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Colin Robinson
2013-Jan-28, 05:30 AM
In the thread "Why still there is no Alien contact?", Swift said that if we want to discuss sci-fi and science in relation to LiS, we could start a new thread...

OK...

I've noticed a tendency in this LiS forum to equate speculative thought with sci-fi, and sci-fi with mere entertainment. I find this tendency problematic.

And I think the relation between science and sci-fi is an important question to discuss in LiS. After all, a lot of science fiction is about imagined contact between humans from Earth and living things of other worlds.

Is any of this science fiction more than entertainment? Can it be relevant to serious discussion about life beyond Earth?

I would answer yes to both these questions.

This does not mean I think story-telling is a substitute for scientific observations of planets and moons, e.g. by means of telescopes, radio telescopes, and interplanetary space probes.

I point out, though the ranks of science fiction writers have included some of the very scientists who worked with the telescopes, radio telescopes and space probes...

For instance:

* Johannes Kepler, one of the first to look at the moon through a telescope, discovered the circular features known as craters. Also wrote a narrative about imagined journey to the moon, entitles Somnium.
* Carl Sagan. Scientific advisor to NASA, involved in planning the Viking mission to Mars. Also wrote the novel Contact.
* David Brin. Present day scientist, involved with the SETI project. Also writes science fiction about extraterrestrials.

Is it just coincidence that scientists like these also wrote SF?

Is the phrase "thought experiment" ever applicable to science fiction works?

Solfe
2013-Jan-28, 06:09 AM
Robert Forward was an engineer who wrote science fiction and used technology as the hero. Sure, he wrote about people, but they were there only to service the technology. One interesting thing is, this description only works for the first novel in a any series of his. If there was more than one book, the human/alien characters took over and the science and technology slid away.

LiS is pretty problematical most for the reason of where it is located is at odds with the description: "anywhere but here". With that description, you need to be wearing Speedos and a spacesuit, loving machined out of 461 Red Bull cans have the proper mindset to be posting in LiS. LiS is based on science, but its fringe in the extreme.

The problem is, the forum maintains a very high level of science content and limits speculation. By that standard, we really shouldn't have LiS at all. LiS is the forum's stepchild.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-28, 06:27 AM
Today's Sci/Fi, Tomorrow's Sci/Fact.......Well maybe not in all cases but a reasonable facsimile thereof.
Sci/Fi is certainly speculative Imaginative and thought which I personally equate with being allowed by GR and the general laws of physics.

I also agree it is not just relevant but a must with regards to the question of life beyond Earth and hand in hand with the known scientific facts that we observe with numbers and extent of the Universe, and the likelyhood that presents for the question of ET life.

Like I said, Sci/Fi to me is generally always entertaining because it can literally give us a vision of the future.
It also tends to get people thinking.
When 2001: A Space Odyssey was released in 1968, I saw it 4 times in the first couple of years, mainly driven by my desire to understand the story line and plot fully.
Finally I read the book, which cleared up that lingering obsession to know!
Other great Sci/Fi movies I enjoyed were Forbidden Planet [1953 or thereabouts] The Day The Earth Stood Still [original version] "Contact" and Mission To Mars.
Arthur C Clarke another great Sci/Fi writer may not have been a scientist as such, but he did propose a Satellite com system as early as 1945.......
Is it just coincidence that scientists like these also wrote SF?
I don't think so....Most active scientists are men of vision, and some didn't just stand on the shoulders of giants, they stood on tippy toes.
Carl Sagan seeked advice fro probably the world top authority on BH's/WH's Kip Thorne for the excellent movie "Contact"

I checked out a definition of Sci/Fi and this was the one I liked the most......

". a literary genre that makes imaginative use of scientific knowledge or conjecture"

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/science+fiction?s=t

Selfsim
2013-Jan-28, 07:02 AM
Well, for starters, the 'challenge' was ...
And just what are the objective criteria that you use to distinguish "sci-fi" from science? Selfsim, I have previously asked for your definition of "sci-fi" but you have never provided it.To which my response would be ...
I have previously stated that I do not define sci-fi. I distinguish it in the moment. There's a big difference between these two approaches …

I see no useful purpose in assuming that there would ever be an objective definition for sci-fi, as I cannot see agreement ever being reached on such an exercise.

So, I can only go by your posts, and looking at those, it appears to be a purely subjective standard. Physical plausibility doesn't seem to be relevant. You have, after all, declared things to be "sci-fi" whether or not they are physically plausible.And I would say the same goes for assuming there to be an objective definition of 'physical plausibility', when it comes to the exo-life discussion. What is the purpose of attempting to define 'physical plausibility' when it comes to matters concerning the existence/non existence of exo-life?

When it comes to the technology part of sc-fi, my view is that there is what theory gives us .. leading to the distinction of theoretically feasible ... and then there is whether or not something is practically feasible. The former is distinguished by known physical theory and laws .. the latter is distinguished by process of objectifying the proposition, in order to make visible, its ability to function within known physical limitations, (as established by specific applications of known physical law).

'Physical plausibility' becomes irrelevant to me when I'm coming from either of these perspectives. I'm personally not particularly interested in such a definition. It doesn't seem to go anywhere of particular interest, as it implies an opinion basis of judgement.

Rather, you appear to be using the term as a statement of personal incredulity: Not a technical argument at all, but an expression of unsupported beliefs. And I see no reason why I should care about your beliefs.Yes, I can see why you'd see it that way … until one has a grasp of the concept of 'distinctions', I wouldn't see any alternatives, either.



PS: Colin ... I'll get back around to your questions when I get the time. I've gotta get this issue off my plate, before I can contemplate the other matters you raise. Cheers.

TooMany
2013-Jan-28, 07:15 AM
Oh gosh. I sure do remember Forbidden Planet. It was released in 1956 when I was 9 years old. After seeing it, my childhood head was swimming with ideas and excitement, particularly about the robot. The mystery of the advanced, but extinct, alien civilization of the Krell was also fascinating. I still remember the movie vividly.

The Day the Earth Stood Still was a classic too; but the more recent remake (with Keanu Reeves) failed (IMO) to improve on that classic.

In some ways, more modern Sci-Fi movies don't have the same appeal, in spite of far more sophisticated special effects. The current Sci-Fi movie theme has become a "cowboys vs aliens" shootout, not comparable with the magic and deeper content of these original stories.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed Star Wars when I first saw it. I viewed it as a tongue in cheek Sci-Fi comedy/adventure. Cute, but lacking the gravity and deeper message of 50's Sci-Fi.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-28, 07:22 AM
So for me, sci-fi requires:

- a suspension of disbelief (a necessary condition) and;
- it invokes the imagination in order to realise, (in one's mind), a vision of a future unencumbered by concerns of the physical universe, or of its known behaviours.

Both of these get to the core of how it makes a rapid transition into the 'entertainment' category (for me).

The contrast with 'doing science' is quite stark, once one makes the above distinctions.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-28, 08:40 AM
Oh gosh. I sure do remember Forbidden Planet. It was released in 1956 when I was 9 years old. After seeing it, my childhood head was swimming with ideas and excitement, particularly about the robot. The mystery of the advanced, but extinct, alien civilization of the Krell was also fascinating. I still remember the movie vividly.

The Day the Earth Stood Still was a classic too; but the more recent remake (with Keanu Reeves) failed (IMO) to improve on that classic.

In some ways, more modern Sci-Fi movies don't have the same appeal, in spite of far more sophisticated special effects. The current Sci-Fi movie theme has become a "cowboys vs aliens" shootout, not comparable with the magic and deeper content of these original stories.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed Star Wars when I first saw it. I viewed it as a tongue in cheek Sci-Fi comedy/adventure. Cute, but lacking the gravity and deeper message of 50's Sci-Fi.



You've been reading my mind!
My thoughts exatctly.

I actually didn't watch the Star War series for quite a while, believing like you, that they seemed a more tongue in cheek approach to Sci/Fi rather then a possible future agenda for mankind, but having a Son who was at that time just entering his teens, I was eventually forced to watch them.
My verdict??Quite enjoyable but quite different from what I like to see achieved in good Sci/Fi...that is a possible realistic vision of the future, and thought provoking about those predictions based on scientific data of course.

Van Rijn
2013-Jan-28, 10:15 AM
Well, for starters, the 'challenge' was ...To which my response would be ...
I have previously stated that I do not define sci-fi. I distinguish it in the moment. There's a big difference between these two approaches …


Okay. I asked you what would be the objective criteria that you would use to distinguish "sci-fi" from science. What would be your answer?

But I'm puzzled why you would even use a term when you refuse to define it. It seems a pointless exercise.



I see no useful purpose in assuming that there would ever be an objective definition for sci-fi, as I cannot see agreement ever being reached on such an exercise.


Then why would you use the term at all? Do you really think there is no useful purpose in defining a term you repeatedly use in discussion? And now, beyond not defining it, you're admitting that you're using the term subjectively. Isn't this exactly the sort of thing you complain about (putting personal beliefs ahead of science) when others do it?



And I would say the same goes for assuming there to be an objective definition of 'physical plausibility', when it comes to the exo-life discussion. What is the purpose of attempting to define 'physical plausibility' when it comes to matters concerning the existence/non existence of exo-life?


Seriously? The purpose is that it guides the development of hypotheses - to focus on what is physically plausible and therefore is testable. Similarly, exoplanet hypotheses were developed based on what was physical plausible. It's an objective standard, rather than the subjective, unlike arguments from personal incredulity or insistence on belief without evidence.



When it comes to the technology part of sc-fi, my view is that there is what theory gives us .. leading to the distinction of theoretically feasible ... and then there is whether or not something is practically feasible. The former is distinguished by known physical theory and laws .. the latter is distinguished by process of objectifying the proposition, in order to make visible, its ability to function within known physical limitations, (as established by specific applications of known physical law).


Then you now accept that interstellar communication is practically feasible? As you've been using the term, you seem to reject feasibility in cases where there is both theoretical support and substantial real-world experimental support.


'Physical plausibility' becomes irrelevant to me when I'm coming from either of these perspectives. I'm personally not particularly interested in such a definition. It doesn't seem to go anywhere of particular interest, as it implies an opinion basis of judgement.


What? How do you get from "physical plausibility" to "opinion"? The point is to AVOID personal opinion. If someone wants to believe in FTL travel, too bad, it's not physically plausible. Or if someone doesn't want to believe in interstellar RF communication, sorry, it is physically plausible.

Colin Robinson
2013-Jan-28, 11:01 AM
I actually didn't watch the Star War series for quite a while, believing like you, that they seemed a more tongue in cheek approach to Sci/Fi rather then a possible future agenda for mankind, but having a Son who was at that time just entering his teens, I was eventually forced to watch them.
My verdict??Quite enjoyable but quite different from what I like to see achieved in good Sci/Fi...that is a possible realistic vision of the future, and thought provoking about those predictions based on scientific data of course.

What this brings out, is that within sci-fi there are quite different sub-genres. The term "hard science fiction" is sometimes used for the sort that is realistic in the sense that it takes its science seriously... It presents scenarios that haven't yet happened, but are not impossible, in the sense that there's nothing in current science to say that the scenario can't occur... There are also forms of sci-fi that are closer to fantasy, which is where Star Wars comes in.

It's "hard science fiction" that I find relevant to some of the discussions we have in this forum.

For example the early chapters of Arthur C. Clarke's novel Childhood's End, where the commander of an alien space fleet quickly becomes the overlord of Earth, by means of a highly restrained demonstration of superior technology.

I mentioned that novel in another LiS thread, about what strategy extraterrestrials might use to conquer our planet... Which of course is a speculative question, when we don't know whether extraterrestrial civilizations exist, or possess the means to travel here, or have any wish to take over this place...

However, if it is accepted that such a question is worth discussing, then the strategy described in Childhood's End has to be worth considering.

neilzero
2013-Jan-28, 03:42 PM
Fiction has frequently been used in an attempt to modify public opinion and behavor, so possibly some of our SF is designed to prepare us for full disclosure of what is really happening, if that is significantly different. LiS and LIS = life in space. Neil

eburacum45
2013-Jan-28, 04:13 PM
Fiction has frequently been used in an attempt to modify public opinion and behavor, so possibly some of our SF is designed to prepare us for full disclosure of what is really happening, if that is significantly different. I would gently suggest that nothing is further from the truth; if you are waiting for 'full disclosure' you will have a long wait.

eburacum45
2013-Jan-28, 04:30 PM
It's "hard science fiction" that I find relevant to some of the discussions we have in this forum.

For example the early chapters of Arthur C. Clarke's novel Childhood's End, where the commander of an alien space fleet quickly becomes the overlord of Earth, by means of a highly restrained demonstration of superior technology.
Except that there isn't really much 'hard science fiction' in Childhood's End, which is, incidentally, one of my personal favourites.
------------------------------------------------------
... gigantic ships hover above cities in an unexplained way, and most of them turn out to be projections, which are projected in an unexplained way; the Overlords use unexplained faster-than-light transport, there are inexplicable psychic forces afoot and the Earth is destroyed in an unexplained fashion.
...
------------------------------------------------------
Not exactly diamond hard SF...

Colin Robinson
2013-Jan-28, 09:20 PM
Except that there isn't really much 'hard science fiction' in Childhood's End, which is, incidentally, one of my personal favourites.
------------------------------------------------------
... gigantic ships hover above cities in an unexplained way, and most of them turn out to be projections, which are projected in an unexplained way; the Overlords use unexplained faster-than-light transport, there are inexplicable psychic forces afoot and the Earth is destroyed in an unexplained fashion.
...
------------------------------------------------------
Not exactly diamond hard SF...

It's true that the Overlords do some inexplicable things, as one would expect from a more advanced technology. And the later parts of the book, which involve psychic phenomena and the Overmind, involve more of the inexplicable than the earlier chapters...

But what you've said about faster-than-light transport is not quite right. Here is what a human scientist in the novel says about Overlord star-ships:

"We know a lot now, through our observation of their departure, about the speed of the Overlord ships. They leave the Solar System under such tremendous accelerations that they approach the velocity of light in less than an hour. This means that the Overlords must possess some kind of propulsive system that acts equally on every atom of their ships, so that anything aboard won't be crushed instantly... NGS 549672 is forty light-years from Earth. The Overlord ships reach more than ninety-nine percent of the speed of light, so the trip must last forty years of our time."

He goes on to explain that from the view-point of a passenger inside the ship, the trip will take no more than about two months... This is not faster-than-light travel, it is relativistic travel, within the framework of Einstein's equations.

danscope
2013-Jan-28, 09:49 PM
So for me, sci-fi requires:

- a suspension of disbelief (a necessary condition) and;
- it invokes the imagination in order to realise, (in one's mind), a vision of a future unencumbered by concerns of the physical universe, or of its known behaviours.

Both of these get to the core of how it makes a rapid transition into the 'entertainment' category (for me).

The contrast with 'doing science' is quite stark, once one makes the above distinctions.

Hi, This is a great statement and says much about the difference between genuine science , and SF/fantasy.
It requires the suspension of disbelief, just for the purposes of telling a good yarn. And there's nothing wrong with that....
untill they start believing their own fantasies. When your cat can walk through walls, get him on Letterman.

Best regards,
Dan

Colin Robinson
2013-Jan-28, 09:55 PM
Fiction has frequently been used in an attempt to modify public opinion and behavor, so possibly some of our SF is designed to prepare us for full disclosure of what is really happening, if that is significantly different. LiS and LIS = life in space. Neil

I doubt very much that sci fi writers have access to secret knowledge about life in space. I'd rather say that they challenge us to consider a range of possibilities — possibilities which are (more or less) consistent with current scientific knowledge, but which go beyond current knowledge.

What I mean by more or less consistent, is that hard sci-fi make more effort at consistency with science than fantasy sci-fi does.
Clarke's description of Overlord star travel is hard sci-fi, because it is consistent with known principles of physics, including the time dilation effect.

The laser swords in Star Wars are fantasy — they are absurdly inconsistent with everything known about laser beams. In the same category are the Red Martians of Edgar Rice Burroughs — beings that look and behave exactly like human men and women, and can even interbreed with us humans, except that the Red Martian female lays an egg instead of giving birth. You don't need to know all that much biology to see that the female human body is adapted to birth-giving, not egg-laying -- an intelligent oviparous life-form would not have the looks of an earthling woman.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-28, 10:06 PM
Okay. I asked you what would be the objective criteria that you would use to distinguish "sci-fi" from science. What would be your answer?

But I'm puzzled why you would even use a term when you refuse to define it. It seems a pointless exercise.As explained in my words which you quoted, and as you already know, to me, there is no point in defining sci-fi .. I see no useful purpose in defining such a term. The issue it represents, (in this forum, for instance), would rapidly become merely semantical, which then makes for a pointless exercise when it comes to explaining why sci-fi is fundamentally different from science. And I propose that we both drop the 'bravado' nonsense, (I'll freely admit my guilt, (in part), of that), and let's try and make this an interesting thread for others, eh?.

I distinguished it, in post #6 … which is a vast improvement over any equivalent definition, or lack thereof. If you disagree, that's fine by me .. but read on if your interested in gaining another perspective on this. I'm sure that a 'definition' type discussion will rapidly become semantical, and frankly, I'm personally, not particularly interested in those discussions. Sci-fi can be discussed in an interesting way, however.


Then why would you use the term at all? Do you really think there is no useful purpose in defining a term you repeatedly use in discussion? And now, beyond not defining it, you're admitting that you're using the term subjectively. Isn't this exactly the sort of thing you complain about (putting personal beliefs ahead of science) when others do it? See, the term itself already has meaning. There is no agreement on what it means. Fascinating, eh? The observation is that we all seem know when we experience it, as individuals .. its another one of those 'things' (like for eg: self-awareness). A distinction is all about being able to know what is present, when one experiences it .. (same as self-awareness).

Let's use another example .. say riding a bicycle .. it requires to 'get' the distinction of balance. One can look up the definition of balance, but that won't help in the slightest, when it comes time to 'saddle up'! One has to experience balance in order to get it! (And that has nothing to do with semantics from a dictionary). Distinctions are all about distinguishing what is, or isn't, present. This is what permits me to share what is present when those distinctions 'fire up'. I'm just sharing what I'm experiencing when I declare: "that's sci-fi!". There are no CQX rules against sharing what is present amongst members, are there? (I've certainly never had any problems with anyone who shares something and declares that to be based on belief. I actually appreciate it when folk are sufficiently aware in order to distinguish something as just that .. ie: a belief! ..( That's terrific stuff, in my view)).

.. Oh … and the 'beauty', is that no-one has to believe in a distinction .. they are purely optional … but, I suggest trying the idea on … if it 'works', then go for it! Distinctions aren't 'truth', so they aren't 'true'. There's no point in judging them from a physical perspective. One doesn't have to believe in them, either .. beliefs and opinions can be valued lowly, if one chooses .. they make no difference in the behaviours of the physical universe around us.


Seriously? The purpose is that it guides the development of hypotheses - to focus on what is physically plausible and therefore is testable. It contains a pre-judgement quality which presumes that the judge knows all there is to know before a proposal is presented, (which appears to be the default 'style', (or culture), adopted here by certain folk, at CQX, (I might add)). It also doesn't surprise me that we've ended up wrangling on this point of difference.

Judgement is used as a way of dominating others. It is a kind of false 'front' put up to conceal something going on in the background, when someone exercises this option.

A large component of what the CQX Forum is .. is about providing a forum where open discourse is facilitated, (within socially acceptable behaviour constraints). Judgements based on references to those constraints are different from judgements based on references to the various laws of science. That judgement isn't necessary if an idea can be succinctly stated within the constraints of theory and physical laws, and shown to be testable. In my view, the judgement is superfluous and is actually detrimental to a goal of promoting scientific discourse.

I personally think CQX is horribly confused on this point, and it is my hypothesis that CQX, (previously BAUT), might be directly responsible for creating pseudo- and anti-science sentiment elsewhere on the web .. and it should be step up to the mark, and demonstrate accountability in correcting that situation.

'Physical plausibility' is used here at CQX, in order to make claims on reality, before any tests or applications of physical law have been considered. This is what results in the perception that sci-fi is somehow 'reality' pulled from the pages of a fictional novel, which was originally created for the purpose of entertainment.


Similarly, exoplanet hypotheses were developed based on what was physical plausible. It's an objective standard, rather than the subjective, unlike arguments from personal incredulity or insistence on belief without evidence.Human curiosity, and the realisation of it, ie: exploration, was always there, right from the very beginning, regardless of any hypotheses about exo-planets. Those exo-planets would've been discovered regardless of the hypothesis .. all it took was looking up into the sky and seeing how far we could push the technology to see more (IMO ;) ).


Then you now accept that interstellar communication is practically feasible? As you've been using the term, you seem to reject feasibility in cases where there is both theoretical support and substantial real-world experimental support. The topic in question was the practicality of human made, RF communications, for the purpose of carrying meaningful messages, over distances greater than several light-years. The issue is that no-one here, ever presented any documentation (objectification) of a design which could be shown to work within the constraints of physical law, and which could lead to test results demonstrating its workability. I maintain that position until someone can produce such a high-level design. The 'angst' has been brought on by others attempting to force a view into reality, without producing the evidence of workability.

The silly thing is, I might be persuaded about long distance optical comms .. provided someone can document the constraints, and show how it could be made workable .. (so there's some inconsistency in my own position, which I'm freely and openly, willing to share).


What? How do you get from "physical plausibility" to "opinion"? The point is to AVOID personal opinion. If someone wants to believe in FTL travel, too bad, it's not physically plausible. Or if someone doesn't want to believe in interstellar RF communication, sorry, it is physically plausible.Please see my explanation above, on 'physical plausibility' being an unnecessary judgement. If an idea can be objectified, stand on its own merits in terms of physical law/theory, and result in testability, then the process takes care of the rest. No human introduced 'judgement' is required.

I also don't see that its possible to avoid opinions … it is part & parcel of being human. The trick is to distinguish what is opinion, from what isn't .. that's where distinctions add value beyond definitions and semantics. Sci-fi is opinion described entirely by semantics, (in my opinion, that is … it works!) … ;) :)

Selfsim
2013-Jan-28, 10:13 PM
Hi, This is a great statement and says much about the difference between genuine science , and SF/fantasy.
It requires the suspension of disbelief, just for the purposes of telling a good yarn. And there's nothing wrong with that....
untill they start believing their own fantasies. When your cat can walk through walls, get him on Letterman.Cheers, danscope;
Your support is appreciated.
It gets extremely daunting at times around here .. but there's a message, which I think, is of considerable value, in where I'm (mostly) coming from … and it ain't easy to get that message across. I really have no vested interest beyond that of simple contributions, from experience and observation.
Regards.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-28, 10:34 PM
I doubt very much that sci fi writers have access to secret knowledge about life in space. I'd rather say that they challenge us to consider a range of possibilities — possibilities which are (more or less) consistent with current scientific knowledge, but which go beyond current knowledge.

What I mean by more or less consistent, is that hard sci-fi make more effort at consistency with science than fantasy sci-fi does.
Clarke's description of Overlord star travel is hard sci-fi, because it is consistent with known principles of physics, including the time dilation effect.

The laser swords in Star Wars are fantasy — they are absurdly inconsistent with everything known about laser beams. In the same category are the Red Martians of Edgar Rice Burroughs — beings that look and behave exactly like human men and women, and can even interbreed with us humans, except that the Red Martian female lays an egg instead of giving birth. You don't need to know all that much biology to see that the female human body is adapted to birth-giving, not egg-laying -- an intelligent oviparous life-form would not have the looks of an earthling woman.



Couldn't agree more with your interpretation re hard Sci/fi and Fantasy.
The real hard Sci/Fi produces plenty of scientific thinking, and subsequent possible gradual implementation of the Imagination that arises from good hard Sci/Fi.

Which raises then another question......Does Sci/Fi try and reproduce cutting edge science, or does science at the cutting edge, get its momentum from Sci/Fi?
I would imagine that over the years, it has been a two way street.

Keep up the good work/posts.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-28, 10:38 PM
It gets extremely daunting at times around here .. but there's a message, which I think, is of considerable value, in where I'm (mostly) coming from … and it ain't easy to get that message across. I really have no vested interest beyond that of simple contributions, from experience and observation.
Regards.



I don't see it as daunting at all.
I see the observable data and try and logically follow that to conclusion.
Then as with plenty of subjects within science, we have the position of different interpretations.
Which over time will eventually sort itself out.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-29, 03:21 AM
What this brings out, is that within sci-fi there are quite different sub-genres. The term "hard science fiction" is sometimes used for the sort that is realistic in the sense that it takes its science seriously... It presents scenarios that haven't yet happened, but are not impossible, in the sense that there's nothing in current science to say that the scenario can't occur... There are also forms of sci-fi that are closer to fantasy, which is where Star Wars comes in.

It's "hard science fiction" that I find relevant to some of the discussions we have in this forum. Here's a useful post made a couple of weeks ago. (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php/141157-Dimensions-of-Science-Fiction-Hard-to-Soft-Optimism-to-Pessimism?p=2097484#post2097484)
It provided a little more depth about this particular line of thinking (thanks and credits to Ipetrich)

Regardless of the genre though, even if the topic is not impossible, its still all all sci-fi, and has little to do with what creates the knowledge it is based on, (ie: the scientific process).

If sci-fi didn't exist, science would still progress.

I think sc-fi is dependent on science knowledge, (in order to keep readers' interest levels up), but science doesn't depend on sci-fi … it never has. Any connection exists in the minds of sci-fi fans … not in science.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-29, 04:51 AM
Here's a useful post made a couple of weeks ago. (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php/141157-Dimensions-of-Science-Fiction-Hard-to-Soft-Optimism-to-Pessimism?p=2097484#post2097484)
It provided a little more depth about this particular line of thinking (thanks and credits to Ipetrich)

Regardless of the genre though, even if the topic is not impossible, its still all all sci-fi, and has little to do with what creates the knowledge it is based on, (ie: the scientific process).

If sci-fi didn't exist, science would still progress.

I think sc-fi is dependent on science knowledge, (in order to keep readers' interest levels up), but science doesn't depend on sci-fi … it never has. Any connection exists in the minds of sci-fi fans … not in science.


I see that as incorrect. The Imaginations of scientists at the start in researching new fields is actually Sci/Fi, that is quickly converted via Imagination and Innovation and knowledge to science.
Sci/Fi requires imagination, and thought....Science requires imagination and thought.
What scientific standards and progress we see around us today, did not just happen....It required Imagination [maybe even some dreaming] Innovation, Application, and knowledge, as I have just said, all in ample quantities.
To remove one, is analogous to removing one card from a house of cards.

Galileo when coming across the "just invented" magnifying glass, Imagined almost immediately of training a device with said magnifying ability on the heavens......He then observed what was thought of as some strange behaviour in the orbit of the Jupiter Satellites....Again he reasoned that these moons were not orbiting Earth, they were orbiting Jupiter.....
Of course his logical reasoning got him into trouble from the mainstream scientific body at that time........We could also talk about Copernicus and Kepler and Tycho Brahe and their collective Imaginations, Innovations research and knowledge.
In fact we could literally go on forever with examples.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-29, 05:16 AM
I see that as incorrect. The Imaginations of scientists at the start in researching new fields is actually Sci/Fi, that is quickly converted via Imagination and Innovation and knowledge to science.
Sci/Fi requires imagination, and thought....Science requires imagination and thought.
What scientific standards and progress we see around us today, did not just happen....It required Imagination [maybe even some dreaming] Innovation, Application, and knowledge, as I have just said, all in ample quantities.
To remove one, is analogous to removing one card from a house of cards.
... {etc} ...
ASTRO;

You seem to be arguing some strange point with yourself.

If your point is that imagination, innovation, etc, are instinctive to humans .. then its completely moot as far as I'm concerned. Why would anyone say these qualities aren't intrinsic to all humans? To argue they're not, is just plain nuts!

If you're trying to say that imagination is limited to only those who write sci-fi ... then you've completely lost the plot altogether.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-29, 05:42 AM
I'm not arguing with myself.
I'm debating your own unusual philosophical points.
Again, we all have Imagination, and it is needed in growing up, interacting with each other, and in whatever profession we decide to chose, including science.
Why do you object with the fact that science is more then cold hard 100% fact? What about the process leading up to realising that fact?
I gave an example with Galileo...There are many others.
My argument stands.

Selfsim
2013-Jan-29, 06:40 AM
I'm not arguing with myself.
I'm debating your own unusual philosophical points.Ya ought to try 'em on .. see if they fit ... rather than deliberately opposing them ... I find them to be very consistent, and lead to a much clearer perspective .. clear of all the 'blurring' created by all this 'stream of consciousness' stuff, which goes on around here. ... (Just a suggestion anyway ... :) )


Again, we all have Imagination, and it is needed in growing up, interacting with each other, and in whatever profession we decide to chose, including science.Well thank goodness you've cleared all that up!

Why do you object with the fact that science is more then cold hard 100% fact? What about the process leading up to realising that fact?The only difference we have in this, is that I distinguish imagination, innovation, etc as human attributes. Humans certainly bring those attributes to science .. just as we bring our minds along to everything we're involved in. But make no mistakes .. these attributes are peculiar to how our minds function. The science process has been deliberately honed, (by minds), to minimise the distortions we know our minds create, in order to permit us to see the physical universe, as free from these distortions, as it gets. Deliberately 'blurring' these attributes and declaring them as part of science, undermines the entire purpose of creating science in the first place .. and the cost of doing this, is a loss of visibility of the physical universe as it presents itself.

Ever witnessed the effects of optical illusions, or pareidolia?
If 'yep', then you'll get what I mean.

Distinguishing sci-fi from science, from the distortions our minds create, is fundamental for 'opening the door' on what science makes available to us. Why wouldn't we want to do that .?.. Its kinda like looking a gift horse in the mouth!

eburacum45
2013-Jan-29, 06:49 AM
Clarke's description of Overlord star travel is hard sci-fi, because it is consistent with known principles of physics, including the time dilation effect.

Except that it isn't; Clarke seems to presuppose a reactionless drive of some sort, which accelerates without any acceleration effects. He plays similar tricks with inertia in other stories; if one can suspend disbelief in this respect, then the science part makes sense.

Try to imagine a real hard science-fiction story about interstellar travel - the vast spacecraft delivering a tiny payload and irradiated crew to a location after many decades of travel, only to find that every planet is at least as inhospitable as Mars, or Venus, or Saturn; what prospects for adventure would such a story present?

Well, it could be quite exciting, as a 'tale of hardship' I suppose, but it wouldn't be much like conventional science fiction.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-29, 08:26 AM
Ya ought to try 'em on .. see if they fit ... rather than deliberately opposing them ... I find them to be very consistent, and lead to a much clearer perspective .. clear of all the 'blurring' created by all this 'stream of consciousness' stuff, which goes on around here. ... (Just a suggestion anyway ... :) )


I don't deliberately oppose anything, I oppose because I disagree.
You are allowed to disagree you know.......and of course you are in error.








Well thank goodness you've cleared all that up!



You are mistaken. There was nothing to be cleared up.






The only difference we have in this, is that I distinguish imagination, innovation, etc as human attributes. Humans certainly bring those attributes to science .. just as we bring our minds along to everything we're involved in. But make no mistakes .. these attributes are peculiar to how our minds function. The science process has been deliberately honed, (by minds), to minimise the distortions we know our minds create, in order to permit us to see the physical universe, as free from these distortions, as it gets. Deliberately 'blurring' these attributes and declaring them as part of science, undermines the entire purpose of creating science in the first place .. and the cost of doing this, is a loss of visibility of the physical universe as it presents itself.

Ever witnessed the effects of optical illusions, or pareidolia?
If 'yep', then you'll get what I mean.

Distinguishing sci-fi from science, from the distortions our minds create, is fundamental for 'opening the door' on what science makes available to us. Why wouldn't we want to do that .?.. Its kinda like looking a gift horse in the mouth!



The last time I looked scientists were just people and as most would agree, they need Imagination and Innovation as well as knowledge in there discipline as other disciplines do.
If you think I am deliberately distorting the Importance of Imagination in science then again you are wrong.
It is part and parcel of science......like a hand in a glove so to speak.
One cannot operate without the other...Check with your peers and those scientists at the coal front.

The distortions and optical illusions you speak of, as well as the pareidolia are not present in what I claim and present here.
Maybe you need to check out your own presentation? Just a suggestion.

eburacum45
2013-Jan-29, 12:38 PM
There is a slight confusion, sometimes, between science fiction and the sort of informed speculation that can be labelled a thought-experiment'.
The so-called Kardashev Civilisation scale
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale
and the Dyson Sphere
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_sphere
have both been used in science fiction, but both started out as scientific thought experiments; what would be the maximum amount of energy a civilisation could put into a broadcast, and what would the mechanism for collecting that energy look like if observed from a distance?

Just because that many sci-fi tropes have descended from these concepts, does not diminish their original importance as informed speculation, and as limiting parameters on what we might observe.

I would note, as well, that imposing our own terrestrial ideas of 'plausibility' onto a range of possibilities which are entirely feasible according to the currently understood laws of physics could be seen as a value judgement that could turn out to be in error.

Swift
2013-Jan-29, 02:06 PM
ASTRO;

You seem to be arguing some strange point with yourself.

That's rude and I am beyond tired of the continuing argument between you two. If you cannot be civil, I will keep dishing the infractions.

danscope
2013-Jan-29, 06:43 PM
Science will stand on it's own methods and discipline. Emotional platitudes and fantasy may try to masquerade as science,
but it has no reflection in the scientific world. There is a reality field between them. That reality cannot be revoked.
One world is made of observation, instrumentation, experiment and peer review. The other comes out of a typewriter, and may be influenced to some degree by what they percieve as science. That is all too painfully clear when we observe
grade B science fiction ( of which I am a fan ) from the early days onward.
And so this genre of writing style enjoys projecting it's desires for a future reality and coelescing percieved science ( as they understand it) with their fantasized concepts of what could be ( if you suspend your disbelief in reality).
So you end up with concepts like transparent aluminum , and of course no body ever spills their coffee on the star ship
Enterprise. And.... did you ever think that if those turbothrusters on the Enterprise had that much power..that they would
rip right off the main body?
No. Science serves our real world , for good or poor.
Science fiction serves our books and movies and stirs our imaginations . The rational person surely must know the difference between majic , and what is genuine and real. We don't really saw that pretty girl in half, you know.
We take her to dinner and dancing after the show.
We can only know about extraterrestial life when it exhibits itself ...for real.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-29, 08:31 PM
My arguments re Imagination, Sci/Fi have been put.
I still cannot understand the objection some have with Imagination being a part of science.
Without dreaming, without Imagination, without logical assumptions, we would still be swinging in the trees.
The scientific knowledge we accumulate comes from the logical progression of all the above, as well as knowledge accumulated from standing on the shoulders of giants of the past.

Good hard Sci/Fi advertises and entertains with futuristic aspects of technology that we may as yet not be able to produce or turn into reality.......As long as that Sci/Fi is bounded by the laws of physics and GR, I maintain that given time it could one day be reality.
We at one time proceeded with science under the "law" that time and space were constant.
We were wrong.
A great man put his Imagination to work, and that Imagination, with a sprinkle of knowledge and Innovation, opened up a new era of physics.
Again, I am not talking about pixies or fairies at the bottom of the garden, I'm talking about Sci/Fi scenarios that may well be hard scientific fact one day.
Hard science also proceeds under accepted logical assumptions, based on constant observational evidence that has accumulated over the years.
The existence of ET is one of those logical assumptions.


I found the following and thought it might be of interest.....

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/04/06/science-is-imagination/#.UQgrwx3IHcg

The above article concludes with the following statement.

""""Without imagination, even after all these centuries, we’d have learned nothing.

Science is imagination."""""



....and I add hard Sci/Fi is also Imagination that we may gain and benefit from one day.

Luckmeister
2013-Jan-29, 10:06 PM
You guys are so hell-bent on arguing a dichotomy -- imagination is part of science / imagination is not part of science -- that you can't meet in the middle -- imagination is frequently part of forming an hypothesis / imagination plays much less if any role in moving from hypothesis to theory. Isn't it really that simple? I've tried to point this out before but was ignored by all except Paul Beardsley.

Sci-fi is not strictly theory-based so imagination can and will take a stronger role throughout the story. Is it of value? Of course. Does it mean real science is being done by the author? Of course not (although some may be referenced). It's difficult in many sci-fi stories to pinpoint what stems from real science but the authors imagination is essential. It is not always essential in real science, especially when substantiating a theory.

danscope
2013-Jan-29, 10:26 PM
Imagination does not comprise science. If you like to say that imagination may at times inspire someone to pursue a
scientific goal , as in prove something using the methods of science, then you are describing thought processes and incentives. These are still not science. They are part of "wonderment" . And if you want to fly, you had better understand
lift, aerofoils, propulsion, lift to weight ratios, drag and air density amoung others, and not wishfull thinking.

Colin Robinson
2013-Jan-29, 11:29 PM
The only difference we have in this, is that I distinguish imagination, innovation, etc as human attributes. Humans certainly bring those attributes to science .. just as we bring our minds along to everything we're involved in. But make no mistakes .. these attributes are peculiar to how our minds function. The science process has been deliberately honed, (by minds), to minimise the distortions we know our minds create, in order to permit us to see the physical universe, as free from these distortions, as it gets.

Is science about minimizing the human element of imagination? Or is an interplay between the human mind and the physical world?

As Karl Popper argued, science is not like dipping a bucket in a well, it is more like shining a search-light on something. His point is, when you dip a bucket in a well, you don't have make choices, you just take the water that flows in. But when you use a search-light, you have to make decisions about which direction to point the beam...

Examples of the sort of decisions scientists have to make: If you're sending a probe to Mars, where on Mars do you land it, which direction do you get it to walk, what sort of devices do you equip it with?

Scientists make such decision by using their human minds...


Distinguishing sci-fi from science, from the distortions our minds create, is fundamental for 'opening the door' on what science makes available to us.

Of course sci-fi is different from science in certain respects. Fictional characters are an important ingredient in sci-fi, but not in a scientific paper. However, imagination is important to both sci-fi and science. Because without imagination, scientists would have no idea where to direct the search-light...

danscope
2013-Jan-30, 02:56 AM
It is when the extrapolation of imagination is substituted for science fact that they run into trouble and reflect their misunderstanding of science and it's techniques. You have to know the difference between make believe and reality.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jan-30, 10:45 AM
It is when the extrapolation of imagination is substituted for science fact that they run into trouble and reflect their misunderstanding of science and it's techniques. You have to know the difference between make believe and reality.

Agreed....Yep sure....We once thought space and time were constant all over the Universe, and BH's were just some fanciful rubbish, and a time existed when watching moving pictures from a box was fanciful nonesense as well and even in the late 1800's, great men still thought we would never fly...........................
Shall we go on?

danscope
2013-Jan-30, 11:42 AM
You don't notice any difference between the world of 1776 and 2013 ???? And good luck with that transparent aluminum.
I guess you haven't heard of a Bell curve.

Colin Robinson
2013-Feb-02, 06:17 AM
Except that it isn't; Clarke seems to presuppose a reactionless drive of some sort, which accelerates without any acceleration effects.

What he says is that if a craft is accelerated by a force which acts equally on every atom in the craft, then occupants in the craft will not experience a crushing effect. Which happens to be true — it is the reason why a person inside a craft which is in free fall within a gravitational field has an experience of weightlessness (0g) even though the craft and its occupant are in fact accelerating at a rate determined by the gravitational field (close to 1g for a craft in low Earth orbit).

It's true that he doesn't explain specifically what force the Overlords use. It is suggested that "they can somehow tap the energy fields round the stars..." Which is quite similar in principle to the gravitational sling-shot method of accelerating things...

Childhood's End may not be as "diamond hard" sci-fi as a narrative about chemically powered rockets, but it does take its physics seriously.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-04, 03:32 AM
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/04/06/science-is-imagination/#.UQ8pgB3IHch

An extract from the article by Phil Plait is worth high-lighting....

" Without imagination, all we can do is categorize the world. Assigning names and numbers, statistics and categories. And while that sort of thing is important in the scientific process, it’s not science itself. Without imagination, science is a dictionary."

TooMany
2013-Feb-04, 10:16 PM
" Without imagination, all we can do is categorize the world. Assigning names and numbers, statistics and categories. And while that sort of thing is important in the scientific process, it’s not science itself. Without imagination, science is a dictionary."

My father used to say that naming things is not science (because it is not understanding). However, many people think that observation and categorization are equivalent to science.

Imagination is not just fantasy. Imagination is what our brains do that make us exceptional with respect to other animals. Imagination is what you use from moment to moment to interact with the physical world in an intelligent way. Without imagination there is no tool making, no technology, no planning, no language, no mathematics, no invention, no society and no science.

Scientists are not accountants and actuaries, they are creators of ideas, inventors of new systems of understanding nature. Our greatest scientist have the greatest imaginations. To limit imagination, to pretend that only observation of the physical world matters would make us all into historians and taxonomist but never scientists.

danscope
2013-Feb-06, 12:48 AM
Than you have little respect for passing on the knowledge you may find in science, unless you standardize it's language. This explains the use of latin. The discipline of nomenclature is a long and cherished tradition in the exact sciences. Without it, you won't win luch and you shall keep things to yourself.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-07, 05:27 AM
Than you have little respect for passing on the knowledge you may find in science, unless you standardize it's language. This explains the use of latin. The discipline of nomenclature is a long and cherished tradition in the exact sciences. Without it, you won't win luch and you shall keep things to yourself.


No one as far as I can tell, is denigrating or deriding the need of knowledge in science.
Just as Phil Plaiit's article infers, science consists of many aspects....Imagination along with knowledge and being Innovative are all part and parcel of what we know as science.
One cannot advance without the other...Without the other, science would stagnate.

R.A.F.
2013-Feb-07, 10:16 PM
Just as Phil Plaiit's article infers...

Wow...if Phil Plait says it, then I'll just blindly believe it.

Seriously???

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-07, 10:28 PM
Wow...if Phil Plait says it, then I'll just blindly believe it.

Seriously???

Not in the least.
But in this instant he is certainly 100% correct, and his authoritive position just adds to the fact that science consists of far more then some like to present.
And of course he is only expressing a view that is supported by history.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-07, 10:32 PM
I would also suggest you listen to the conversation high-lighted in the "Captain Kirk Hails the Space Station" thread here......

http://www.universetoday.com/99807/captain-kirk-hails-the-space-station-2/#more-99807

R.A.F.
2013-Feb-07, 10:44 PM
Not in the least.

Right...


But in this instant he is certainly 100% correct...

Not necessarily...not for everyone...what you meant to say was that you AGREE with him 100%...there is a difference.


...and his authoritive position just adds to the fact...

Nope...that's just an argument from authority. It means nothing.



...that science consists of far more then some like to present.
And of course he is only expressing a view that is supported by history.

These are not absolutes...you are expressing an opinion....mine happens to differ from yours.

Now go ahead and tell me I'm wrong...and prove me right.

R.A.F.
2013-Feb-07, 10:47 PM
I would also suggest you listen to the conversation high-lighted in the "Captain Kirk Hails the Space Station" thread here......

http://www.universetoday.com/99807/captain-kirk-hails-the-space-station-2/#more-99807

Apparently you do not know that I already viewed it....and posted about it.

So what?

R.A.F.
2013-Feb-07, 10:51 PM
..and if this goes the way of other "encounters" I've had on the LiS forum, Swift will be showing up soon, to say "both of you stop".

Like that "solves" anything.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-07, 10:59 PM
* Johannes Kepler, one of the first to look at the moon through a telescope, discovered the circular features known as craters. Also wrote a narrative about imagined journey to the moon, entitles Somnium.
* Carl Sagan. Scientific advisor to NASA, involved in planning the Viking mission to Mars. Also wrote the novel Contact.
* David Brin. Present day scientist, involved with the SETI project. Also writes science fiction about extraterrestrials.

Is it just coincidence that scientists like these also wrote SF?

Is the phrase "thought experiment" ever applicable to science fiction works?



Of course it is not just coincidence.....Imagination, as well as knowledge and Innovation are all part and parcel of science.
Again, science would stagnate if it was not linked to the other


On the "thought experiment" question, I believe the answer to be yes.
Any scientific thought experiment [an Imaginative process] is to explore the possible consequences of that relevant principal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_experiment

and

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/thought-experiment/

Thought experiments are devices of the imagination used to investigate the nature of things. Thought experimenting often takes place when the method of variation is employed in entertaining imaginative suppositions

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-07, 11:59 PM
Not necessarily...not for everyone...what you meant to say was that you AGREE with him 100%...there is a difference.

.

No, he is perfectly correct...Imagination, like knowledge and Innovation are all part and parcel of all disciplines, not just science.
It's common sense.






Nope...that's just an argument from authority. It means nothing.
.



No, it means everything. Perhaps if you google long enough you might find some authoritive figure, connected to the field in question, that agrees with your position.
I have tried and failed.






These are not absolutes...you are expressing an opinion....mine happens to differ from yours.




History is full of scientists that have taken opposite sides in a debate on a scientific question.
In this issue, I see the question of Imagination being a part of science as common sense.
I have not as yet understood what position you are holding.

danscope
2013-Feb-08, 12:41 AM
An imaginative fool can stumble across something new and interesting, but if he has not the discipline of science, the
discovery will slip through his fingers like sand and he won't be able to duplicate it, or prove it, or explain it to others or teach it to someone. He will be like a child playing with matches. And that is the difference which you cannot see.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-08, 01:58 AM
An imaginative fool can stumble across something new and interesting, but if he has not the discipline of science, the
discovery will slip through his fingers like sand and he won't be able to duplicate it, or prove it, or explain it to others or teach it to someone. He will be like a child playing with matches. And that is the difference which you cannot see.



Oh certainly that is on the cards....and also on the cards at the other end of the spectrum is the University educated well established scientist, that fails to see the potential in some new discipline or idea.
My signature illustrates one of those.
So then we can agree?
That is both are important, both are necessary, as is all I have ever said.

danscope
2013-Feb-08, 02:53 AM
Astroboy, if you want to and in fact insist on being a totally undisciplined science liker but never follow the edicts and essentials of scientific discipline, you will only remain a fan of fiction and miss any opportunity at an scientific career .
Just because one likes the taste of a cupcake does not mean they will ever learn to handle a baker's kitchen.
To each his own. But that University educated scientist earns his degree and his salary , and shall I include prestige for reasons you seem to miss. Perhaps you are very young.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-08, 09:27 AM
Astroboy, if you want to and in fact insist on being a totally undisciplined science liker but never follow the edicts and essentials of scientific discipline, you will only remain a fan of fiction and miss any opportunity at an scientific career .
Just because one likes the taste of a cupcake does not mean they will ever learn to handle a baker's kitchen.
To each his own. But that University educated scientist earns his degree and his salary , and shall I include prestige for reasons you seem to miss. Perhaps you are very young.


Speaking for myself, I would like to keep this civil, so I'll just step back for now and try and ponder whatever you have said...
In the mean time, another extract from Phil's article...........


People don’t understand science.

And I don’t mean that your average person doesn’t understand how relativity works, or quantum mechanics, or biochemistry. Like any advanced study, it’s hard to understand them, and it takes a lifetime of work to become familiar with them.

No, what I mean is that people don’t understand the process of science. How a scientist goes from a list of observations and perhaps a handful of equations to understanding. To knowing.

And that’s a shame, because it’s a beautiful thing. It’s not mechanical, not wholly logical, and not plodding down a narrow path of rules and laws.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/04/06/science-is-imagination/#.URTErx3IHci

Colin Robinson
2013-Feb-08, 09:58 AM
Wow...if Phil Plait says it, then I'll just blindly believe it.

Seriously???

I don't think Phil Plait is infallible, but I do think his views about the role of imagination in science are relevant here; firstly because he's a professional astronomer, secondly because of his record as a campaigner against pseudo-science.

If you disagree with what Phil P. says, that is your prerogative. But your post would be more interesting if you told us why and how you disagree.

TooMany
2013-Feb-09, 12:41 AM
Than you have little respect for passing on the knowledge you may find in science, unless you standardize it's language. This explains the use of latin. The discipline of nomenclature is a long and cherished tradition in the exact sciences. Without it, you won't win luch and you shall keep things to yourself.

My point is not that nomenclature isn't required by science. It is that naming things (in itself), it is not science any more so than naming your pets is veterinary medicine.

danscope
2013-Feb-09, 02:05 AM
Those of us familiar with science and learning can try to bring along those who are less familiar and seem to want to
connect with this. But there is a very old saying: You can lead a horse to water...but...." . You have been informed.
Sorry it did not brighten your way.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-09, 02:31 AM
Those of us familiar with science and learning can try to bring along those who are less familiar and seem to want to
connect with this. But there is a very old saying: You can lead a horse to water...but...." . You have been informed.
Sorry it did not brighten your way.


There are many more old sayings that express my thoughts on the subject too.
Not being a scientist, I have read many books...reputable ones by the way, and listen to many reputable scientists also.
I have always been thirsty for knowledge, and will continue with that thirst.
But you seem to confuse knowledge with an accepted opinion that reputable scientists hold.
I for my part accept that even scientists have differences of opinion particularly on the subject at hand.
Which is why two poles showed the results that they did, and why most scientists hold the affirmative view about the possibilities of ET life, while realising we have no hard evidence to show it is a 100% fact.
I find it rather difficult to believe that you cannot see that point or accept it.

danscope
2013-Feb-09, 04:37 AM
Not even .0001% fact. You can grasp at straws and pound sand untill your fists are sore and we shall be much amused for your enthusiasm concerning your particular speculation concerning the possibility of extra terrestial intelligence.
But you cannot weigh a vaccuum. It has no mass and has no color and only represents an absence of something to occupy that space. We in science can prove what we say, and are careful not to publish what we can't .
When we speak of what might be, we label it as speculation. I should be quite careful of what is considered fact.
It is what separates honest journalism from the charlatan. Even William Shatner said " Come on, you guys, get a life."
He was refering to people who don't understand that Star Trek is a made for television drama and is not real.
Still, it inspired flip phones and auto-slide doors. But I must pour water in my cup and after it has been microwaved
for 2 minutes, introduce my "Earl Grey Teabag" , unless my dear wife agrees to make it so. And that's a fact.
Could I make a machine which would produce my ' Tea , Earl Grey Hot ' on voice command? Yes, I believe that I could.
I have the scientific and mechanical background and tools to do the job , being a renaisance man that I am.
But I have my pride, and sufficient ambition to make a cup of tea and what goes with it. You have to be practical.
And with the subject of ET intel, it remains unknown , just like Tuco said. When we see Brian Ross make the
announcement, I'll listen.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-09, 08:22 PM
Not even .0001% fact. You can grasp at straws and pound sand untill your fists are sore and we shall be much amused for your enthusiasm concerning your particular speculation concerning the possibility of extra terrestial intelligence.
But you cannot weigh a vaccuum. It has no mass and has no color and only represents an absence of something to occupy that space. We in science can prove what we say, and are careful not to publish what we can't .
When we speak of what might be, we label it as speculation. I should be quite careful of what is considered fact.
It is what separates honest journalism from the charlatan. Even William Shatner said " Come on, you guys, get a life."
He was refering to people who don't understand that Star Trek is a made for television drama and is not real.
Still, it inspired flip phones and auto-slide doors. But I must pour water in my cup and after it has been microwaved
for 2 minutes, introduce my "Earl Grey Teabag" , unless my dear wife agrees to make it so. And that's a fact.
Could I make a machine which would produce my ' Tea , Earl Grey Hot ' on voice command? Yes, I believe that I could.
I have the scientific and mechanical background and tools to do the job , being a renaisance man that I am.
But I have my pride, and sufficient ambition to make a cup of tea and what goes with it. You have to be practical.
And with the subject of ET intel, it remains unknown , just like Tuco said. When we see Brian Ross make the
announcement, I'll listen.




You have failed to address any of the points I have made.
Let me again clarify....
Many Reputable scientists while knowing that "WE HAVE NO EVIDENCE TO 100% CONFIRM THE EXISTENCE OF ET LIFE, OFF THE EARTH" also know that [1] The Universe is near infinite in extent, if not infinite. [2] We have a near infinite number of stars of many different types within said Universe. [3] The stuff from which life evolves exists throughout the Universe.

This information, that is the vast numbers involved, leads many reputable scientists to assume that the chances of life evolving elsewhere , far exceeds the alternative position of us being alone.
Or to put that in different words, With so many stars, alien life is probable.
If we were truly alone, life would then be a miracle.
Scientists also assume the Universe is Isotropic and homogeneous over large scales and are pretty certain we do not occupy any privileged position within that Universe.

Again this is the opinion of many scientists, particularly astro-biologists, cosmologists and astronomers, and I believe their reasonings to be sound and concur with their thoughts.

Your appeals to authority are noted but really, William Shatner is an actor and the other bloke is unknown to me.
I googled and find he is an American News reporter.

In summing, I do not presume that the scientists in question are saying ET is 100% fact, just that the probability of its existence is far more likely then the alternative, nor do I presume they are charlatans because their views happen to differ to mine..

danscope
2013-Feb-09, 09:47 PM
What a scientist will "assume" in conversation , and what he will publish are two different things.
We can offer assumptions on probability but we have no data. Simple as that. It is just as likely that a solar system similar to ours is in a perpetual state of asteroid and cometary bombardment, everything else being equal, so it never gets beyond
a point of trying to begin life before " Here comes another one " .
Views are one thing. Proof is something else.
By the way, someday you will see a movie entitled " The Good , the Bad , and the Ugly ", a film of some import.
It features a character by the name of "Tuco" , as played by Eli Wallach , who had a bit of trouble reading and pronouncing the word " Unknown " . He had trouble wrapping his head around that one. :)

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-09, 10:22 PM
What a scientist will "assume" in conversation , and what he will publish are two different things.


I actually am of the opinion that that is incorrect.
I will see what I can find and certainly get back to you.





. It is just as likely that a solar system similar to ours is in a perpetual state of asteroid and cometary bombardment, everything else being equal, so it never gets beyond
a point of trying to begin life before " Here comes another one " .


Sure!......along with a near infinite number of other probabilities along with the probability of many situations ideal for the evolution of life.
Which again gets back to the numbers thingy:).








Views are one thing. Proof is something else.



Sure thing again, and that is what I have said....But speaking for myself, I certainly respect views from reputable relative authorities in most cases.

TooMany
2013-Feb-09, 11:20 PM
We can offer assumptions on probability but we have no data. Simple as that.


No one is contending otherwise. You need not say repeat this.



It is just as likely that a solar system similar to ours is in a perpetual state of asteroid and cometary bombardment, everything else being equal, so it never gets beyond
a point of trying to begin life before " Here comes another one " .


'Just as likely"? Is it? Where does that come from? Why would others systems "similar to ours" be in a perpetual state of bombardment?

danscope
2013-Feb-10, 01:40 AM
Because we have no data other than the fact that we were. Casual philosophical discussion remains speculation.
Simple as that. So far, we have detected nothing.... so far.

agingjb
2013-Feb-10, 09:24 AM
"Near infinite"? No finite number is anywhere near infinity. For any large number a corresponding low probability is possible that makes the vast number irrelevant. And "we don't have evidence" is not a basis for "it's equally likely that".

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-10, 09:59 AM
"Near infinite"? No finite number is anywhere near infinity. For any large number a corresponding low probability is possible that makes the vast number irrelevant. And "we don't have evidence" is not a basis for "it's equally likely that".

It's use is in a hyperbole or metaphoric sense.......
It conveys the idea of a large astronomical number beyond imagination.
I like its usage.

Colin Robinson
2013-Feb-10, 10:09 AM
"Near infinite"? No finite number is anywhere near infinity. For any large number a corresponding low probability is possible that makes the vast number irrelevant. And "we don't have evidence" is not a basis for "it's equally likely that".

"We don't have evidence" of even one case of a habitable world where life hasn't appeared. Do we then have any basis for thinking "it's equally likely" that the probability of life appearing is low enough to make the vast number of planets irrelevant?

agingjb
2013-Feb-10, 10:33 AM
The numbers in astronomy may be large, but they are not intractable.

Example (with slightly plausible numbers):
Planets in the galaxy where life or something analogous has started: 240.
Time during which technologies might have developed: 8 billion years.
Half life of biosphere in a state capable of proceeding to technology: 200 million years.
Proportion of planets left 1/240.
Probable number of technological cultures remaining: 1.

Tosh of course, but just one way in which large numbers don't imply a lot.

Paul Wally
2013-Feb-10, 10:40 AM
Because we have no data other than the fact that we were. Casual philosophical discussion remains speculation.
Simple as that. So far, we have detected nothing.... so far.

Yes, we haven't detected ETI yet, but speculation is an important part of the process leading up to detection. In order to detect something we have to ask ourselves the question: How can we detect ETI? The decision to look for radio signals is the result of speculation, and so is the decision to look for optical signals. In fact, more speculative thought is required. We need to come up with some orginal ideas as to what ETI might possibly use as a medium of communication.


It's use is in a hyperbole or metaphoric sense.......
It conveys the idea of a large astronomical number beyond imagination.
I like its usage.

Actually it's quite a practical approximation, because it helps to simplify mathematical equations. For instance if we divide by infinity then we get zero and if
we divide by an extremely large number we get such a small number that it's practically meaningless.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-10, 10:50 AM
Tosh of course, but just one way in which large numbers don't imply a lot.


And I could of course give illustrations where numbers imply plenty.

If the other hundreds of billions of stars in our Galaxy had no planets, the general assumption of life arising would be much less.....

If no other galaxies existed that assumption again would not be as valid as it is at present.......

If the stuff of life only existed in our little corner of the Universe, or if the logical assumption of Isotropy and homegeinity was incorrect we may again have cause for assuming otherwise.....


Or if I present a reverse example, if I were to by a ticket in a lottery with only ten sold, my chances of winning would be much greater then buying the ticket with 100,000 others sold.

Eclogite
2013-Feb-10, 02:27 PM
Or if I present a reverse example, if I were to by a ticket in a lottery with only ten sold, my chances of winning would be much greater then buying the ticket with 100,000 others sold.

But we already hold the winning ticket and we have no data to allow us to tell whether or not this lotterly awards multiple winners. We are working from a sample size of one - extrapolation from that is largely meaningless.

We may be the only planet in the entire universe with life, or the universe may abound with it. Or more likely, somewhere in between. The point is at present we lack the data to make an informed opinion.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-10, 07:36 PM
Yes, we haven't detected ETI yet, but speculation is an important part of the process leading up to detection. In order to detect something we have to ask ourselves the question: How can we detect ETI? The decision to look for radio signals is the result of speculation, and so is the decision to look for optical signals. In fact, more speculative thought is required. We need to come up with some orginal ideas as to what ETI might possibly use as a medium of communication.


Well put!
Science is many things including Imagination, speculation, Innovation, opinion, assumption and knowledge, and that is all I have ever said.
And those at the coal face have enough data to reasonably assume that ET should exist somewhere, sometime.

danscope
2013-Feb-10, 08:54 PM
Astroboy, you keep confusing invention and tinkering with the exact sciences. They are not interchangeable, but we do
contain both within the human experience. Will you ever see the difference? Hmmm.....
This is why we do not allow children in the laboratory. They lack the codified discipline of safe procedure. And they may have
speculation,innovation, opinion,assumption and even 'a little knowledge' . Like in Bill Cosby's shop class, the smartest kid in the class says.... " Ya know... if ya put a bullet in the furnace, it'll explode ." That is not science. It is a dangerous and unsupervised mistake by a fool . Not pretty.
Done.

Colin Robinson
2013-Feb-10, 09:06 PM
Yes, we haven't detected ETI yet, but speculation is an important part of the process leading up to detection. In order to detect something we have to ask ourselves the question: How can we detect ETI? The decision to look for radio signals is the result of speculation, and so is the decision to look for optical signals. In fact, more speculative thought is required. We need to come up with some orginal ideas as to what ETI might possibly use as a medium of communication.

Yes, I agree that we need more speculative thought. Not only about different forms of communication, but also about possible different forms of biochemistry and how their presence/absence could be established.


Actually it's quite a practical approximation, because it helps to simplify mathematical equations. For instance if we divide by infinity then we get zero and if
we divide by an extremely large number we get such a small number that it's practically meaningless.

Another very valid point.

Swift
2013-Feb-10, 10:53 PM
Astroboy, you keep confusing invention and tinkering with the exact sciences. They are not interchangeable, but we do
contain both within the human experience. Will you ever see the difference? Hmmm.....
This is why we do not allow children in the laboratory. They lack the codified discipline of safe procedure. And they may have
speculation,innovation, opinion,assumption and even 'a little knowledge' . Like in Bill Cosby's shop class, the smartest kid in the class says.... " Ya know... if ya put a bullet in the furnace, it'll explode ." That is not science. It is a dangerous and unsupervised mistake by a fool . Not pretty.
Done.
danscope,

You may question whether someone understands different scientific principles, or better yet, show them how they differ, but you do not compare them to a child who should not be allowed in the lab, nor question their discipline. This will earn you an infraction.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-10, 10:57 PM
Astroboy, you keep confusing invention and tinkering with the exact sciences. They are not interchangeable, but we do
contain both within the human experience. Will you ever see the difference? Hmmm.....

That is your entitled opinion.
I disagree with your interpretation.
Perhaps you need to address your concerns to others in more authoritive positions then me re the subject in question.

If speculation, Imagination, Assumptions, cease to be a part of the science process, then science stagnates.

TooMany
2013-Feb-10, 11:52 PM
We have many reasons to expect things which we do not actually know by direct evidence. Sure we can be wrong, but we can also more often be right.

For example, what science has already learned about the universe suggests a high probability of alien life.

It's my understanding that all human progress comes from our imaginations. Our ability to simulate nature in our heads, to invent what did not exist is what makes our civilization possible.

Science of course is not only imagination. It is like what Edison said about invention: "it's 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." What is easy to do in imagination, may be far harder to achieve in reality. Yet every scientific experiment involves imagination because we must imagine the experiment before we can do it. We also imagine a purpose for the experiment, to confirm or deny a proposition or obtain more data for further experiments. Imagination is always first, but the real work is more than just imagination.

Science fiction uses imagination to conjure things that might be possible long before they can be practical. We imagined a trip to the moon long, long before we actually made one. Had we not thought it possible in our imaginations, we never would have tried and succeeded.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Feb-11, 12:43 AM
Science fiction uses imagination to conjure things that might be possible long before they can be practical. We imagined a trip to the moon long, long before we actually made one. Had we not thought it possible in our imaginations, we never would have tried and succeeded.



It really is just that simple....

Eclogite
2013-Mar-09, 11:51 AM
For example, what science has already learned about the universe suggests a high probability of alien life.
Only if you choose to make a series of unwarranted assumptions. Never extrapolate from a sample size of one and call the result highly probable.

swampyankee
2013-Mar-09, 12:35 PM
We're here speculating, so it's obvious that the probability of life, even intelligent life (presuming humans qualify, an assumption that is frequently dubious), is non-zero. People speculate all the time; at least no one here is making life or death decisions on absent or fraudulent evidence. It would be nice if we could all be civil, but I'd rather the moderators deal with incivility than join in the incivility by virtual yelling.

Since we're ostensibly discussing whether SF about ETI can be more than entertainment, the implicit assumption in that question is that ETI exists. With that proviso, SF can start to explore a hypothetical solution space, and try to answer questions about the ETI and, most productively, the influence ETI may have on human society and behavior. Good SF, like any kind of good literature, can give a perceptive and valuable insight into human behavior. Will it be accurate? Who knows? Does SF have any value in predicting what ETI can be like? Since very few SF writers have even tried -- most SF ETIs are merely distorted reflections of humanity -- the answer to that is a qualified "no."

TooMany
2013-Mar-09, 05:30 PM
Only if you choose to make a series of unwarranted assumptions. Never extrapolate from a sample size of one and call the result highly probable.

This is not a statistical argument in favor of life elsewhere. It's a matter of physics and chemistry which we assume works the same everywhere. Thus the existence of alien life can be rightly conjectured as highly probable, in fact a sure thing considering the number of opportunities. We don't doubt that other stars work like our sun. Why should we doubt that similar planets would work like our planet?

agingjb
2013-Mar-10, 04:00 PM
I could be reasonably sure that complex carbon chemistry develops on any planet with an environment sufficiently resembling the early Earth.

That chemistry might, perhaps probably would, yield a range of compounds, including actual or potential components of structures equivalent to or analogous to those in the terrestrial biosphere.

To what extent, and with what frequency, that carbon chemistry and those compounds would yield structures and an organisation that we might call a biosphere is another question entirely, to which I'd say we don't, yet, have a good quantitative answer.

Eclogite
2013-Mar-10, 10:37 PM
This is not a statistical argument in favor of life elsewhere. It's a matter of physics and chemistry which we assume works the same everywhere. Thus the existence of alien life can be rightly conjectured as highly probable, in fact a sure thing considering the number of opportunities. We don't doubt that other stars work like our sun. Why should we doubt that similar planets would work like our planet?
We have not yet established the pathway, or pathways, by which prebiotic chemistry transitioned to primitive life. We have a number of plausible proposals, but these lack detail or mechanisms by which the critical steps were achieved. In the absence of that detail we cannot make any estimate of the probability of those steps occuring.

I have no doubt that we shall arrive at that point eventually. We can then assess the probability of life arising with reasonably small error bars. Such is not the case at present. Views, in either direction constitute opinions. These opinions may be well informed, but they can also be contrary. On the one hand we have the optimistic view of Christian de Duve, Nobel laureate, whose book The Cosmic Imperative explains why he sees life as inevitable and abundant. On the other hand is the pessimism of Jacques Monod, another Nobel laureate, who believed life was a freak accident, unique to Earth.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Mar-11, 12:17 AM
Views, in either direction constitute opinions. These opinions may be well informed, but they can also be contrary. On the one hand we have the optimistic view of Christian de Duve, Nobel laureate, whose book The Cosmic Imperative explains why he sees life as inevitable and abundant. On the other hand is the pessimism of Jacques Monod, another Nobel laureate, who believed life was a freak accident, unique to Earth.



There are many well informed opinions with regards to many scientific disciplines.
On the subject at hand we have "numbers", "extent", the presence everywhere of the most basic elements to evolve to life, plus the homegenious and Isotropic nature of the Universe [In itself an assumption] supporting the optimistic view.......
The only thing that supports the pessimistic view is that we havn't as yet found any. Which considering the vast distances involved between stars and galaxies, plus the really short time we have been looking, is understandable.

Logically then, it's a relatively safe bet to assume life does exist elsewhere.

TooMany
2013-Mar-11, 01:21 AM
We have not yet established the pathway, or pathways, by which prebiotic chemistry transitioned to primitive life. We have a number of plausible proposals, but these lack detail or mechanisms by which the critical steps were achieved. In the absence of that detail we cannot make any estimate of the probability of those steps occuring.

I have no doubt that we shall arrive at that point eventually. We can then assess the probability of life arising with reasonably small error bars. Such is not the case at present. Views, in either direction constitute opinions. These opinions may be well informed, but they can also be contrary. On the one hand we have the optimistic view of Christian de Duve, Nobel laureate, whose book The Cosmic Imperative explains why he sees life as inevitable and abundant. On the other hand is the pessimism of Jacques Monod, another Nobel laureate, who believed life was a freak accident, unique to Earth.

We have a hint about the probability. Life seems to have started about the same time that the Earth became cool enough. Life is not a monolithic hugely improbable event. It's far more likely that there are many steps involved. Given the number of micro environments available in the early earth, a lot of chemistry was going on. Unlike many other natural processes, we question the probability of life because of the current complexity and our ignorance of early part of the process.

Just my guess, but I'd suggest that "evolution" operated from the beginning (even prior to existence of cells and DNA). Over a very long period of time, life became the very complex organisms we see today (even bacteria are quite complex, i.e. highly evolved) . We have little trouble understanding how simple animals become more complex. We don't understand how organic molecules become more complex.

danscope
2013-Mar-11, 01:30 AM
Your gamble is still wishfull thinking. On earth, we have sea water , fresh water, just the right temperatures, minerals
and carbon and oxygen ,comfortable sunshine, and not so much of the sulfuric acids , 300°F below zero, and 400 mph winds and no atmosphere and unprotected radiation or 600°F and lack of water , oxygen etc etc.

TooMany
2013-Mar-11, 01:37 AM
Your gamble is still wishfull thinking. On earth, we have sea water , fresh water, just the right temperatures, minerals
and carbon and oxygen ,comfortable sunshine, and not so much of the sulfuric acids , 300°F below zero, and 400 mph winds and no atmosphere and unprotected radiation or 600°F and lack of water , oxygen etc etc.

Gamble? I'm not wishing anything. I'm observing what has happened here and assuming that the same conditions may develop in similar systems. That's all. Hardly a wild speculation.

Why should I believe there is something extremely unusual about earth? We have neighbors Venus and Mars that are similar in many ways, but each of those apparently failed to be in right place or the right size to be earth-like.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Mar-11, 01:39 AM
Your gamble is still wishfull thinking. On earth, we have sea water , fresh water, just the right temperatures, minerals
and carbon and oxygen ,comfortable sunshine, and not so much of the sulfuric acids , 300°F below zero, and 400 mph winds and no atmosphere and unprotected radiation or 600°F and lack of water , oxygen etc etc.

No, it's a reasonably safe bet considering what data we do have.

You see the conditions you correctly list, are certain to occur again in a galaxy of 400 billion stars and a far greater number of planets orbiting them, with many billions of other galaxies, although in all likelyhood I may be understating that number somewhat.

Grant Hatch
2013-Mar-11, 04:53 AM
[QUOTE=Paul Wally;2106757]Yes, we haven't detected ETI yet, but speculation is an important part of the process leading up to detection. In order to detect something we have to ask ourselves the question: How can we detect ETI? The decision to look for radio signals is the result of speculation, and so is the decision to look for optical signals. In fact, more speculative thought is required. We need to come up with some orginal ideas as to what ETI might possibly use as a medium of communication.]

How about "ENTANGLED PARTICLES" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement as a means to instantaneous communication? Naturally you would need to take 1/2 of them with you and leave the others at "home" If I wanted to communicate over lightyears I'd want some kind of FTL sytem. Entangled particles communicate their "state" to their "opposite twin" instantaneously over any distance. Now if we could just figure out how to "flip" them on command......I'm trying to "Imagine" :D how to accomplish that.....Hmmmm, Even if it were possible, Unfortunately we would need access to the particles which the aliens were using to communicate with so I guess listening in is out. I wonder what "Science" :D has to say about this possibility..... If it WERE possible, we would never be able to "hear" them communicating no matter how we tried, would we.....

Gomar
2013-Mar-28, 04:11 PM
Ifcourse, 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best movie involving aliens ever made. Is it possible that aliens are in fact watching humans, and/or even influencing human evolution and tech and religion? Perhaps.

Blade Runner is a movie I like. In the future human-looking robots will do all the dirty and dangerous work... sounds good to me. AI is about the same subject.
Prometheus is interesting, but confusing.

The Time Machine and Planet of the Apes are good too. In the future, after a nuclear war, humans split in two groups; those who remains "normal", and those who were affected by radiation. Another species takes over, or humans go under ground, etc.
In fact, there was a book or movie about how in thousands of years after WWIII most humans will be deformed and will need radiation just as we need air; while about 10% still are normal, and are trying to reverse the effects of radioactive genetic mutations, but the new group wants to remain as they are as they perceive themselves to be normal.

BTW, why isnt the Bible considered sci-fi? It deals with an extra-terrestrial who placed humans on Earth.

Paul Beardsley
2013-Mar-28, 06:32 PM
Ifcourse, 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best movie involving aliens ever made. Is it possible that aliens are in fact watching humans, and/or even influencing human evolution and tech and religion? Perhaps.

It's a nice idea but it's just that. Not only is there no evidence that aliens are influencing us, there's absolutely no need for them to be doing so. If you think they might be, you have to ask yourself, how different would the world be if they weren't?


Blade Runner is a movie I like. In the future human-looking robots will do all the dirty and dangerous work... sounds good to me. AI is about the same subject.

It's a good film but it's not about ETI.


The Time Machine and Planet of the Apes are good too. In the future, after a nuclear war, humans split in two groups; those who remains "normal", and those who were affected by radiation. Another species takes over, or humans go under ground, etc.
In fact, there was a book or movie about how in thousands of years after WWIII most humans will be deformed and will need radiation just as we need air; while about 10% still are normal, and are trying to reverse the effects of radioactive genetic mutations, but the new group wants to remain as they are as they perceive themselves to be normal.

It sounds like a comic book plot.


BTW, why isnt the Bible considered sci-fi? It deals with an extra-terrestrial who placed humans on Earth.

Leaving aside the fact that the question sounds provocative, it's not about an extra-terrestrial in the sense normally meant in SF.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Mar-28, 09:16 PM
Ifcourse, 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best movie involving aliens ever made. Is it possible that aliens are in fact watching humans, and/or even influencing human evolution and tech and religion? Perhaps.



In a Universe of near infinite extent, both in size and in numbers, it is reasonable to assume that ETI would exist somewhere sometime.
Depending how advanced some of them are, it would be also be reasonable to assume that some of them are technologically advanced enough to undertake inter-stellar travel....but the size and extent of the Universe would probably work against them having discovered us.
But alternatively how far along the evolutionary and technological scale they have advanced to would also have a bearing.
If we consider the speculative "The Kardashev scale" then a type 3 or even 4 civilisation would probably be as far along the technological scale as one could be.
How far along the evolutionary scale could life advance is the other question.
Could we assume the "star child" energetic being as inferred in 2001?
It's a good Imaginative thought but at this stage still speculative.
But Imagination and speculation are where hard science and the search for knowledge begins.

Gomar
2013-Mar-29, 01:13 AM
It's a good film but it's not about ETI.


ok, I do stand corrected. How about 'K-PAX'? Qualifies? About an alien who takes over a man's body; or is the man just cookoo?

'The Brother From Another Planet',*The Abyss, Alien Nation, District 9, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

Stargate is definitely about aliens who influence human history and tech on Earth.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind [lots of different endings/versions],
Cocoon, War of the Worlds(1954)


**

SkepticJ
2013-Mar-29, 04:40 AM
ok, I do stand corrected. How about 'K-PAX'? Qualifies? About an alien who takes over a man's body; or is the man just cookoo?

Qualifies for what? Realistic speculation about ETIs?

I would say no, and I would also say it wasn't meant to be. This holds for most movies with aliens. They're stand-ins for something else.

There are only a few movies that truly use aliens as aliens:

Solaris

2001

2010

Contact

Mission to Mars - bad movie, a poor-man's 2001, but it qualifies

And maybe a few others that I don't know about, or that are slipping my mind at the moment.

The Abyss taps into this "alienness" with the NTIs (Non-Terrestrial Intelligences), but they evolved in the oceans, not on another planet.

eburacum45
2013-Mar-29, 06:49 AM
Even Close Encounters of the Third Kind isn't a movie about aliens; it is a movie about the UFO phenomenon, which is a human psychological phenomenon and has little or nothing to do with extraterrestrials.

Gomar
2013-Apr-05, 01:19 AM
ok, E.T., Alien/Aliens, Star Trek, Total Recall, War of the Worlds, Stargate, MiB.

loglo
2013-Apr-06, 12:11 AM
Qualifies for what? Realistic speculation about ETIs?

I would say no, and I would also say it wasn't meant to be. This holds for most movies with aliens. They're stand-ins for something else.

There are only a few movies that truly use aliens as aliens:

Solaris

2001

2010

Contact

Mission to Mars - bad movie, a poor-man's 2001, but it qualifies

And maybe a few others that I don't know about, or that are slipping my mind at the moment.

The Abyss taps into this "alienness" with the NTIs (Non-Terrestrial Intelligences), but they evolved in the oceans, not on another planet.

Actually the Abyss aliens did come from another planet originally, according to the book at least.

SkepticJ
2013-Apr-06, 12:54 AM
ok, E.T.

Magical creature.


Alien/Aliens

Monsters.


Star Trek

Stand-ins for something else.


Total Recall

Haven't seen it.


War of the Worlds

Metaphor for British imperialism in the 19th Century.


Stargate

The movie? Do you really think hyper-technologically-advanced aliens would use manual slave labor?


MiB.

Comedy.

SkepticJ
2013-Apr-06, 01:03 AM
Actually the Abyss aliens did come from another planet originally, according to the book at least.

I wonder if that was Cameron's input, or if Card just pulled it out of his anus for no good reason? If they are aliens, then what do the NTIs care if humans are psychotic apes that will nuke themselves into extinction sooner or later? What's with their giant artificial tsunami threat? They can just leave if they feel threatened by us. If they're benevolent, and want to help humanity be peaceful, then why have they been hiding out in the oceans? Come up and say hello, don't threaten to drown billions of people.

Paul Beardsley
2013-Apr-06, 10:08 AM
I like SkepticJ's input here. Yes, it is possible for a fictional alien to be a metaphor for something and a genuine attempt to speculate about alien life, but it's rarely the case.

Some of Star Trek's aliens were real attempts at speculation. The giant amoeba (scale might be very different when there are no gravitational restrictions), the crawling lava duvet (life doesn't have to be at room temperature), the Vulcans (hey! space is very big! there might well be people who look just like us except for pointy ears and have the baseless assumption that logic and emotion are antonyms). But most of the aliens were merely aspects of humans; they weren't even fully rounded humans, which is why it usually bored me.

Doctor Who, in the very early days, made some effort. The first Dalek serial (the very second story) treated the planet Skaro as an actual world with varied environments and inhabitants; it wasn't just a couple of stock locations and a posing villain. The Daleks and Thals were obviously imaginative products of World War II and concerns about nuclear war (and of course the George Pal movie based on The Time Machine), but that was just a starting point. The Daleks were impractical, and depended rather heavily on their Nazi resonance, but at the same time they were a species that didn't resemble humans, had developed a dependence on radiation, had a certain aesthetic sense and generally came across as a species in their own right. Of course, in nearly every subsequent story, this depth was lost and they were just ranting tanks. But still...

Nearly all other TV and movie aliens have been magical creatures (including godlike) or subsets of human. I usually dislike both, especially when the makers of a show tell us it's about aliens when it's really not. Mork can drink with his finger. Ha ha. In Torchwood, things that fell from the sky make people irresistable to the opposite (or same) sex. Yeah, that really follows. What it comes down to is that creators (and audiences) take SF to mean "doesn't have to make sense" when in fact it needs to make more sense if it's to be of any value.

Aliens as people in costume can work. I found Babylon 5 quite engaging.

To get real speculation about aliens, you have to look at books. My favourite is Stanislaw Lem's Solaris (filmed three times and made into a superb radio play), which couldn't be more different from the idea of alien as man in a rubber suit. Weird (but convincing) aliens crop up in Stanley Weinbaum's short story A Martian Odyssey and its sequel, and Terry Carr's Dance of the Changer and the Three. Larry Niven is well known for his credibly different aliens. Philip Pullman portrayed a surprisingly well-thought-out alien species in the last book of the His Dark Materials trilogy. I believe Robert Forward did some interesting things with aliens living on a neutron star in Dragon's Egg, but I haven't read that.

eburacum45
2013-Apr-06, 03:37 PM
There was an attempt to make an alien world (Pandora) with a rich, alien biosphere in Cameron's Avatar, but it failed on several counts. The aliens were too humanoid, and the biosphere was very decorative (Wayne Barlow is an inspired artist) but seemed unlikely as a product of natural evolution on a planet with real physics.

To see examples of more realistic speculative evolution one can consider the National Geographic specials Aurelia and Blue Planet,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurelia_and_Blue_Moon
and Darwin IV, also by Wayne Barlowe
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_IV
The biosphere on Darwin IV also seems to err on the fantastical side somewhat, like that on Pandora. But maybe Barlowe is right to expect that real alien creatures will be unexpectedly exotic; they may even be far more exotic than he suspects.

Other attempts to create exotic biospheres can be found on the interweb, including Epona
http://www.eponaproject.com/Epona_Home.html

Furaha
http://members.casema.nl/gertvandijk/

Snaiad
http://nemo-ramjet.deviantart.com/art/The-Best-of-Snaiad-47017753

and others I could mention. There are no humanoid aliens in these speculative worlds, although some of the structures seem familiar; some features of biology are likely to be fairly universal, while others are probably confined to only a few worlds. The difficulty lies in trying to distinguish between the two.

It's quite likely that some, many, or most biospheres (if they exist) will be even stranger than these; life might tend to evolve most commonly on warm, wet superterrestrials with high gravity and hydrogen/helium rich atmospheres, or in gas giants, or in water moons. Fiction about such exotic life is possible, but the challenge is making it entertaining and relevant to the human condition. With state-of-the-art CGI it should be possible to create such exotic worlds for film and TV, but truly exotic aliens might be tricky to empathise with, at least as difficult as identifying with a dolphin or giant squid.

SkepticJ
2013-Apr-06, 07:47 PM
With state-of-the-art CGI it should be possible to create such exotic worlds for film and TV, but truly exotic aliens might be tricky to empathise with, at least as difficult as identifying with a dolphin or giant squid.

I'm not so sure this is true. People, at least a lot of them, have no trouble empathizing to a certain degree with animals they know to be intelligent. Everyone who doesn't have some sort of mental pathology feels for dogs, cats, and such like. Aside from people who believe they contain reincarnated souls, no one really cares about what happens to ants.

I couldn't kill a dolphin, unless my life depended on it. I suspect they are almost as intelligent as we are--maybe even more so, they just can't make technology because of the whole no-hands thing.

eburacum45
2013-Apr-06, 09:19 PM
Dolphins can be pretty mean to each other and to other sea-creatures;
see
http://www.fishingnj.org/artdolphagress.htm
Perhaps that makes them even more interesting as protagonists.

SkepticJ
2013-Apr-06, 09:27 PM
Male dolphins are also known to form gangs and team up to rape females.

Yeah, they're not innocent, playful children of the sea. They're just as sociopathic as we are.

swampyankee
2013-Apr-07, 04:23 PM
Fiction can influence real-world events, as happened with Uncle Tom's Cabin, but it requires a certain zeitgeist. Stowe's work put faces to and humanized the enslaved. In the future -- after ET or strong AI -- SF may make a similar difference.

ASTRO BOY
2013-Apr-07, 08:55 PM
Fiction can influence real-world events, as happened with Uncle Tom's Cabin, but it requires a certain zeitgeist. Stowe's work put faces to and humanized the enslaved. In the future -- after ET or strong AI -- SF may make a similar difference.

quite true......
I'm sure all of us here would also dearly love the "Imagined" free society with no hunger or poverty that is speculated in Star Trek to one day be our destiny.
And further more, I'm pretty sure as realistically as far away from reality at this time that it is, some are already working towards that goal....Speculation, Imagination, Sci/Fi that we would all hope will be reality for our ancestors one day.

Gomar
2013-Apr-24, 01:33 AM
Just saw 'Oblivion'. Highly derivative of _many_ other sci-fi films. It got average reviews. 2/4 stars. Yes, the CGI, sets, scenery is awesome,
but the plot has been done to death.
Aliens destroy Earth, man figures out what the real story is.

However, note the alien looks like HAL and the pyramid on $1 bill.