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When will we make contact?

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#1 HouseBuilder328

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 11:39 AM

Getting more into the astronomy hobby has me thinking about this probably several times a day. Thousands of planets have been discovered in the last few decades, although astronomers tell us there are probably billions. Many are in the "habitable zone."

 

In such a large and diverse set of solar systems, it seems impossible that humans could be the only intelligent life. Especially when you look at a picture of size of the Universe.

 

I know there are many theories, but is the simplest one the fact that intelligent life might get extinct/destroy itself before it can reach or contact other intelligent life? I mean, we have gone from hunting/gathering to horse carriages to tech/elec to walking on the moon, launching rovers on other planets, launching satellites, and even a probe to get close to our Sun. If the Universe is 13.8 billion years old, some other life may have enough time to technologically advance like we have or maybe even more?

 

I feel like intelligent life may only exist a "few" at a time because they become extinct before developing the technology to find other life. Perhaps it is impossible to travel the great distance that the Universe has become? Not so sure about that.

 

Then there's a new theory that Earth is actually an early bloomer in the Universe's history; therefore, other intelligent life is developing at the same rate we are and are also not technologically advance to travel far enough to find other life just like us.

 

I'm definitely glad we have things like huge radio telescopes and TESS and the new James Webb Telescope to show us even more. Gotta get some new info in this life!

 

 

In the last Observable Universe picture, the red dot is the Virgo Supercluster! Insane!

 

 

 

Earth%27s_Location_in_the_Universe_SMALL


Edited by HouseBuilder328, 30 November 2019 - 11:40 AM.

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#2 Astroman007

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 11:47 AM

Is it not possible that contact has already been made?

 

Even in the far-distant past? What was that Carl Sagan said about the frequency of alien visitation, eh?


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#3 coopman

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 12:30 PM

Exactly!  How do we know that it hasn't already happened & the news has been kept from us.   


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#4 TOMDEY

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 12:37 PM

Hi HouseBuilder; Very good summary there! I think you have it well-explained on most of the pertinent considerations. It's so early in our specie's evolution and awareness that the jury is still out and probably will be... indefinitely. The Universe is a much bigger and emptier place than even astronomers fully grasp. That is to say, the average space and minimum travel time between oases, even though they number in the billions... is redoubtable, in terms of our size and ephemeral lifespan. And even signals are molasses slow and vanishingly feeble over those distances.

 

My opinion... substantially a guess... is that our currently exponential cornucopia of technological development will, must plateau a couple or few orders of magnitude hence. And that will still be orders of magnitude inadequate to seriously hope to travel, or even communicate... one way... with "the others". And that ... sigh and alas ... likely explains it all. The others are indeed out there --- and we will never visit or even hear from them.    Tom


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#5 hallelujah

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 12:45 PM

https://www.youtube....h?v=P077FWNY_q0

 

Stan


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#6 ColoHank

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 01:14 PM

Contact will occur next Thursday at precisely 10:31 EST, or it won't occur at all.

 

Seriously, folks, we're very poorly equipped to comprehend either deep time or relativistic distances.  If there's any topic that's been worn out on CN, it's this one.  


Edited by ColoHank, 30 November 2019 - 01:14 PM.

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#7 sg6

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 01:57 PM

Why should a planet in a stars predicted habitable zone be the only consideration?

There may be 20 requirements.

And if using a very and overly simple lump of maths if each requirement had a 1 in 10 chance then we would need 1020 stars and the milky way has only about 1011 stars. So by chance we are very rare (or odd). Actually we should not exist.

 

Consider this: There are a few billion cars out there but reletively few people get run down by them every day or even year if you consider the trips and milage an avarage car does in the vicinity of people and other cars. There is a lot more then simple numbers of planets (or cars).



#8 chubster4

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 02:37 PM

That a technological civilization might quickly destroy itself, seems likely if we look at our own history. Apart from the unending violence caused by various ideologies and religions vying for dominance, a more fundamental problem is that, at every step of evolution, we, and the ancestral organisms we evolved from, engaged in constant rivalry and competition over territory and mates, if not actually hunting and killing fellow creatures for sustenance. Aggression and mistrust, and the concomitant desire to control, seem hard-wired into us as a species, and our discovery of powerful technologies has started the timer ticking. For us to survive to explore the stars will require a concerted effort to recognize our ‘dysfunctional childhood’ for what it was, and relegate outdated modes of thinking to the toy chest of history.  

  
Other civilizations, if they’re out there (of course they are), likely evolved under similar pressures - unless perhaps they’re like plants, reproducing asexually, generating food photosythetically - and as a result, the ‘L’ term in Drake’s equation could be a small number, and also increases the odds that 'they', if they're a long-lived civilization, are either very unlike us physiologically, or psychologically.

 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must have more turkey.


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#9 llanitedave

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 07:44 PM

Hi HouseBuilder; Very good summary there! I think you have it well-explained on most of the pertinent considerations. It's so early in our specie's evolution and awareness that the jury is still out and probably will be... indefinitely. The Universe is a much bigger and emptier place than even astronomers fully grasp. That is to say, the average space and minimum travel time between oases, even though they number in the billions... is redoubtable, in terms of our size and ephemeral lifespan. And even signals are molasses slow and vanishingly feeble over those distances.

 

My opinion... substantially a guess... is that our currently exponential cornucopia of technological development will, must plateau a couple or few orders of magnitude hence. And that will still be orders of magnitude inadequate to seriously hope to travel, or even communicate... one way... with "the others". And that ... sigh and alas ... likely explains it all. The others are indeed out there --- and we will never visit or even hear from them.    Tom

I agree that our rate of technological advancement will inevitably plateau, but that doesn't make me more pessimistic.  The reason for that is that in so many ways, we don't need to advance by orders of magnitude more in order to successfully migrate beyond Earth.  In many, many respects, I would say we're almost there.

 

Our biggest remaining obstacle is energy generation.  We need fusion.  I'm aware of all the jokes that say we're only 30 years away, and always will be, but in fact we've made tremendous progress in that direction.  It might be another century before we master it, but in the scheme of things, that's not a very long time.  Once we have that technology, though, the resources available beyond Earth will be truly staggeringly abundant.  There will be no need for us to be looking for planets in habitable zones, because the real sources of wealth will be the small icy bodies further out.

 

And that may even resolve the contact question as well -- why would an advanced civilization want to visit Earth, when the real money is in the Oort Cloud?



#10 mich_al

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 08:02 PM

>> our rate of technological advancement will inevitably plateau

 

The advancement or the rate of advancement ?  In either case why? 


Edited by mich_al, 30 November 2019 - 08:04 PM.


#11 TOMDEY

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 11:43 PM

>> our rate of technological advancement will inevitably plateau

 

The advancement or the rate of advancement ?  In either case why? 

Hi, Al! The rate of advancement will remain positive, but asymptotically approach zero, which is identical to saying that our technological capability will plateau. The reason is the finite resource density in space and the speed limit of information c. And that is mathematically tautological, as in unavoidable. The only thing that remains is how many orders of magnitude below that upper bound we humans can function, and how many orders of magnitude below that we humans will function. So, not only is the likelihood of a Jetson Future very grim... it is guaranteed, mathematically guaranteed to abjectly fail. ~Q.E.D.~

 

Astronomer and cosmologist Martin Harwit covers this and other expansive considerations in his classic book "Cosmic Discovery".  Root-Bernstein covers related aspects of advancement in the classic "Discovering".    Tom

Attached Thumbnails

  • 20 Harwit Cosmic Discovery 80.jpg
  • 21 Root-Bernstein Discovering 48.jpg


#12 Keith Rivich

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Posted 01 December 2019 - 12:19 AM

Why should a planet in a stars predicted habitable zone be the only consideration?

There may be 20 requirements.

And if using a very and overly simple lump of maths if each requirement had a 1 in 10 chance then we would need 1020 stars and the milky way has only about 1011 stars. So by chance we are very rare (or odd). Actually we should not exist.

 

Consider this: There are a few billion cars out there but reletively few people get run down by them every day or even year if you consider the trips and milage an avarage car does in the vicinity of people and other cars. There is a lot more then simple numbers of planets (or cars).

The issue is not math and probability. The problem lies in chemistry. To close to the parent star and the heat and radiation will sterilize the planet. Necessary volatile molecules cannot exist. Look at Mercury and Venus. To far from the star and the atmosphere will freeze out snuffing any higher life imaginable. Algae mats under the surface maybe, but not surface dwelling massive creatures. 



#13 mich_al

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Posted 01 December 2019 - 04:20 PM

>>Hi, Al! The rate of advancement will remain positive, but asymptotically approach zero, which is identical to >>saying that our technological capability will plateau. The reason is the finite resource density in space and the >>speed limit of information c. And that is mathematically tautological, as in unavoidable. The only thing that >>remains is how many orders of magnitude below that upper bound we humans can function, and how many >>orders of magnitude below that we humans will function. So, not only is the likelihood of a Jetson Future very >>grim... it is guaranteed, mathematically guaranteed to abjectly fail. ~Q.E.D.~

 

Tom

  Thanks, that's useful & ultimately very hard to contest.  I believe effective implementation of AI could raise the function level above that of only humans  but still the limit will effectively plateau.


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#14 TOMDEY

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Posted 01 December 2019 - 10:20 PM

>>Hi, Al! The rate of advancement will remain positive, but asymptotically approach zero, which is identical to >>saying that our technological capability will plateau. The reason is the finite resource density in space and the >>speed limit of information c. And that is mathematically tautological, as in unavoidable. The only thing that >>remains is how many orders of magnitude below that upper bound we humans can function, and how many >>orders of magnitude below that we humans will function. So, not only is the likelihood of a Jetson Future very >>grim... it is guaranteed, mathematically guaranteed to abjectly fail. ~Q.E.D.~

 

Tom

  Thanks, that's useful & ultimately very hard to contest.  I believe effective implementation of AI could raise the function level above that of only humans  but still the limit will effectively plateau.

Hi, Al... yes indeed re' ~Artificial Intelligence~ could be the next Giant Leap. Very hard to estimate how much time, effort, creativity and resources it might take to build interactive, sentient "minds" exceeding the intelligence of the most capable humans. Give them hardened robotic ~bodies~ etc. and they would be relatively immortal and able to reproduce, mind-meld, rapid-learn etc. etc. however we and/or they please. They would be, by every expansive definition... our engineered progeny. And/or genetic engineering of the bio-sentients (us) to become hardened, lasting and smarter... the limit of self-directed genetic engineering. Kinda the Borg concept.

 

Yet again... that challenge might be a lot harder than we imagine... maybe impossible. Or maybe, just maybe --- that might be what we see all around us now. One stage in what actually is already directed evolution, aka... the AI robots are... us!    Tom


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#15 EJN

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Posted 01 December 2019 - 10:49 PM

If there's any topic that's been worn out on CN, it's this one.

 
+1

#16 mich_al

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 11:50 AM

>> If there's any topic that's been worn out on CN, it's this one.

 

Worn - yes     out - no,  I got new info from this latest thread and you apparently tuned in to see what there was to see too.


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#17 John Miele

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 01:51 PM

I don't get the motives behind somebody posting in a thread to inform the rest of us that the topic of that thread is "worn out"...I guess I'm glad ya'll let me know so I don't waste any more of my time reading this worn out thread...whew...that was close!


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#18 InkDark

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 03:05 PM

We'll know the day when a Coke bottle fall from the sky. But you know what? It wont be good news...


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#19 EJN

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 03:36 PM

I don't get the motives behind somebody posting in a thread to inform the rest of us that the topic of that thread is "worn out"...I guess I'm glad ya'll let me know so I don't waste any more of my time reading this worn out thread...whew...that was close!


A search of this particular forum will show this subject has been posted multiple times and discussed to death.

Since nobody knows when or even if contact will happen, and you cannot even assign a probability to it based on N=1, it is more of a science-fiction topic in that it is pure speculation.

#20 Pess

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 03:42 PM

Getting more into the astronomy hobby has me thinking about this probably several times a day. Thousands of planets have been discovered in the last few decades, although astronomers tell us there are probably billions. Many are in the "habitable zone."

 

In such a large and diverse set of solar systems, it seems impossible that humans could be the only intelligent life. Especially when you look at a picture of size of the Universe.

 

I know there are many theories, but is the simplest one the fact that intelligent life might get extinct/destroy itself before it can reach or contact other intelligent life? I mean, we have gone from hunting/gathering to horse carriages to tech/elec to walking on the moon, launching rovers on other planets, launching satellites, and even a probe to get close to our Sun. If the Universe is 13.8 billion years old, some other life may have enough time to technologically advance like we have or maybe even more?

 

I feel like intelligent life may only exist a "few" at a time because they become extinct before developing the technology to find other life. Perhaps it is impossible to travel the great distance that the Universe has become? Not so sure about that.

 

Then there's a new theory that Earth is actually an early bloomer in the Universe's history; therefore, other intelligent life is developing at the same rate we are and are also not technologically advance to travel far enough to find other life just like us.

 

I'm definitely glad we have things like huge radio telescopes and TESS and the new James Webb Telescope to show us even more. Gotta get some new info in this life!

 

 

In the last Observable Universe picture, the red dot is the Virgo Supercluster! Insane!

 

 

 

Earth%27s_Location_in_the_Universe_SMALL

You and many others are making one HUGE assumption that most certainly is wrong.

 

In our hubris we assume that humans are the pinnacle of evolution and anything intelligent out there is just another version of us: Large bags of mostly water.

 

But consider, we are just one more rung up the ladder and, likely, pretty far from the top.

 

We may be passed by and overlooked by the true rulers of the galaxy because we are far short of being deemed 'worthy' of contact.

 

Do you stop and try and communicate with an anthill next to the trail when you go for a walk?

 

While it may be beyond humans present ability to conceptualize a future being, I could give one example.

 

Suppose the next step in evolution of intelligence is AI?

 

We have artificial, hips, knees, ears limbs etc.  Doesn't it make sense that once we develop suitable replacements EVERYTHING will be replaced as need arises? 

 

The human form will eventually evolve into what basically consists of a Total Prosthesis or, for want of a better term, an AI.

 

Now we exist as essentially an eternal being, able to cross the galaxy within a single lifespan which, barring any accidents, is infinite.  

 

What the heck do we want to waste our time inspecting those little bags of water down in the blue globe of an anthill?

 

Pesse (Humans are so full of themselves.) Mist



#21 mich_al

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 04:09 PM

A search of this particular forum will show this subject has been posted multiple times and discussed to death.

Since nobody knows when or even if contact will happen, and you cannot even assign a probability to it based on N=1, it is more of a science-fiction topic in that it is pure speculation.

Searching or just occasionally reading this website will reveal that most subjects have been visited and revisited many  many many times.  Subjects that no longer interest me just don't get clicked on.  If we outlaw old subjects we may as well outlaw old members.  On this subject (contact) pure speculation and the occasional new idea or new perspective on the subject is what keeps me coming back.



#22 TOMDEY

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 05:47 PM

This is FUN! Expansive thinking exercises the little gray cells and gets us ~thinking outside the box~ ... those self-imposed prisons that we perniciously cocoon around ourselves. Time to bust out, spread our wings, and at least think of the possibilities that may await us. Most famous debilitating last words... "Yawn... Been there; Done that." Me, I'm with you guys --- not throwing in the towel...    Tom


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#23 llanitedave

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 06:24 PM

 

Do you stop and try and communicate with an anthill next to the trail when you go for a walk?

 

I do.  That's how I learned that at least one species of our native desert ants hate chocolate!

 

Considering that there are a number of humans who are absolutely fascinated by ants, rocks, birds, snakes, trees, fungi, etc. etc., I would not be shocked to find advanced ET scientists who are quite enamoured of our little system.



#24 spacemunkee

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 06:38 PM

We'll know the day when a Coke bottle fall from the sky. But you know what? It wont be good news...

Will it cause us to walk to the edge of the earth to throw the bottle off? wink.gif lol.gif



#25 HouseBuilder328

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 07:25 PM

Contact will occur next Thursday at precisely 10:31 EST, or it won't occur at all.

 

Seriously, folks, we're very poorly equipped to comprehend either deep time or relativistic distances.  If there's any topic that's been worn out on CN, it's this one.  

 

I doubt that - human beings ARE equipped to understand distances, size of the universe, and much much more.  So far, we are the most conscious-beings ever.  We realize there is an entire Universe, that there are billions of stars, many solar systems, and exoplanets.  We are conscious enough to "understand" other species' lives on our planet.  We are most likely capable of so much more.

 

Worn out?  How can you keep coming to an astronomy/science/space forum and be tired of this discussion?  This is one of the most interesting/important discussions ever.




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