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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old August 26 2013, 04:09 PM   #16
FPAlpha
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
So, yesterday it was nuclear Armageddon that was the ultimate crisis, but today it's terrorism? I can't help but be amused by Sawyer's reply.
Yep.
Today's terrorism is no threat to human existence because WMD's are for the most part difficult to produce and require very specialized equipment to produce (any halfway decent nuclear physics student knows how to put together a nuclear bomb but he will lack essential materials, i.e. weapons grade plutonium for example).

However the danger is in the knowledge itself so what happens when this red line can be crossed and someone is able to put together a method of mass destruction with readily available equipment? I believe that's what he's talking about.

Now as to where the aliens are.. on a philosophical standpoint it might be that we are simply not that interesting to begin with. We are volatile, fearful of new things, greedy and vengeful and the simple revelation that there are Aliens might topple our entire worldwide system because of mass panic.

In the event aliens understand us and have been observing us what do they have to gain by destroying our civilization? They might just leave us alone for a few decades or centuries and then check back if we're still around and how we do and otherwise concentrate on other projects.

It sounds dumb and overly simplistic, kind of their version of the Prime Directive but it could be that simple. Any alien civilization that's hostile could have easily attacked us by now with little risk.. the few things we have that could do damage to something in orbit might not be nearly enough to take out a dedicated invasion fleet. Heck, them taking out our satellites would already cripple us because we've become so dependent on them.

So if there was contact or if aliens exist and have discovered us i assume they are either benevolent or simply don't care about us.
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Old August 26 2013, 05:08 PM   #17
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

FPAlpha wrote: View Post
iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
So, yesterday it was nuclear Armageddon that was the ultimate crisis, but today it's terrorism? I can't help but be amused by Sawyer's reply.
Yep.
Today's terrorism is no threat to human existence because WMD's are for the most part difficult to produce and require very specialized equipment to produce (any halfway decent nuclear physics student knows how to put together a nuclear bomb but he will lack essential materials, i.e. weapons grade plutonium for example).

However the danger is in the knowledge itself so what happens when this red line can be crossed and someone is able to put together a method of mass destruction with readily available equipment? I believe that's what he's talking about.
Yeah, that was completely clear.
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Old August 26 2013, 05:41 PM   #18
iguana_tonante
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

FPAlpha wrote: View Post
However the danger is in the knowledge itself so what happens when this red line can be crossed and someone is able to put together a method of mass destruction with readily available equipment? I believe that's what he's talking about.
I know. Even arguing that cheap, easy-to-build WMD would sooner or later inevitably fall in the hands of extremist, nefarious individuals or groups, what makes them more dangerous than clumsy medical students entrusted with deadly viruses, nuclear engineers who are drunk on the job, paranoid military officers, or politicians who feel millions of dead are a small price to pay for power and supremacy? I am actually more concerned about all those categories than any terrorist. So far, the number of victims in a nations vs. terrorists death contest is heavily skewed in favour of nations.
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Old August 26 2013, 06:02 PM   #19
JarodRussell
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

FPAlpha wrote: View Post
Now as to where the aliens are.. on a philosophical standpoint it might be that we are simply not that interesting to begin with. We are volatile, fearful of new things, greedy and vengeful and the simple revelation that there are Aliens might topple our entire worldwide system because of mass panic.
Alien life is rare. And when something is rare, the is no such thing as "not interesting".

Even if the aliens came from a region of space that is totally crowded with civilizations. We are in a region that is completely empty. That would make us special to aliens no matter what.
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Old August 26 2013, 07:15 PM   #20
YellowSubmarine
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
We are in a region that is completely empty.
How do you know that? We've not yet ruled out civilizations around the closest stars, we've got more to go to rule out a dead ancient Martian one and we will probably never completely rule out past visits to the Solar system or leftover alien artefacts on Earth and other bodies (well, if we discover that the area is completely desolate presently and historically, they will kinda rule themselves out).

We don't know that yet. At least not for sure (though I suspect the same as you).
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Old August 26 2013, 07:26 PM   #21
FPAlpha
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
FPAlpha wrote: View Post
Now as to where the aliens are.. on a philosophical standpoint it might be that we are simply not that interesting to begin with. We are volatile, fearful of new things, greedy and vengeful and the simple revelation that there are Aliens might topple our entire worldwide system because of mass panic.
Alien life is rare. And when something is rare, the is no such thing as "not interesting".

Even if the aliens came from a region of space that is totally crowded with civilizations. We are in a region that is completely empty. That would make us special to aliens no matter what.
You are talking about empty regions.. what constitutes a region in interstellar terms? A region in earth terms may be something you could traverse by car within an hour or two so how do you apply that to interstellar distances?

If FTL is possible by any means it might be that Earth-Alpha Centauri is just a short hop around the block, who knows? Maybe we live in a greater region that has a few civlizations and we just didn't encounter them or catch their radio signals because there's a ton of it flying through space on all frequencies.

All i'm saying is that maybe we are not interesting enough to make official contact or we are in such a fragile state that official contact would do more harm than good so we are left alone for now. Maybe we are being studied in secret out of scientific curiosity and maybe some alien students are doing their xenobiology doctorates about us but so far no one seemed to think to contact us directly.
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Old August 26 2013, 07:48 PM   #22
JarodRussell
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
JarodRussell wrote: View Post
We are in a region that is completely empty.
How do you know that? We've not yet ruled out civilizations around the closest stars, we've got more to go to rule out a dead ancient Martian one and we will probably never completely rule out past visits to the Solar system or leftover alien artefacts on Earth and other bodies (well, if we discover that the area is completely desolate presently and historically, they will kinda rule themselves out).

We don't know that yet. At least not for sure (though I suspect the same as you).
The nearest planet that MIGHT be able to sustain life is Gliese 581 d and is 20 lightyears away. And not every planet in the habitable zone of a star will automatically develop life.

Life is rare. The idea of a vastly overpopulated galaxy as in science fiction is, well, fiction.

If FTL is possible by any means it might be that Earth-Alpha Centauri is just a short hop around the block, who knows? Maybe we live in a greater region that has a few civlizations and we just didn't encounter them or catch their radio signals because there's a ton of it flying through space on all frequencies.
Alpha Centauri highly likely doesn't contain any traces of life. And that's the point. Even if FTL travel is possible, it's not just "a hop" from one system to the next.

Planets with intelligent civilizations might be thousands, ten thousands of light years apart.
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Old August 26 2013, 08:30 PM   #23
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

The Milky Way is about 100,000 light years in diameter and about 1,000 light years thick. Its volume is therefore roughly 7.9 trillion cubic light years. (This assumes a cylindrical shape, and neglects the central bulge; see the note at the end of the paragraph.) A sphere with a radius of 1,000 light years has a volume of approximately 4.2 billion cubic light years. That's less than one tenth of one percent of the overall volume of the galaxy. The actual figure is about .05 of one percent. (If the whole central bulge were counted, then that fraction would be even smaller.)

Of course, stars are not evenly distributed. By http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/as...s/980123d.html, there are approximately 14,600 stars within 100 light years of Earth. If we assume that stars are distributed with the same density out to 1,000 light years, then, extrapolating outward, there are about 10^3 as many stars, or roughly 14,600,000 stars within 1,000 light years of Earth. (The sun is probably less than 100 light years from the galactic plane.) The presently accepted figure of the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy is conservatively 100 billion. Therefore, within 1,000 light years of Earth are only about one percent of one percent of all the stars in the galaxy.

However you slice it, it is highly premature to say that life is rare, just because there's no sign of it in our immediate stellar neighborhood.
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Old August 26 2013, 10:12 PM   #24
YellowSubmarine
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
Life is rare.
Unless you know how life started, you have no way of telling how easy it is.

Well, you do, but it involves finding alien lifeforms.
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Old August 26 2013, 11:36 PM   #25
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
FPAlpha wrote: View Post
Now as to where the aliens are.. on a philosophical standpoint it might be that we are simply not that interesting to begin with. We are volatile, fearful of new things, greedy and vengeful and the simple revelation that there are Aliens might topple our entire worldwide system because of mass panic.
Alien life is rare. And when something is rare, the is no such thing as "not interesting".

Can you prove your statement that alien life is rare? For all we know there is life under the ice on Europa, Life could have existed on Mars at one point. We only really have life on Earth to act as a basis of what we call life, so there might be life existing somewhere were we didn't think it could exist. At one point didn't we believe that life couldn't exist in the deep oceans on Earth?

I suspect when alien life is discovered it might not be exactly what we were expecting it to look like.

Life might be rare it might be fairly common or anywhere inbetween we have no way of knowing. All we can perhaps say we is to a reasonable degree the number of celestial objects which have life on them is infinitesimal when comapred to the number of celestial objects
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Old August 27 2013, 10:22 AM   #26
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

There are compelling arguments to believe that life is rare - at least in the Milky Way galaxy:

1. Abiogenesis.
What is the road from a bunch of chemicals to the "simplest" molecules that can replicate themselves halfway reliably?
Let's - VERY optimistically - assume that a specific chain of 100 chemical reactions are enough to create this "simplest" molecule.

Now - Darwinian selection has no part in creating this molecule; for Darwinian selection, you need self-replication, which you do not yet have.
Which leaves probability in charge. For a very rough approximation, calculate factorial 100. It gives a number so close to 0 as the chance of this "simplest" molecule emerging, that the chances are life on Earth is alone in the observable universe (and a huge chunk of the unobservable one).

Conclusion - abiogenesis is rare. VERY rare. Even if my factorial 100 approximation is exceedingly rough and even if there are hundreds of billions of Earth-like worlds in our galaxy, the chances are only ours ever gave birth to life.


2. The Fermi paradox.
This is based on a crucial and highly relevant fact:
An intelligent species, bound by the speed of light and various other engineering constraints (let's say, it can only reach 20% c) can colonise the entire Milky Way galaxy in 500.000+change years. And, once an intelligent species colonised other solar systems, this species (including its descendant species) is effectively immortal; no catastrophe can destroy it any longer.

The galaxy had enough heavy elements to evolve life since ~6-7 billion years ago. So, where are these ancient species? The entire galaxy should have been colonised may times over; they should be here, in our solar system - and everywhere else in the galaxy.
And then there are the robotic emissaries - von Neumann probes - of these species; also absent.

The immensity of time is FAR greater than the immensity of space (within our galaxy).

The pro 'life is common' argument relating to this fact tries to implausibly lump ALL these hypothetical species into a single planet-of-hats, adverse over billions of years to interstellar exploration/colonisation - choosing to ignore that even a single species will create many civilisations with different values and priorities during its history; that each species will be different from the others.


The Fermi paradox is NOT about whether intelligent species can send strong radio signals or about how their home planets look like.
It's about the fact that such intelligent species, if they exist, should already be in our solar system - and everywhere else in the galaxy.

They are not here; that's a very strong argument for their non-existence within the Milky Way galaxy.
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Old August 27 2013, 11:16 AM   #27
FPAlpha
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

The Fermi Paradox expects alien life to contact us or that we discover it.. as i already said what if the Aliens just don't want to contact us for whatever reason (we know also nothing about alien psychology so it's useless to apply our psychology and in extension our feeling of curiosity to aliens) and given the vast space and our limited technology we just may missed it or didn't discover it yet.

We discover planets by mathematical methods and we draw conclusions based on the data we receive. If aliens do the same and looked at our system all they would be able to deduct (given the same methods) is the number of planets and that one or two of them are in the habitable zone.. one might actually carry water.

That's all so the Fermi Paradox, as interesting as it is, is really a flawed assumption.
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Old August 27 2013, 11:21 AM   #28
Edit_XYZ
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

FPAlpha, as I said, diverse alien species each creating many civilisations are not a planet-of-hats. And your other objections are already answered to in my previous post, as well.
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Old August 27 2013, 01:01 PM   #29
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

Every generation is so sure of its grasp of science only for later generations to learn how to shine a light into previously dark rooms.

The universe is so vast and stranger than we can imagine that's it's folly to assume we already have definitive answers. I suspect we don't even know we're overlooking something, perhaps something crucial, in trying to answer this question.
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Old August 27 2013, 01:02 PM   #30
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Re: Whee are the aliens?

Edit_XYZ wrote: View Post
1. Abiogenesis.
What is the road from a bunch of chemicals to the "simplest" molecules that can replicate themselves halfway reliably?
Let's - VERY optimistically - assume that a specific chain of 100 chemical reactions are enough to create this "simplest" molecule.

Now - Darwinian selection has no part in creating this molecule; for Darwinian selection, you need self-replication, which you do not yet have.
Which leaves probability in charge. For a very rough approximation, calculate factorial 100. It gives a number so close to 0 as the chance of this "simplest" molecule emerging, that the chances are life on Earth is alone in the observable universe (and a huge chunk of the unobservable one).

Conclusion - abiogenesis is rare. VERY rare. Even if my factorial 100 approximation is exceedingly rough and even if there are hundreds of billions of Earth-like worlds in our galaxy, the chances are only ours ever gave birth to life.
Two objections to this argument. First, chemical reactions are highly sensitive to conditions. If the right conditions exist, they can easily drive a particular product from 1% to 99%. We aren't entirely sure what the right conditions are for ambiogenesis, of course.

Second, even an exceptionally unlikely event becomes probable when there are enough chances. Winning the lottery is exceptionally unlikely, yet someone seems to win every few weeks because there are so many players. Similarly, there could be trillions of ambiogenesis precursor molecules out there. Granted, 100! is much larger than one trillion, but the odds are at least improved somewhat.
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