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SETI taking an unwise turn?

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#1 Glassthrower

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 07:35 PM

I just heard about this and was wondering what some of you thought about it. Apparently, there are some people with access with radio telescopes who want to engage in active transmissions to greatly increase Earth's visibility in the radio spectrum - with the goal of attracting attention (and a contact) from extraterrestrial civilizations.

David Brin explains - http://www.davidbrin...titransmit.html

Am I the only one who thinks this is unwise? Or, am I just one of the paranoid people who imagines a Borg Cube answering the signal?

Best regards,

MikeG

#2 Rick Woods

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 07:58 PM

I'm with you. It's like ringing the dinner bell.

#3 Crow Haven

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 08:37 PM

Yep, dinner's on! Welcome to Earth! :borg:

#4 Laz

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 08:46 PM

"ringing the dinner bell" funny!!!!! problem is we won't be here and they won't there when the signal arrives, besides after 50yrs of tv reruns our signals are placed in the spam

#5 llanitedave

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 11:53 PM

I'm not worried. There's no reason to suspect that we would have anything of interest or benefit to ETs, (other than curiosity), whether biological, technological, mineralogical, or culinary. There are so many possible organic compounds out there to be coopted by organisms, and such a small percentage that we actually use, that I wouldn't be a bit surprised if foreign organisms might actually be toxic to us, and we them.

#6 CounterWeight

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 12:20 AM

Only if the beam out old episodes of 'I love Lucy' and 'Leave it to Beaver'... oh yeah... we already did that! Probably they are laughing about 'George and Gracie'? or 'The Jack Benny Show'.. what if they showed up and did only comedy routines?

I read an amusing note once about when the aliens arrive they will set up tables outside their craft and demonstrate cooking utinsil skills and laundry aids...

#7 MikeBOKC

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 07:38 AM

Well those signals will travel at light speed, which means that even under the most optimistic interpretation of the Drake equation the nearest listening post to earth would likely be at least several dozen light years away. Travel time to come check us out (assuming achievable speeds of even half of light speed) would be well after all of us are gone. And as noted they have been watching our television shows for decades if they have the technology to intercept us, and given the overall quality of television from its beginning to now (probably a downhill slope) they are likely to think we are morons anyway.

#8 Glassthrower

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 09:12 AM

Well, our television and radar signals are weak compared to what SETI wants to do. If they go ahead with this, it will increase our visibility by an order of magnitude greater than the old episodes of Lucy and the Honeymooners.

And, it seems that some of the arguments above that revolve around the distance to the nearest expected civilization, limitations of travel times, etc, are making assumptions.

We assume that other civilizations (if they exist) are bound by the same laws of physics that we are. This also assumes that our understanding of those laws are correct. This also assumes that these are "laws" to start with. This ignores the likelihood that we are children trying to craft "laws" that explain the nature of the sandbox we find ourselves in.

History, at least here on Earth, gives us plenty of examples of what to expect one two cultures meet and there is a disparity in the advancement levels of those cultures. One side is almost always enslaved and/or wiped out. Let's hope that anyone who hears our message is better than we are.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the cosmos and it's possible inhabitants. I just think it would be prudent to remain silent and listen intently. To loudly announce our presence is hubris at best.

I think what bothers me here is not just the "shouting from the rooftops" aspect of the issue. It's the unilateral nature of the proposed program - no discussion, no peer review, no voting, no debate. Those who seek to do this are acting on the behalf of all of us, with no mandate to do so.

Humanity - STFU.

Best regards and clear quiet skies,

MikeG

#9 dickbill

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 10:39 AM

Nobody ever visited Lowell observatory in Flagstaff Arizona?
Lowell could see on Mars what he wanted to see and i assume he himself payed his collaborators to see the same thing.
Now if his collaborators had been payed instead by a neutral organisation, i am pretty sure the truth about the canali would have been throwed more often at Percival Lowel's face.
The academic world is filled with big eggos and either you go with them or you are out. Big eggos never admit any wrongness. Another example is Tycho Brahe obssession with the Earth centric system and measuring Mars parallax, while his close collaborator Kepler worked in his back on a solar centric system. On his death bed Brahe begged Kepler to continue to work on the earth centric system. "ehhh... yes boss", that's probably what kepler said.

#10 deSitter

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 10:46 AM

Halton Arp and Martin Lopez-Corredoira can't get telescope time, and these tools want to do this? More decadence.

-drl

#11 scopethis

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 11:22 AM

so what happens when ET receives broadcast of Mr. Ed and Francis the Talking Mule??

#12 Glassthrower

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 12:20 PM

If I decide I want to sit out in my backyard at night and try to signal aliens with a hand-held spotlight, that would be my business alone....well, and maybe the neighbors who would be convinced of my insanity. But, I wouldn't be embarking on something that speaks for the entire planet by increasing our noise signature exponentially. There are risks involved with this planned SETI transmission. Of course, we can argue that these risks are incredibly-small, but we really don't have any idea what is out there listening.

This reminds me of the old saying - it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

Humanity is about to open it's collective mouth and remove all doubts.

#13 James Brown

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 11:33 PM

You're all correct on this of course.

Yes we must be very careful not to reveal too much about ourselves to who knows what is lurking out there in the darkness.

On the other hand. If there is an interplanetary club going on that exchanges knowledge and possibly goods and the only way we can *ever* be a part of it is to raise our hands and say "here we are". Could it be time that we took our chances with growing up?

I think so.

#14 llanitedave

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 01:19 AM

We assume that other civilizations (if they exist) are bound by the same laws of physics that we are. This also assumes that our understanding of those laws are correct. This also assumes that these are "laws" to start with. This ignores the likelihood that we are children trying to craft "laws" that explain the nature of the sandbox we find ourselves in.


If those you fear are NOT bound by the same laws of physics as we are, then what's to have prevented them from transcending time and space itself and knowing about us before we even exist?

Fearing that beings who are not subject to the laws of physics will do something physical to us isn't really a very helpful emotion, because if they are really all that transcendent, there's nothing we can do to hide anyway. Conversely, if they are so advanced and transcendent, what could we possibly have that they would want?

Sending out signals that are constrained by the laws of physics would probably not show up on their radar, so to speak. Why would they bother to take notice?

#15 Pess

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 08:36 AM

I, for one, think it would be an extremely bad idea to establish contact with an alien life form significantly advanced from us.

...but probably not for all the reasons stated so far.

Even if this advanced alien was very helpful, shared technology and was benign as it comes...what of mankind? Why strive to discover how the universe works anymore when one can access the aliens Dewey-Decimal system and just check out a ninth grade primer on 'Multidimensional Holographic linear angularity for Dummies'?

Mankind needs to stretch.,..it needs to reach. It needs to explore and to discover. It needs to fall and, yes, maybe fail a few times before it can take its rightful place in the cosmos.

A lot of governments on Earth are still violent dictatorships? Why does the collective man allow them to continue to exist? Why is mankind so willing to sacrifice the future of the planet for short-sighted goals?

Man has a long way to go before he has matured enough to be worth the aliens effort. I fear too much, too soon and you might as well make mankind a footnote.

I would think that the number one reason an advanced alien culture would take an interest in us would be to keep an eye (or 3) on us. Someday we will enter the galaxy collective and they want to make sure we are ready or, if not, pull us as an undesirable weed.

Pesse (Now excuse me, I have to commit genocide against dandelions on my lawn) Mist

#16 Glassthrower

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 09:24 AM

Agree with that Pess just said. On the growth development scale, I think humanity is a pimply-faced teenager filled with hormones who just got his first driver's permit (primitive chemical-fueled rockets). I wouldn't give the keys to a Ferrari to that kid, and I certainly wouldn't give him a death-ray...

But, to address what Dave said - if the chances are so extremely remote that anyone will listen or respond, then why do it at all? Surely that instrument time is better served for a purpose that will yield results? We come back to hubris. Let's do it because we can and let's ignore all the valid concerns raised by our peers.

Fearing that beings who are not subject to the laws of physics will do something physical to us isn't really a very helpful emotion, because if they are really all that transcendent, there's nothing we can do to hide anyway.


My opposition to this is not based in fear, per-se. I don't fear death and frankly the aliens wouldn't do me the favor of zapping me with their death ray and putting me out of my misery. My opposition is based on the arrogance of the "scientists" involved in this folly. I agree that nobody is likely listening and if they did, they wouldn't care. But these scientists are acting with total impunity and they are thumbing their noses at rational discourse about the issue - it's arrogance and hubris.

(I like the word "hubris" if you can't tell)....


#17 Charlie B

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 10:04 AM

Man has a long way to go before he has matured enough to be worth the aliens effort. I fear too much, too soon and you might as well make mankind a footnote.



Was it Bennett Cerf who said "The link between ape and civilized man has been discovered -- us"?

Regards,

Charlie B

#18 Pess

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 10:27 AM

I would also add that advanced civilizations would not need our I Love Lucy' reruns to smack them on the side of the head.

We are arguably a decade away from planetary telescopes that can generate spectrum from the reflected light of Earth-sized planets.

If we could get a clean spectrum of an Earth sized planet we could, with today's technology, almost pinpoint the technological development of the planet by what we found in the atmosphere. Oxygen means life. Add in the ratios of carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur compounds etc and you can pick a pretty close point of where that civilization is along the lines of technological development. Focus radio receivers on the planet and a spoonful of clear radio signatures will also narrow the spread of years.

For example, after the invention of radio Earth's brightness in the radio spectrum went up exponentially. However, now we are starting to dim down again as radio broadcasts are replaced by fiber optic connections. Graph it out and you can probably guess where a civilization is in its linear tech development.

My point is that aliens probably have already developed this technology and improved upon it by many orders of magnitude. They wouldn't even need to expend their double secret spinach derived Popeye rocket fuel to come look us over.

Food? Not likely. Even if we are edible why travel to a farmers field 2000 miles away when you can raise your own tasty treats right on your own planet?

Resources? Nope. One word here: Gravity well. OK, Maybe that was 2 words but the point remains everything on a planet is exponentially more cost prohibitive to procure than simply plucking it from a nearby asteroid belt.

Colony World? Doubtful. While aliens may be technically far ahead of us we humans can make a rather nasty nuisance of ourselves. America has the most technically sophisticated military on the planet yet is stymied by guys in caves with WW2 rifles and homemade explosives. We also tend to learn at a prestigious rate. Shoot us with a Death Ray and I bet scientists will figure out how it works very quickly. Capture one Alien tank with a Cold Fusion drive and all humanity now has that tech....

Pesse (It would be interesting to figure what the average rate of technical progress is among sentient races? I bet it can vary considerably and humans are probably more clever than average!) Mist

#19 Rick Woods

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 02:46 PM

I would also add that advanced civilizations would not need our I Love Lucy' reruns to smack them on the side of the head.

We are arguably a decade away from planetary telescopes that can generate spectrum from the reflected light of Earth-sized planets.

If we could get a clean spectrum of an Earth sized planet we could, with today's technology, almost pinpoint the technological development of the planet by what we found in the atmosphere. Oxygen means life. Add in the ratios of carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur compounds etc and you can pick a pretty close point of where that civilization is along the lines of technological development. Focus radio receivers on the planet and a spoonful of clear radio signatures will also narrow the spread of years.


Maybe not. We have an overabundance of evil chemicals in our atmosphere today; in 100 years, if we're still here, we may have cleaned it up to the point where the spectrum would be the same as the Roman days. How would you tell the difference?

For example, after the invention of radio Earth's brightness in the radio spectrum went up exponentially. However, now we are starting to dim down again as radio broadcasts are replaced by fiber optic connections. Graph it out and you can probably guess where a civilization is in its linear tech development.

My point is that aliens probably have already developed this technology and improved upon it by many orders of magnitude. They wouldn't even need to expend their double secret spinach derived Popeye rocket fuel to come look us over.

Food? Not likely. Even if we are edible why travel to a farmers field 2000 miles away when you can raise your own tasty treats right on your own planet?


But everyone likes exotic foreign food.

Resources? Nope. One word here: Gravity well. OK, Maybe that was 2 words but the point remains everything on a planet is exponentially more cost prohibitive to procure than simply plucking it from a nearby asteroid belt.


A sufficently advanced technology may have devices that will overcome the gravity cheaply. Like Cavorite.

Colony World? Doubtful. While aliens may be technically far ahead of us we humans can make a rather nasty nuisance of ourselves. America has the most technically sophisticated military on the planet yet is stymied by guys in caves with WW2 rifles and homemade explosives. We also tend to learn at a prestigious rate. Shoot us with a Death Ray and I bet scientists will figure out how it works very quickly. Capture one Alien tank with a Cold Fusion drive and all humanity now has that tech....

Pesse (It would be interesting to figure what the average rate of technical progress is among sentient races? I bet it can vary considerably and humans are probably more clever than average!) Mist


In all the movies, our most powerful weapons are ineffective against their force shields.
And anyway, maybe they like I Love Lucy.

#20 Glassthrower

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 04:02 PM

I think this short video clearly explains my position :

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=ltmMJntSfQI

#21 llanitedave

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 10:26 PM

In all the movies, our most powerful weapons are ineffective against their force shields.


But They will be helpless against Slim Whitman's yodeling.

And anyway, maybe they like I Love Lucy.


If they are truly a civilized race, of course they will.

#22 llanitedave

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 10:34 PM

But, to address what Dave said - if the chances are so extremely remote that anyone will listen or respond, then why do it at all? Surely that instrument time is better served for a purpose that will yield results? We come back to hubris. Let's do it because we can and let's ignore all the valid concerns raised by our peers.


I've seen concerns raised, but not necessarily valid ones. Personally, I think it's a waste of time -- If the ET's are not highly advanced, they'll never get the signals. If they ARE highly advanced, they already know more about us than we do. Either way, there's no tangible benefit that I can see to either them or us.

As for hubris, or arrogance... It's really just the human desire for our voices to be heard. It's no different than starting a blog in the hopes that someone -- anyone -- will read it. Or posting on a web forum. Or displaying your painting. Or sending a first novel to a publisher. Call it what you like, it's people being people, and I can think of many worse things that could be done with those resources.

#23 llanitedave

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 10:37 PM

I think this short video clearly explains my position :

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=ltmMJntSfQI


In which case, you made a big mistake posting here.

"Mr. Gilmer, will you please stand up?"

#24 roamer

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 09:50 AM

I think it is very unwise to do so. Our civilization needs time to develop yet. I think this kinda thing actually should be not be allowed.

Who was it that brought up the Native American - European settler analogy?

#25 PhilCo126

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 11:38 AM

Messaging to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
The first active SETI message was sent in 1974 towards globular star cluster Messier 13 using the 300 m Arecibo radio dish on Puerto Rico:
http://en.wikipedia....Arecibo_message

Sending messages to stars with known exo-planets has been done several times using the 70 m Yevpatoria radio telescope in Ukraine (1999 + 2001 + 2003 + 2008):
http://en.wikipedia....radio_telescope

The target exoplanet systems of these latter messages are on average 40 light years away, so any possible answer could be received in a human's life time :thinking:






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