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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Mister T]
      #5441465 - 09/26/12 11:23 AM

Thank you Douglas and Anthony for your comments. Of course, the terran self centeredness of the question being discussed is apparent. You are correct in this regard. If you get a chance to read this entire thread, you will see that this reference to terran self centeredness has been mentionned.

But, here is the question. Let's take Sagan as something of an authority. He asserted, if I remember correctly, that it was reasonable to assume there are a million technologically advanced civilizations out there.

Further, it was a Myron Effing who studied under Sagan at Cornell who taught me the difference between generation 1 and generation 2 (population 2 and population 1) stars in a spiral galaxy such as the Milky Way. Without going into the math, simply said, over 99% of the civilizations would be advanced technologically of us, spanning a range of just a little bit better than us to around 2 and a half billion years advanced of us.

In that "spectrum" of numbers and range of development it would seem some are using our types of communication (radio and optical) and that they have been using it long enough (tens of thousands of years) for signals to have reached....signals of a type they might not even use anymore.

That is, the detritus of their earlier radio garbage should be washing over us.

Why don't we sense any of this.

Options of course include:
1. There are no where near a million advanced civilizations.\
2. The physics of radio and light propagation for some reason we have not figured out, don't keep their coherence over such distances (e.g. 10s of thousands of light years).
3. Some really advanced civilizations are interfering with our ability, or anyone's ability to communicate. As one person put it, an intra-galactic SPCA.

Thus my statement "The Silence is Deafening"

I'd appreciate your responses.

Otto


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Jason H.
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/23/07

Loc: Central Florida
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5441586 - 09/26/12 12:43 PM

"...But, here is the question. Let's take Sagan as something of an authority. He asserted, if I remember correctly, that it was reasonable to assume there are a million technologically advanced civilizations out there."

He also posited that "...there may be few others, maybe nobody else at all for us to talk to." at 7:06 in this video

http://youtu.be/MlikCebQSlY

Carl Sagan was always concerned with humankind eliminating itself, and it was quite reasonable to him that the longevity of technological civilizations could be very limited. Also, since Carl was a Scientist, observation was the key to knowledge; faith-based philosophy of the number of civilizations in the Universe was not his thing, so he wouldn't state authoritatively the number of civilizations, especially knowing (as a professional Astronomer) the numerous possible limiting factors.

Jason W. Higley


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Pess
(Title)
*****

Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5441656 - 09/26/12 01:19 PM

Quote:




In that "spectrum" of numbers and range of development it would seem some are using our types of communication (radio and optical) and that they have been using it long enough (tens of thousands of years) for signals to have reached....signals of a type they might not even use anymore.






This premise is wrong. Earth is going radio quiet now after ONLY 100 years. Everything is fiber optic, cable, point-to-point. We are orders of magnitude less bright in the radio spectrum than we were just a few short years ago...and we are getting dimmer.

So most advanced civilizations are probably radio silent for the most part.

The other thing is, even those close whose 'leakage' is washing over us now...well, the fact is we do not posses the receiver sensitive enough to distinguish it from the background.

If one lives inside a closet there might be a party going on right in the next room. But if one hears muffled noise through the closet door it might just be dismissed as wind & storm sound.

On another note, there might be life arising all over the place. At some point in our future evolution we may (and probably will) become beings no longer linked to this universe or dependent on corporeal bodies for existence...thus these advanced beings effectively 'leave' this Universe and are no longer around to contact us.

If this point in evolution is chronologically close to us, say several million or so years, you wouldn't expect anyone to be around. They matured and flew the coop so-to-speak.

Pesse (Bet I can take a non corporeal alien in a fight..they are all phantomweights.) Mist

Edited by Pess (09/26/12 01:23 PM)


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Pess]
      #5441711 - 09/26/12 01:51 PM

Jason, Doug,

Would I be correct in summarizing your arguments in this way?

Our technological communication techniques are artifacts of a brief time in a civilization's history.

We may well not be alone, but for all practical purposes we are, until we reach some more advanced state of being.

Do I understand you correctly?

Otto


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5441806 - 09/26/12 02:34 PM

Our position, the position to which we keep seeming to return to here is

We think they exist, or we hope they exist, yet
we have no evidence they do exist, which
we can explain by either holding they don't exist or exist within conditions and parameters we are not as yet able to experience or enter or engage.

Interesting...these positions seem to apply equally well to the issue of the existence of intelligent/sentient extra-terrestrial creatures, and to the issue of beings with immortal souls.


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Jarad
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/28/03

Loc: Atlanta, GA
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5441892 - 09/26/12 03:28 PM

Quote:

Options of course include:
1. There are no where near a million advanced civilizations.\
2. The physics of radio and light propagation for some reason we have not figured out, don't keep their coherence over such distances (e.g. 10s of thousands of light years).
3. Some really advanced civilizations are interfering with our ability, or anyone's ability to communicate. As one person put it, an intra-galactic SPCA.




1 - a million civilizations in what area? The entire universe? That would be an average of less than one per galaxy. In our galaxy? That would require some assumptions that life is very common, and that a high percentage of planets with life develop intelligent life, and that a high percentage of those develop advanced technology. So not seeing lots of technological civilizations nearby just means that those assumptions are probably wrong.

2 - We have figured out the reason - non-directional transmission get weaker by the square of the distance. Given the distances involved, we couldn't detect ourselves even at the nearest star. There could be plenty of radio-using civlizations out there, but unless they are either very close and very loud, or aim a laser at us, we are unlikely to detect them.

3 - There is nothing to suggest this. And you skipped the possibility that they are communicating by means that we have not yet discovered.

Jarad


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Jarad]
      #5441971 - 09/26/12 04:17 PM

You're correct. Forgot to mention that one.

1. There are few or no other intelligent/sentient civilizations.

2. The technology we use to transmit radio and optical data and the technology we are currently limited to to receive optical and radio information, being subject to the inverse square law, and impacted by any number of phenomena that might mess up the signals makes contact difficult.

3. They may well be using technologies of communication and transportation with which we are so unfamiliar we would not recognize them if we were receiving them (if they were brushing past us).

4. (I'm going to stick to this as a possibility only because censorship is such a real fact of our institutions and because parents/guardians protect children from information all the time.) Actually a version of #2, someone(s), somehow are keeping us from receiving signals we can understand.


Parse away!

Otto


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mistyridge
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/28/05

Loc: Loomis, CA
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5442292 - 09/26/12 07:58 PM

Advanced civilizations may have moved beyond the electromagnetic spectrum in just a few hundred years. So, if they were near, say within 1000 LYrs we would never know they were around.

Also such advanced beings may already be aware of us and choose not to contact us because most of the human population is still living in a conditon that is relatively primative. Such a contact would cause such a social upheaval that would make the news events of recent weeks look tame by comparison.


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ColoHank
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/07/07

Loc: western Colorado
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5442315 - 09/26/12 08:10 PM

Imagine two guys lounging in floating inner tubes, one of them in the Atlantic Ocean, and the other in the Pacific. Let them paddle around to their hearts' content, going wherever they choose at paddling speed and shouting as loudly as they'd like for as long as they're able. Let's assume a life-span of eighty years. What are the chances they'd ever make contact?

What if their life-spans overlapped by only five years. What are the chances they'd ever make contact then?

And what if their life-spans didn't coincide at all. What are the chances one would ever hear the lingering echoes of the other's voice?


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Jarad
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/28/03

Loc: Atlanta, GA
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5442346 - 09/26/12 08:23 PM

Items 1 and 2 on your list alone are more than sufficient to explain why we haven't found any other life yet. They will continue to be sufficient for our lifetimes and probably the lifetimes of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Until we manage to reach and explore a few hundred solar systems, we really won't have made much of a dent in the search for life on other planets. As for receiving radio signals, we would need a receiver larger than the diameter of the earth's orbit to pick up signals on the power order of what we send out from more than a few tens of light-years away (a tiny fraction of our galaxy alone). So to ask why we haven't found anything when we can only "hear" extremely loud signals from nearby is sort of silly. It's not deafening, the surprise would be if had found them that quickly. It would only be possible with our current technology if the odds of technological life around a given star approached 1 so that there would be life very nearby.

Hank's analogy is a good one.

Jarad

Edited by Jarad (09/26/12 08:24 PM)


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
*****

Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Jarad]
      #5442658 - 09/26/12 11:13 PM

The speculation is fun, but the danger is that we'll convince ourselves that we can actually conclude anything meaningful with this exercise.

If we reach a conclusion at all, it's because we've jumped to it.


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Mister T
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5443004 - 09/27/12 07:09 AM

Good analogy Colonel !

we could make it a little closer to scale if they were Parameciums trying to detect the ripples of each others cilia



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Pess
(Title)
*****

Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5443267 - 09/27/12 10:43 AM

Quote:



If we reach a conclusion at all, it's because we've jumped to it.




For the win....

Pesse (Just because WE never won the Super lotto doesn't mean that somebody out there is not taking home $350 million...) Mist


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ColoHank
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/07/07

Loc: western Colorado
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Mister T]
      #5444210 - 09/27/12 08:57 PM

Quote:

we could make it a little closer to scale if they were Parameciums trying to detect the ripples of each others cilia




I think you're right.


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CollinofAlabama
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/24/03

Loc: Lubbock, Texas, USA
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5446215 - 09/29/12 03:21 AM

Otto,

Jarad is absolutely right regarding radio transmissions. Please read Lazio's January 2012 S&T article. Assume a civilization that parallels ours, on the exact same timescale as ours, exists at Alpha Centauri. It is HIGHLY unlikely we would get ANY detectable signals from them, even though they, like us, would have gone through "I Love Lucy" broadcasts in the 50's and 60's, etc. Radio waves as issued forth by humanity on earth, simply don't carry over the light years expanse of space. They dissipate to nothingness rather quickly. And Alpha Centauri, though ONLY 4.5 light years away, is a rather poor candidate for an earth-like planet. Assume the nearest earth-like planet is 50 light years away. There is simply NO way we'd get any of their radio transmissions (or they'd have rec'd any of ours) given the nature of radio wave transmissions at the paltry radiation levels we've emitted in the past 127 years.

Consequently, the silence isn't deafening at all. It's what would be expected. As Lazio points out, laser transmissions would be our best SETI communication method that we know of today, excluding Jarad's valid point about a Star Trek-ian 'faster-than-the-speed-of-light' sub-space tranmission technology a more highly Physics-advanced civilization might possess. But the types of laser transmissions, and the gigawatt style technologies we'd need to employ and tie resources to, are simply not something we're inclined to do. Of course, someone on the other end would have to be able to 'listen' to our gigawatt laser blast, and be precisely enough in the somewhat narrow path of transmission to be able to respond. And the whole process, given a 100-light year distance, would take at least 200 years to come to fruition.

But the stream deposits Curiosity just discovered on Mars is very interesting. Of course, the bottom line is, where is the Methane coming from? Sadly, even if the answer is "life just under the surface", it's still possible that life in our Solar System actually began on Mars and was transplanted to Earth (and possibly Europa and elsewhere) via meteor impacts and ejection. But this might be 'determinable'. That is, we might be able to see that any future microbial life on Mars and life on Earth came from the same source biologically, genetically. If that were true, it would only mean life began in the Solar System at the best place it could at the time (which could have been Mars 3.5+ billion years ago) and migrated out.

OTOH, if one found Martian life (and Europan life, etc.) utterly unrelated and 'unrelatable' to earth life, well then one would have to say life can spontaneously exist in even semi-reasonable locations and arises relatively easily in the universe.

But all this means we find the Methane of Mars isn't from some process we presently don't understand, but is geologic and non-organic in nature. But we don't know this yet, one way or the other. We know Mars shouldn't have so much Methane in its atmosphere from what we can determine. The surface appears biologically dead, and there doesn't appear enough geologic activity to warrant the quantity of methane we see. Life is one explanation, but undetermined geochemical forces can't be ruled out. Curiosity has a big job on its hands, and we may indeed need several more Martian explorers before we can say what's up on Mars, methane wise.

The methane signature of Mars is not deafening at all. It's loud and clear. But as usual, it's message is not a given, and science must push on to determine why, exactly.

One interesting idea to consider is how long we might be able to detect a faint laser beam transmission from, say 100 light years away? Could we? Would an observatory see anything? This is an interesting question, and one we'd have to consider as we contemplate building a huge, space-aloft super laser that would blast out signals to star systems many 10's and perhaps 100's of light years away. Like the pointless (for SETI work) radio transmissions of the last 127 years, there's no point in bothering if we can't really pull it off (i.e., use a super powerful burst that we ourselves might be able to detect and receive from a comparable distance).

But again, we've got this global warming thing to deal with, and building huge, expensive space-based lasers to 'talk' to aliens we can't say confidently can (or will) respond is a hard sell to the tired and hungry masses of this planet. And if you don't believe we can end up like baterium in a Petri dish destroying our own environment to the point of exinction, I invite you to visit a huge South Asian city and attempt to breath the air.

Otto, I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, but left there at 18 to go to off to college. After one academic year away from home, I returned and did one full year (including summer) at UAB. I moved away in 1983 and haven't lived in Alabama since (Austin, Ames and since 1992 Lubbock being my homes since 1983). I have returned many times to visit relations there, but doubt I'll live there again, given the economic, cultural and familial realities of my life. I don't hate Alabama, but them's the cold, hard facts. Besides, Lubbock, Texas is in the geographic west of the North American continent. Not exactly sure where it begins in Texas, somewhere between Fort Worth and Abilene (sorry, Will Rogers was wrong, the West does not begin at Fort Worth, still hot and humid, but some point west of there). But Lubbock is definitely part of it. I loathe eastern summers now, and, of course, prefer the dark skies of the west.

But Otto, the silence is not deafening. The lack of laser beam transmissions might be, but the radio silence really isn't.


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Qwickdraw
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 03/03/12

Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: CollinofAlabama]
      #5446409 - 09/29/12 08:49 AM

One thing that is missing in this discussion is the idea that the "silence" may not be due to the vast distances between civilization but possibly an overestimate of the probability of other intelligent life existing in the universe at all. Despite the extraordinary criteria for a planet to not only be a candidate for abiogenesis but to also continue to support life there is the matter of the possibility that intelligent life is far more rare than originally thought. New research points to the possibility that intelligence may have come about by a sequence of genetic mutations.

“Human and chimpanzee genomes are 99 percent the same, but clearly, that 1 percent difference is hugely significant. Exactly why our mental and linguistic capabilities are so far ahead of our chimp cousins now looks closer to being explained, thanks to a new study in the journal Human Mutation. It shows that a certain form of neuropsin, a protein that plays a role in learning and memory, is expressed only in the central nervous systems of humans. Importantly, it seems that it originated less than 5 million years ago and scientists believe they now know the mechanism behind its production.”

http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20070407221059data_trunc_sys.shtml


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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #5446623 - 09/29/12 11:17 AM

When does Congress get their dose of this miracle protein?

-drl


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Jarad
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/28/03

Loc: Atlanta, GA
Re: The silence is deafening.... new [Re: deSitter]
      #5446658 - 09/29/12 11:46 AM



Quickdraw - I agree that the frequency of intelligent life is part of the issue, but we did mention it a bunch of times (it's part of Otto's item #1).

On the silence part, I was just playing with the numbers for signal strength. Let's say that we decide to transmit a signal in every direction with a strength of 1.21 gigawatts (to represent "a lot of power").

Let's assume that there is a civilization at Alpha Centauri, 4.5 light years from here, running a SETI program and looking at us. That's about 2.65*10^13 miles away.

So the signal strength there would be 1.21*10^9 / (2.65*10^13)^2 watts per square mile. That comes to 1.73*10^-18 watts per square mile. So if their radio telescope has an area of one square mile (a lot bigger than any of ours do), they will receive 1.73*10^-18 watts of signal. I think that will be below their limit of detection.

Jarad


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CollinofAlabama
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/24/03

Loc: Lubbock, Texas, USA
Re: The silence is deafening.... [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #5446694 - 09/29/12 12:10 PM

VERY good point, Quickdraw. Let's face it, even a well directed laser beam from a mere 50 light years away would have been lost on the Woolly Mammoths, to say nothing of T-Rex and especially the trilobites. And even if we find abundant life on Mars and Europa, the likelihood of intelligent life is almost a foregone conclusion.

As Jarad pointed out, if Sagan, et Alia predicted one million occurrences of intelligent life for the universe, that averages out to much less than one per galaxy! Hardly comforting, especially when one considers high beam gigawatt or, for galactic communication, terawatt lasers (at the mere speed of light) as our communication mode. That would give us and the theoretical single intelligent civilization in Andromeda over 4 million years for a 1st contact communication. Talk about time delayed transmissions! Hmm, guess we humans are gonna have to figure out global warming and sustainable human populations in some kind of logical fashion right here, using only our own creativity and resourcefulness. Golly!

Oh yeah, we have to figure out terawatt lasers, too. Jarad, you are only pointing out the folly of radio signals as a foolish communication mode. It is, as Lazio pointed out in his article. As for brains in Congress, well, they are only a reflection of us. If we elect morons who oppose birth control and don't "believe in" evolution (as tho rejecting the world is a sphere could somehow make it flat), well, that's what you get. Actually, when you consider for decades we had Congresses that condoned and fortified the Institution of Slavery, I think they're a pretty good lot. I especially prefer them to the Soviet Duma or Hitler's Reichstag, or even Putin's Duma. We can always decide to remove the idiots, but if Americans continue to elect them, I still prefer them, as Churchill famously said, to "all the others".

Edited by CollinofAlabama (09/29/12 12:28 PM)


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simpleisbetter
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 04/18/11

Re: The silence is deafening.... [Re: Jarad]
      #5446698 - 09/29/12 12:12 PM

Jarad, are those figures including the affect of the Heliosphere, or do we not know how exactly that boundary affects signals?

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