Planet around Alpha Centauri - lets talk about it

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by T J, Apr 25, 2013.

  1. T J

    T J Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2004
    Location:
    milky way... there abouts
    Which is the exciting part. Year by year our planet hunting methods improve. At first we could only see the largest gas giants close in to their star. Then large rocky planets. The day is coming (I'm sure) when we'll strike gold, figuratively speaking.

    Should we then beam a message there once found? That opens a whole other door to a discussion. Remember the Conquistadors and native people of South America. Or for that matter the native North Americans and other European powers. The only thing that could protect us are vast distances... perhaps.

    I recently read the synopsis for an older sci-fi book (sorry I don't remember the name, they were cephalopods) where aliens detected our transmissions and took from them that whenever we encounter aliens we were violent. To protect themselves and waltzed right over and wiped out humanity on Earth and throughout our system. Scary thought to be judged and made extinct because of Hollywood and bad writers! :lol:
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Remember: Earth has supported life for 3.5 billion years, but has only supported sentient life for a few million years (counting dolphins), has only had civilization for a few thousand years, and has only had the ability to detect radio signals for a few decades. So even if we do find an inhabited planet, that doesn't mean it's at all likely to have intelligence and radio telescopes. Granted, Alpha Centauri seems to be 2 billion years older than Sol, so any life-bearing planets there could have a considerable headstart; but so far as we know, there's nothing inevitable about the emergence of intelligence or technological civilization, or at least no set timetable for its development.

    We like to think about discovering extraterrestrial life in terms of communication and interaction because that's what science fiction has conditioned us to think about, and because it's more satisfying to think about. But realistically it's likely to be more a matter of very long-distance spectroscopy of an alien world's atmosphere and surface, and maybe, if we're ambitious enough, some slower-than-light robot probes which will let our children or grandchildren get a detailed look at whatever's living there.
     
  3. ConRefit79

    ConRefit79 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    While it is true if there is intelligent life there, they may not have radio communication, why would we not want to send a message? If there is life that has radio communication, surely they've heard some of our transmissions. All this would be is, we know your system has planets. It would only take about 10yrs to get a reply if there is one. Start with prime numbers. Then I guess a mathematical model of their system as we know it and of ours.

    I know we've been listening for decades. But I don't recall reading any serious attempts at sending messages to some of our neighbors. If we haven't, our nearest neighbor is a good place to start.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013
  4. T J

    T J Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2004
    Location:
    milky way... there abouts
    All very good and true points... in a way science fiction has gives us many delusions. In the end I find when it comes to these matters real life science trumps popular media. Doubtful we'll ever have a "take me to your leader moment", but who says planetary spectral analysis isn't as interesting. To see how a planet developed differently to ours would be engrossing.
     
  5. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2013
    With all due respect, you were the one who used the term "crackpot."

    You mean like this evidence?

    Cometary Asteroids
    In other words, a comet with a full coma and tail(s) is a dry rock at the nucleus. The material sputtered from the surface later combines with the Solar wind to form "water."

    Does Science Admit When it’s Wrong?
    In idealized science, yes, but institutionalized science induces numerous pressures to preserve a status quo. Grants and/or even careers may be at stake.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    For one thing, it would take a lot of power to send one that was strong and focused enough to be comprehensible across interstellar distances. Doing that before you've found out if there's any chance of reception is putting the cart before the horse, don't you think? You're focusing on the wrong set of priorities. There are more fundamental questions where our attention should be focused before we get to that one.

    And while the desire to communicate with other life in the universe is understandable, it's not the end-all and be-all of science. There's a wealth of amazing stuff we can learn about life and nature and physics without intelligence or communication coming into the picture at all. That's just one narrow slice of the subject.
     
  7. ConRefit79

    ConRefit79 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    I would think the cost would be small compared to developing an orbiting telescope array or an interstellar probe.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^Again, not the point. The problem isn't with whether it would work, the problem is that it's not the best question to ask in the first place. You're getting way ahead of yourself.

    Look at it this way: When you're thinking about taking up scuba diving, the first question to focus on is not whether you'll find sunken treasure. There's a ton of other, more fundamental stuff you have to think about and ask and learn first, and that's going to be a lot more useful to think about during the learning process.
     
  9. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    ^ Not finding sunken treasure, establishing contact with a mermaid. :cool:

    One of the earliest things SETI did was sweep local stars, since those are the ones from which we could receive the strongest signal and within a human lifetime. Nothing has been received, so it would be like going scuba diving in a pond yet again on the theory that maybe a bluegill evolved into a mermaid since the last time you went fishing.
     
  10. ConRefit79

    ConRefit79 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    They listened for radio transmissions. I still haven't seen anywhere, where we've deliberately sent a message to a single star system.
     
  11. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2001
    National Geographic supported a "reply" to the Wow! signal last year, but as far as I can tell, it's just a publicity stunt. Certainly there's no scientific reason to beam signals deliberately into space. What's your rationale for seeing it done, ConRefit?

    Given the vast stretches of both time and space over which the universe exists, the odds that another technological civilization exists within meaningful communications range are very low. There may be an advanced technological society that exists right now, contemporaneous with us, but it may exist in the Andromeda galaxy. Alternatively, there may be a technological civilization within a relatively close distance (say, a few hundred lightyears of us), but it could've gone extinct millions of years ago or not arise for millions of years yet. Either way, communication is not realistic.
     
  12. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    There are ALOT of things wrong with that page, too many to make an exhausive list. But at a glance:

    No, they're called "dirty snowballs" by journalists, usually because they don't know any better. Astronomers let them go on calling them that because they know the journalists don't know any better.

    Which, if scientists had expected to see any evidence of surface ice or active venting, would mean something.

    No, it exploded in the upper atmosphere. Jupiter's magnetosphere is millions of kilometers in diameter and SL-9 passed through it twice before finally crashing into the planet.

    ... said no data, ever.

    No they weren't. And the page this links to demonstrates a very poor understanding of how X-ray telescopes work or how they are used.

    The thing is, hydroxyls are not often found as free radicals in and of themselves on asteroids OR comets, not in remote sensing or by fragment samples. Their presence in the first place is difficult to explain except as a constituent of volatiles, including -- but not limited to -- water and ammonia ices. It could easily be (and is sometimes theorized) that the hydroxyls originate from clays or hydrated minerals that are broken down and sublimated at high temperatures (much the way the combustion of some hydrocarbons release water vapor as a byproduct).

    Which is the biggest flaw in your source: the "dirty snowballs" objection is a strawman, and the rest is mainly just scientific ignorance.

    This is indeed true and is a serious problem with many of the more abstract fields -- particularly psychiatry and cosmology, where hard data is hard to come by and sophistry is a way of life.

    Astronomy, however, isn't generally of them, and the study of comets tends not to have this feature since it's so much easier -- and more important -- to locate and track them than to figure out what they're made of.
     
  13. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    Actually I believe they have done exactly this on several occasions, even knowing that the chance of anyone receiving -- let alone understanding -- those signals was effectively zero.
     
  14. ConRefit79

    ConRefit79 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    I had not read anywhere that we have deliberately sent messages to nearby star systems. The thought being, our random transmissions may not have enough power to be discernible at such distances. If memory serves, we still have to point dishes at the Voyager probes to send and receive messages from them. And they're still relatively nearby.
     
  15. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Location:
    Near Manhattan ··· in an alternate reality
    Interesting... so, it's a real long shot that comets or asteroids brought over a majority of Earth's water. More than likely it was a fraction, if any. (See Article for more details)


    As for extraterrestrial life, I'm in agreement with TJ... the "coincidence" of sentient life with sufficient technology that is able to communicate at just the right timing so that other sentient life may receive it is up against extremely poor odds. The fact that radio waves must travel hundreds or thousands of years due to the distance and the fact that just 100 years ago we weren't even capable of picking up any transmissions just goes to show you how remote it really is.

    Of course, this is all with respect to the start of technologically capable societies... the other side of the coin is the longevity of sentient life. If other sentient species also have to struggle with the incompatibility between civility and primal instincts the way we are presently struggling, the odds of success are not very good. While we can all chat here in extreme comfort, our lives are far more tenuous than most people realize. The infrastructure for distributing essential life sustaining supplies is very weak. Something like the "Dust Bowl" of the 1930's could easily happen again and with a significantly larger population dependent upon a steady food supply (and aging power grids susceptible to failure) , our societies could easily break down into mass chaos, setting us back technologically for many decades to come... assuming we are even able to recover.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2013