PDA

View Full Version : SETI - Keep The Program Going or Not?



Mr Q
2014-Mar-06, 05:37 PM
Since its been several decades since SETI started and no signals from "out there" have been reported, should we continue with the program or not and why?

Myself, keep it going. We spend much more money on useless government projects/agencies so why not this project? Like the saying goes, "The absence of proof is not proof of absence", in this case ETs on other star systems.

Swift
2014-Mar-06, 06:05 PM
We spend much more money on useless government projects/agencies so why not this project?
That seems to be an opinion held by a lot of people, but the reality is much more complicated than that. I have no clue as to how much is spent currently on SETI and how much is government money and how much is private foundations. I know for a while there was a not-for-profit that was just working on SETI; if they are still around I doubt you will convince them to stop just based on what we say here on CQ. ;)

But the question on how much and from who matters to me. For example, if the choice was spend money on SETI, versus a Europa lander, I would vote for the lander. But the choices are rarely that simple either.

So sorry, I can't give you a simple yes/no answer.

iquestor
2014-Mar-06, 06:16 PM
Its a good question. I am beginning to have my doubts that ET will be using Radio, but would hate to cut off the program and then wonder...

To make a decision I think I would have to review what's been accomplished in the 50 years we have been listening, and what is left to do with Radio SETI.

If we could use the money for something like Swift said, I would also vote for that.

Mr Q
2014-Mar-06, 06:26 PM
swift- That's OK. The answer to my question is probably related to,"the noisy wheel gets the most grease". I may be wrong but I remember that for a while the program was operated with private funding in recent times. Even though, I feel its still a worthy program and should still be kept going even on a limited basis.

Colin Robinson
2014-Mar-07, 12:48 AM
That seems to be an opinion held by a lot of people, but the reality is much more complicated than that. I have no clue as to how much is spent currently on SETI and how much is government money and how much is private foundations. I know for a while there was a not-for-profit that was just working on SETI; if they are still around I doubt you will convince them to stop just based on what we say here on CQ. ;)

Yes, it is privately funded via the SETI Institute.

There used to be a NASA radio SETI project, back in 1992-1993, but government funding was cut off after Senator Richard Bryan derided it as "the Great Martian Chase".


But the question on how much and from who matters to me. For example, if the choice was spend money on SETI, versus a Europa lander, I would vote for the lander.

I agree.

In the earlier 1990s, before the Galileo mission sent back evidence for Europa having a subsurface ocean, the argument could be made that radio SETI offered the best hope for finding life beyond Earth.

But the situation is different now.

Romanus
2014-Mar-07, 05:05 AM
As a relatively cheap, privately-funded project, I see no reason not to fund it as long as the monies are available; the potential payoff is too great.

Luckmeister
2014-Mar-07, 05:46 AM
In the earlier 1990s, before the Galileo mission sent back evidence for Europa having a subsurface ocean, the argument could be made that radio SETI offered the best hope for finding life beyond Earth.

But the situation is different now.

There's one big difference. SETI's search would most likely find advanced life, if any, where Europa's subsurface ocean would most likely contain more primitive life, if any. Also, as noted, there is a big cost difference between the two programs.

ravens_cry
2014-Mar-07, 11:36 AM
I'd say, given the frankly minimal costs of the program, it should continue. It's unlikely it will find anything, but if it does, it will be Earth shattering news, so it is worth listening, just in case.

Noclevername
2014-Mar-07, 01:14 PM
I'd say to keep going. 50 Years is a drop in the bucket on that scale.

Spacedude
2014-Mar-07, 10:22 PM
I vote to keep SETI going. Anyone guess as to how humanity would be affected by just an old artificial/intelligently designed radio wave transmission from a distant star? A verifiable SETI signal will be plenty enough to shake up the human race a bit, but it will give us some time to adjust before actual contact takes place. Imagine if you will----(forgive me Mr. Q :)----

----Let's say the signal comes from a star system 1,000 LY distant, people will (or should) know that the signal is 1,000 years old and was transmitted out 1,000 years ago. So then, just knowing that we know about them and that they don't know about us (no direct contact so far, right, and our radio waves haven't yet reached their star) then people will feel more at ease, still shocked at the thought that's it's really real, but ok enough to take it all in. We know that we can only listen in to the signal (as long as it lasts) and maybe one day find a key to it's meaning, but I can't help to think that after another 1,000 years of advancement (after sending the signal & assuming they advance as we do) that "they" might already know about us today.

Perhaps I'm too optimistic about our future scientific breakthroughs and our upcoming technological advancements, but if mankind does prevail and prosper over the next 1,000 years I can see us finding a way to get there within that time frame. Perhaps they could have too....and did, just waiting for us to pick up the phone first before saying hello in person? Keep SETI, it'll be a good start.

Again, 1,000 apologies Mr Q.., just stuck inside on a cold, dreary, sleety, rainy day here...yadda yadda

swampyankee
2014-Mar-07, 10:36 PM
Since there is no government funding, there is no question unless we make it illegal for a private organization to fund it.

publiusr
2014-Mar-08, 08:05 PM
I wouldn't mind federally funding it:
This news worried me
http://www.universetoday.com/109286/arecibo-observatory-undergoing-emergency-repairs-after-earthquake-causes-damage/

Solfe
2014-Mar-08, 09:28 PM
I think every college should have a SETI program or affiliation. Its a STEM process with cut and dried levels of effectiveness:

build hardware,
code software,
man it,
record and analyse data,
promote it,
etc.

It works, regardless of the actual outcome of the mission. In fact, it works better if it fails to detect life. It's all about about building and working as a team.

ravens_cry
2014-Mar-08, 11:03 PM
I wouldn't mind federally funding it:
This news worried me
http://www.universetoday.com/109286/arecibo-observatory-undergoing-emergency-repairs-after-earthquake-causes-damage/
At least it's not as bad as that time James Bond visited the place.:p

Mr Q
2014-Mar-10, 03:11 PM
Spacedude - No need to apologize. The goal of my OP question is to see what others think about the program. At least by sending an intelligent signal via SETI (some 35 years ago) instead of judging our civilization by all those TV/FM broadcasts, if received, which have been on their way for some 60 years now, at least they will know that we are more intelligent than those other signals portray us, if they are ever intercepted :rolleyes:

ravens_cry
2014-Mar-10, 06:05 PM
Yes, we tend to be rather a silly species, but I doubt the other species will be any less screwed up in their own way. Honestly, as a xenologist, I'd be just as much interested in a species' 'trash' as what they consider to be 'intelligent' material.

marsbug
2014-Mar-11, 11:16 AM
Continue. We'll probably search for centuries without finding anything, but it's such an easy way to search it'd be daft not to try considering the implications of a positive detection.

Barabino
2014-May-19, 08:10 AM
For me, SETI is based on outdated assumptions (that we can distinguish artificial carrier signal from chaotic ones), just like pre-radio assumption that martians may burn their prairie to signal their existence... SETI would allow us to contact only outdated third-world aliens still clinging to analogic radio... so no need to contact them :)

Spacedude
2014-May-19, 01:30 PM
SETI would allow us to contact only outdated third-world aliens still clinging to analogic radio... so no need to contact them

I have to admit that I don't readily know what SETI's mission statement is but to me it seems less of a "need" and more of a "want", and that contact really isn't an aim but that rather the goal is to see if other intelligent being exists out there via signal interception.

Mr Q
2014-May-19, 03:49 PM
I have to admit that I don't readily know what SETI's mission statement is but to me it seems less of a "need" and more of a "want", and that contact really isn't an aim but that rather the goal is to see if other intelligent being exists out there via signal interception.

Unless there is some hidden goal we don't know about? I always thought searching for "radio" signals would be futile since "they" would have to be very close or at our technology level in order to be sending radio transmissions of any kind. I wonder if their real mission is other than searching for life, such as ...? And if stated, maybe the funding would not be as successful? No, not a conspiracy activity, just a simple ploy to get the most funding they can?

kzb
2014-May-19, 05:26 PM
It'd be a pity if it stopped now, because in the not too distant future, many candidate Earth-like worlds are going to be identified. SETI will be able to focus on these systems.

A negative result can be a valuable scientific result. Not so clear cut in this case, because it can be argued that ET is not using radio any more. But if hundreds of Earths are identified, and not one has a recognisable radio signal, that adds to the evidence.

ON the other hand, if something is found, this information is "owned" by a private consortium. What do people think of that?

Amber Robot
2014-May-19, 09:18 PM
At least by sending an intelligent signal via SETI (some 35 years ago) instead of judging our civilization by all those TV/FM broadcasts, if received, which have been on their way for some 60 years now, at least they will know that we are more intelligent than those other signals portray us, if they are ever intercepted :rolleyes:

Don't worry... all those TV/FM signals will be a garbled mess because of all the various transmitters across the Earth all using the same frequencies to air different shows at different times. Not to mention periodic shifting due to the rotation of the Earth.

Barabino
2014-May-20, 09:10 AM
I'm pretty sure that different trasmitters do NOT use the same frequency for the same tv channel. Otherwise a bad interference would happen in the border zone between two transmitters... TV signals will be garbled anyway, over astronomical distance...

Mr Q
2014-May-20, 02:13 PM
I'm pretty sure that different trasmitters do NOT use the same frequency for the same tv channel. Otherwise a bad interference would happen in the border zone between two transmitters... TV signals will be garbled anyway, over astronomical distance...

Of coarse we are referring to "over the air" tv/radio broadcasts and yes, they do use the same frequencies but the stations are separated from each other as to not cause interference. Years ago on the TV band for channels 2-13, during the summer cold fronts appear along the east coast and TV signals will "duct" along these fronts - allowing signals to be seen from a thousand or more miles away along with lots of signal interference. Living just 20 miles from a local tv station, during this ducting period, this station would be wiped out by one in NY.

But yes, if one was in orbit around the Earth and tuning into any one TV channel (over the air signals), there would be lots of interference from several stations being received at once.

So yes, in a particular reception area, they do use different frequencies but just out of range, the same frequencies are used by other stations in another broadcasting area.

My above statement about ETs learning about us from TV/radio broadcasts was kind of a joke, since they would hear/see many stations at the same time on any one frequency IF these signals did reach them many light years from when transmitted.

John Mendenhall
2014-May-20, 08:17 PM
SETI is definitely a keeper. The program is very well run, the searches are at the cutting edge of technology, and the negative reports are just as important as positives.

Amber Robot
2014-May-20, 10:48 PM
I'm pretty sure that different trasmitters do NOT use the same frequency for the same tv channel. Otherwise a bad interference would happen in the border zone between two transmitters... TV signals will be garbled anyway, over astronomical distance...

As Mr Q points out, that may be true locally, but an alien will have a planet-averaged signal.

Mr Q
2014-May-21, 02:40 PM
Years ago, i kid's film was made about three friends building a crude spaceship to utilize one kid's experimental anti-gravity device. Once in near earth space, they meet up with a spaceship with aliens well versed in Earth peoples' customs and culture. How? They monitored our TV broadcasts, which showed TV signals fading in and out to provide a montage of what life on Earth was like. Though corny, I was amazed to see that the TV signals faded in and out (the temporary strongest signals covered up all the others). I always wondered if the writer(s) knew this would happen or it was just a guess. :confused:

Amber Robot
2014-May-21, 05:17 PM
Years ago, i kid's film was made about three friends building a crude spaceship to utilize one kid's experimental anti-gravity device. Once in near earth space, they meet up with a spaceship with aliens well versed in Earth peoples' customs and culture. How? They monitored our TV broadcasts, which showed TV signals fading in and out to provide a montage of what life on Earth was like. Though corny, I was amazed to see that the TV signals faded in and out (the temporary strongest signals covered up all the others). I always wondered if the writer(s) knew this would happen or it was just a guess. :confused:

Explorers: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089114/?ref_=nv_sr_1

I really liked this movie, though admittedly I haven't seen it in a very long time. Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix child stars...

Mr Q
2014-May-21, 07:00 PM
OK, getting back to the original subject, as their goal is http://www.seti.org/about-us , just how is SETI going to do this? Am I wrong about all they can do is just detect a signal which proves someone is out there and if so, what next? We obviously can't carry on a conversation with them since the distances are so great (would take too many years to complete a contact, if that was possible) and the chances of our communication technology matching theirs. So am I missing something? How can their goals be achieved by just receiving an alien signal?

Amber Robot
2014-May-21, 07:04 PM
Well, it is the *Search* for extraterrestrial intelligence, so it would seem that if they find an unambiguous detection of an intelligent signal then they have met their goal.

primummobile
2014-May-22, 09:34 AM
OK, getting back to the original subject, as their goal is http://www.seti.org/about-us , just how is SETI going to do this? Am I wrong about all they can do is just detect a signal which proves someone is out there and if so, what next? We obviously can't carry on a conversation with them since the distances are so great (would take too many years to complete a contact, if that was possible) and the chances of our communication technology matching theirs. So am I missing something? How can their goals be achieved by just receiving an alien signal?

All they're doing is searching for evidence of an intelligent transmission. The astronomers who were searching for the body perturbing Neptune's orbit didn't go visit Pluto once it was discovered.

SETI is a privately funded entity that is just listening and analyzing. And even if they were to discover a signal they would still continue to just listen and analyze.

Barabino
2014-May-23, 05:36 AM
Of coarse we are referring to "over the air" tv/radio broadcasts and yes, they do use the same frequencies but the stations are separated from each other as to not cause interference. Years ago on the TV band for channels 2-13, during the summer cold fronts appear along the east coast and TV signals will "duct" along these fronts - allowing signals to be seen from a thousand or more miles away along with lots of signal interference. Living just 20 miles from a local tv station, during this ducting period, this station would be wiped out by one in NY.

But yes, if one was in orbit around the Earth and tuning into any one TV channel (over the air signals), there would be lots of interference from several stations being received at once.

So yes, in a particular reception area, they do use different frequencies but just out of range, the same frequencies are used by other stations in another broadcasting area.
.

Thank you for explanation, my info came from a lawyer, so he was sticking to business, he did not explain the science details... :-)

Mr Q
2014-May-23, 03:56 PM
All they're doing is searching for evidence of an intelligent transmission. The astronomers who were searching for the body perturbing Neptune's orbit didn't go visit Pluto once it was discovered.

SETI is a privately funded entity that is just listening and analyzing. And even if they were to discover a signal they would still continue to just listen and analyze.

So all we can do (currently) is to detect a signal, proving someone/something is out there with the SETI program? I guess that would satisfy our curiosity and maybe steer attention to the fact that others are out there but what else could we do? Their goal statement (to me) seems to imply that if found, "we" have a way to follow up with added actions that would substantiate alien existence but how, with our present technology ?

Luckmeister
2014-May-23, 07:13 PM
So all we can do (currently) is to detect a signal, proving someone/something is out there with the SETI program? I guess that would satisfy our curiosity and maybe steer attention to the fact that others are out there but what else could we do? Their goal statement (to me) seems to imply that if found, "we" have a way to follow up with added actions that would substantiate alien existence but how, with our present technology ?

From their Our Mission page:

"The mission of the SETI Institute is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe."

That is a very broad statement and the only thing I see that it implies is that they are now in the baby-steps level of that mission. If a candidate signal was detected today, the next step would not be to start building a starship, even if the signal originated nearby (within a few lightyears).

primummobile
2014-May-25, 01:36 AM
So all we can do (currently) is to detect a signal, proving someone/something is out there with the SETI program? I guess that would satisfy our curiosity and maybe steer attention to the fact that others are out there but what else could we do? Their goal statement (to me) seems to imply that if found, "we" have a way to follow up with added actions that would substantiate alien existence but how, with our present technology ?

If we intercepted a transmission originating at Zeta Reticuli that was, for example, a listing of prime numbers (think Contact) then that would substantiate another type of intelligence. The only question would be whether or not we would want to send a reply.

Regardless, my post was aimed more at the topic of the thread: do we want to keep the program alive? My point was that it isn't publicly funded. So saying to kill it would be like you telling me that I couldn't scan the shortwave band for transmissions from Asia. I don't really have an opinion on whether SETI is a waste of someone else's money. But I tend to lean toward the idea that in a universe full of radio transmissions it's kind of silly to keep your head in the sand.

I agree with Luckmeister on the vision statement. We're just in the infancy of that.

Mr Q
2014-May-25, 07:32 AM
So if we do keep the program going, how long is long enough before the idea is dropped due to no positive discoveries? My guess is we'll have to keep looking for a very long time - maybe into future generations and by then, all the time spent on the project may be lost from some future generations deciding X years is enough and with no evidence at that point, the search would end.

So I hope something will be detected soon even if it's not hard and fast evidence. Just something to keep our interest in the goal of the program. I hope for the best but at the same time fear the worst - the premature giving up on the search because after all, who knows how long is long enough?

primummobile
2014-May-25, 11:47 AM
Again, I raise my objection. There is no "we" to keep the program going unless you give money to it. They don't use tax dollars.

Noclevername
2014-May-25, 01:31 PM
And "future generations" are not monolithic decision-making entities. As with today, some individuals will like the idea of continuing, some won't.