Atheistforums.com

Science Section => Science General Discussion => Topic started by: trdsf on December 19, 2020, 02:47:07 AM

Title: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: trdsf on December 19, 2020, 02:47:07 AM
Mainly because there's this very peculiar 982.002mHz signal that appears to be coming from Proxima Centauri (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/alien-hunters-discover-mysterious-signal-from-proxima-centauri/).  That narrow a bandwidth piques our curiosity—BLC1 (Breakthrough Listen Candidate 1) has passed a surprising number of filters to get rid of signals that have a less exciting explanation.  Add to that the fact that Proxima has a planet slightly larger than Earth in its habitable zone (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxima_Centauri_b), and one definitely pricks up one's ears.

Of course, as Jerry Ehman, discoverer of the "Wow!" signal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wow!_signal) warned, one shouldn't "draw vast conclusions from half-vast data".

There are two huge problems with considering the signal to be an alien "hi there".  First is that it is unmodulated, meaning it's unlikely to carry data -- it's actually quite a precise tone.  Second is that it hasn't been heard since.  They're looking for it, but it hasn't recurred.  It's unknown if it actually originated in the Proxima system, or somewhere along that line of sight further away.  And unfortunately it will remain unknown until and unless they can recover the signal.

Ultimately, it's probably not aliens.  But it is a tantalizing look at how the system works when they have a signal worth looking at, how they process and judge it, and how they're careful to avoid going out too far on a speculatory limb.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Cassia on December 19, 2020, 08:11:09 AM
five of the 30-minute observations
Well, that in itself could be some sort of AM modulation
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: aitm on December 19, 2020, 08:34:24 AM
An the lumbering qualikog, blind by design as it lives completely underground, pushed it’s small anus up through the rocky soil and emitted it’s once yearly fart, a squealing screaming of air rushed through the small opening creating a reverberating rock sliding, quaking noise that shook the ground for miles and split the clouds streaming into the galaxy where who knows what it may collide with out there or what possible damage may be done....😁
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Unbeliever on December 19, 2020, 04:47:57 PM
WOW!


I hope It's Mork - Alf is kinda scary...
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Mike Cl on December 19, 2020, 06:19:17 PM
WOW!


I hope It's Mork - Alf is kinda scary...
I don't know...................Alf was from melmac--hear they make great plates!  But Alf IS scary to cats.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Unbeliever on December 19, 2020, 06:35:12 PM
At least we know the world isn't flat, because if it was flat the cats would've pushed everything off of it already.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Hydra009 on December 19, 2020, 08:51:11 PM
Well, while we're on the topic of aliens, I've had a rather intense debate with a friend of mine about whether or not it's wise for us to send out radio broadcasts and do other things that could make first contact with aliens.

She maintains that aliens are likely predatory and aggressive, much like us.  So such signals are tantamount to ringing the dinner bell.  Think about what our own explorers did when they made contact.  It would be much the same for us.

I agree that aliens would vaguely be like us, denizens of a planet or large moon - likely omnivorous generalists like us.  They'd likely have a similar aggressive streak as us, though I'd like to think that total war is an alien (get it?) concept to them.  And like us, they might've somewhat tempered their belligerent streak as they became more high-tech and learned to be a little bit more compassionate.  Because a superbelligerent alien race would never make it into space at all - they'd simply bomb themselves into oblivion.

Given the vastness of space (space is really BIG), they would have plenty of resources and territory of their own (as would we), so we wouldn't necessarily have to fight over it.  This galaxy is big enough for the both of us; neither of us would have any need to fight the other.  In fact, we would literally have to go light years out of our way to fight each other.  A rather absurd, though not impossible, situation.

Aliens wouldn't truly want our raw resources, the real treasure trove is in our life and its byproducts - culture and technology.  Because that's certainly what we're interested in.  Why come all that way to destroy when you can study?

And besides, our first contact would likely not be between us personally - but through our machine intermediaries - our probes - who definitely have no harmful intent.

So, instead of fearing aliens and going silent, we should do everything we can to be loud and noticeable to make first contact happen asap.  Because any first contact would likely enable a huge technological leap for us, potentially saving countless lives.  Imagine a new power source or new medical technology or new spaceflight technology.  It's such a massive boost that it's worth betting that the aliens we do meet aren't genocidal.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: aitm on December 19, 2020, 11:24:46 PM
I am of the opinion that aliens, like us, once you reach the ability to travel through space have achieved a level of intelligence and curiosity to recognize that other species as well exists and that once finding them, are more of awe  of the presence than in domination and destruction. But...that is human thinking....gawd help us all....
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Baruch on December 20, 2020, 02:18:14 AM
The Tic-Tacs don't seem very hostile.  Did anyone else watch Lex Fridman's interview with David Fravor, the Navy pilot who came closest to a Tic-Tac?
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: SGOS on December 20, 2020, 10:30:37 AM
Well, while we're on the topic of aliens, I've had a rather intense debate with a friend of mine about whether or not it's wise for us to send out radio broadcasts and do other things that could make first contact with aliens.

She maintains that aliens are likely predatory and aggressive, much like us.  So such signals are tantamount to ringing the dinner bell.  Think about what our own explorers did when they made contact.  It would be much the same for us.
We will be sorry we voted Trump out of office when the aliens show up while the snowflakes will be holding up welcome signs.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Baruch on December 20, 2020, 10:37:49 AM
We will be sorry we voted Trump out of office when the aliens show up while the snowflakes will be holding up welcome signs.

Don't worry, the aliens will give us a cook book, for Comet pizza ;-)
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Cassia on December 20, 2020, 12:08:19 PM
What if the aliens are enormous? Looking sort of like humpback whales; filter-feeding on stars, planets and asteroids as they slowly consume entire galaxies. We would get a few decades to figure something out.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Baruch on December 20, 2020, 01:06:50 PM
What if the aliens are enormous? Looking sort of like humpback whales; filter-feeding on stars, planets and asteroids as they slowly consume entire galaxies. We would get a few decades to figure something out.

First Star Trek movie, and the old Star Trek classic episode?  The movie ... just don't sent out VYGR.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Unbeliever on December 20, 2020, 04:01:15 PM

What if the aliens are enormous? Looking sort of like humpback whales; filter-feeding on stars, planets and asteroids as they slowly consume entire galaxies. We would get a few decades to figure something out.

What if they're tiny, say, the size of a virus? We could already have been invaded and not even know it!

;-)
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Baruch on December 20, 2020, 06:38:41 PM
What if they're tiny, say, the size of a virus? We could already have been invaded and not even know it!

;-)

How can chips have slanted eyes? ;-)  Would be a terrestrial source.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Blackleaf on December 20, 2020, 11:33:39 PM
There a series on YouTube that discusses the possibilities of alien life. I particularly find this one incredibly interesting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThDYazipjSI

Both of the currently two videos in the series discuss different topics, so you don't have to watch part one before this one. What this video discusses is the question of if alien life exists, what might it look like? They consider various environments, and how they might affect the evolution of life. For example, a bright blue star might have vegetation that is red in color instead of green, while a planet near a dim brown dwarf might have black vegetation that is designed to absorb as much light as it possibly can.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Hydra009 on December 21, 2020, 12:26:33 AM
Also important is the relative gravity, thickness of the atmosphere, and presence of moon(s).  There could be some low-gravity worlds with some amazing leaping predators.  Or flying creatures that can stay in flight virtually their entire lives.

And something that doesn't get talked about enough is just how bizarre Earth's history has been - we probably had a huge impact that permanently sundered off our moon (an abnormally large one relative to the planet, too), the Great Oxygenation Event (not only allowed for a bunch of new kinds of life, but also new minerals), endosymbiosis that created eukaryotes (how the hell did that happen??), several snowball Earths, the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs, etc.  This isn't how things could've turned out at all.  It's amazing that we're even here to talk about this stuff.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Baruch on December 21, 2020, 01:28:57 AM
John Carter on Mars could also jump far, but because he grew up on Earth ;-)
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Gawdzilla Sama on December 21, 2020, 11:27:16 AM
I have the Five Tones as my ringtone.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Baruch on December 21, 2020, 11:38:32 AM
I have the Five Tones as my ringtone.

So your true form is a Big Eyed alien? ;-)  Cool!  But stop playing with your mashed potatoes ;-))
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Unbeliever on December 21, 2020, 04:36:07 PM
Also important is the relative gravity, thickness of the atmosphere, and presence of moon(s).  There could be some low-gravity worlds with some amazing leaping predators.  Or flying creatures that can stay in flight virtually their entire lives.

And something that doesn't get talked about enough is just how bizarre Earth's history has been - we probably had a huge impact that permanently sundered off our moon (an abnormally large one relative to the planet, too), the Great Oxygenation Event (not only allowed for a bunch of new kinds of life, but also new minerals), endosymbiosis that created eukaryotes (how the hell did that happen??), several snowball Earths, the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs, etc.  This isn't how things could've turned out at all.  It's amazing that we're even here to talk about this stuff.

I was reading yesterday about a study of simulated planets trying to determine how long various planets might remain habitable for the billions of years needed to evolve complex intelligent life. Turns out it's largely due to random chance that Earth's climate has remained habitable as long as it has, so liquid water was always available somewhere on the surface. Most planets weren't so lucky.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Baruch on December 21, 2020, 04:59:25 PM
The Earth was a snowball with its original atmosphere.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ONwQV26L-k

So the water here wasn't always liquid.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMdv3JlPizw

Since all animals are descended from a common ancestor we share with the sponges, that explains human behavior ;-)
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Hydra009 on December 21, 2020, 05:44:57 PM
I was reading yesterday about a study of simulated planets trying to determine how long various planets might remain habitable for the billions of years needed to evolve complex intelligent life. Turns out it's largely due to random chance that Earth's climate has remained habitable as long as it has, so liquid water was always available somewhere on the surface. Most planets weren't so lucky.
Our neighbors, Venus and Mars, are proof of that.  Though Mars does have some residual liquid water.  Various Jovian moons as well.  Hell, even our moon has some water (https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-sofia-discovers-water-on-sunlit-surface-of-moon/) and that's about as barren as they come.

Yes, in our solar system, Earth is the only one with water huge amounts of surface water and has maintained it for billions of years, which appears to bode poorly for complex extraterrestrial life.  And although we don't yet know much about extrasolar planets other than their existence, and we're likely overlooking a ton of small, rocky planets due to technical limitations, we do know of several planets that are likely to have large amounts of water (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_extrasolar_candidates_for_liquid_water).  So maybe water, especially stable oceans, isn't as rare as it first appears.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: SGOS on December 21, 2020, 06:19:44 PM
There are a lot celestial bodies in the universe. So rare is kind of a relative term.  With numbers that big, things that are rare are still likely to occur many times.  Also, if Earth is so unique that there is no other planet like it, the universe is always evolving, and sooner or later another Earth like orb is bound to show up.  It is not just the vastness of the universe that allows for things similar to us.  Eternity may be an even a bigger contributing factor to more Earth like planets.   Although, we are probably unlikely to find them let alone be here when they are.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: trdsf on December 21, 2020, 09:35:24 PM
Well, while we're on the topic of aliens, I've had a rather intense debate with a friend of mine about whether or not it's wise for us to send out radio broadcasts and do other things that could make first contact with aliens.

She maintains that aliens are likely predatory and aggressive, much like us.  So such signals are tantamount to ringing the dinner bell.  Think about what our own explorers did when they made contact.  It would be much the same for us.

I agree that aliens would vaguely be like us, denizens of a planet or large moon - likely omnivorous generalists like us.  They'd likely have a similar aggressive streak as us, though I'd like to think that total war is an alien (get it?) concept to them.  And like us, they might've somewhat tempered their belligerent streak as they became more high-tech and learned to be a little bit more compassionate.  Because a superbelligerent alien race would never make it into space at all - they'd simply bomb themselves into oblivion.

Given the vastness of space (space is really BIG), they would have plenty of resources and territory of their own (as would we), so we wouldn't necessarily have to fight over it.  This galaxy is big enough for the both of us; neither of us would have any need to fight the other.  In fact, we would literally have to go light years out of our way to fight each other.  A rather absurd, though not impossible, situation.

Aliens wouldn't truly want our raw resources, the real treasure trove is in our life and its byproducts - culture and technology.  Because that's certainly what we're interested in.  Why come all that way to destroy when you can study?

And besides, our first contact would likely not be between us personally - but through our machine intermediaries - our probes - who definitely have no harmful intent.

So, instead of fearing aliens and going silent, we should do everything we can to be loud and noticeable to make first contact happen asap.  Because any first contact would likely enable a huge technological leap for us, potentially saving countless lives.  Imagine a new power source or new medical technology or new spaceflight technology.  It's such a massive boost that it's worth betting that the aliens we do meet aren't genocidal.
I think dinnerbell is the wrong idea -- we'd need to be the same biology to be nourishing and the odds of evolution doing the same chemical thing twice are nearly, but not quite, zero.

Stephen Hawking was on the 'we should keep our heads down' side of the debate, of the opinion that we shouldn't draw attention to ourselves on the basis that the sort of aggression, tribalism and territoriality that still lurks (overtly or covertly) in the human animal might be evolutionarily common to sentient species, and the last thing we need is to meet an alien race as unpleasant as we are but with higher technology.

The fault with his reasoning is that it presupposes that they are nearby, and/or that they have broken the interstellar travel problem, either by circumventing the speed of light or by having a stardrive that pushes up close enough to c that shipboard travel time is tolerable (and that you don't ever plan on going home again).  Those are two really big ifs.

Unless the galaxy is thickly populated, we're highly unlikely to be within thousands or even tens of thousands of lightyears to our nearest sapient neighbor.  Now keep in mind that we ourselves have only been detectable for two hundred years (by spectrographic analysis of our atmosphere -- industrial pollution, ironically, would be the marker of "intelligence"), and broadcasting for one hundred.  With the advent of cable, satellite, fiber optic, and other more finely focused data transmission means, our radio footprint is growing smaller.  You don't need an AM antenna blasting 250,000 watts from just over the Mexican border to be heard nationwide anymore, you just need a wifi hotspot or a 3, 4 or 5g connection.

So instead of just blasting out a sphere across the electromagnetic spectrum, the Earth's radio signature is an expanding bubble about a hundred light-years thick, slowly attenuating into noise the further out it gets.  A civilization fifty light years away that doesn't tumble across radio until 100 years from now will have missed us -- the easily-detectable stuff will have long since passed them by. 

I am not convinced that as technology advances, races become more civilized.  I mean, look at us.  We may be risen apes, but we're still apes deep inside our brains.

Of course, as you point out, space is really big.  And the light barrier isn't an engineering problem like the sound barrier was -- it's built into the way reality works.  Any first contact by radio will be a long, drawn out affair of slowly working out a mutual language to communicate with, and then gaps of centuries between questions and answers.  The vastness of space makes for a quite efficient social condom.  We would be way out of the way for anyone to mount an expedition to come beat us up, enslave us, eat us, rob us, whatever, and the resources gained would not make up for the resources expended.

So I generally agree, we shouldn't worry about being heard.  Besides, we're listening.  Every argument against us making contact can be made by any other sentient race out there.
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: trdsf on December 21, 2020, 09:44:40 PM
What if the aliens are enormous? Looking sort of like humpback whales; filter-feeding on stars, planets and asteroids as they slowly consume entire galaxies. We would get a few decades to figure something out.
We would see that, though: stars just winking out and not coming back, rather than exploding or just fading away, unless there were only a small handful feeding on the far side of the galactic core.  Eventually one of the automated swky surveys would go, "Hey, HD612468 isn't there anymore, someone take a look at this."
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Unbeliever on December 21, 2020, 10:10:23 PM
I heard recently about a supermassive black hole they can't find...
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Hydra009 on December 21, 2020, 10:14:45 PM
I think dinnerbell is the wrong idea -- we'd need to be the same biology to be nourishing and the odds of evolution doing the same chemical thing twice are nearly, but not quite, zero.
The dinnerbell is figurative.  :P

Quote
I am not convinced that as technology advances, races become more civilized.  I mean, look at us.  We may be risen apes, but we're still apes deep inside our brains.
Subjectively, it may appear at first glance that humanity has gotten increasingly violent and nasty.  After all, every bad thing that happens gets blasted all over the news and social media.

But objectively, we have gotten better, although some parts of the world have definitely improved more than others.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCm9Ng0bbEQ

Steven Pinker deals with this subject in a far more comprehensive way than I possibly could, but the long and short of it is that we live in a much more peaceable age compared to the 20th century and before.  Though I note that while armed conflicts between countries have declined sharply, more decentralized conflicts - riots, insurrections, etc - are still a worrying trend.

Quote
So I generally agree, we shouldn't worry about being heard.  Besides, we're listening.  Every argument against us making contact can be made by any other sentient race out there.
We're listening and we have no harmful intent (I hope) and yet people assume that others are listening and they have harmful intent.  It just doesn't jive with me.  And we also have to consider the cost of silence is missing out on potential aid.  People who favor silence consider the ultimate bad outcome and argue against the risk (humans are naturally risk adverse), but we actually risk a lot with silence, too.

It's like being stranded on an island and not trying to make contact with outside people under the assumption that they'd row over and murder us all.  It's certainly a possibility.  But so is every other outcome.  People illogically assign the highest weight to the most negative outcome. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negativity_bias)
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Gawdzilla Sama on December 22, 2020, 07:51:42 AM
ge amounts of surface water and has maintained it for billions of years, which appears to bode poorly for complex extraterrestrial life. 
No.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraterrestrial_liquid_water
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Baruch on December 24, 2020, 05:43:49 PM
"HUGE Fireball Falls From Sky In China, Are These ALIENS??" ... aliens already report that Chinese people taste like sesame chicken ;-)
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Baruch on December 31, 2020, 01:07:20 PM
"UFO Filmed Crashing To Earth In West Virginia, 180 Days Until The Pentagon Reveals Info On UFOs" ... Aliens taste like fried chicken
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Unbeliever on December 31, 2020, 06:22:21 PM
We don't want aliens with good taste, we want aliens that taste good!

😋
Title: Re: So let's talk SETI.
Post by: Baruch on December 31, 2020, 07:05:10 PM
We don't want aliens with good taste, we want aliens that taste good!

😋

I ain't eating any aliens who smoke cigarettes ;-(