Author Topic: Why We’ll Have Evidence of Aliens—If They Exist—By 2035  (Read 3368 times)

Offline Star One

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Blog by Seth Shostak of SETI. Just hope he’s right is all I can say and also that I am still around by then.

Quote
l’ve bet a cup of coffee to any and all that by 2035 we’ll have evidence of E.T. To many of my colleagues, that sounds like a losing proposition. For more than a half-century, a small coterie of scientists has been pursuing the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI. And we haven’t found a thing.

I’m optimistic by nature—as a scientist, you have to be. But my hopeful feeling is not wishful thinking; it is firmly grounded in the logic of SETI. Half a century sounds like a long time, but the search is truly in its early days. Given the current state of SETI efforts and abilities, I feel that we’re on the cusp of learning something truly revolutionary.

Most of our experiments so far have used large radio antennas in an effort to eavesdrop on radio signals transmitted by other societies, an approach that was dramatized by Jodie Foster in the 1997 movie Contact. Unlike other alien potboilers, Contact’s portrayal of how we might search for extraterrestrials was reasonably accurate. Nonetheless, that film reinforced the common belief that SETI practitioners paw through cosmic static looking for unusual patterns, such as a string of prime numbers. The truth is simpler: We have been searching for narrow-band signals. “Narrow-band” means that a large fraction of the transmitter power is squeezed into a tiny part of the radio dial, making the transmission easier to find. This is analogous to the way a laser pointer, despite having only a few milliwatts of power, nonetheless looks bright because the energy is concentrated into a narrow wavelength range.

http://m.nautil.us/blog/why-well-have-evidence-of-aliensif-they-existby-2035


Offline matthewkantar

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 An inflection point for SETI will be what turns up in the search for extra terrestrial life, most likely not intelligent. This will be facilitated by next generation telescopes. Detailed spectra from exoplanets may tun up unmistakeable bio-markers. I would bet a cup of coffee this sort of result turns up before 2025. A solid result might also led to increased funding for SETI, and for ever more powerful telescopes.

Matthew

Offline Lar

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I skimmed it but missed a compelling argument for why he thinks we will find something. Is it because by 2035 we will have thoroughly explored the LaGrange points and the Moon? I'm dubious of that timeline.
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Offline TakeOff

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I hope to live to see Shostak eat a porcelain coffee cup, as he promised to do. But nothing can never be indicated, so he'll glance on in MSM now and then, talking about hunting aliens.


Some French guy is said to have eaten an entire bicycle, so we should not underestimate the human digestion system as a way of taking care of problems. Just eat'em!




Offline vapour_nudge

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After so long searching fruitlessly looking for something that's not there it would be hard for anyone to admit they're wrong. So, just dig the heels in...

Offline Star One

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Why We’ll Have Evidence of Aliens—If They Exist—By 2035
« Reply #5 on: 10/05/2017 10:52 PM »
After so long searching fruitlessly looking for something that's not there it would be hard for anyone to admit they're wrong. So, just dig the heels in...

What a ridiculous assumption, for a start how can you say at this stage no one is there? Also we’ve barely searched much of the possible spectrum out their due to a combination of technological and budgetary limitations.

To think we are the only intelligence live in the entirety of the universe always strikes me as one of the most arrogant statements that can be made.
« Last Edit: 10/05/2017 10:57 PM by Star One »

Offline vapour_nudge

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Nowhere in my post did I mention intelligent life.  I meant any life at all. Perhaps it's time to stop searching for life and just go and look for the wonder of it all. There's so much we don't know about our own Solar system. Perhaps a lot of the money sent to SETI and otherwise similar wasteful enterprises could go towards funding more Discovery/New Horizons missions etc

I'm a sci-fi fan too but I don't believe the stuff

Offline spacenut

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If there are aliens, they may not be using our type of communication, but some other form that we cannot detect. 

Offline punder

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Perhaps a lot of the money sent to SETI and otherwise similar wasteful enterprises could go towards funding more Discovery/New Horizons missions etc

Yes, that vast NASA SETI budget is such a waste! How much is it, again?

And, can you list the other government sources of SETI research, along with the funding figures, and explain how all that money could be redirected to the NASA robotic exploration budget?

Offline Star One

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If there are aliens, they may not be using our type of communication, but some other form that we cannot detect.

I’ve wondered if there is the possibility that all biological life is supplanted by machine life as an inevitability and until a similar thing happens here there will not be a detection of other intelligence.

Offline sanman

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I’ve wondered if there is the possibility that all biological life is supplanted by machine life as an inevitability and until a similar thing happens here there will not be a detection of other intelligence.

That presupposes that biological life has to be intelligent life that develops artificial machine intelligence.

Ironically, we're most likely to find extraterrestrial life if we deploy our own artificial intelligence to keep relentlessly searching for it.


Offline Star One

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I’ve wondered if there is the possibility that all biological life is supplanted by machine life as an inevitability and until a similar thing happens here there will not be a detection of other intelligence.

That presupposes that biological life has to be intelligent life that develops artificial machine intelligence.

Ironically, we're most likely to find extraterrestrial life if we deploy our own artificial intelligence to keep relentlessly searching for it.

I’ve seen it proposed that machine life wouldn’t or couldn’t talk to biological life, hence another reason for AI.

Offline jgoldader

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I tend to the "Rare Earth" hypothesis, that microbial life is common but animals are rare, and intelligent animals (almost!) vanishingly rare.  (See book by Brownlee and Ward of the same title; Brownlee was a professor of mine in college.) 

It could be argued that radio SETI hinges on a few postulates: ETI exists, and they want to talk, and they want to use radio, and they want to use the frequencies we're observing.  But radio SETI is fairly low-cost, and it's unimaginably high-payoff if it succeeds, so to me, it's worth doing.

My guess is, if we get evidence of extraterrestrial life, it'll come from spectroscopic observations of extrasolar planets, microfossils from Mars, or perhaps in situ observations from Europa or Enceladus.  And it'll be a long time between the detection, and acceptance that it's actually extraterrestrial life ("extraordinary claims" and all that), unless it's something like a picture of some sort of sharktopus in the seas of Enceladus.

Sci-fi is sci-fi, but one could argue that the long history of life on Earth is evidence against the existence of Berserker planet-killing starships (see Fred Saberhagen's novels), and therefore malevolent AI in the universe.  If we ever create strong AI, we'll test the Berserker/Skynet hypothesis soon enough.

In the end, the Fermi paradox looms large.  IMHO, we're a long way from either getting positive proof, or being able to draw a negative conclusion.
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Offline TakeOff

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"Rare Earth" is certainly true in the sense that there's nothing similar to us in the visible universe. The diversity of life on Earth (although all closely related) and the diversity of the planets and exoplanets points to a huge diversity in bio-kind of chemistry. Life and other funny phenomena may be common out there. But nothing that we could communicate with or even eat (isn't that the working definition, that if we can eat it it was alive). Maybe in a world like Enceladus, life spurts out to space and falls back and gradually evolve to survive in space. Space faring bugs without any intelligence or civilization or technology.

The combinatorics of biology, even just our own as it is, is much much larger than the visible universe. Two similar things will never occur in spacetime contact of each other.
« Last Edit: 10/06/2017 01:33 PM by TakeOff »

Offline M.E.T.

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Well, how about the Universe being merely a larger version of the Earth system itself. Meaning, if life developed only once on Earth at some point (and that is a possibility at this stage), it gradually spread to and evolved  in the various environmental niches on the planet.

Eventually, it could evolve enough to spread to the next planet, where new evolutionary forces will influence it to adapt even further. Eventually it spreads to the next solar system, and eventually, presumably, to the next galaxy, until the entire Universe is populated by it. Of course, the various evolutionary forms in the various environmental niches across the Universe will ultimately differ drastically from the original species that first spread beyond the Earth's atmosphere. Just like the various species on Earth already differ significantly from one another.

In any case, the point is that life had to start somewhere, and it might as well have been on the Earth 3-4 billion years ago. Looking back from a point 100 billion years in the future, life would be common throughout the Universe. And the point where it originated would be largely irrelevant, much like the exact point of origin of it back in Earth's history is interesting, but far removed from us today.


Offline su27k

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Shouldn't the title be "If They Exist in our galaxy"?

I think there're some opinions that Drake's estimate in the Drake Equation is too optimistic, a more realistic estimate would yield 1 to 2 civilizations per galaxy only.

Online savuporo

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I skimmed it but missed a compelling argument for why he thinks we will find something. Is it because by 2035 we will have thoroughly explored the LaGrange points and the Moon? I'm dubious of that timeline.

It read as a bit of solid autoetnographic research
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Offline zubenelgenubi

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<snip>

Sci-fi is sci-fi, but one could argue that the long history of life on Earth is evidence against the existence of Berserker planet-killing starships (see Fred Saberhagen's novels), and therefore malevolent AI in the universe.  If we ever create strong AI, we'll test the Berserker/Skynet hypothesis soon enough.

In the end, the Fermi paradox looms large.  IMHO, we're a long way from either getting positive proof, or being able to draw a negative conclusion.

Unless Gregory Benford's hypothesis/story is correct: that a new, technically advanced species starting to broadcast in the RF spectrum catches the attention of the lurking galactic machine AI civilization.  (Galactic Center saga, beginning with Into the Ocean of Night)

Why dispatch Berserkers willy-nilly, when the mechanicals can keep a lid on the biological intelligences with force-multipliers like the Snark and the Watchers?  And, the strategy answers the Fermi Paradox.

Maybe there's another good reason for a frequent-repeat, deep magnitude all-sky survey program: to observe a Snark as early as possible as it "drops" into the Solar System.

:) Have a nice day! :)
« Last Edit: 10/06/2017 04:52 PM by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline TakeOff

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I think that if extraterrestrial intelligence is not discovered by 2035 or so, the interest for looking for it will diminish even more. Seth Shostak is kind of making that worse by making deadlines like that. Bbut of course to improve enthusiasm in the short term, which is a crucial step to the long term. And soon this date will be forgotten anyway. What could he say? It's his job to promote SETI, and I think this crazy guy does a very good job. And it certainly would be  a very bad idea to not even try looking.

Offline Star One

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I think that if extraterrestrial intelligence is not discovered by 2035 or so, the interest for looking for it will diminish even more. Seth Shostak is kind of making that worse by making deadlines like that. Bbut of course to improve enthusiasm in the short term, which is a crucial step to the long term. And soon this date will be forgotten anyway. What could he say? It's his job to promote SETI, and I think this crazy guy does a very good job. And it certainly would be  a very bad idea to not even try looking.

Are you implying anyone who works in SETI is crazy, because if you are that’s pretty indefensible?

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