Was the LHC Science being given to Dangerous Terrorists?

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by TheMasterOfOrion, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. Meredith

    Meredith Vice Admiral Admiral

    Nov 8, 2001
    Abh Space
    Maybe we can sucker them into blowing on all of their money making a "Strangelet Suicide Vest" and by the time they realize they have failed they will be too poor to buy C-4....
  2. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Premium Member

    Nov 30, 2001
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Invest in the company that makes email.
  3. kNkg

    kNkg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jun 7, 2004
    I'm not sure I follow this part, wouldn't how far out we can detect signals be dependent on the "strength" of the source and how "faint" signals are that we can detect? Not for how long we have been looking for them.

  4. SilentP

    SilentP Commodore Commodore

    May 21, 2009
    is in a very lonely Corner of the Circle
    Well basically, if we've been listening for 50 years (to set a number here), it means that any EM signals (which move at the speed of light) that we detect at best could have been 50 light years away after having scanned for 50 years.

    Say for example, a signal was sent here from 60 light years away from Earth at the time we first started scanning the skies. This would mean that said signal has still 10 years to get to us.

    On the flipside, say signal had been sent here from only 10 light years away, but sent 100 years ago. It means that we missed said signal 40 years ago.

    It's a question of timing.

    Also, when you think about it, if 50 light years is as far as we know, we've only listened to a very small distance away from us, since the Milky Way is 100,000 light years across and 1000 thick, according to Wiki. That's tiny. And that's assuming that we've been watching the entire sky over us, which we haven't. There's a lot of holes in our tiny net.
  5. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

    Sep 15, 2006
    Italy, EU
    Of course it's obtuse fear mongering: it's journalism! I think it's in the very definition of the job. The only serious threat is a terrorism blowing up the CERN. A bunch of people die, lots of money is lost. Like any other terrorist act.

    Build a starship from the sinked Japanese warship Yamato and sent it to Iscandar to retrieve the Cosmo DNA. It's the only way.
  6. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Premium Member

    Nov 30, 2001
    Bonney Lake, WA
    You're right, but you're also assuming signals transmitted in isolation. The working assumption is that any technologically advanced society would be putting out fair amounts of radio constantly, the same way we are. This may not be the case, of course; they could have found a different technology, or simply used a different part of the EM band for communication.

    But if they are putting out radio constantly, then we should be detecting them even outside a 50LY radius unless they just reached the radio age recently. The maximum distance would then be a combined function of distance, transmission power, and how long ago their radio age began.
  7. SilentP

    SilentP Commodore Commodore

    May 21, 2009
    is in a very lonely Corner of the Circle
    True, my argument was just a simplificaiton of why the amount of time we have been listening would affect our chances of us having detected any signals, especially when combined with the fact that we don't continuously scan the same area again and again, which is why we might not end up catching one of the regular broadcasts.

    The one thing that I've wondered about detecting alien signals is whether or not we'd actually be able to tell if it was alien or not. I know that scientists listen on a specific frequency that's related to the vibrational harmonic frequency of hydrogen (or something that sounds somewhat technobabble-ish) that is assumed to be what other aliens would choose, since it's easier to tell if it's artificial or not.

    Assuming that aliens follow that logic, hopefully it won't be a problem to notice it. My problem with detecting radio signals is if we accidentally catch a signal that's not intended for us. How would we know if the signals that we pick are some kind of stellar phenomena or the alien equivalent of digital TV? BTW, that is a serious question, not a rhetorical one, since I'm under the impression that when the first pulsar was detected, it was confused for something artificial, due to it's regular signal.
  8. ProtoAvatar

    ProtoAvatar Fleet Captain

    Feb 24, 2008
    Not quite, SilentP.
    We had powerful enough transmitters for ~60 years and that means that the radio transmissions we sent are at the most ~60 light years away from Earth.
    We could "hear" transmissions coming from civilizations thousands (or more) light years distant. That only means that these civilizations sent these EM signals a few thousand years ago and we're receiving them now.

    As I said, we should be listening for transmissions coming from civilizations more advanced than us - most of their transmissions will be powerfull enough to be coherent when they reach us, and, equally important, such civilizations should transmit EM signals continuously (more or less) - and I'm not talking just about transmissions sent specifically to some hypothetical alien species, but about transmissions that have other purposes, too.

    About transmitting information/travelling with FTL speeds:

    According to special relativity, NOTHING can travel faster than light (not matter, not even information) - this is because, according to the theory, one cannot determine a preferred frame of reference (and with FTL, one could do just that).

    About the "split particle":

    You're talking about quantum entanglement. About this phenomenon was said that, "philosophically, it breaks special relativity, but practically, it does not".

    You see, if you have two entangled particles and you measure one, the result you get obeys only probability - for example, you have 50% for the particle having spin up and 50% for the particle having spin down.
    In this moment, the other entangled particle (which you did not measure) will "choose" to have a spin identical to the one of the measured particle - even if this not measured particle is at the other end of the universe! So, philosophically, entanglement breaks SR.
    But you see, practically, you can't transmit any useful information this way. Why? Because you can't choose what spin the particle you measure will "choose" to have - this is a LAW of quantum mechanics. Only gibberish can be transmitted, you have no control over the transmitted information.

    FTL or no FTL?:

    If, in the future, a FTL form of transmitting information/matter is found, special relativity will be proven to be largely incorrect (so far, special relativity was experimentally verified again and again - it's one of the "safest" theories we have).

    Of course, a FTL anything will enormously increase the probability that space-faring aliens are everywhere in the galaxy - a space-faring species can explore/colonize the entire galaxy in a few thousand years (and it had millions of years at its disposal)!
    In this case - why are they not here?
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2009
  9. ProtoAvatar

    ProtoAvatar Fleet Captain

    Feb 24, 2008
    PurpleBuddha, if a space-faring alien species colonized planets from solar systems other than their own, it won't stop at 10, 100 or 1000. The many different civilizations this species fathered won't have a program saying - we colonized 1234 planets, we stop here. As time passes, the colonization will continue.

    I treated in a previous post of mine from this thread this exact problem:

    About Milky way colonization and the cycles of alien civilizations:

    Let's say you have an alien species that just learned to travel close to light speed (and let's assume lightspeed is an absolute speed limit).
    This species now has ships that can reach the nearest stars in a few decades. Also, this species will be composed from various factions with various motivations (if it's anything like humanity). This means that some of the factions will have motivations that include sending colonizing ships to the nearest inhabitable systems.
    These inhabitable systems will be inhabited in ~100 years, and the colonies will thrive in, let's say, ~500 years. These colonies will send their own ships (in addition to the ones being sent by the home system) around this time.
    In another 600 years, the colonies created by this new colonizing wave will begin to send heir own ships - which will be added to the ships being sent by the home system and the first established colonies.
    And so forth - the rate of exploration/colonization will increase exponentially as new colonies are established/the alien species expands.

    In a few million years, this alien species will have colonies EVERYWHERE in the galaxy - Milky way is 100.000 in diameter!

    And these colonies will be only very tenuously linked with the home system; in a few million years they will be completely different civilizations! Their values and perhaps their biology will be different - think star trek humanoids, at the very least.
    Let's say the original alien civilization collapses - this will have NO EFFECT on the civilizations fathered by it! There can be no such thing as a "galactic middle age" when the galaxy is filled with thousands of different civilizations! Some will collapse, but some will be at their peak!

    And I'm assuming that, at the beginning, there existed only one alien species - anywhere in the galaxy!
    What if there are hundreds/thousands of alien species! Even if one assumes that a species is completely unlike humanity/has no desire to colonize the galaxy, a few of hundreds/thousands will do it.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2009
  10. TeknoNurd

    TeknoNurd Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 6, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV.
    On the issue of the scientist with terrorist connections:

    The goal may not have been to extract information to use as a WMD. More likely in my mind, he may have been there to see if he could destroy CERN with carefully placed explosives (or paper clips). Destroying CERN would be quite the coupe. 10 years ago terrorists changed the existing hijacking paradygm to catastrophic effect.

    On the issue of where the aliens are:

    Upthread someone gave a timeline of a colinized planet sending out another colony ship in 500 years. This is unrealistic.

    First, a colony ship must be huge and self-sufficient. We're not talking a small apollo type ship to make a dash, we're talking a Rama type ship. One ship would be a tremendous drain on a world economy.

    So a civilization makes a colony ship and off they go to the nearest life supporting planet. Bear in mind their colony ship is self-supporting, so they are in no rush. When they get "there", they spend a few years studying the planet before they commit. When they commit, they would have no need to send out another colony ship until they've maxed out the use of the new planet, which, based on the only example we have would take not 500 years, but more like 5,000 - 10,000 years. Since they've learned how to build self-sustaining colony ships, they've also learned how to live in a self-sustaining manner, so it may take much longer to "use up" a planet. Also, these colony ships have no need to travel anywhere near the speed of light, they can meander along at any speed they choose.

    Space flight is dangerous, and compared to the forces of the universe, any space colony ship would be fragile. While the colony ship is traveling to a new localle, they are at risk, one oops and they're done. Also, once they commit to colonizing a planet, they again have all their eggs in one fragile basket.

    What do they do when they encounter another space faring intellegence? War is a definate possibility, and that takes a lot of resources, and at interstellar distances could take extremely long. Even without war, peace and integration take a long time. Or they may just decide not to deal with that group and just expand in a different direction.

    Deciding to colonize another planet is expensive and arduous and would only be undertaken as a last resort. Colonizing for it's own sake doesn't help the original world, in fact the original world losing major resources, forever.

    We also assume that other space faring species would naturally want to go forth and colonize. They may simply not have the urge. Also, look around... we're using up our resources and still have no real space faring ability. It may be that by time we realize to survive we must send out a colony ship, we may still not have the ability, or may have used up the resources to the extent that it's not possible to both build a colony ship and support current society. This situation may end up being a truism of a planets lifecycle.

    There is also a lot of intellegence that may never have the biological tools to become space faring. Look at dolphins, they may have or may get intellegence equal to ours, but no biological tools to do anything but think great thoughts and have great discussions while swimming around their vast oceons on their little blue planet.

    But, because the aliens aren't here, I think we can conclude a few things: 1) FTL travel is not possible; 2) Time Travel is not possible; 3) Space is big and dangerous.
  11. ProtoAvatar

    ProtoAvatar Fleet Captain

    Feb 24, 2008

    About "builing the ship"

    Any civilization that can build ships that can travel at close to lightspeed has other advanced technologies at its disposal - for one, advanced nanotechnology.
    FOR US, building a colony ship would be a huge drain on world economy; NOT for a civilization that mastered nanotechnology and has at its disposal the resources of an entire solar system.

    About "motivation"

    Motivations for colonizing other places are numerous (as our own history showed) - population pressure; the desire to escape oppression; in order to start "fresh" and not be just a cog in the huge societal machine; certain cultures will wish to be "independent", etc.
    The point is - any alien species will be composed of many different cultures with different motivations; some of these civilizations will have the motivation to "move out". And once colonies are established amd develop their own culture, the number of different cultures/motivations will increase (for example, since 1500 until today - aka in 500 years - humanity changed enormously/increased in numbers at an impressive rate) - some of these colonies will soon send ships further out, some not so soon. Per total, as the number of colonies increase, the number of colonizing ships will increase.

    About the "dangers" and "speed" of space travel

    Outer space, unlike what we see in Star Trek is BORING. REALLY BORING.
    Essentially, space is a huge, empty desert with few resources of any kind (and the solar systems are "oasis"). The greatest danger in outer space is to remain without resources. The best way to minimize this danger is to travel at yout top speed - aka near light-speed - once you have decided where you want to go - and, with the FTL speed limit, you WILL NOT LEAVE WITHOUT DECIDING your destination.

    About "dolphins"

    Yes, it's possible some intelligent species will never develop technology - as far as SETI is concerned these species are always silent. It's also possible that some intelligent species will not have the desire to explore (which is NOT an evolutionary advantage - humanity, without the desire to explore/expand would be stuck in Africa/most likely extinct) - of course, I don't see how these species become dominant on their planet/develop technology.
    But, among the alien species - all with different motivations - there will BE some with the ability to create technology/the desire to expand (a definite evolutionary advantage, as said). I have been talking about these species. It only takes ONE SUCH SPECIES and a few MILLION YEARS to colonize the entire galaxy.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2009
  12. TeknoNurd

    TeknoNurd Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 6, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV.
    This is very much a chicken and egg situation. We are nearing a point where we will need to develop self-sustaining space travel, forget near the speed of light. We may eventually develop "advanced" technology, but it will be after that critical point where we either develop self-sustaining space travel or die. We MAY have already passed this point.

    Since we are the only example available, one must believe that other species have gone through similar development cycles. Like I said, and you ignored, it may be a natural lifecycle issue, that by time a species realizes it must get off planet, and develops the technology to get off planet, it's too late to mount a sufficient effort.

    The main motivator for exploration of humanity has been lack of resources. A group wanted to seperate themselves from another group for whatever reason, so they moved to the next valley. At times when there was no next valley, simply destroying the old group was an option. But, the buttom line has always been resources.

    You are likely right (and wrong) that other species will contain sub-groups with different motivations. This is the problem we have on Earth which is a major hurdle to developing the space technology we need to get off planet. Societies that are all on the same page, with no dissent, actually have a better chance at recognizing the needs of the future and acting on them.

    You are counting from 1500 to today, 500 years, why? The population at 1500 was quite large, larger than a colony ship could deliver to a planet. No, we're talking starting with a few hundred people and filling up the planet, this is not a 500 year task, more like 5000 years. And, that's assuming unrestrained expansion. For a society that has spent a few generations in space will build in a certain frugality that would continue when they are society building on a new planet.

    Again, using the only example we have, the best we can do now is head tward a solar system we think will have a planet that we can survive on. We won't know until we get there. Of course, to get there we would have to develop colony ships that are virtually self-sustaining, so that if we get "there" and "there" isn't there, we would head off to the next likely "there". Of course, once we have self-sustaining ships, why do we need to leave the solar system any time soon? There are a lot of resources right here.

    Space is not all that empty, there are rocks traveling quite fast all over that if they bump into your space ship, or vice versa, the space ship is toast. Space is a big, bad place, and a society would risk it only if it had no other choice.

    Also, Near Light Speed travel will require a lot of fuel to speed up and slow down. This is a problem right now. Even IF we get to NLS, we still need a self-sufficient system for those 10s or 100s of years, which will require a big ship.

    and it only takes TWO to foil each other.

    Again, we haven't even determined if a species lifecycle allows enough time to get off-planet before it uses all it's resources. It's not looking like we will do it, what if this is the norm, or unavoidable?

    We are on the cusp of manipulating our own genes. Perhaps this is a normal situation, and the undoing of every possible spacefaring species. Perhaps smart machines are the undoing of spacefaring species.

    The fact that Aliens aren't here and Drakes Equation indicates they should be means there's something that makes interstellar expansion unlikely or extremely difficult. We can't just hand wave the problems away, because one of them, or all of them, or other ones we haven't even figured out yet, are preventing the Aliens from getting here, and therefore us from getting "there" someday.
  13. ProtoAvatar

    ProtoAvatar Fleet Captain

    Feb 24, 2008

    We vs "cool" aliens:

    We/humanity, is, at this point in time, primitive - we've been serious about technology for only ~400 years.
    Civilizations that can build ships able to travel to near light-speed developed technologically for tens of thousand of years (most likely).

    You are saying that WE can't build near-lightspeed ships, WE can't "see" planets in detail (we're getting closer to this goal, though), WE can't avoid a space rock (which is actually not true when we're talking "rocks"), etc.
    You're saying nothing about a species thousands of years more advanced than us. If something can be done according to physical laws, then this species should be able to do it.

    WE are, of course, nowhere near the level of technology needed to build a near-lightspeed ship.
    But we're relatively close (a few centuries) to building interplanetary ships - and colonize our own solar system (our own back yard, so to speak).
    This achievement will alleviate population pressure/resource scarcity for the next thousands of years - during which time we will develop technologically.
    The resources of a solar system are vast, but ultimately limited.
    As you said one motivaton in colonization has been, historically, resource scarcity - of course, it was not the only motivation; not even close.
    After thousands of years, population pressure and resource scarcity will impose a vigurous space colonization program - of course, space colonization could have begun long before that point, due to various "motivations".

    Is it possible that we will self-destruct tomorrow/in the next decades/due to population pressure and resource scarcity? Yes - the cold war is testimony to that. One of the proposed solutions for the Fermi Paradox is that all species self-destruct once they reach a certain point in their development. Another solution is that intelligent/technological life is extremely scarce. And there are other, more "unorthodox" solutions.
    But it's also possible we won't self-destruct at all.


    I mentioned the 1500-now example to exemplify how fast cultures can change/how fast population can grow, given adecvate resources.
    And a colonization ship can carry tens of thousands of colonists (this is a timid estimation) - most of whom could very vell be "frozen" (or something similar). Also, don't think these colonists won't have the means (technological or otherwise) to reproduce/increase their numbers rapidly, if they so wished - of course, they shouldn't have the motivation to increase their numbers by such means beyond what is needed for their safety/prosperity.

    About "space wars" - when we're talking about interstellar civilizations:

    Two possibilities
    - the civilizations are at about the same level - in which case neither will gain an advantage - meaning both will continue to exist/expand.
    - one civilization is far more advanced than another - in which case this civilization could destroy the opposing one (a task which will take centuries/millenia at the very least!) - meaning the more advanced civilization will continue to exist/expand.
    It's worth mentioning that the less advanced civilization could survive simply by sending near-lightspeed colonizing ships in the direction opposite to the more advanced civilization.

    As you see, in no possible scenario will alien life disappear.

    About AIs:

    If AIs destroyed their organic creators, these AIs would take their place and become a space-faring civilization.

    About gene-manipulation - why would this lead to the demise of a species? Could you elaborate?

    And about the Fermi paradox/Drake equation:

    Yes - why are the aliens not here, when they should be here, according to what we know about physics, chemistry and probability?
    The truth is - we don't know. Several explanations were offered, but none was truly convincing.
    The light speed limit, though, is NOT a viable explanation.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2009
  14. PurpleBuddha

    PurpleBuddha Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Apr 14, 2003
    That is flat out wrong.

    The Drake Equation merely identifies some of the variables we need to figure out so that one day we may calculate the odds of intelligent life out there, and how many species there may be.

    Of the seven variables in the equation we have only a little information about two of them:

    1.) The average rate of star formation in our galaxy per year
    2.) The fraction of stars the have planets around them

    Any even then, the information we have about those two variables is far from complete. Without more data, any calculation from the formula is simply a guess.
  15. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jan 14, 2004
    Bulent's Cafe
    Boy, is this thread off topic.

    In answer to the original question, I doubt it unless there exist theoretical terrorists who use supercomputers to bomb virtual targets.