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Space Aliens Are Ignoring Us

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Mathematician Thomas Hair of Florida Gulf Coast University has some interesting ideas about space aliens:

http://news.discover...ind-120130.html

But in fact the intelligent, moral, civilized aliens are ignoring human beings because we're savages and vermin-like, relative to them. We still believe in god, self-sacrifice, and welfare state tyranny. So they have no respect for us, and absolutely nothing to say to us -- not even insults. Once humans grow up, and achieve a modicum of virtue, decency, and non-barbarism, space aliens will probably contact us. Right now we repellent insects give them nothing to work with. So they -- with their available gifts of super-wisdom and immortality -- pass us by.

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Carl Sagan also has some interesting ideas. Among them, he estimates that at the earliest an alien race could make contact is around the year 2350, given that they are within a 200 light-year radius. The earliest TV broadcasts, he surmises, would most likely be the first hint to aliens that a technological civilization exists here. Even if the aliens had detected our very first signals (which have only travelled less than 100 light-years) and broadcast a responding signal back, it would not have reached us yet.

The same can be said of detecting CFC's in our atmosphere. Light reflecting from our CFC-soaked upper atmosphere (which didn't become CFC-soaked until well after out first TV signals made their way into space) would still take up to 200 years to reach the aliens (again, assuming they are within that very small radius), and a return signal would take just as long to reach Earth. And unless the aliens could travel very close to the speed of light, it would take longer yet for them to actually visit us.

I have to wonder: does Dr. Hair understand that when we observe these far flung planets and analyze their atmospheric composition, etc., that we are observing them not as they are now, but in the state in which they existed in the past when all this information was "reflected", at the speed of light, towards Earth?

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But in fact the intelligent, moral, civilized aliens are ignoring human beings because we're savages and vermin-like, relative to them.

Oh noes, I better do a funny dance, in the hopes that the powerful aliens are amused enough to spare my life.

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This is really just the mental equivalent of flipping cards into a hat isnt it? I mean, that is not to say it is bad, however it is pretty pointless speculation. Given we have no real context to base this on and we grossly lack enough information to make anything resembling a useful rational assessment.

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In this particular case, I have to agree with Dwayne, but I will elaborate.

We do not actually know how inevitable life is, nor how often it becomes multicellular, or otherwise complex enough to become intelligent. We don't know how often it actually becomes intelligent. We _really_ don't even know how common habitable planets are nor how often the (quite possibly different) conditions that will allow life to begin, are. We don't know how long an intelligent species lives at a technological level where it could attempt to communicate with us, at a level where we would be able to understand the message (for all we know, intelligences that have had space travel for more than a century might consider radio waves hopelessly quaint).

Now that just goes to say we don't know how many of them are out there. We know of one spacefaring civilization with radio, us. There could be any number.. and I do mean any number.. of others, and only some infinitesimally small fraction of them are close enough to us to realize we are here. Multiplying the total number by the fraction could give a number close to zero, or it could give an actual whole number..

Even given that such exists, we have no idea how they think, or what they value. They may be profoundly uninterested in us, or they may take a "hands off" approach for some reason. Or they may think we are delicious (ok, probably not).

But we lack almost every one of the large number of pieces of information we'd need to have to begin to figure this out, which is why it's like flipping cards into a hat.

It's fun to speculate, but it's just that. I _do_ hope we continue to learn more about these questions though.

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Earth has been spectacularly radiating radio signals for over a century now. All of our sophisticated neighbors know intelligent (sic) life exists here. Evidently there are about 1400 star systems within 50 light-years of us. (http://www.atlasofth....com/50lys.html) It seems reasonable to speculate at least a handful of them have, or had, intelligent life of their own, with IQs of 300 or 3,000 or so. So at the least they could have signaled us by now with radio, TV, microwave, x-ray, or such such transmissions and communications by now. But they haven't.

Why not? Evidently because we're not worthy.

They're there. They know we're here. They know how to contact us. But they choose not to.

Edited by Wotan

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Why do you assume that intelligent life is that common? We have yet to even detect an oxygen atmosphere other than our own (which would be an unambiguous sign of life), much less show that single-celled life (much, much less multi-celled life) exists anywhere other than on earth, much less in any other solar system.

Even if earth is utterly typical, and all earth like planets will give rise to intelligence (a big if), radio-emitting life has thus far existed for only 1/40,000,000th of the age of the earth; even assuming we last 1000 times that long, you can figure only 1/40,000th of all the earth-like planets out there will have a radio-capable civilization on it.

But we have no basis whatsoever for any such assumption. It may be that at any given time, there are only a handful of civilizations in a galaxy, which would put average distances at thousands or even tens of thousands of light years. Or it is even possible that there is exactly one per universe, and we are it.

The only hard data we have is that it happened once. And we have a bunch of negative data (of course subject to change) that we haven't seen any others, haven't detected any sign of life off earth (much less complex life).

Concluding that someone must surely be out there, close enough to know we exist, but is ignoring us, is utterly unwarranted.

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Why do you assume that intelligent life is that common?

....

Concluding that someone must surely be out there, close enough to know we exist, but is ignoring us, is utterly unwarranted.

It's necessarily rather speculative, to be sure. But until a few decades ago -- so was the common hypothesis that massively many earth-like planets probably exist. Now it's been confirmed.

When it comes to the possible non-existence, existence, and super-abundant existence of extra-terrestrial life, the almost limitless size of our solar system and universe -- and thus the number of probable life-possible planets -- is overwhelmingly persuasive. Non-earth life is real, and ET is out there. You can almost bet the farm on it. And not only is it a virtual certainty that super-intelligent beings exist, it's a virtual certainty that these species number in the thousands or millions in our tiny neck of the woods alone.

And yet they pass us by. :(

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You cannot legitimately make the leap from "there are lots of extrasolar planets" to "therefore there must be tons of superintelligences out there". The overwhelming majority of those planets that have been detected aren't even remotely earthlike/habitable. And saying "we were wrong about there being no additional planets" is no guarantee that we are wrong to be pessimistic on any of the other counts.

"Non earth life is real." That's a flat assertion. Where is your evidence? I agree that there is probably life out there somewhere but it's ridiculous, given that we've found none of it so far, to assert it's really common, and even if it is--how common is multicellular life? That particular evolutionary leap took billions of years here and apparently was dependent on the fortuitous emergence of a symbiosis between our cells and the mitochondrial cells they swallowed up one day in the past.

"ET is out there" Again, I tend to think there is an ET somewhere else in our 13 billion light year wide observable universe... but why the insistence that it must be _common_? You have NO BASIS whatsoever for making that statement with the certainty you did.

"super intelligent beings exist" Again, no evidence. None. Thousands or millions? In our neck of the woods (define that, please? A sphere of how many light years radius?)

And why must an intelligence continue to evolve to super intelligence? What's the selection pressure that would take us from where we are now to average IQs of 300?

Again, we haven't even found so much as ONE truly earth like planet out there. Not ONE. Sure, I expect it will happen soon. But that's only the FIRST hurdle. We have not determined what percentage of earth like planets have life on them, what percentage of life bearing planets have multicellular life on them, what percentage of planets with multicellular life on them have had the chance to evolve intelligence, how many of those intelligences happen to be around today (timing is everything).

You are talking TOTALLY out of your ass, making assertions with no evidence whatsoever to back them up.

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And not only is it a virtual certainty that super-intelligent beings exist, it's a virtual certainty that these species number in the thousands or millions in our tiny neck of the woods alone.

Where are you getting your information? :huh:

The most recent thing I've heard about the 'possibility of life on other planets' is a theorem about the lobe-like features that exists near craters on Mars. This theorem says that there's frozen water particles in the soil of Mars. When a meterorite crashes and explodes underground, it causes mudflow (the frozen water in the soil melts due to the heat of the meterorite). But because Mars is freezing cold, the mudflow freezes and so we get those lobe-like features around craters. I thought this was pretty cool. But for life to exist many criteria have to be met (one of which, is a lot of liquid water).

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Yeah seriously, Steve has a point. Do you realize how easily intelligence on his planet might have been wiped out / prevented from ever existing in the first place? It would not take much. The thing is, we just cannot say that inteligence would or would not be any more fortunate on any other planet on which it might arise. Or even what the chances of such a planet with such a potentail existing.

Keep flipping the cards into the hat, or go find something else to do.

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Earth has been spectacularly radiating radio signals for over a century now.

This is not true. Radio waves fade in strength according to the inverse-square law. They are undedectable before they reach the nearest star. To communicate with our father-flung satellites (Voyager) requires massive antenna arrays that know exactly where to look - and they have not left the solar system. To communicate inter-solar distances would require massive concentrated EM bursts with energy draw on a Kardashev type 1+ scale.

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I've been following the search for extra-solar planets, and intelligent life, and apparently:

F, G, and K class stars make up 22.7% of all stars, so 4.54% of all stars at lowest, 10.896% at highest have at least one terrestrial, habitable zone planet, but that's not anywhere near the end of this game, as I hope to demonstrate.

I think a basic requirement to even attempt interstellar travel is very advanced, widely accepted philosophy. One cannot travel among the stars if one does not understand how to live one's own life. Just the expenditure of energy involved, the necessary reliability of the engineering involved is mind numbing! Just to be able to have radio to transmit or receive anything, so many hurtles, in planet formation, in direction of evolution, in philosophy, in economics, in discovery, is amazing. To say the least, there is a great deal of opportunities for intelligence (or civilization!) to never develop. Consider that even though earth is around a stable star, and in a decent orbit, with plenty of water, humanity has only been around for 0.00419% (190k/4.5 billion) of that time, and we have been transmitting radio (weakly for most of this) for 0.0000022% (100/ 4.5 billion years) of that time, let alone being able to receive an interstellar radio signal. It may very well be that even if life is around on any of these habitable planets, and even if conditions are ideal for life to evolve intelligence, we'll have to wait far too long to co-exist with any alien civilizations to have a conversation, much less visit each other. Add to all this the fact that civilization is not irreversible once achieved and that space is just really, really, huge. Intelligent life may be out there, but the odds of superior intelligences existing, knowing about us, maintaining complete electromagnetic spectrum silence even before they discovered us, and observing us without being detected, and deciding to not contact us (Why not? What could we possibly do to hurt such masters of the universe? We can't even leave our own planet for long!) is complete madness. You might as well believe in god.

I wouldn't assume a more advanced civilization would destroy a lesser civilization upon discovering one. That only happened in the New World because the Indians never discovered reason and philosophy, and, hell, for that matter, their whole civilization was a house of cards built on ritual human sacrifice! (In one word, context!) Does anyone really think that after traveling for hundreds of years, manipulating vast amounts of energy just to goddamned get here, and raw material in the galaxy being virtually limitless (thus aliens wanting to mine the earth for resources complete nonsense, never mind the idea of transporting resources), that an advanced alien civilization would exterminate us? What in the hell would be the point? It would be like using a hydrogen bomb (and all the respect for reason to make one in the first place) to kill a mosquito!

(edit, spell check. should have done that before posting the first time...)

Edited by th3ranger

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This is not true. Radio waves fade in strength according to the inverse-square law. They are undedectable before they reach the nearest star. To communicate with our father-flung satellites (Voyager) requires massive antenna arrays that know exactly where to look - and they have not left the solar system. To communicate inter-solar distances would require massive concentrated EM bursts with energy draw on a Kardashev type 1+ scale.

Yes, there's that too. What he said!

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Radio waves fade in strength according to the inverse-square law. They are undedectable before they reach the nearest star. To communicate with our father-flung satellites (Voyager) requires massive antenna arrays that know exactly where to look - and they have not left the solar system. To communicate inter-solar distances would require massive concentrated EM bursts with energy draw on a Kardashev type 1+ scale.

That's news to me. I've heard all those TV, radio and other transmissions -- which can only come from sentient beings, not nature -- make earth and our sun as easy to spot as a hundred foot bonfire on the 50-yard line of a darkened football stadium. All the nearby stars look like fireflies. (I got this long ago from some decent-quality, science-type TV show.)

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You are talking TOTALLY out of your ass, making assertions with no evidence whatsoever to back them up.

Oh really? Massive evidence says trillions of earth-like planets exist, and that the building blocks of life, and water, are evidently found everywhere. [ http://www.nasa.gov/...010/10-111.html ] Life began on earth almost right away, maybe 4 billion years ago, while the universe is about 13.7 billion years old. Although there's no direct evidence of some of this, and thus any conversation is somewhat speculative, the possibilities of life out there -- including super-intelligent life -- seem effectively infinite.

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Intelligent life may be out there, but the odds of superior intelligences existing, knowing about us, maintaining complete electromagnetic spectrum silence even before they discovered us, and observing us without being detected, and deciding to not contact us (Why not? What could we possibly do to hurt such masters of the universe? We can't even leave our own planet for long!) is complete madness. You might as well believe in god.

Not quite. Aliens may not use the electro-magnetic spectrum to communicate (just as we no longer use smoke signals). Or they may do it so subtly we have no conceivable ability to observe it (can worms decode our language?). They may also be the size of photons. Or they might have 100 different ways to achieve invisibility. Or else they may move at the speed of light so that they visit, and thoroughly examine us, and leave in a flash.

Superior aliens are probably about as interested in us as we are of mundane microbes on an obscure Mongolian mountain top. They likely see us as savage beasts, or insignificant repulsive insects, and so they quite ignore us.

They probably have objective, absolutely true, moral standards, and thus see current humanity -- with our god, self-sacrifice, tyranny, etc. -- as profoundly morally depraved. So it seems pointless for them to stop by and say "Hi."

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They [alien intelligences] may also be the size of photons.

You say something this absolutely silly and wonder why I think you are full of it. A photon is approximately the size of a handful of atoms. How are you going to pack something capable of intelligent thought into a few atoms?

*sigh* But I'll respond to your reply to me earlier. You jump from simple biomolecules being common directly to intelligent life as if the one makes the other inevitable, and THAT is where you talk out your ass. You neglect the time factor, the fact that it takes four billion years for that to happen IF it happens (in the one case where it did), and that the intelligence may only hang around for a thousand years after that four billion year wait. We simply do not know how long the average technological (radio-using) species lasts, we don't even have one data point. You also cite "trillions of earth like planets" but forget that that's over the entire universe, where there are ten billion galaxies. Do the math, and there are perhaps a few thousand per galaxy. Even if it's a million, that works out to less than one, on average, within reach of our radio waves (ignoring for now the claim that they are undetectable at 50-100 light years). Or look at it this way, there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy. If 10,000 earthlike planets are in our galaxy (which would make 100 trillion earthlike planets in the universe), that's one for every TEN MILLION stars. And that's earth like planets. How many of them happen to have intelligence on them today? That requires a good coincidence of timing to even happen, even if intelligence is inevitable on every earthlilke planet.

I am close to banging my head on the table top here, because I have used mathematical arguments on you multiple times and you just come back with assertions that intelligent civilizations must be practically sitting on our door step because there are lots of earthlike planets (but you ignore the much larger size of the universe) and life happens quickly (but you ignore that intelligence does NOT happen quickly and that we have no idea how frequently it happens even given enough time). You are failing, utterly, to account for four or five additional factors that must be considered, and every time I try to point them out you just repeat the same incomplete argument again.

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That's news to me. I've heard all those TV, radio and other transmissions -- which can only come from sentient beings, not nature -- make earth and our sun as easy to spot as a hundred foot bonfire on the 50-yard line of a darkened football stadium. All the nearby stars look like fireflies. (I got this long ago from some decent-quality, science-type TV show.)

Have you ever noticed that even when it's a digital signal less vulnerable to EM noise than analog, sometimes you can't quite get a signal and the news broadcaster keeps getting violently disassembled into pixel chunks? That broadcast tower is probably within 50 miles. You are barely receiving the TV signal. Now multiply it by 4.703×10^11. The result is how far Alpha Centari is, the closest star besides the Sun. Signal strength at 4 light years away from a 50 MW broadcast is 1.05141817 × 10-10 watts per meter; 367 dB of loss just free space path loss. NO ONE WILL RECIEVE IT THAT FAR AWAY, EVEN IF THEY ARE TRYING TO RECIEVE IT. Unless they have some absurdly large antenna I suppose? Like hundreds of miles across and know where to look?

Oh really? Massive evidence says trillions of earth-like planets exist, and that the building blocks of life, and water, are evidently found everywhere. [ http://www.nasa.gov/...010/10-111.html ] Life began on earth almost right away, maybe 4 billion years ago, while the universe is about 13.7 billion years old. Although there's no direct evidence of some of this, and thus any conversation is somewhat speculative, the possibilities of life out there -- including super-intelligent life -- seem effectively infinite.

The statistical estimations based on surveys of only a few thousand stars that we happened to be able to detect planets around. Just because a planet is "earthlike" does not mean much. Hell, Venus is considered "earthlike" and probes specifically designed to survive there last minutes.

.

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(I got this long ago from some decent-quality, science-type TV show.)

I think the movie "Contact" popularized that idea by playing back the alien's recording of the 1936 Olympic Games. But the games were send over a primitive local cable line and not broadcast over the air. The idea seems to have become universally accepted despite the fact that anyone with basic knowledge of physics or astronomy should know better. Another sad example of the lack of media/public understanding of science.

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