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New Study Explains Why Intelligent Aliens May Never Reach For The Stars

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#1 DanMiller

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 09:44 AM

ScienceAlert

Evolution has produced a wondrously diverse variety of lifeforms here on Earth. It just so happens that talking primates with opposable thumbs rose to the top and are building a spacefaring civilization. And we're land-dwellers.

 

But what about other planets? If the dominant species on an ocean world builds a technological civilization of some sort, would they be able to escape their ocean home and explore space?

 

A new article in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society examines the idea of civilizations on other worlds and the factors that govern their ability to explore their solar systems. Its title is "Introducing the Exoplanet Escape Factor and the Fishbowl Worlds (Two conceptual tools for the search of extra-terrestrial civilizations)." The sole author is Elio Quiroga, a professor at the Universidad del Atlántico Medio in Spain.

 

In his new research article, Quiroga comes up with two new concepts that feed into the DE: the Exoplanet Escape Factor and Fishbowl worlds.

 

Planets of different masses have different escape velocities. Earth's escape velocity is 11.2 km/s (kilometres per second), which is more than 40,000 km/h.

 

The escape velocity is for ballistic objects without propulsion, so our rockets don't actually travel 40,000 km/h. But the escape velocity is useful for comparing different planets because it's independent of the vehicle used and its propulsion.

 

"Values of Fex > 2.2 would make space travel unlikely for the exoplanet's inhabitants: they would not be able to leave the planet using any conceivable amount of fuel, nor would a viable rocket structure withstand the pressures involved in the process, at least with the materials we know (as far as we know, the same periodic table of elements and the same combinations of them govern the entire Universe)."

 

If I read this right.  Based on the mass of the planet, a vehicle does not have to produce all the thrust needed to escape the planets orbit. And during the advancements of a planet’s technical advancement, if they never develop the ability to escape the planets orbit.  They never become space travelers.

 

Not sure a civilization would ever give up trying or that they would never figure it out.  But it would take them much longer in their evolution to become space explorers.

 

Dan



#2 vtornado

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:04 AM

space sucks. it's cold, i can't breathe, there are no sweet smelling flowers, tweeting birds, or kitty-cats.  I can imagine some civilizations would see no reason to go there.


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#3 TOMDEY

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:19 AM

Interesting topic --- throw in this, and we are all islands that will never be able to visit each other. Detect... maybe, communicate... theoretically --- but visit? --- for all practical purposes, now and forever --- impossible.    Tom

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#4 db2005

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:29 AM

It's an interesting study. Source, please?

 

I've also read some argument a several years ago saying that if Earth's gravity had been just a little stronger, we wouldn't have been able to build strong enough rockets to launch them into orbit, let alone leave Earth.

 

---

 

My two cents:

 

A civilization needs to be industrialized on an absolutely massive scale to go into space. Lots of ore needs to be excavated, rare raw materials need to be extracted, refined and processed, fuel to be refined, tools and industries must be built up, etc. Food production must be plentiful to even consider spending this kind of resources on going to space.

 

Depending on how you define the start of industrial revolution, it took one and a half century of industrialization for humans reach earth's orbit.

 

And massive industrialization isn't necessarily an inevitable path for intelligent civilizations - it's probably just one of many conceivable paths. The Aztecs, Inkans and Mayans didn't even invent the wheel; the Romans too barely made half-hearted attempts at industrialization; the Chinese empire got a little bit further but were steamrolled by the feeble British empire which was more industrially advanced at the time. Either of these civilizations were arguably populated with people who were just as intelligent as we are, the civilizations just took different paths.


Edited by db2005, 28 February 2024 - 10:30 AM.


#5 Rickycardo

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:52 AM

Interesting topic. I do enjoy these thought experiments even though I'm more skeptical than others on the proliferation of intelligent aliens.

I will opine that a species needs to be land bearing to advance in industry. Fire revolutionized mankind's technology and aided in the leaps from wood to bronze to iron and eventually the alloys needed to build space craft. Though you could possibly do this near volcanic vents I feel it would be too difficult for a water bound intelligent species to develop advanced technology on their own.



#6 DanMiller

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 11:17 AM

It's an interesting study. Source, please?

 

I've also read some argument a several years ago saying that if Earth's gravity had been just a little stronger, we wouldn't have been able to build strong enough rockets to launch them into orbit, let alone leave Earth.

 

---

 

My two cents:

 

A civilization needs to be industrialized on an absolutely massive scale to go into space. Lots of ore needs to be excavated, rare raw materials need to be extracted, refined and processed, fuel to be refined, tools and industries must be built up, etc. Food production must be plentiful to even consider spending this kind of resources on going to space.

 

Depending on how you define the start of industrial revolution, it took one and a half century of industrialization for humans reach earth's orbit.

 

And massive industrialization isn't necessarily an inevitable path for intelligent civilizations - it's probably just one of many conceivable paths. The Aztecs, Inkans and Mayans didn't even invent the wheel; the Romans too barely made half-hearted attempts at industrialization; the Chinese empire got a little bit further but were steamrolled by the feeble British empire which was more industrially advanced at the time. Either of these civilizations were arguably populated with people who were just as intelligent as we are, the civilizations just took different paths.

I provided the link which details who made the study and for what institution.  Click on Science Alert, that is a link to the article I was refering to.  But it provides the source.

 

https://www.sciencea...54404-366187266


Edited by DanMiller, 28 February 2024 - 11:17 AM.

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#7 bobzeq25

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 11:47 AM

I presume this is dealing with chemical rockets.  Clearly not the only possibility.

 

Note that I also think there is no conceivable reason aliens would want to come HERE.


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#8 FRANKVSTAR

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 12:32 PM

 I have always though that we were talking about vast distances between planets outside our solar system and that may be so far you would have to travel at near light speed or at least a speed fast enough that your travel time would not take so long as to make the trip pointless. A traveler may not want to take years or even months to get to their destination.

  Since we are talking about speeds that are this high, I figure the other important issue for anyone would be the computers ability to track any and all objects in your vehicles path, even an object as small as a bee-bee, for if your craft should hit such an object at that high speed it would be as a bullet going through paper. Yes the craft may be made of material that we here on Earth do not have, a material so hard and dense that any object striking the craft will just bounce off, but think that is still not possible because they would never know how hard the material is in the object they struck in space. ( STAR TREK force shield) maybe?

  Now let assume they can track ahead, it would have to track countless numbers of space material in their path and not have an error to survive the trip. 

  So to conclude I would say that no crafts from any civilizations would make such a journey, unless they have figured out how to leap across great distances using some other means rather than what we on Earth would call normal space travel,( rocket ships ect).


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#9 yuzameh

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 01:37 PM

Drake's equation is massively flawed.  It's not really worth calling an equation, just a bit of arithmetic with some outdated and always iffy "statistical" value applied to each variable.

 

Learn yer palaeogeology, yer palaeobiology, how long time lasts, how nearby stars to us are invariably older to far older or younger.

 

Yes, even a fixed Drake's equation will give many Stellar Systems (albeit we've seen many Stellar Systems now with none even remotely like ours), however when corrected for the biases and divided by the total number of stars old enough to have the potential for technology utilising sentients (and has already been stated that is not necessarily a given) the average gap is immense in terms of distance especially when equated to the time needed for even electromagnetic radiation to traverse said distance.

 

Then combine that with c as an absolute,  and talking "nowness" and have a true feeling for time it is nigh on impossible for any contact with any extraterrestrial sentience.  I say sentience instead of intelligence because as the song goes with respect to the latter "there's bugger all on Earth".

 

Now, if you want to play the subspace, hyperspace or extradimensions game and somehow argue c isn't an absolute whilst not destroying causality, which is beyond known science and even valid hypothetical science, first there is nothing to say any of this works at cosmic distances (the strong force works over a very small distance for example), you can't.  We exist as matter within our own dimensional context.  To traverse such postulated places we would have to be changed, and somehow changed back (without a receiver at the other end) without any loss of information (something like teleportation, for which check the etymology because it could be said I teleport everytime I walk out of my door and into someone else's), as in entropy has also been violated.  Say if even that could be done and both sides made transcievers, how long would it take the signals to go back and forth in order to build such?  Far longer than any likely technological sentience will be able to last (our "civilisation" will have to change majorly due to warming trends and climate shifts and sheer population before long, albeit even a lethal pandemic didn't really make a dent).  Not that sentients will return to any form of "barbarism", it's just that increasing population and resource consumption reach a finite limit.  'sides which we're still within a likelihood of thermo nuking ourselves at this end.

 

In other words, to quote Pauli's other exclusion principle, the study mentioned is not even wrong.  I am bored rigid with the extent of non-testable "science" around nowadays and folk falling for stuff because some "experts" or professional "scientists" did a "study" on matters that are more of a philosopic nature than a real world scientific method empirically approachable nature.

 

There's not even any proof that DNA is required for more complex "life", people keep forgetting that we only have a sample of one.  Even the statement that life on Titan is impossible is farcical.  Who says the speed of thought has to remain the roughly one second (amounting to two in practical terms) our bodies require such that some incredibly slow chemistry on century timescales can still lead to sentience when we don't really know how to define thought.  Should such exist where is the overlap in sense of time passage for communication to be possible in the first place?

 

The Copernican Principle, and the Cosmological Principle are getting a bit like the Perfect Cosmological Principle, in need of not taking so seriously (the latter is actually inviable).  Although things seeming to be special and unique seems counterintuitive given many examples in science, plate tectonics, the random driving force of enhanced natural selection events, is unique with barely a hint of it even on Venus.  Also, we don't know if water is uniquely required for it to occur or whether some other solvent is required.  We don't know if we even need a rocky body or surface dwellers, and other sources of relatively short periods of ecological catastrophy may be able to exist via other means.

 

These 'intelligent alien' what ifs are always like thought experiments which are simplifications that do not reflect the real world.  For example, Einstein's twin paradox is cool sounding, but requires the twin to set off instantly at the speed of light, stop instantly, and come back at the speed of light instantly and stop again.  Although it appears to have been confirmed with an astronaut having a twin who wasn't an astronaut the time difference due to him being in freefall around the Earth (gravity can also cause the effect in general relatively, the speed of light thing is more special relativity, he could have just lived atop a big mountain all his life instead), how exactly did they measure that?  They didn't, they jiggled really hard sums.


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#10 db2005

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 01:44 PM

 I have always though that we were talking about vast distances between planets outside our solar system and that may be so far you would have to travel at near light speed or at least a speed fast enough that your travel time would not take so long as to make the trip pointless. A traveler may not want to take years or even months to get to their destination.

  Since we are talking about speeds that are this high, I figure the other important issue for anyone would be the computers ability to track any and all objects in your vehicles path, even an object as small as a bee-bee, for if your craft should hit such an object at that high speed it would be as a bullet going through paper. Yes the craft may be made of material that we here on Earth do not have, a material so hard and dense that any object striking the craft will just bounce off, but think that is still not possible because they would never know how hard the material is in the object they struck in space. ( STAR TREK force shield) maybe?

  Now let assume they can track ahead, it would have to track countless numbers of space material in their path and not have an error to survive the trip. 

  So to conclude I would say that no crafts from any civilizations would make such a journey, unless they have figured out how to leap across great distances using some other means rather than what we on Earth would call normal space travel,( rocket ships ect).

Indeed... the problem of collisions with space debris at high speed is frequently treated in classic sci-fi literature, albeit in different ways. For example:

 

- In Frank Herbert's "Dune" Spice Melange is used to help Navigators with physic powers to find safe paths between the stars. Which is actually one of the main reasons that planet Arrakis/Dune is so important since it's the only place in the Universe that spice can be harvested. If the supply of spice stops, interstellar travel becomes unsafe.

 

- In Isaac Asimov's classic "Foundation" trilogy safe paths between the stars is found using computers, although the problem is mostly papered over, since the main plot of the series deals with the gradual breakdown and reformation of a galaxy-wide empire, not placing too much emphasis on the difficulty of space travel.

 

- In the 2008 movie "Passengers" the solution is force shields protecting the ship; in fact one of the main plot devices in the movie driving the story forward is actually that the shield partially failed as it passed a debris field, damaging the ship.

 

- In Larry Niven's "Ringworld", ship safety is mainly achieved using a "stasis field", which basically stops time inside the field, making the contents inside completely impregnable.
 

Sci-fi literature surely contains many ill-conceived ideas, but sometimes it does hit an idea that seems almost prophetic in nature. For instance, Jules Verne foresaw travelling to the Moon, but not the rocket (he used a gigantic cannon - I'll leave it an an excercise to the reader to figure out why this is a bad idea); but he also foresaw (perhaps in not so many words) the nuclear bomb and the electric submarine.

 

If we're looking for how technology might look in a century, sci-fi literature might not be the worst place to look.



#11 Rickycardo

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 02:33 PM

 I have always though that we were talking about vast distances between planets outside our solar system and that may be so far you would have to travel at near light speed or at least a speed fast enough that your travel time would not take so long as to make the trip pointless. A traveler may not want to take years or even months to get to their destination.

  Since we are talking about speeds that are this high, I figure the other important issue for anyone would be the computers ability to track any and all objects in your vehicles path, even an object as small as a bee-bee, for if your craft should hit such an object at that high speed it would be as a bullet going through paper. Yes the craft may be made of material that we here on Earth do not have, a material so hard and dense that any object striking the craft will just bounce off, but think that is still not possible because they would never know how hard the material is in the object they struck in space. ( STAR TREK force shield) maybe?

  Now let assume they can track ahead, it would have to track countless numbers of space material in their path and not have an error to survive the trip. 

  So to conclude I would say that no crafts from any civilizations would make such a journey, unless they have figured out how to leap across great distances using some other means rather than what we on Earth would call normal space travel,( rocket ships ect).

"Navigating through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops boy!"

Han Solo
 



#12 jokrausdu

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Posted 03 March 2024 - 01:43 AM

I read this blog post "Intergalactic Travel via Hypervelocity Stars" about 10 years ago at https://www.centauri...velocity-stars/, and that got me thinking about some things. One, how does one grab a star and send it where you want it to go. I know one could make a huge magnet to grab the star, but then you have to fling the star the direction you want it to go. Seems a little tricky.

 

Two, why would you want that star to leave the Milky Way? Some might say that life could live longer in elliptical galaxies with more metals and old stars or dwarf galaxies, but there is debate about that, for example, https://www.astronom...-of-alien-life/.

 

Three, once you get the star going in hypervelocity in the direction you want it to go, you have to slow it down to have it merge with the new host galaxy. I guess, one would use that same huge star magnet that you carried with you from the previous galaxy?



#13 Tony Flanders

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Posted 10 March 2024 - 07:41 PM

Two, why would you want that star to leave the Milky Way?


Because traveling around our own galaxy is so easy and boring.scratchhead2.gif



#14 grom

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Posted 25 March 2024 - 06:05 AM

It's an interesting study. Source, please?

 

I've also read some argument a several years ago saying that if Earth's gravity had been just a little stronger, we wouldn't have been able to build strong enough rockets to launch them into orbit, let alone leave Earth.

 

---

 

My two cents:

 

A civilization needs to be industrialized on an absolutely massive scale to go into space. Lots of ore needs to be excavated, rare raw materials need to be extracted, refined and processed, fuel to be refined, tools and industries must be built up, etc. Food production must be plentiful to even consider spending this kind of resources on going to space.

 

Depending on how you define the start of industrial revolution, it took one and a half century of industrialization for humans reach earth's orbit.

 

And massive industrialization isn't necessarily an inevitable path for intelligent civilizations - it's probably just one of many conceivable paths. The Aztecs, Inkans and Mayans didn't even invent the wheel; the Romans too barely made half-hearted attempts at industrialization; the Chinese empire got a little bit further but were steamrolled by the feeble British empire which was more industrially advanced at the time. Either of these civilizations were arguably populated with people who were just as intelligent as we are, the civilizations just took different paths.

The problem with the Fermi paradox, is that, given the amount of stars and time involved, it allows no exceptions.

 

Accepting the assumption "aliens are not here in Earth", the cause for that must be absolute. It is not enough that "it is difficult", or "it is unlikely".

The cause must be either "this is impossible" or "this is so improbable that it is impossible in practice".




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