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ToSeek
2004-Oct-13, 04:42 PM
If anybody's out there, what do we tell them? (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/science/20041013-9999-lz1c13worlds.html)


Scientists recently decoded the first confirmed alien transmission from outer space. It said:

"Please send 5x10 atoms of hydrogen to each of the five star systems listed below. Then, add your system to the top of the list and delete the system at the bottom. Transmit copies of this message to 100 different solar systems. If you follow these instructions, you are guaranteed that within 0.25 degrees of a galactic rotation you will receive in return sufficient hydrogen stores to power your own civilization until the universe reaches inevitable maximum entropy. This really works!"

Humphrey
2004-Oct-13, 04:52 PM
"You left your spaceships' headlights on. "

N C More
2004-Oct-13, 05:16 PM
Actually, it could be possible that they may not want to talk to us. We don't exactly appear very "friendly" in many respects. This quote from the article applies to us as well as "them",


Writing in the journal Nature Australia, Archer later observed that "any creature we contact will also have had to claw its way up the evolutionary ladder and will be every bit as nasty as we are. It will likely be an extremely adaptable, extremely aggressive super-predator."


In other words, they could be just like us! :o

tofu
2004-Oct-13, 05:51 PM
I think we tell them, in the following order:
1. what we're made of and what DNA is composed of
2. what we look like physically and what some of the other creatures on our planet look like
3. how we reproduce and how other life forms on our planet reproduce
4. in general how we evolved
5. how we think the universe began and where it's going
6. some art, music and other examples of our culture
7. our systems of government and a brief overview of our history
8. brief overviews of our technology
9. what we know of math and physics

If anyone is curious, the math and physics part is last be there is a 50:50 chance they already know as much as we do. So, it could be very boring.

The most pressing question in my mind about extraterrestrial life is whether or not it is based on DNA. That's why it's the first point. But now that I think about it, if most life in the universe is based on DNA this could turn out to be boring info as well.

01101001
2004-Oct-13, 05:53 PM
I'm reminded of the cute anecdote, I think from Sagan's Murmurs of Earth (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=books&field-titleid=574574&ve-field=none/qid=/103-6523969-7683823) about what music to send into space aboard Voyager. Someone opined that instead of an eclectic sampling of Earth music we should just send the complete works of Bach -- but that would be bragging.

kucharek
2004-Oct-13, 06:00 PM
With all this radio and tv stuff we sent out since decades, we will have a hard job to tell them the difference between what they get in the media and what we are really like. I mean, imagine an alien anthropologist studying humans by way of watching Big Brother. The horror.

:D

Harald

tofu
2004-Oct-13, 06:05 PM
With all this radio and tv stuff we sent out since decades, we will have a hard job to tell them the difference between what they get in the media and what we are really like.

But they have no context to put it in. It wont make a whole lot of sense to them. I'm sitting here at my job coding. If I showed you what I was working on, would you be able to tell anything about me? Would you even be able make a statement like, "he's good at it?" I don't think so. I'd all be meaningless to you.

Evan
2004-Oct-13, 06:40 PM
I think they should be worried. They probably don't want to talk to us.

http://vts.bc.ca/pics/tub.jpg

Humphrey
2004-Oct-13, 06:50 PM
I think they should be worried. They probably don't want to talk to us.

http://vts.bc.ca/pics/tub.jpg

Thats one way to go duck hunting....... :o

TinFoilHat
2004-Oct-13, 07:04 PM
"Humans taste bad, and don't have anything worth stealing. Not worth invading this planet. Move along."

Grand Vizier
2004-Oct-13, 07:53 PM
Better hope that it isn't certain governments that are in charge:


I think we tell them, in the following order:
1. what we're made of and what DNA is composed of

CLASSIFIED. Possible utility in bioweapons research.

2. what we look like physically and what some of the other creatures on our planet look like

PERMISSIBLE. But exaggerate vertical scale for humans and only show animals with big teeth.

3. how we reproduce and how other life forms on our planet reproduce

CONTRAINDICATED. This will give offence to some segments of our population and, for all we know, the aliens themselves.

4. in general how we evolved

PERMISSIBLE: Provided equal radio telescope time is give to the theory of Intelligent Design as is given to the Theory of Evolution

5. how we think the universe began and where it's going

PERMISSIBLE: Provided equal radio telescope time is give to a literal reading of the Book of Genesis as is given to godless cosmology.

6. some art, music and other examples of our culture

RECOMMENDED. Us guys in government don't understand modern culture, so ET won't either.

7. our systems of government and a brief overview of our history

PERMISSIBLE: But stressing that the current system operating in USA/China/Russia/Britain/France/Germany/North Korea/Iran... (delete as applicable) is now perfect and represents The End of History.

8. brief overviews of our technology

TOP SECRET!!! Are you insane?

9. what we know of math and physics

TOP SECRET!!! See 8. Look, we've already given away too much by letting them know we have radio telescopes - perhaps we should forget the whole thing?

Bozola
2004-Oct-13, 07:54 PM
Tell them they can keep Glen Miller.

ngc3314
2004-Oct-13, 08:25 PM
I'm reminded of the cute anecdote, I think from Sagan's Murmurs of Earth (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=books&field-titleid=574574&ve-field=none/qid=/103-6523969-7683823) about what music to send into space aboard Voyager. Someone opined that instead of an eclectic sampling of Earth music we should just send the complete works of Bach -- but that would be bragging.

Lewis Thomas, the essay "CETI" in Lives of a Cell:

"Perhaps the easiest thing to do at the outset, if technology permits, is to send music. This language may be the best we have for explaining what we are like to others in space, with least ambiguity. I would vote for Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space, over and over again. We would be bragging, of course, but it is surely excusable for us to put the best possible face on at the beginning of such an acquintance. We can tell the hard truths later."

I could go with that. Hearing some of the fugues, aliens could get a completely unjustified good first impression...

zebo-the-fat
2004-Oct-13, 08:30 PM
Please KEEP Elvis!

Zachary
2004-Oct-13, 09:02 PM
'Word Up!'

:p. Sorry, but It'd be pretty hilarious for alien xenobiologists (is that the right word?) to try and work out what the hell it meant.

Normandy6644
2004-Oct-13, 09:29 PM
If anybody's out there, what do we tell them? (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/science/20041013-9999-lz1c13worlds.html)


Scientists recently decoded the first confirmed alien transmission from outer space. It said:

"Please send 5x10 atoms of hydrogen to each of the five star systems listed below. Then, add your system to the top of the list and delete the system at the bottom. Transmit copies of this message to 100 different solar systems. If you follow these instructions, you are guaranteed that within 0.25 degrees of a galactic rotation you will receive in return sufficient hydrogen stores to power your own civilization until the universe reaches inevitable maximum entropy. This really works!"

:lol: That gave me a good laugh.

Grand Vizier
2004-Oct-13, 09:44 PM
Given the number of zombie PCs now on the net, we may have already sent them a message ourselves reading: 'Re: important information - click on the file attached (att: SobigC.exe)'

There may be an extermination fleet on the way already...

tofu
2004-Oct-13, 09:50 PM
Better hope that it isn't certain governments that are in charge:

I'm sure you'll take this the wrong way, but I'm starting to find the constant cynicism from Europeans tiring. Surely there are enough actual bad things about the US that you don't have to make stuff up. Here's what I mean by making stuff up:

" Provided equal radio telescope time is give to the theory of Intelligent Design as is given to the Theory of Evolution"

har har! I bet when the Spirit rover reaches Mars and starts to look for evidence that life evolved there, NASA will be forced to say, "we're looking for life that god created on Mars." Har har! Bush is an idiot. Har har har!

If you don't understand my point then let me make it very clear. NASA was *NOT* required to give equal time to Intelligent Design when talking about Mars. That is strong evidence that they would not be required to give equal time to it when communicating with aliens. You just made that up.

Two can play at that game, but I'm not going to stoop to that level. How about if we just drop it. It's getting old.

Note to BA: I'm sure you'll chastise me for making a political comment. In my defense, please note that I made no personal attack, used no impolite language, and am only responding to a political comment to correct what I see as its nonexistent basis in reality.

Grand Vizier
2004-Oct-14, 12:10 AM
Better hope that it isn't certain governments that are in charge:

I'm sure you'll take this the wrong way, but I'm starting to find the constant cynicism from Europeans tiring.


I'll certainly try not to take that jab at our 'constant cynicism' the wrong way. Now you might want to note that that was intended as an inconsequential bit of humour, maybe your humour chip is on the fritz. I do not name any governments except in the line:


...USA/China/Russia/Britain/France/Germany/North Korea/Iran... (delete as applicable)...

...nor do I name George Bush. In fact the statements are mutually contradictory, which was intended to make it slightly unrealistic. For the record I do not like your government, but then I don't like our government either, so I tend to stay away from these issues.



Surely there are enough actual bad things about the US that you don't have to make stuff up. Here's what I mean by making stuff up:

" Provided equal radio telescope time is give to the theory of Intelligent Design as is given to the Theory of Evolution"

har har! I bet when the Spirit rover reaches Mars and starts to look for evidence that life evolved there, NASA will be forced to say, "we're looking for life that god created on Mars." Har har! Bush is an idiot. Har har har!

If you don't understand my point then let me make it very clear. NASA was *NOT* required to give equal time to Intelligent Design when talking about Mars. That is strong evidence that they would not be required to give equal time to it when communicating with aliens. You just made that up.


In poor cynical old Europe, this is what is known as satire, which often deploys a technique known as exaggeration. I am fully aware that the federal Govt does not compel such appalling things, but that certain state legislatures are giving problems. I am also aware that the Prime Minister of my country has been flirting with the 'Happy Clappy' fundamentalists and may well be opening the door to the teaching of ID in so-called 'faith schools'.




Two can play at that game, but I'm not going to stoop to that level. How about if we just drop it. It's getting old.


Please do stoop to that level if you want, I can take it. We Europeans constantly poke fun at our own governments. I don't think we have any objection to you doing it. But, in fact, the main gist of my post was to poke fun at government paranoia in general with a side-swipe at fundamentalism, not to pillory one specific government.

Van Rijn
2004-Oct-14, 12:33 AM
Perhaps the easiest thing to do at the outset, if technology permits, is to send music. This language may be the best we have for explaining what we are like to others in space, with least ambiguity. I would vote for Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space, over and over again. We would be bragging, of course, but it is surely excusable for us to put the best possible face on at the beginning of such an acquintance. We can tell the hard truths later."

I could go with that. Hearing some of the fugues, aliens could get a completely unjustified good first impression...

I can see it now, the lead scientist "talking" about the signal from earth (they communicate by changing skin color patterns somewhat like squid using chromatophores, while they can hear sounds, they can't imagine using it for intelligent communication): "We keep getting these signals with low frequency pattern changes. It may be a language of some sort, but we can't break out the structural pattern. We've tried to play it on the chromascreen, but it just comes out as a display of a particularly ugly brown sludge."

If we do find intelligent aliens, it is likely they will be so unlike us that it will be a big trick to achieve basic communication using fundamental math and physical properties. All the details and nuances will come much later, and we can't even be sure they would have anything like art, but if they did, it probably would have very different assumptions than even the most general human ones.

Ilya
2004-Oct-14, 12:56 AM
Writing in the journal Nature Australia, Archer later observed that "any creature we contact will also have had to claw its way up the evolutionary ladder and will be every bit as nasty as we are. It will likely be an extremely adaptable, extremely aggressive super-predator."


In other words, they could be just like us! :o

Asimov's Three Laws of Civilizations:

1. WIMPS DO NOT BECOME TOP DOGS. Any species which achieved dominance of its own ecosystem will be tough, smart, adaptable, and ruthless when necessary.

2. THEY WILL VALUE THEIR OWN SURVIVAL ABOVE OURS. That's axiomatic -- species to not survive by being self-sacrificing.

3. THEY WILL ASSUME SAME THINGS ABOUT US. And they will be right!

tofu
2004-Oct-14, 12:57 AM
Grand Vizier, sorry. Bad day at the office. I'm at home now and I can see things differently after a couple of beers.

Grand Vizier
2004-Oct-14, 01:08 AM
Grand Vizier, sorry. Bad day at the office. I'm at home now and I can see things differently after a couple of beers.

No worries. I get spiky like that too. (In fact I was when I replied just now, for which I'm sorry too.) In fact I'm mellowing out after a beer or two myself right now. And I actually hate kneejerk anti-Americanism, which can be a smug European thing, and I do try to argue against it. (It's quite a different matter slagging off specific governments, though I know we shouldn't do that on this board.)

Actually that post wasn't really that funny anyway - I should have focused on gummint paranoia or biblical literalism. Not both...

Have a good relaxing evening. :)

Quartermain
2004-Oct-14, 05:08 AM
In the event of the first physical contact with inteligent alien life, I predict one of two general reactionary statements based on the compulsory nature of human prejudice, niether of which should be interpreted as a compliment..

"They are green after all!"

or

"Hey, these guys aren't green!".

eburacum45
2004-Oct-14, 07:44 AM
Humour can cause problems in communication even between humans, obviously; what if the aliens have a similarly impenetrable sense of humour?
Actually, the language of the aliens might be so saturated with sarcasm, or cynicism, or some other cultural flavourings that we could be struggling to understand them even if we finally decode their vocabulary.

This might be especially true taking into account the expected competitive nature of these hypothetical aliens; learning diplomacy and etiquette might be difficult when bizarre cultural factors are important.

Weird Dave
2004-Oct-14, 09:36 AM
I suggest we tell them that we live at Alpha Centauri, until we learn if they're friendly. :)

More seriously, it is likely that the aliens are more advanced than us. We should listen very carefully to what they say before we say anything. Specifically, are there any inconsistencies in their cultural information such as blank periods in history, species or cities that are not mentioned after a certain date etc. This might suggest that they are trying to hide a warlike/destructive nature.

Similarly, it would probably be a bad for us to try to hide our aggressiveness. They would see through it immediately. We could emphasize that only two nuclear bombs have ever been used in anger, and that was 60 years ago. Perhaps we can convince them that we are learning self-restraint :-? .

Argos
2004-Oct-14, 02:10 PM
Asimov's Three Laws of Civilizations:

1. WIMPS DO NOT BECOME TOP DOGS. Any species which achieved dominance of its own ecosystem will be tough, smart, adaptable, and ruthless when necessary.

2. THEY WILL VALUE THEIR OWN SURVIVAL ABOVE OURS. That's axiomatic -- species to not survive by being self-sacrificing.

3. THEY WILL ASSUME SAME THINGS ABOUT US. And they will be right!

There must be a moment when a transition to a high altruism occurs. A species cannot remain reptilian AND be technologically advanced. We are still reptilian in many senses, for the time being, but I wouldn´t say we are advanced. If they fail to tame their aggressive inclinations, they probably pose no threat to others, because a) they´re not there anymore, having annihilated themselves b) they remain primitive, like we are. My bold assertion: there´s no violent species crossing the stars at this very moment.

Bozola
2004-Oct-14, 02:51 PM
[quote=Ilya]Asimov's Three Laws of Civilizations:

There must be a moment when a transition to a high altruism occurs. A species cannot remain reptilian AND be technologically advanced. We are still reptilian in many senses, for the time being, but I wouldn´t say we are advanced. If they fail to tame their aggressive inclinations, they probably pose no threat to others, because a) they´re not there anymore, having annihilated themselves b) they remain primitive, like we are.

Reptilian? That is certainly a bigoted statement. I have know many reptiles that are far more modest and retiring than any trumped up monkey.

Asimov's laws require no "aggressive inclinations", just pragmatism. "Advanced" species, if nothing else, must be pragmatic.



My bold assertion: there´s no violent species crossing the stars at this very moment.
It is best to believe there aren't any species crossing the void since we cannot do anything about it, and it is very likely that we are goners if there are. All an advanced species would have to do to wipe up out would be to chuck some few tonnes of gravel at us at +0.93c.

Argos
2004-Oct-14, 03:05 PM
My bold assertion: there´s no violent species crossing the stars at this very moment.
It is best to believe there aren't any species crossing the void since we cannot do anything about it, and it is very likely that we are goners if there are. All an advanced species would have to do to wipe up out would be to chuck some few tonnes of gravel at us at +0.93c.

I can´t understand this rationale. What´s the reason to suppose that an advanced species will wipe out another at the first contact? How can such a Frankestein be, with a mind capable of taking him among the stars, and a behaviour of a brute? This doesn´t seem to fit any plausible model.

Bozola
2004-Oct-14, 03:27 PM
[quote="Bozola"][quote=Argos]
I can´t understand this rationale. What´s the reason to suppose that an advanced species will wipe out another at the first contact? How can such a Frankestein be, with a mind capable of taking him among the stars, and a behaviour of a brute? This doesn´t seem to fit any plausible model.

It's a simple rationale.

With a weapon as simple as relativistic gravel, you can neither stop it, much less detect it before it's right on top of you. A relativistic attack is by definition a sneak attack. One second you are sitting happily at the cinema, the next you're in a world-sized microwave oven. Pop!

Is there ever a chance of your species obtaining relativistic space flight before your species "grows up"?

Would your immature species see me as a competitor (as your TV show seem to indicate) and start throwing relativistic gravel at me and wiping out my entire species?

Since the definition of a "grown up" species is one that doesn't throw relativistic gravel around, how will I ever know if you've ever "grown up" or just biding your time?

Remember, the fate of your entire species is at risk here.

If I had to choose between the survival of your species or my species, would you care to guess my choice?

Argos
2004-Oct-14, 03:55 PM
So, species kill each other so there´s only one living at a given moment in a given galaxy. I´m affraid it looks like a reptilian rationale to me (no personal offense here).


Is there ever a chance of your species obtaining relativistic space flight before your species "grows up"?

Technologies related to the relativistic flight would have also a military use, with destruction power several orders of magnitude greater than we have today. If there was not cooperation among your species in a planetary scale you´d probably get involved in global conflicts which - even if not cataclismic enough to wipe your species out - would prevent or delay the relativistic flight enterprise for centuries, until you tried again. A species must be grown up to obtain and employ the technologies of the interstellar flight. I´d say that volence conspires against interstellar flight.

Bozola
2004-Oct-14, 04:21 PM
So, species kill each other so there´s only one living at a given moment in a given galaxy. I´m affraid it looks like a reptilian rationale to me (no personal offense here).


Is there ever a chance of your species obtaining relativistic space flight before your species "grows up"?

Technologies related to the relativistic flight would have also a military use, with destruction power several orders of magnitude greater than we have today. If there was not cooperation among your species in a planetary scale you´d probably get involved in global conflicts which - even if not cataclismic enough to wipe your species out - would prevent or delay the relativistic flight enterprise for centuries, until you tried again. A species must be grown up to obtain and employ the technologies of the interstellar flight. I´d say that volence conspires against interstellar flight.

Suppose there was a supremely calm and methodical species nearby. One that doesn't fight with itself, one that is nurturing, kind, and protective of it's own children.

They look at us and see that we are within a few decades of potentially producing relativistic anti-matter spacecraft.

They see that we are a species that has successfully killed all other species that dared to compete with us.

They see that we casually annhilate our own kind in the most barbaric ways.

They see that we are led by raving theocrats who espouse the adherence to dogma over rational thought.

They see that we cannot control our own population.

They see that despite our claims to desire the opposite, we have remained a species of highly excitable apes who find lust in carnage and destruction, and are very unlike to change anytime soon.

They see that we are capable of putting aside, temporarially, our normal antipathy to accomplish large projects, such as spaceflight.

In essense they see that we are, in their their calm methodical opinion, a species comprised of raving psychopaths who would take one look upon their reptilian-spiderlike forms and go completely xenocidal.

I do not think they would have a difficult choice.

Grand Vizier
2004-Oct-14, 05:40 PM
[...]

I do not think they would have a difficult choice.

There might be some difficulties. If they are real cute people, they might value life itself, whereever it is. That doesn't mean they would not want to wipe us out (in fact it gives them an extra reason, because of the species extinctions we are causing right now). But it does contraindicate the use of 'relativistic gravel' - you could sterilise the planet leaving only bacteria with that.

So they would have to have recourse to bioweapons of some sort in this case.

(And, of course, that is why they've been abducting people as test subjects all this time. It may be just as test subjects, or maybe all abductees carry a deadly 'time-bomb' - a 100% lethal genetic plague that is set to express itself at some date in the future. Perhaps governments should consider rounding up and isolating anyone who reports having been abducted ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) )

Bozola
2004-Oct-14, 05:58 PM
[quote=Bozola]
So they would have to have recourse to bioweapons of some sort in this case.


As long as they stop with those damn anal probes...

Grand Vizier
2004-Oct-14, 06:27 PM
So they would have to have recourse to bioweapons of some sort in this case.


As long as they stop with those damn anal probes...

And a further thought. The most humane method, if they are real nice and wise and all, would not be a lethal plague, obviously, but one that simply caused 100% total and irreversible sterility in the target species. And what have we been hearing about declining sperm counts...?

( :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: )

SirThoreth
2004-Oct-15, 03:07 AM
Hmm...what about just sending them something short and sweet, like:

"All your base are belong to us." 8-[

OK, OK, failing that, I'm still remembering a joke I read a while back:

Alien: Martians! Prepare to be conquored!
Human: Um, this isn't Mars. It's Earth.
Alien: Earth? You mean, "planet with belligerent primates armed with nuclear weapons" Earth?
Human: Yep, that's us.
Alien: Friends!!!

Maksutov
2004-Oct-15, 07:17 AM
"My biosphere can whup your biosphere!"

"No it can't!"

"Yes it can!"

"Prove it!"

"OK!"

Weird Dave
2004-Oct-15, 09:11 AM
Suppose there was a supremely calm and methodical species nearby. One that doesn't fight with itself, one that is nurturing, kind, and protective of it's own children.
[...]
I do not think they would have a difficult choice.

If they were truly enlightened they would not need to do that. They could station a set of automated weapons systems in high Earth orbit that shoot at any dangerous-looking human spacecraft. When we have grown up, they get switched off and we can join polite galactic society.

Alternatively, these aliens may be so advanced that they know that they could beat us at any time. They would be happy to let us join galactic society even now, because if we ever start behaving badly they could immediately destroy us. Sort of like Mutually Assured Destruction from the Cold War, but without the mutual.

Grand Vizier
2004-Oct-15, 01:03 PM
Suppose there was a supremely calm and methodical species nearby. One that doesn't fight with itself, one that is nurturing, kind, and protective of it's own children.
[...]
I do not think they would have a difficult choice.

If they were truly enlightened they would not need to do that. They could station a set of automated weapons systems in high Earth orbit that shoot at any dangerous-looking human spacecraft. When we have grown up, they get switched off and we can join polite galactic society.

Alternatively, these aliens may be so advanced that they know that they could beat us at any time. They would be happy to let us join galactic society even now, because if we ever start behaving badly they could immediately destroy us. Sort of like Mutually Assured Destruction from the Cold War, but without the mutual.

Yeah, but they'd probably have to arrange a demonstration or two first. Something simple like blowing up Neptune: 'Don't worry, just standard refuelling procedure. What's that? No, it didn't occur to us that you might want that planet. You haven't even sent an orbiting probe to it. Yes, yes, OK OK, we should have asked first. So sorry. Won't happen again.'

Bozola
2004-Oct-15, 03:06 PM
If they were truly enlightened they would not need to do that.

The only definition for "enlightenment" I have ever heard of is "shows some remorse for having to kill you". Is suppose the true form of "enlightenment" is a form an economically efficient long term self-interest.



They could station a set of automated weapons systems in high Earth orbit that shoot at any dangerous-looking human spacecraft.

So you go to the GREAT expense of putting these "automated weapons systems in high Earth orbit". The clever monkeys become aware of them. They soon discover that there is a buffer overflow bug in the FTP server that allows certain monkeys with Apple laptop computers to cause the nasty-looking green force-fields to drop. Hey! Those ruthless and ambious monkeys now have your technology. Worse, they now know that you exist, and have used that annoying trait of banding together to make a relativistic gravel slinger to spank your scaly spider-reptile butt far in advance of their psycho-social maturation.

It is infinitely cheaper and safer to obliterate a foe from a great distance, without notice, and with a really, really, big gun. Ask any artillery officer.

No mess, no fuss. We'll just hold a rememberance session once a ten-orbit, beat drums arythmically, and hold appendages.



When we have grown up, they get switched off and we can join polite galactic society.

How will you determine that you can trust those devious monkeys?




Alternatively, these aliens may be so advanced that they know that they could beat us at any time.

Funny...this is exactly what the English and the French thought of the Germans in the 1930s.



They would be happy to let us join galactic society even now, because if we ever start behaving badly they could immediately destroy us.

"Immediate" is an odd choice of words. Remember, you dealing with distances of MANY lightyears. Information as to the status of your opponent is many years behind by the time it reaches you. You have no idea if they have launched relativistic gravel at you until it's too late.

There is a bombardment of relativistic gravel coming at you at +0.93c, from some unknown direction.
The ambient temperature of the gravel is 3 degrees kelvin.
Each piece of gravel weighs 50g.
The gravel is made of raw iron.
Total mass of the gravel is 100 tonnes, scattered evenly over a circle with a 6000km radius, in two waves, a little under twelve light hours apart.

Questions:
How do you detect that there is relativistic gravel coming at you?
How much time do you have to react once you detect it?
How do you stop it?

Basically, to survive being obliterated by a pragmatic stealthed civilization with big guns is to become a pragmatic stealthed civilization with big guns. Chatterboxes die.

It is my belief that this may be the answer to the Fermi paradox. And before you ask, I think announcing our presence to the rest of the galaxy would be a really bad idea.

Evan
2004-Oct-15, 03:33 PM
Unless we are very wrong about the light speed limit this all falls into the mental masturbation category. Travel to other star systems at relativistic velocities requires ridiculous staggering stupendous gianormous amounts of energy. We are at least 50 years away from sending even a 10 gram payload on a 10 year trip to Alpha Centauri. And that supposes we start work on the project now, which we aren't.

Several possibilties exist: We are alone at this tech level in this galaxy at this time. Probably the most likely case.

We are not alone but the radio noisy period only lasts a couple of centuries. Also a likely case.

Travel to other stars is so expensive it can't be justified. Also likely.

Least likely: Our galaxy is teeming with life that takes family vacations to check out the neighbours (Men in Black) but they are avoiding us.

If there were other more advanced life forms capable of interstellar travel of any sort then they would be here already. Yeah, I know, some say they are. I don't believe that, where is their garbage?

Lurker
2004-Oct-15, 04:40 PM
If there were other more advanced life forms capable of interstellar travel of any sort then they would be here already.
Why... there is no intelligent life here... :wink:

Grand Vizier
2004-Oct-15, 05:36 PM
Unless we are very wrong about the light speed limit this all falls into the mental masturbation category. Travel to other star systems at relativistic velocities requires ridiculous staggering stupendous gianormous amounts of energy. We are at least 50 years away from sending even a 10 gram payload on a 10 year trip to Alpha Centauri. And that supposes we start work on the project now, which we aren't.


Agreed.



Several possibilties exist: We are alone at this tech level in this galaxy at this time. Probably the most likely case.


I don't think that is very likely at all. I increasingly think it possible that we are the only civilisation, maybe the only intelligences - at least in our Galaxy. But - if there are any other technical civilisations at all, the odds are going to be that they are more advanced than us, not less.



We are not alone but the radio noisy period only lasts a couple of centuries. Also a likely case.


Entirely possible. But that's only about leakage. So you have to go and look...



Travel to other stars is so expensive it can't be justified. Also likely.


Possible, but again I wouldn't say likely. Expense is relative. To a civilisation commanding the resources of a solar system (Kondratiev Type I, or just under), it might be relatively trivial. And what about von Neumann/Bracewell probes? (of course the very absence of these argues against there being anyone around - or at least nearby).



Least likely: Our galaxy is teeming with life that takes family vacations to check out the neighbours (Men in Black) but they are avoiding us.

If there were other more advanced life forms capable of interstellar travel of any sort then they would be here already. Yeah, I know, some say they are. I don't believe that, where is their garbage?

Yeah, with that I tend to agree, which is why I think we are probably alone. It is, after all, the simplest solution to the Fermi Paradox, so if we're applying Occam's Razor... But it doesn't mean that there may not be lots of strange lifeforms and ecosystems out there to study.

Evan
2004-Oct-15, 06:25 PM
Several possibilties exist: We are alone at this tech level in this galaxy at this time. Probably the most likely case.


I don't think that is very likely at all. I increasingly think it possible that we are the only civilisation, maybe the only intelligences - at least in our Galaxy. But - if there are any other technical civilisations at all, the odds are going to be that they are more advanced than us, not less.


Hmmm. I said "At this tech level...". It is beginning to appear that a civilisation such as ours may not advance much further or last much longer at this level. If that is common among competitive predatory types then it would certainly explain the silence. Kinda like the flash bulbs going off at a major sporting event during a big play. How many of those are exactly sychronized AND sitting next to each other?

SirThoreth
2004-Oct-15, 06:34 PM
Several possibilties exist: We are alone at this tech level in this galaxy at this time. Probably the most likely case.


I don't think that is very likely at all. I increasingly think it possible that we are the only civilisation, maybe the only intelligences - at least in our Galaxy. But - if there are any other technical civilisations at all, the odds are going to be that they are more advanced than us, not less.

Why is that? And, by that I mean to ask why are the odds higher that they're more advanced?

Consider the history of our own planet, for a moment. When you consider the rocky history of life on Earth, with its fits, bursts of evolution, extinction events resetting the slate, spurts forward, etc., it took a long, long time for Earth to develop a tool-using sentient life form, and it then took quite a while for that life form to progress to a technologically-advanced life form beginning to explore the solar system.

The age of the Solar system is set at 4.5 billion years or so, correct? That represents around a third of the estimated age of the Universe (which is thought to be around 13 billion year, plus or minus a billion). Considering that it probably took a good portion of that time to build up the heavier elements beyond iron, it's quite possible that other Earth-like planets got their starts at more or less the same time as ours, and also that they ran through similar fits and starts in evolution on their worlds.

We've gotten pretty lucky - there's been no major global-level disaster during the critical phases of our development, which has given us the time we've needed to get to where we're at now. Who's to say another sentient species got the same opportunity?

Further, are we sure sentience is even that common? Sure, that's the path our species has taken, but there've been plenty of other species on our planet that have been incredibly successful without it.

So, yeah, it's entirely possible that we're alone in our neck of the woods. I'm beginning to suspect that as well. OTOH, I'm also wondering if the assumption that we're going to be the backwards primitives when we do find another sentient species out there is really all that likely.

Hate to say it, but we just might end up the elder statesmen of the galaxy.

eburacum45
2004-Oct-15, 06:48 PM
Actually the gravel option is not completely plain sailing; relativistic masses might be detectable in at least three ways- friction with the interstellar medium is quite noticeable at these speeds, as each hydrogen atom is converted into radiation and you meet a lot of them per second- (not to mention dust). The gravel storm would glow like a torch.

Also soon we will have gravity wave detectors; I am informed that relativistic masses (probably even diffuse masses) will emit detectable gravity waves.

Finally the acceleration of the relativistic gravel will consume a lot of energy; if the acceleration takes place within the target solar system,close to the target, the target will see the waste energy from the acceleration process, and from further away it becomes increasingly difficult to take aim and actually hit the planet concerned.

Planets are very small targets when seen from another solar system.

Having said that, it is one thing to see the gravel coming; it is another thing to stop it.

SirThoreth
2004-Oct-15, 08:20 PM
Actually the gravel option is not completely plain sailing; relativistic masses might be detectable in at least three ways- friction with the interstellar medium is quite noticeable at these speeds, as each hydrogen atom is converted into radiation and you meet a lot of them per second- (not to mention dust). The gravel storm would glow like a torch.

D'oh! That's actually a really good point. I wonder (and have no clue how to determine) what the visual magnitude would end up being. Last week, my astronomy observation class went out to the San Diego Astronomy Assoc.'s observation site. A couple of the members there were talking about a new CCD camera with an equivalent ISO of around 50,000 - they're hoping to get magnitude 20 objects with it, and are even flirting with the idea of trying to map the Oort Cloud. :o


Also soon we will have gravity wave detectors; I am informed that relativistic masses (probably even diffuse masses) will emit detectable gravity waves.

Say what? Don't we have to figure out what gravity really is first to do that successfully? :-?


Finally the acceleration of the relativistic gravel will consume a lot of energy; if the acceleration takes place within the target solar system,close to the target, the target will see the waste energy from the acceleration process, and from further away it becomes increasingly difficult to take aim and actually hit the planet concerned.

Planets are very small targets when seen from another solar system.

Having said that, it is one thing to see the gravel coming; it is another thing to stop it.

OTOH, would it even work that well? What's going to keep said gravel from being worn down to sand-sized particles or smaller from contact with the interstellar medium?

Bozola
2004-Oct-15, 08:34 PM
Random collisions, you bet. It wouldn't be all that bright on the stellar scale, and you can hide it, if you really wanted to by aligning it with a loud stellar back round.

Remember, they are moving at relativistic velocities. This means that the gravel is immediately following the detected radiation.

As for erosion, which would by synonymous with the detectable emmitted radiation, I would believe that just an engineering issue. Launch the gravel slinger from your solar system, keeping the gravel as a nice tight payload designed to minimize the exposed surface area to the direction of travel.

You scatter the gravel after the slinger enters the target solar system.

Evan
2004-Oct-15, 08:58 PM
You better be looking for x-rays. It will be blue shifted severely.

2004-Oct-16, 08:27 AM
Hurry-up and take Eminem away...

PS: use the anal probe as a gag. 8)

Grand Vizier
2004-Oct-16, 07:53 PM
Hurry-up and take Eminem away...

PS: use the anal probe as a gag. 8)

Ugh. But yeah - I too have a little list, and they'll 'none of them be missed, none of them be missed.' Let's start with management consultants...

Argos
2004-Oct-18, 01:08 PM
Alternatively, these aliens may be so advanced that they know that they could beat us at any time. They would be happy to let us join galactic society even now, because if we ever start behaving badly they could immediately destroy us. Sort of like Mutually Assured Destruction from the Cold War, but without the mutual.

That´s the way things happen when when two advanced civilization meet, I believe. I should point out that one of the species will necessarily be far more advanced than the other, unlike the Cold War. There is no chance that two galactic players attain the same development level at the same time.

Bozola
2004-Oct-18, 02:51 PM
"Advanced" or not, they still have to play by the same physics.

A rock can kill just as dead as a nuclear weapon.