[meteorite-list] Contact! - OT - ish
From: Gerald Flaherty <grf2_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Wed Feb 1 23:27:57 2006
wisdom with a smiling face
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sterling K. Webb" <sterling_k_webb_at_sbcglobal.net>
To: "Meteorite List" <meteorite-list_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Cc: "Matson, Robert" <ROBERT.D.MATSON_at_saic.com>; "mark ford"
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006 10:44 PM
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Contact! - OT - ish
> Hi, All.
> Yes, during the Tucson Lull, we can babble of other things...
> I posted some months ago, the simplest and most obvious
> argument against SETI's vision of a universe filled with friendly
> chatty aliens (simple and obvious is hard to be wrong about).
> While it is tremendously difficult to discriminate a single,
> intensely narrow-band signal out of the Galactic noise, the
> existence of an EM-using civilization would be impossible
> to miss. The Earth is already so bright in the radio spectrum
> that it could be detected halfway across the Galaxy using
> 1950's technology (if we'd been broadcasting for 50,000
> years, that is).
> For 10-15 years now, SETI science has been fighting a
> rear-guard action. Speculation in the field centers around
> coming up with some excuses to explain why we haven't
> detected a signal yet.
> Here's some of them:
> a) the signal has a very, very narrow-bandwidth (this is usually
> combined with a financial appeal for a 100-trillion-channel
> receiver), hence is almost impossible to detect. This seems
> to be the current favorite of SETI-ites.
> b) the aliens are all so advanced that they no longer use the
> crude medium of EM waves but are gossiping everywhere around
> us via tachyons, or phase-modulated neutrinos, or gravitational
> wave radio, or... (This is a cheap shot excuse.)
> c) the universe is such an incredibly dangerous place that
> using radio waves is like putting on colorful clothes and going
> to picnic in the no-mans-land between the barbed wire trenches.
> Species that do it, get snuffed in short order (Gregory Benford).
> d) intelligent life is dangerously suicidal, and no technological
> civilization lasts for more than a century or two before it wipes
> itself out. The challenge to intelligent life is to keep from blowing
> yourself up within a century or so of discovering, say, nuclear
> fission and fusion, so the Universe is littered with the blasted
> and destroyed planets which were once the home worlds of
> fledging intelligent species like us (Arthur C. Clarke and
> lots of others).
> e) a similar argument to the above, only in instead of the
> nuclear fears of the 1980's, it substitutes the ecological fears
> of 2000; intelligent life destroys by its industrial ecology its
> own planetary environment to such an extent that it collapses
> into a pre-industrial culture, with no radio, a Universe filled
> with medieval or primitive aliens (Ursula K. LeGuin was
> the first to offer this, before SETI).
> f) terrestrial planets should have (so the argument goes) so
> much more water than the Earth that they are all Waterworlds.
> Intelligent life evolves, yes, but underwater, so the smart aliens
> are all brainy dolphins and cephalopods, very philosophical,
> but with no hands, no technology, hence no radio (David Brin).
> The Earth, with only modest oceans and some dry land, is a
> vary rare exception in this model.
> g) as a young intelligent species, we are dangerous to ourselves
> and others. The Earth is a Wildlife Preserve. No communication
> nor contact is permitted. Do Not Feed The Animals. Heavy
> Fines are Possible... (Lots of folks like this one, too.)
> h) fiddling with the Drake equation to come up with N=1.
> Of course, you could always come up with N=0 as easily,
> which rules us out as well. Hmmm.
> As is always the case in religious disputes the beliefs and
> biases, yes, the hopes and dreams, of the "thinker" strongly
> color the outcome. When Carl Sagan fiddled with the Drake
> equation, he came up with N=10,000...
> Don't get me wrong. I spent most of my life "believing" in the
> eventuality of "SETI success," but it gets harder and harder to
> hold to, requiring more faith and less logic to maintain
> with every passing decade (four, so far). I love ET. I've
> watched CONTACT, Oh Lord, how many times?
> The thought of a Universe in WE are the best that
> intelligent life can manage is profoundly depressing.
> The saucer lands; the glowing aliens say (telepathically,
> no doubt), "Take us to Your Leader." And I mutter,
> "Wouldn't you rather meet somebody else? I know lots
> of nice interesting humans who'd love to chat with you..."
> That's not a political comment, BTW. It pretty much
> applies to most Leaders I can remember. And they're
> too late to have a fireside chat (literally) with
> Abraham Lincoln.
> The excuses?
> Well, I already answered A.
> B. Well, tachyons or not, they would still use EM waves
> for something, radar, beacons, something, for the simple
> reason that electrons are CHEAP. I can buy a gallon
> of electrons for the price of a pico-liter of tachyons.
> (The price went up again last week!). And a big
> civilization would use lots of cheap electrons, hence
> they would show up in the radio spectrum, just we do.
> C. If this theory were correct, the planet-smashing probes
> of the Galactic Machine Civilization should be arriving
> any minute, or the Intergalactic Locusts of Independence
> Day would just be passing the Moon. We've been screaming
> away in the EM for eighty years, so if The Danger is within
> 40 light years... An eighty light-year sphere contains
> A LOT of stars. I'm not in a figuring mood; just get
> yourself zeroes, bucket of, one (1).
> D. Keep your fingers off that Big Red Button...
> Is every species as dumb as we are? Hard to
> believe. After fifty years, we (meaning the West)
> seem to have learned about playing with these
> really dangerous toys. Now, all we have to is
> convince Iran, and North Korea, and...
> E. Global warming...? Don't be silly.
> F. Of the four terrestrial planets we know of, the
> Earth has the most water. The argument that terrestrial
> planets should be drowning in water seems like special
> pleading cooked up for the occasion.
> G., H., et cetera. Oh, heck, the rest are just excuses,
> really. They're really all just excuses.
> MAYBE it's intelligent life that's really rare. Since it
> took almost five billion years for it to pop up on
> this planet, you could reasonably argue that it's
> the bottleneck in the Drake equation.
> Five billion years to evolve intelligence, you could
> also argue reasonably, that it's essentially a matter
> of chance that it evolves at all. IF intelligence is
> only an accident, it might well be that the average
> time to evolve intelligence is longer than the lifetime
> of a star! That would sure cut N down to size...
> You could calculate the likelihood of intelligent
> life this way: cellular life has existed on Earth
> for roughly 90% of its lifetime; multi-cellular life
> has existed on Earth for roughly 10% of its
> lifetime; intelligent (well, more or less) life has
> existed on Earth for roughly 1/1000th of 1%
> of its lifetime. Therefore, intelligent life exists
> for 1/100,000th of the life of a life-bearing planet.
> That reduces factor-sub-i from 0.01 to 0.00001.
> If additionally, you reduce the lifetime of technical
> civilizations and their dangerous toys to a few
> centuries, that really chops old N down to size!
> (How many times do I have to tell you to stay
> away from The Big Red Button?)
> Rob suggests that it is possible that once a
> technical civilization becomes advanced enough,
> it is virtually immortal. Arthur Clarke suggested
> the same thing. Pleasant thought. We all like that
> immortality talk. We like it more and more the older
> we get... Futurist Ray Kurzweil just wrote a book
> ("The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend
> Biology") suggesting mankind is about to evolve
> into super-organic-inorganic immortality. Hey!
> You can sign me up for the silicon; I'm ready
> to chip out...
> So, the Universe (the "Heavens") is filled with
> wise immortals? Ever notice how many scientific
> notions end up sounding a lot like religious ones?
> These Wise Immortals have Wings? Harps?
> Look like Buddha? Never Mind... I'm just
> naturally suspicious...
> So, the many intelligent lifeforms in our Galactic
> neighborhood, taking note of our commencement
> of the use of EM technology, have imposed a ban
> on radio spectrum signals within 100 lightyears of
> Earth, the restricted zone to expand at the rate of
> one lightyear per year until further notice. Nothing
> permitted but tachyon traffic.
> "Do you have any idea of what that will do
> to our operating budget? It's totally unfair
> for us to have to bear the burden of those
> costs just because some... some..."
> "Yes, monkeys. I know... Who would have
> thought it?"
> "OK, just because some monkeys have gotten
> smart all of a sudden. I mean, not to mention
> having to mothball all that equipment... Why should
> we get stuck with it?"
> "There's an 80% tax credit on both capital and
> operating cost over-runs."
> "In that case... No problem!"
> On the other hand, if WE are it, the only ones,
> the sole representative of intelligence in the
> Galaxy, maybe, just maybe, it might prove to be
> an incentive to GROW UP, fer cryin' outloud!!
> Why don't you monkeys stop carrying all that
> BS around with you and ACT like intelligent life
> once in a while. I know, it's hard... Here's what
> I suggest: just PRETEND you're the only wise
> aliens in the Galaxy and do what you think the
> only intelligent Galactic life, in all its wisdom,
> would do.
> Maybe, after a while, it would get to be a habit...
> Sterling K. Webb
> PS: That last comment not addressed to any Poster
> nor Member of the List, naturally; just to Humanity
> In General...
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Matson, Robert" <ROBERT.D.MATSON_at_saic.com>
> To: <meteorite-list_at_meteoritecentral.com>
> Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006 1:48 PM
> Subject: RE: [meteorite-list] Contact! - OT - ish
>> Hi Mark,
>>> N = N* fp ne fl fi fc Fl (The Drake Equation)
>> I've always enjoyed jiggering with the numbers in the Drake
>> equation; unfortunately, most of the parameters are completely
>> unknown and so whatever value you choose is a complete guess.
>> Here's my w.a.g. at parameter values (vs. yours in parentheses):
>> N* represents the number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy
>> N* = 500 billion (100 billion)
>> (Btw, that's American billion, not British billion). The actual
>> number of stars in the Milky Way is certainly at least 200 billion,
>> and could be over a trillion.
>> fp is the fraction of stars that have planets around them
>> fp = 50% (60%)
>> ne is the number of planets per star that are capable of sustaining life
>> ne = 0.1 (0.33)
>> fl is the fraction of planets in ne where life evolves
>> fl = 20% (10%)
>> fi is the fraction of fl where intelligent life evolves fi = 1% (5%)
>> fc is the fraction of fi that communicate
>> fc = 5% (10%)
>> fL is fraction of the planet's life during which the communicating
>> civilizations live.
>> L = 5000 years (L = 1000 years)
>> You didn't indicate the average lifetime of the planet, but reverse
>> engineering your answers suggests that you assumed 10 billion years
>> (roughly the earth's expected lifetime). I guess planetary lifetime
>> is intimately tied to stellar lifetime, which of course varies a
>> great deal depending on star type. Since the majority of stars in
>> the Milky Way are red dwarfs, I would heavily weight stellar (and
>> thus planetary) lifetime toward the red dwarf lifetime -- around
>> 100 billion years. So I'll say 50 billion years. So you and I still
>> end up with the same fraction (5000/50 billion vs. 1000/10 billion).
>> fL = 1E-7 (fL = 1E-7)
>> N = 0.25 (N = 1)
>> So we're within an order of magnitude of each other. The main factor
>> affecting the outcome is the lifetime of a communicating civilization.
>> Suppose that once a civilization becomes advanced enough to communicate,
>> it doesn't die until its star does? Then fL could be a million times
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Received on Wed 01 Feb 2006 11:27:47 PM PST