RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

The Trek BBS title image

The Trek BBS statistics

Threads: 139,684
Posts: 5,430,438
Members: 24,829
Currently online: 418
Newest member: Enabran


Welcome! The Trek BBS is the number one place to chat about Star Trek with like-minded fans. Please login to see our full range of forums as well as the ability to send and receive private messages, track your favourite topics and of course join in the discussions.

If you are a new visitor, join us for free. If you are an existing member please login below. Note: for members who joined under our old messageboard system, please login with your display name not your login name.


Go Back   The Trek BBS > Entertainment & Interests > Science and Technology

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

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old August 25 2013, 04:58 PM   #1
Warped9
Admiral
 
Warped9's Avatar
 
Location: Brockville, Ontario, Canada
Whee are the aliens?

SF author Robert Sawyer was recently asked a question about this: "What's your opinion of Fermi Paradox?"

Sawyer's reply: "Enrico Fermi raised a very valid point: if the universe should be teeming with life, then where are all the aliens? My fear is that terrorism ultimately destroys all civilizations: that is, as more and more destructive power ends up in the hands of individuals, someone eventually does enough damage to destroy each civilization."


Being friends with Sawyer I chimed in with:

"Why haven't we encountered aliens or at least evidence of them? Depending on who you ask maybe we already have. More seriously I wonder if whether we're facing a variation of the rare Earth theory. Life might indeed be common in terms of simple or non complex life like on the microbial level or such. And there might be worlds teaming with complex life on the animal level like Earth of the past before the rise of human intelligence and human civilization. The rarity mightn't be in life or even a measure of intelligence, but in intelligence giving rise to advanced technological civilizations. It could happen, but given the rarity and average distance between star systems with advanced civilizations the odds could really go up in terms of them noticing us, coming here or us noticing their presence either nearby or from a distance. Anyone looking in our direction from beyond 100-200 light years distant might likely never notice a sign of us being here, given we've been technologically "visible" or "noisy" for barely a century. Also beyond a few light years our star system probably doesn't look all that exceptional. From our position we might not see evidence of alien civilizations if they are distant enough and if they haven't been technologically "visible" much longer than we have. Another point---and this may be speculative (hell, it's all speculative)---perhaps a truly advanced civilization no longer uses the same forms of readily recognizable communications that we're so familiar with. Imagine ancient man who couldn't envision the possibility or existence of something like the internet, radio, a telephone or the telegraph."


Thoughts anyone on where is ET?
__________________
STAR TREK: 1964-1991, 2013-?
Warped9 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 25 2013, 05:28 PM   #2
YellowSubmarine
Rear Admiral
 
YellowSubmarine's Avatar
 
Re: Whee are the aliens?

I always found the Fermi paradox too non-paradoxical.

If the closest aliens are in Andromeda, we can't pick out their radio signals, and we might never be able to. Yet it would still mean there are an insane number of alien civilizations in the universe, counting in hundreds of billions. So even if the universe is teeming with life, they could still be so far away that we would never be able to talk to them.

Furthermore, radio signals disappear with an inverse square law, we probably can't pick our own radio signals at any reasonable distance, so we won't be able to pick aliens even in our own backyard. And if we happen to be in the biggest dump in the galaxy, there won't be aliens in our backyard to begin with. And directed signals are gaining popularity, so even we ourselves are getting more radio silent by the day.

Also, wasn't the paradox partially based on the premise that the aliens would being colonizing the galaxy, and thus spread everywhere in a couple of millions of years? If so, the existence of other aliens in our galaxy might have prevented us from evolving (if they colonized our planet), thus we might only exist because they were not present elsewhere in our galaxy.

And lastly, if the aliens are close enough for us to pick their radio signals, we already have. That's already too many captured signals for the period that we've been listening.
__________________
R.I.P. Cadet James T. Kirk (-1651)
YellowSubmarine is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 25 2013, 07:09 PM   #3
RoJoHen
Awesome
 
RoJoHen's Avatar
 
Location: QC, IL, USA
Re: Whee are the aliens?

Even if the universe is full of life, the universe is still fucking huge, and too many things have to go right in order for us to encounter any life that might be out there. It's not really a paradox at all.
__________________
I am the Quintessential Admiral.
RoJoHen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 25 2013, 07:32 PM   #4
CorporalCaptain
Admiral
 
CorporalCaptain's Avatar
 
Location: Kentucky
Re: Whee [sic] are the aliens?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
SF author Robert Sawyer was recently asked a question about this: "What's your opinion of Fermi Paradox?"

Sawyer's reply: "Enrico Fermi raised a very valid point: if the universe should be teeming with life, then where are all the aliens? My fear is that terrorism ultimately destroys all civilizations: that is, as more and more destructive power ends up in the hands of individuals, someone eventually does enough damage to destroy each civilization."
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.

Now that we've survived the Cold War, the foremost security crisis that shaped our worldview yesterday, we've moved on to suppose that the real danger to species generally is the foremost security crisis shaping our worldview today?!? Please. Paranoid shortsighted rubbish. But trendy, very trendy.

Asteroids are demonstrably just as dangerous to the survival of our civilization as terrorism is, if not more so. Just ask the dinosaurs.

Frankly, living is a dangerous business, and thinking and acting intelligently is hard. If extinctions of intelligent species are common, why does it have to predominately be from only one cause?

One could pick any of the man-made threats we face today and reasonably suppose that somewhere there could be alien species succumbing to those problems: economic collapse, genocide, terrorism, militarization, pollution, and so on.

That's not to mention the potential for both terrestrial and extraterrestrial natural disasters. Plague, asteroids, and radiation are only some of the possibilities.

Let's not forget alien invasion, which if it happened would tend to be much more one-sided than is generally depicted in popular science fiction. Perhaps there is an alien race with FTL going around and snuffing out all the species that announce their presence with radio waves, as if they are pulling weeds out of their garden.

Or, maybe we're just among the first. Why should we expect aliens to have already done what we just accomplished within the last one hundred years?
__________________
John
CorporalCaptain is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 25 2013, 07:36 PM   #5
YellowSubmarine
Rear Admiral
 
YellowSubmarine's Avatar
 
Re: Whee are the aliens?

Viruses and bacteria trump nukes, asteroids, let alone terrorism.

Unless you're talking viral terrorism.
__________________
R.I.P. Cadet James T. Kirk (-1651)
YellowSubmarine is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 25 2013, 07:39 PM   #6
CorporalCaptain
Admiral
 
CorporalCaptain's Avatar
 
Location: Kentucky
Re: Whee are the aliens?

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
Viruses and bacteria trump nukes, asteroids, let alone terrorism.

Unless you're talking viral terrorism.
I think I covered that, with "plague". One of the ancient modes of Armageddon. Biblical, really.
__________________
John
CorporalCaptain is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 25 2013, 08:00 PM   #7
RAMA
Vice Admiral
 
RAMA's Avatar
 
Location: NJ, USA
Re: Whee are the aliens?

We discussed this quite a bit on the ancient alien thread. There is also a book with over 100 reasons why we haven't encountered aliens yet.

http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=179554

My most likely scenerio: Aliens are using Starseeds, self-replicating robots that are cheap and efficient...virus-like, and may well have settled decent portions of the Galaxy, but even though advanced, tiny robot probes are almost impossible to detect(we can barely find asteroids that pose a danger to us).

http://io9.com/it-s-easier-for-alien...thou-909418813

I also lean towards the idea that any alien species advanced enough for star travel will likely not be malevolent, though they may well have practices that would endanger us, but they may indifferent to such problems.

I have a feeling that our methods of communication may not attract much attention from space travelers, however, if thorough enough, our artificial signals may be picked up, but it just won't be the prime method they are looking for.

RAMA
__________________
It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. Carl Sagan

Last edited by RAMA; August 25 2013 at 08:24 PM.
RAMA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 26 2013, 06:39 AM   #8
Gep Malakai
Vice Admiral
 
Gep Malakai's Avatar
 
Send a message via AIM to Gep Malakai Send a message via Windows Live Messenger to Gep Malakai
Re: Whee are the aliens?

RoJoHen wrote: View Post
Even if the universe is full of life, the universe is still fucking huge, and too many things have to go right in order for us to encounter any life that might be out there. It's not really a paradox at all.
Yup. It's basically somebody noticing that reality does not conform to their pile of assumptions, but instead of revising those assumptions they stand their ground and call it a "paradox." It's dumb.
__________________
"From the darkness you must fall, failed and weak, to darkness all."
-Kataris
Gep Malakai is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 26 2013, 06:43 AM   #9
Lego Thrawn
Lieutenant Junior Grade
 
Lego Thrawn's Avatar
 
Location: Csilla
Re: Whee are the aliens?

Yes, the universe could be overflowing with life. The question is, how much of that life is either life as we know it, intelligent life, or life more complex than bacteria?
Lego Thrawn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 26 2013, 07:48 AM   #10
Lt. Uhura-Brown
Lieutenant Commander
 
Location: New Zealand
Re: Whee are the aliens?

For the same reason the night sky isn't blindingly bright with an infinite number of stars in an infinite Universe.
Lt. Uhura-Brown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 26 2013, 09:55 AM   #11
YellowSubmarine
Rear Admiral
 
YellowSubmarine's Avatar
 
Re: Whee are the aliens?

Lt. Uhura-Brown wrote: View Post
For the same reason the night sky isn't blindingly bright with an infinite number of stars in an infinite Universe.
And those are stars, some 384 * 10 ^ 26 watts a piece, and you still don't see the majority of them. That's 256 * 10 ^ 13 times the total human energy consumption. Now, imagine the stars were as faint as our radio signals, which a barely a small portion of our energy use and only a part of them are irradiated into space. We might not even know there were stars.
__________________
R.I.P. Cadet James T. Kirk (-1651)
YellowSubmarine is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 26 2013, 09:58 AM   #12
JarodRussell
Vice Admiral
 
JarodRussell's Avatar
 
Re: Whee are the aliens?

First, the Fermi Paradox, as well as the Drake equation, is full of shit.

Any statistical number they give you for the chance of life in the universe is wrong. Why? Because we don't know anything. Therefore we can't make any valid assumption as to how rare life in the galaxy or the universe is. Life on Earth is depending on so many variables. Our orbit around the sun. The fact that we have only a single moon at exactly the right size and rotational velocity. The fact that there is a gas giant out there protecting us from most incoming debris. The magnetic field produced by the iron core of our planet. The idea that we MIGHT be in a habitable zone of the galaxy.

Who knows, maybe all this is a specific constellation that you can only find ONCE in the entire universe. We cannot say.

You have a room full of boxes. Billions of billions of boxes. ALL boxes look different from each other. And you opened one single box and it contains a teddy bear. What are the chances that there is another box that contains a teddy bear? You cannot say. It is impossible to know. You don't know why the teddy bear is in that specific box, so you don't know what specifications other boxes need to fulfill.
JarodRussell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 26 2013, 11:10 AM   #13
iguana_tonante
Admiral
 
iguana_tonante's Avatar
 
Location: Italy, EU
Re: Whee are the aliens?

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.
__________________
Scientist. Gentleman. Teacher. Fighter. Lover. Father.
iguana_tonante is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 26 2013, 12:11 PM   #14
Alidar Jarok
Everything in moderation but moderation
 
Alidar Jarok's Avatar
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
Re: Whee are the aliens?

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
I always found the Fermi paradox too non-paradoxical.

If the closest aliens are in Andromeda, we can't pick out their radio signals, and we might never be able to. Yet it would still mean there are an insane number of alien civilizations in the universe, counting in hundreds of billions. So even if the universe is teeming with life, they could still be so far away that we would never be able to talk to them.
Yeah, pretty much this. The universe is big. Distance between habitable worlds is likely huge as well. Given the tendency of life to survive in the craziest places on Earth, I have little doubt it exists in some form elsewhere. But intelligent life existing close enough to Earth to encounter it is considerably less probable.
__________________
When on Romulus, Do as the Romulans
Alidar Jarok is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 26 2013, 02:21 PM   #15
Mr. Adventure
Admiral
 
Mr. Adventure's Avatar
 
Location: Mr. Adventure
Re: Whee are the aliens?

Why is terrorism such a be all/end all? People can be so horrible to each other and themselves and one only is concerned when a plane gets blown up or whatever. I just think it's selfishness and bothers people because terrorism could put their lives at risk. Screw all those people starving and trying to make it, all those people calling out for help, all those people getting screwed by big corporations and nasty predators, just don't blow up my car.
Mr. Adventure is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 09:09 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.