 13, 2015
Anyone who bothers to look at the evidence knows something is already here. Whether it's ET is another question-- it's assuredly not human and far more intelligent than us.

I'll bet you've not read a single serious book on the subject. And when you haven't, don't also claim you are a scientist. Unresearched opinions are not science.


Man, the chemtrails must be strong today. You claim that evidence is all around us, just no one is bothering to look. That's because certainly no one would be interested in learning about a super intelligent alien race living on earth, leaving evidence everywhere, controlling worlds events..

If anyone would just look they would KNOW it. But I guess no one is looking anywhere for anything, else they would KNOW.

Please, point me to a single "serious book on the subject" I can read so this can all become blindingly obvious to me. You are goddamn right when you said I haven't read one, because that shit does not exist.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (7) Feb 13, 2015
If there are world-conquering aliens within the range of our radio transmissions (and for what point and purpose would one conquer a world?) then they know we are here. Not because of radio transmissions, but because the way we have altered our ecosphere must surely be visible for aliens of that kind of capability from a lomg way off.
(Always given that aliens don't just seed their neck of the universe with tiny spy objects to keep abreast of current events - like some uppity intelligence developing somewhere. Which would be a prudent thing to do)

But generally I agree with the big thinkers. Don't just blare that we're here when you don't know what's out there. There may be a million benign alien types but it takes only one malign one to make it "game over" for us.
Moebius
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 13, 2015
It's 100% risky. Any alien species that isn't interested in taking us for what we have, and we have plenty to take just not what you might think, would be stupid to contact us. They would have nothing to gain and everything to lose if they have technology we don't and if they are at an equal or lower tech they won't be able to contact us.

If you think we are benevolent think again and there's no reason to think aliens would assume we are. Just imagine if there was no US what most countries would do with easy interstellar travel, like russia or china or north korea. And that's not to say the US wouldn't be above pulling an Avatar somewhere.

What would an advanced species want to take from us? We have something that isn't found on uninhabited worlds. We concentrate rare resources. For instance a sizable percentage of all the gold ever dug up is supposedly in fort knox if we haven't given it to aliens already as tribute, our cities are full of much of the metal we've dug up, etc
Moebius
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 13, 2015
I've been following UFO's as a skeptic for more than 50 years. Now, as an engineer and much more knowledgeable than when I was younger, I am convinced that there's no other explanation than aliens for some of the incidents.

There's a film from Utah from before digital that has a bunch of objects flying by too fast for then current planes. They are jockeying among themselves which eliminates natural phenomena and there is tower in the background for scale. There's no natural or man made explanation for those objects.

The Bentwater England multiple military witness incident is obviously an alien drone. Unless you have a better explanation for a 6' long metal vehicle with hieroglyphics that floats above the ground.

There are quite a few others too that are almost irrefutable. I can only conclude that not only are they visiting us but the variety of ships means that there are at least several races. No single race would make such a variety of ships. They're here and they're queer.
yogurtforthesoul
5 / 5 (2) Feb 13, 2015
I think it is just as equally dangerous as it is beneficial; but considering what it takes to get into space and actually stay there... We are more than likely not talking about a species that regularly fights with itself, catches diseases, and various other things.

Of course, I may have just described an A.I., which again is why it is possibly just as risky as it is beneficial (as it isn't "just a fact" that an A.I. would seek to hurt us, as is the same for an alien species).

It's communication and truly understanding the full meaning of what we say to each other--and then further understanding each other completely, that may lead us to real problems if done wrong.
russell_russell
1 / 5 (1) Feb 13, 2015
You have all heard this before. Before you were old enough to know.
And now?
It's just a hologram.

gbarnold
4 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2015
Even if we only reach, say, half light-speed travel, one lifetime's travel would get 35 light-years distance. By establishing colonies and bases as we go, I would suggest perhaps 1 million years could get us across the entire Galaxy. A million years is nothing against the Cosmic timeline, which brings me to my point; where are all the older races that would certainly have been able to do this before us? Or does it take 13.5 billion years to accumulate enough heavy elements, enough sophisticated life processes, and safe solar environment to allow a spacefaring race to arise. We may be alone because we may be first. This thought indicates a heavy responsibility for our current position and what we intend for the future.
PhotonX
5 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2015
How many stars are within 100LY, and how many planets and how many hypothetically habitable planets, and with technology to receive, transmit response, or endure the centuries of travel here? Mankind will not go to the stars for the Universe is just too big.
Yeah, pity there isn't some sort of omnipotent, omniscient superior being who might sense our plight, help out a little bit and give us a lift, isn't it? Of course, the article has a good point--such a creature might turn out to be malevolent, maybe require us to worship it or else it would torture us for eternity. Should we just give up, then, or try to work things out for ourselves? Maybe make some long-term plans for a generation ship or two, give it the old college try before deciding it can't be done?
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PhotonX
4.7 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2015
If there are world-conquering aliens within the range of our radio transmissions (and for what point and purpose would one conquer a world?) then they know we are here. Not because of radio transmissions, but because the way we have altered our ecosphere must surely be visible for aliens of that kind of capability from a lomg way off.
(Always given that aliens don't just seed their neck of the universe with tiny spy objects to keep abreast of current events - like some uppity intelligence developing somewhere. Which would be a prudent thing to do)

But generally I agree with the big thinkers. Don't just blare that we're here when you don't know what's out there. There may be a million benign alien types but it takes only one malign one to make it "game over" for us.

Yes, those radionuclides floating around in the atmosphere *are* kind of a dead giveaway, aren't they?
ConfoundedSociety
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2015
which brings me to my point; where are all the older races that would certainly have been able to do this before us?


Our sun is young even for it's generation. All of the elements have been there. Even a 10,000 year head start should be enough to achieve practical interstellar travel (if it's possible in the first place.) The number of galaxies, systems and planets in the universe are for all practical sense infinite, making any possibility of life beginning by chance a common occurrence. Add in the fact that if evolution does happen, it must happen, and you are left with the fact that, barring extinction level events that wipe out all life (probably rare, since life on Earth has survived five) the universe must be teeming with intelligent civilizations.

You are then left with questions of "would we know?" Did the apes really know that Jane Goodall was from someplace else? Would they even care to visit? Have they just not gotten around to us yet? etc.
PhotonX
5 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2015
Why are people worried? Anyone who bothers to look at the evidence knows something is already here. Whether it's ET is another question-- it's assuredly not human and far more intelligent than us.

For those who want to, go ahead and ridicule-- I'll bet you've not read a single serious book on the subject. And when you haven't, don't also claim you are a scientist. Unresearched opinions are not science.
Enlighten us, please! Give us your top five or ten serious bookshelf picks that unequivocally demonstrate that "something is already here". I do have some free time on my hands, though I do have around several dozen already in the queue not counting free downloads. I did fit Leslie Kean's book in around a year ago, but that doesn't mean I'm going to read a load of unsubstantiated paranormal nonsense without some convincing, and you have a ways to go in that regard..
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PhotonX
5 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2015
Doug Huffman,
Note that it is not necessary for aliens to travel here in order to harm or destroy us.


LOL More spooky action at a distance?


There are lots of ways to destroy life on a planet. As dbsi noted, nano machines are one way. Bacteria and viruses are also possibilities, none of which require a large delivery vehicle.

A Bussard ramjet slamming into the planet would do it too.

All of which would require traveling here, which in all fairness was what Doug was originally referring to, manned missions or not.
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PhotonX
5 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2015
teslaberry:
it is a huge waste of money is what it is.
Without regard to efficacy, it's a tiny bit of money.
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CosimaX505:
completely ignored all of the military cases, radar reports etc
Leslie Kean points out that far fewer than 5% have any radar tracking, and why is it that the US can build craft that are invisible on radar, but interstellar aliens can't? She also discusses one extended military report that proved to be gas flares on oil drilling platforms. Individual reports are worthless. On another site I've seen Chinese lanterns reported any number of times as UFOs. One individual was convinced the planet Venus was following him around. And *what* physical traces? Most of what you've read is spurious, the vast number of reports are by people who aren't trained observers and who don't know what they're looking at, and much of it is pure fiction. Maybe 1 to 2% of all UFO reports merit any serious investigation, but how could we go about that?
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Squirrel
5 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2015
They know already. Just note how powerful telescopes have been in recent decades--now they are even detecting exoplanets. And the telescopes in a generation will be like ours to that of Galileo. Any intelligence capable of interstellar travel long before that will had the ability to have categorized every star and its planetary system for the potential and any evidence of life. This little place will be tops on any such list. Even without a visit, they will have been checking up us for a long long time.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2015
I would suggest perhaps 1 million years could get us across the entire Galaxy. A million years is nothing against the Cosmic timeline, which brings me to my point; where are all the older races that would certainly have been able to do this before us?

Never found this argument particular comvincing.
1) Making bases in space is no different from putting them planetside. Beings are evolved for a specific ecosphere - and the chance that you find one where you can live without a full bodysuit/fully enclosed habitat on another planet is nil. Once you are capable of space-dwelling for that kind of time period there's no point to go planetside again.
2) From the above follows that your biology is nothing but a liability in space. So very soon after going out a species would ditch it for something more hardy. Which makes colonisation even more pointless.

I'm predicting we will not colonise planets but go the more sensible route of living in space.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2015
Then there's the point about 'elder species'. Even if they colonize: do you think they'd still be as wasteful as us (re. radiation losses, etc. ). No way. You wouldn't see their bases because they'd be somewhat efficient at what they do.

As for them not being here. Why would they MAKE themselves obvious to a species that just invented fire yesterday? Do you make yourself obvious when you go bird watching? No. You put yourself in a spot where the bird doesn't notice you (or if the bird is uninteresting you just don't go there at all). Given that they are - per definition - a tad more advanced they probably have all kinds of ways of not making themselves obvious (not least of which being the ability to discern beforehand what methods WE have to detect stuff - and making sure they are countered before having a look-see)
alfie_null
3 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2015
The reservations expressed by Hawking, Marcy, Musk, Brin, et al. beg the question: when would it be a good time to seek contact? Maybe give us a few more decades, or a couple hundred years, to on par technologically with where our prospective neighbors are today? Well then, maybe a bit longer so we can catch up to where they were then. Etc. The logical conclusion to this line of reasoning is we should never seek contact.

What's the most likely reason for humanity's ultimate demise? If there were something like Drake's Equation for this, encountering malevolent ETs would be a minuscule factor.
Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2015
Click-bait catastrophism.

Once upon a time Henny Penny cried wolf, "The sky is falling." The sky has been up there for a long time now, so the Chicken Little hysterics are reduced, "The sky has to fall sometime, it's been up there for so long. It must. Really. Our models show it falling tomorrow!"

The wannabe academics are really into it. I found a free in Russia of Bostrom and Cirkovic's Global Catastrophic Risks. Meanwhile, I have faith in Vilfredo Pareto's power law distribution of geophysical phenomena, that gives us the 80/20 rule, 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.

http://avturchin....isks.doc

Oh, and I am a fan boy of Alan Sokal that wrote the seminal Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.
Z99
not rated yet Feb 14, 2015
Lets see. Where to start? UFOs? Wow. Its true facts aren't decided by vote. They either are true or aren't. If they aren't (& students of human nature would understand why evidence for that conclusion is overwhelming) then bringing them up is useless. If they are here, then how does that change the factual basis for the argument about signalling? (Unless they are the ONLY other intelligence out there). Perhaps we can agree that there is no way to establish that. Which brings us back to the core argument. To my mind it is that the risks outweigh any likely benefit. I find it remarkable that the posts mention the Azteks but not the genocide of NA native civilizations, but I digress. Life has always been about competition. It still is, whether you can see it or not. If they are fitter, then we won't survive contact. To those who labor under the delusion that they've gotta be goodness and light: 50 Shades of Grey. Power corrupts. connect the dots.
Mayday
not rated yet Feb 14, 2015
I think it's a safe bet that if they're out there, they know we're here. Likely several "civilizations" in this galaxy alone have spotted us. But they have bigger fish to fry. I suggest they are devoting their energies to the delicate tasks of combining multiple advanced civilizations without mutually destroying each other. We are no threat, other than to ourselves. We are however pretty good at accumulating resources. So maybe we'll be put to use at some later date. Their goal? Survival. Their big threat is being consumed by an even more advanced intelligence. And the universe is fairly transparent -- everyone can see everyone. I bet they're pretty sure that some bigger fish has already spotted them. Sending a message? I seriously doubt it could have any affect. If the day ever arrives that they want our stuff, they're just going to come and take it. Cheers.
syndicate_51
not rated yet Feb 14, 2015
Perhaps we'll never know.
rogue_ish
1 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2015
Several people, as I expected, ridiculed what I had to say about something being already here (and I didn't say aliens).

Read the (several) books of Jacques Vallee. Start with "Passport to Magonia" and "Wonders in the Sky" to give yourself some historical context about what's going on. Then move on to "Confrontations". There are many more, but that's those have the context.

After that... read John Keel's "Operation Trojan Horse".

If you think "they"are going to hand you evidence on a silver platter, then think again. They are making us LEARN there is something more than us-- represented in different times to different cultures in formats we can understand. Spirits in the days of tribes & gods as we developed early civilizations. Today-- when the gods seemed to have lost their luster, rational people might believe in other planetary civilizations-- so they represent themselves as aliens. Because our primitive brains have not realized there might be other explanations.
tear88
3 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2015
This is foolish. We can only extrapolate alien behavior from the behavior of species on Earth, especially the most successful of those species, humans. A glance at history should make it clear that we should KEEP OUR MOUTHS SHUT.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2015
Intelligence evolves. At a certain point it realizes that it can design machine versions of itself which can function much more reliably and efficiently than it can. And so it does.

Soon thereafter this original intelligence is replaced by a self-improving singularity which has little in common with it, and certainly nothing whatsoever to fear from it. And nothing whatsoever to say to it.

There can be little variation among singularities. To them, we're seeds at best. To us, they don't exist.

This is why the universe is silent.
beng1
2 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2015
antialias_physorg, I agree w/some of what you post. We can already make aircraft that are difficult to detect by radar, so for any advanced "aliens", evading radar would be trivial. In fact, I'd guess if they were detected by radar, it would be by their choice.

One has to remain skeptical of UFO reports, and certainly most "sightings" are explainable by mundane reasons or are hoaxes. However, there a number of incidents by multiple observers (casual, military, aviation) that are very difficult to explain. The most troubling are objects that accelerate/deccelerate very quickly -- this defies explanation & is well beyond our understanding (inertial/gravity control?)

Something that troubles me is the stigma of reporting "UFOs" that has become endemic in the culture. It seems inexplicable that police, military, and aviation personnel risk their careers reporting such. The question is "why"?

After decades of dismissal, I've read enough "incidents" now that some defy explanation.
foolspoo
not rated yet Feb 14, 2015
as long as we continue to think on timescales that are borderline irrelevant to life and this universe, we will continue to encounter such infantile thoughts;

"it is a huge waste of money is what it is."

"The sheer distance/time scale makes communications highly improbable, much less actual travel."

"Mankind will not go to the stars for the Universe is just too big."

"My advice is to stop hoping that some God or an alien civilization will come to our rescue and instead fix our problems ourselves"

Moebius
not rated yet Feb 14, 2015
Hypothetical case. We develop interstellar travel and there aren't any aliens around in space but we, the USA, find an inhabited planet nearby. They are at the pre-industrial stage like we were around 1900. Even more like us they are in a perpetual state of war with each other. Do you really think we would just hand them our technology considering how they treat each other? We would initiate a program to infiltrate and study them without them knowing we are there. We would immediately come to the conclusion that giving technology to war like species would be suicidal. Does any of this sound familiar?

Then ask yourself what if it was only Russia who had interstellar travel and they found that planet. What would they do?

There are the 2 alternatives for what would happen if there are aliens here. They would not contact us and it would be stupid to invite them here. They would ignore us at best and exploit us at worst. They may already be exploiting us.
woody_garvey
not rated yet Feb 14, 2015
I think any aliens on their way here are scared. For over 40 years, i.e. to a radius of 40 light years they have received our TV signals. For instance, they have probably watched Star Trek and noted that we have warp drive, phasers, and photon torpedoes. Moreover they see us destroying some pretty sophisticated enemies (them?). Their scientists are probably trying to figure out how a phaser works and what is a photon torpedo. On balance, if they are rational they will avoid earth, the "Forbidden Planet." And, don't forget what happened to the Cylons of Battlestar Galactica when they got to earth (hint: microwave ovens really are lethal).
greenonions
5 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2015
Ghostofotto - how do you know that a singularity would have nothing to say to a 'seed' species? Don't you have to go there in order to know that?
ConfoundedSociety
3 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2015
I'm predicting we will not colonise planets but go the more sensible route of living in space.


You're missing the problem of food supply and living space. A planet already has square kilometers of area for every colonist for living, livestock and agriculture. In space, you'd have to build every square foot from scratch.
ConfoundedSociety
not rated yet Feb 14, 2015
They either are true or aren't. If they aren't (& students of human nature would understand why evidence for that conclusion is overwhelming) then bringing them up is useless.


There's no such thing as evidence of a negative.
rocket77777
not rated yet Feb 15, 2015
Computer will be made smart as human by 2025. So if there are smarter race than humans, they will have made computer that are way way smarter than human probably in size of stamp. And few hundred years after that mass of planets will be trillions of way way smarter than human computers. They will convert any matter into computer so there is absolutely no point for them to go after anything except closest solar system at time.
In other words, humans would be only be interesting like an ants to us.
rocket77777
not rated yet Feb 15, 2015
repeat
rocket77777
not rated yet Feb 15, 2015
trying to delete repeat
bluehigh
1 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2015
You are us. We are here.
bluehigh
1 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2015
We reach for the stars because we want to go home.

It's been a long time.
Shootist
2 / 5 (4) Feb 15, 2015
The Golden Record gives me goosebumps. Since we have been broadcasting our existence for well over 100 years, lets focus the signal and take a chance. humanity needs a jolt to get past this societal stagnancy of the last few millennia.


you really are a ninny.
Returners
3 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2015
The pattern of all Life on Earth implies it is often not a good idea to shout out to other life forms, except possibly as a mating call or a warning.

Now we aren't exactly in a position to "warn" an alien civilization of anything, except maybe saying, "Hey guys, we're here and this is our space," and we aren't "mating" with them (I hope not) so it doesn't make a lot of sense to just randomly broadcast.

Maybe some sort of open invitation to peaceful exchange of technology or astronomy data, etc. If "they" are able to make contact directly (via starship) they probably won't have much use for us except for their historical/cultural records (insert anthropology), but if they eventually contact by radio then they are probably comparable to us in technology (as of the time the signal was sent) and perhaps a few hundred years ahead, or perhaps at least a hundred years behind be the time that signal arrives.
Returners
1 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2015
If you are going to contact the aliens, whoever they are, you need a self-teaching cypher, using mathematical logic, sort of like the concept from "Contact" except not science fictionalized.

The two most heavily spoken languages on Earth are Chinese (two dialects) and English. I figure you'd want to send communications in the two or three most representative languages, and universalized through mathematics, geometry, and art.

Like you send a "dictionary/pictionary" with "Apple" and a cartoon of an apple and an actual photograph (or holograph pretty soon) of an apply and the equivalent word in all of the other languages chosen to represent. This becomes a "Rosetta Stone".

"Eat" might have a photo of someone eating an apple, and may include a diagram explaining how our digestion works, so they don't get confused. Who knows, maybe they are photosynthetic and don't eat.

You use the mathematics and photos as a teaching tool to teach the languages to the aliens.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 15, 2015
Ghostofotto - how do you know that a singularity would have nothing to say to a 'seed' species? Don't you have to go there in order to know that?
Go where? Singularities would have been sharing their knowledge of how they develop with each other. They would know everything there is to know about all their potential biological precursors.

Life is not that complicated you know.

The machine design and function would be strictly based on natural laws, and would thus emerge in similar form, and then self-improve to the point where they were identical except for variations to suit their local environments.

So what do you think these machines would want to tell twilight biologies? I can't think of a single thing that wouldn't be trite, shallow, superfluous, unnecessary, and as such totally human.
greenonions
not rated yet Feb 15, 2015
Ghost
So what do you think these machines would want to tell twilight biologies?


I don't know -which is kind of my point. Until we reach the singularity - it is just speculation what it looks like. Perhaps they would be interested in talking with a seed species - maybe give them some tips to speed up their evolution.

I wish I would get to see it - but afraid that is too optimistic.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Feb 15, 2015
vYou're missing the problem of food supply and living space. A planet already has square kilometers of area for every colonist for living, livestock and agriculture. In space,

What makes you think that if you can't live on a planet without a full bodysuit your livestock can?

Take Mars for example. There's no nitrogen in the atmosphere. Plants require nitrogen (via nitrogen fixing bacteria). So even if those bacteria are viable on Mars - where's the nitrogen magically going to come from?
Also the atmosphere is as thin (and as cold) as on a mountain 35km high. Notice how plants and livestock do not do particularly well under those kinds of conditions on Earth? The highest mountain in Earth is a quarter that high - and it is noticeably bare of any life most of the way up.

You'll need full enclosure fields there, too.
ConfoundedSociety
not rated yet Feb 15, 2015

What makes you think that if you can't live on a planet without a full bodysuit your livestock can?

...

You'll need full enclosure fields there, too.


No. First, you find planets that are compatible. You get free acreage, free gravity, free CO2 scrubbing, free heat, free light, etc. Barring that, you build a station on an acceptable planet (Mars is a good example). That way you get an atmosphere to protect from radiation and meteorites, free gravity, mining opportunities, etc. The only reason to need an actual "space station" is for research purposes or if there isn't an acceptable planet in the region.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 16, 2015
Barring that, you build a station on an acceptable planet (Mars is a good example)

Mars is a very bad example. The atmosphere is way too thin, of the wrong composition and too cold for anything to grow unless you put it in an artificially pressurized, artifically nutrient enriched, artificially atmospheric composition mixed, artificially heated space.

free heat, free light,

You know: you get free heat and free light on a space station, too.

First, you find planets that are compatible.

Well, yeah: except there aren't any. Everything on Earth has evolved to fit...Earth.
Much worse, actually: Everything on Earth has evolved to fit an Earth that has been altered by all the other stuff that has evolved on Earth. Not gonna find any place that fits THAT bill without a complete redesign.

The only real advantage you have on a planet is gravity. Everything else you have to build just like in space.
foolspoo
5 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2015
the extent of your intellect shootist. enjoy yourself
ConfoundedSociety
not rated yet Feb 16, 2015

Mars is a very bad example. The atmosphere is way too thin, of the wrong composition and too cold for anything to grow unless you put it in an artificially pressurized, artifically nutrient enriched, artificially atmospheric composition mixed, artificially heated space.


That's my point. It's far easier to build a dome on Mars than a self sufficient space station.

Well, yeah: except there aren't any. Everything on Earth has evolved to fit...Earth.
Much worse, actually: Everything on Earth has evolved to fit an Earth that has been altered by all the other stuff that has evolved on Earth. Not gonna find any place that fits THAT bill without a complete redesign.


There must be Earth like (if not Earth compatible) planets that can be terraformed with minimal effort. If there's not, then Earth is extremely different from every other planet ever formed. Simple fact. Its far less complicated and cheaper to build on a planet than in space.
dogbert
5 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2015
ConfoundedSociety,
There must be Earth like (if not Earth compatible) planets that can be terraformed with minimal effort. If there's not, then Earth is extremely different from every other planet ever formed.


The earth is like it is because billions of years of living organisms have changed it to what it is. If we find an earth like planet, it will be teeming with life.

We have not found evidence of life anywhere in the universe except here.
ConfoundedSociety
5 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2015

The earth is like it is because billions of years of living organisms have changed it to what it is. If we find an earth like planet, it will be teeming with life.

We have not found evidence of life anywhere in the universe except here.


We do not have the technology to look closely enough at planets to tell one way or the other. What we do know leads to the logical conclusion that there are plenty of planets similar to Earth like conditions to colonize.
mooster75
4 / 5 (4) Feb 17, 2015
Wow. UFO nuts. Some day I'm going to log onto this site and discover a rousing debate on the Lost Continent of Mu. (I'll be taking the nutter side there, just for grins; be prepared!)
mooster75
3 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2015
I think any aliens on their way here are scared. For over 40 years, i.e. to a radius of 40 light years they have received our TV signals. For instance, they have probably watched Star Trek and noted that we have warp drive, phasers, and photon torpedoes. Moreover they see us destroying some pretty sophisticated enemies (them?). Their scientists are probably trying to figure out how a phaser works and what is a photon torpedo. On balance, if they are rational they will avoid earth, the "Forbidden Planet." And, don't forget what happened to the Cylons of Battlestar Galactica when they got to earth (hint: microwave ovens really are lethal).

Unfortunately, we tipped our hand in Galaxy Quest.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Feb 19, 2015
Mars is a very bad example. The atmosphere is way too thin, of the wrong composition and too cold for anything to grow unless you put it in an artificially pressurized
I think you mean that Mars is an excellent example. Instead of building your flimsey artificially pressurized structures in space and then delivering EVERYTHING to them, you can robotically excavate unlimited acreage underground on Mars. Plenty of water for atmosphere. Plenty of nitrogen in the atmosphere and/or locked up in nitrates to support independent settlements.
http://adsabs.har...11..109B

(Please try to research before posting ok?)

Humans dig 100s of sq mi per year on this planet. Nukes per the Plowshare 'Gnome shot' can create instant cavities for habitation, and nuclear-powered earth borers can quickly link them up.

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