View Full Version : If we do make contact then what?

2003-Nov-18, 09:15 PM
I was just wondering. If we do make contact what do we say? What would they look like? Any star that you think has life? And what about that minute possibility that ET dosn't want to be friendly?

"Earth is the cradle of life, but one cannot live in the cradle forever"

2003-Nov-19, 05:43 AM

Perhaps making first contact will be one of the most traumatic and transforming of experiences. There is not telling what it would do to our religious beliefs and moral convictions. And just imagine interacting with a species that is not held together by the same social rules and moral paradigms as we are. These are issues of lengthy and deep philosophical discourse. And what about the mass psychological reaction to the shattering of our idea of our uniqueness in the universe and the scheme of things. Issues like will it affect mankinds will to survive or to explore further than the solar system.
Our reactions can be fatalistic and self destructive ; it can also be energetic, rejenuvating and farsighted. But very difficult to predict. May be a "science" like psychohistory will be able to predict mass human reactions in such a case.
And of course it is more probable that the first contact will be radio contact rather than flying saucers landing in our backyard.


2003-Nov-19, 10:06 AM
McGill university ran a public forum on this topic. Here it is, available for download (or listening). I really enjoyed it.

Part 1 (http://radio.cbc.ca/programs/quirks/archives/01-02/mp3/qq090302a.mp3)
Part 2 (http://radio.cbc.ca/programs/quirks/archives/01-02/mp3/qq090302b.mp3)

2003-Nov-19, 11:08 AM
I think that what we would say in a reply depends on what they said to us in the first place. We would perhaps say similar things as what they said to us. I think it would be a difficult job to compose a radiomessage.

2003-Nov-19, 11:10 AM
The "we" is very important, since any radio reply would be rather inexpensive. Pretty well any millionaire would be able to send a signal.

2003-Nov-19, 11:14 AM
That is true, for some reason I'm seeing it as they contact "us" and therefor somebody like the UN or something would send the official reply. Maybe the communication will turn out to be not between civilizations but between smaller parties of each civilization.

2003-Nov-19, 04:22 PM
The devil is in the details. How we and they enable rational communication is fundamental to what we actually tell each other. Earthling to earthling communication is fraught with ambiguity; consider the likelyhood of mistaken intentions as well as logical content when communicating with culturally hyperaliens.

Has anyone read an account of how Columbus and his crew initiated rational communication with the aboriginal natives of the new world? Extrapolation from that process together with our modern skills at error checking should give us a good start. :unsure:

As you can readily discern, I am weak in communication theory. My guess is that one could take a transcendental number such as pi and arbitrarily select a digit N places to the right of the decimal as a starting point and, continuing for a sufficient number of places to the right, form a sequence of digits thus generating a message field. Are there coding/decoding techniques that could convert such a message field into an interpretation of numerous rational messages (within the length constraints of the message field) such as Exodus, the first Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, the Magna Carter, (the U. S.) Declaration of Independence, the U. S. tax code, etc.,? My guess is that there is; though the effort to do so would be monumental!! Occam can no longer shave!! :ph34r:

2003-Nov-19, 07:45 PM
I watched a program on TV Sunday night which almost had me in stitches laughing.
It was one of those unsolved mystery type of programs which claimed that aliens have been around for years, abducting humans, performing medical exams on them with special interest in our sexuality. :lol:

The progam claimed they made abducted humans partake in sexual activities with each other and that at times even the aliens themselves participated. :rolleyes:
And natually all the aliens looked just like the Asgard aliens in Stargate. :blink:

This was all just too much for me, because if they want to know about our sexual activites so badly as to come all those gazillion light years, why kidnap people when all they got to do is to tap into the satalite brodcasted porn channels, or stop by a building with 3 Xs on it's sign. I don't think the people inside would mind demonstrating for the aliens. :lol: They'd proabley welcome their participation as well. :D :lol:

2003-Nov-19, 07:57 PM
Well I think that when we start communicating with other civilizations, we must be aware that they will be different in many ways, biology, society, technology, morals, etc., and really, how can we not be aware of this? Is someone expecting them to be exactly like us? I do expect, however, that some people will be afraid of them because they are different and that they will have a negative influence because they don't believe in god (of course not), or they have different morals (this is obvious) or some other blah-blah.

2003-Nov-19, 11:03 PM
As a SETI astronomer I have thought deeply about "communicating" with alien intelligences,imagine we detect a "message" from a planet orbiting a star say 200 light years away,should we understand this message and we make a reply then it would take 200 years to get there,so this is a 200 year turn around,so basicly i cannot see actual "communication" with aliens happening, in the above case 200 years is a long time a,d when a reply is finally received all would be forgotton by then as to who sent the reply etc,so short answer,forget it,there wont be a 2 way conversation

2003-Nov-20, 01:57 AM
Assuming we comphrehend the content of an incoming extra-terrestrial signal, our reply should express intelligent neutrality such as the transmission of universal constants or naturally occurring mathimatical algorithms. This establishes not only contact, but conveys sufficient intellect fully capable of space flight and self defense.

2003-Nov-20, 04:00 AM
Heres a hint, lets not use guns. but i would like to point out that as far as i'm concerned, humans are fairly inteligent creatures, so by the time a species is ready to take off and search for other life, we'll be off doing the same. the question would probably be, do we blow em up star trek style or do we talk? But in my opinion the first place that we would find life is europa. And if i was a betting man, thats where i would put my money on first contact, if it were to happen in the next century.

The HyDRoK

2003-Nov-20, 09:59 AM
Hello there,

Everything here seams to be quite reasonable thinking. Thanks to
all of you for shearing this. As one more human concerned in this
issue I would just like to mention one thing here:

Look around you. We have life all around us. There are many-many
other creatures than humans on this earth. Have you ever wondered
to know what your dog or cat thinks about you? Maybe not ...

I think, before trying to outline some guidelines of our behavior
with aliens we must understand creatures right here - on Earth.
It's quite likely that when we understand for example our cats
and dogs we then will have more experience in establishing "The Contact".

I always thought that my dog understands more things than it was
used to think.



2003-Nov-21, 01:21 AM
I don't think dogs and cats have conscious thoughts but rather unconscious impulses they react upon... for example, we don't think "Get out of the way" when we see a car careening towards us, but rather we just instinctivley move. Likewise, I cat doesn't think "I'm hungry", it only knows that this sensation in it's stomach will go when it eats something.

Anyway... we're going off the track here...

I agree that any reply would have to be very carefully considered... that it should give some indication of not only us as a species, but also our technological state. Further consideration would have to be given to our message because as someone has mentioned, only our ancestors would be around to hear their reply...

...as for Europa... I don't think intelligent life is there... if there is life, it's going to be the kind of sea life you find at the bottom of the Earth's oceans, where the water is warmed by underwater volcanic eruptions...

jeanne v.
2003-Nov-21, 02:06 AM
ok, dippy hippy! it's still 2000 here in chicago! you are east of me.
i must say, i am exhausted since i was fighting aliens last nite in my sleep! i was the only one who knew they really just wanted our resources and would not let those left on the planet live! kind of a cross between the borgs, but with faces like those in Indepence Day!
of course, the odds of something like that happening can be measured in light years! i agree, by the time we respond, those who sent a message we could receive would be long gone and returned to stellar dust!
just let's not be so arrogant to think we are the only ones out there!

2003-Nov-21, 11:18 AM
I would be strongly against an aggressive or controlling approach. I believe the best mode for communication would need the flexibility for the awareness of compassion and direction. To teach or be taught. -Victoria

2003-Nov-21, 01:05 PM
I don't know how we'll communicate. We (humans) are not very good at communicating with each other, much less a whole different species!

2003-Nov-21, 06:15 PM
Something you all have got me thinking about now.. What would it do the the religion part of our lives? I think there would be massive holy wars after we discover life other than Earth. Especially Preachers and Popes , what would be their reaction towards all this?

2003-Nov-21, 07:22 PM
Are there religions that are against the existence of life elsewhere in the universe?

2003-Nov-21, 07:46 PM
I think what I was trying to get at is what if it is proven that life exisit beyond Earth. I would just think that Religion itself would probably be questioned. According to the Bible, Got created everything is 7 days. The Bible never mentioned anything about God creating other means of life besides Earth. I might be way off, but why not put my two cents in... hee hee.

2003-Nov-22, 02:51 AM
Guys, just a friendly reminder... steer clear of talking about religion if possible because it causes bad feeling in the end...

...although I will admit it's a major factor when it comes to the implications of first contact with another civilisation...

Thanks :)

2003-Nov-22, 06:33 AM
Another great topic where I learned alot.
In matters like these, nothing really happens the way we predict it. The First Contact will probably be a chemical or mathematical equation, just like our first contact we glued to the side of the Pioneer spacecraft, the famous gold record with two nude humans scratched on it. What would a civilization who found it 1,000 years from now think? They'd immediately realize those naked people aren't around anymore!
The unexpected is something like an alien version of The Honeymooners hitting our Big Ears. The expected is like the movie "Mars Attacks!"

2003-Nov-22, 09:16 AM
Originally posted by Forealfc@Nov 21 2003, 07:46 PM
I think what I was trying to get at is what if it is proven that life exisit beyond Earth. I would just think that Religion itself would probably be questioned. According to the Bible, Got created everything is 7 days. The Bible never mentioned anything about God creating other means of life besides Earth. I might be way off, but why not put my two cents in... hee hee.
My guess is that at that time, no one knew that Sol was just another star and the stars were different suns, and so solar systems other than ours was an idea no one came up with. So it would take a lot of imagination to come up with that concept, let alone life over there. And besides, does it really matter what the religions say, if we would one day discover intelligent life elsewhere? If we do, then that's how it is, and there wouldn't be much to do about it anyway.

2003-Nov-22, 09:21 AM
If any country finds signals from an alien species then they have to report them to the UN for the whole world to decide on the best course of action. Considering that replying to such a message would involve Earth for many ages.

But just remember, we have been sending aliens messages already; radio, TV, ect. Some might take these messages as replies, what would they see? Much of our history has been marked with wars, us being a violent race. If they are technologically advanced, seeing our primative technology, might they not try to destroy us before we became a major threat?

2003-Nov-23, 02:08 AM
Hmmmm... interesting point...

I'd say no, because if they were able to travel all this way and destroy us on the grounds that one day we might be a threat, then it would be a waste of time...


Because they'd be so far advanced of us that by the time we were evolved to the point where we'd be a threat to *them*, they'd have advanced even further and could probably wipe us out even quicker. They'd still be X years ahead of us.

Coming here to conquer us for whatever reason or to exploit the planet is some way is another matter though...

2003-Nov-23, 08:17 AM
Well what if they are learning things at x rate, they have alawys been learning at x rate. But we are learning at twice, triple their rate, faster than they were ever learning maybe the would find us a threat. Especially if it would take them 20+ years to reach us, since our learning is speeding up, they may realise that if they don't attack soon, our learning may increase to a point were we know how to defend ourselves from their attack.

I know its a fairly far fetched situation, but it could be true.

2003-Nov-24, 12:50 AM
Good point - I hadn't thought of that LOL

Maybe there's a kind of barrier... like, technology advances at X rate for some time... then a discovery or revolution occurs and the rate doubles... it could then hit a brick wall and progress could slow...

...so even if we stayed at a steady rate of progress, they might flounder and we might catch up...

2003-Nov-24, 03:42 AM
I suggest you two read about the theoretical singularity. Here's a link.

Link. (http://www.betterhumans.com/Resources/Theories/theory.aspx?articleID=2002-05-22-4)

It goes into the progression (at least for people) of technological advance. But remember, not every species needs to advance. Some might even specifically not.

In fact, check out the 'resource' link on that webpage, there's quite a bit there to intrigue the mind.

PS: the reason I like to promote technological progress so much (and encourage people to contribute where they can) is that I think that we'll eventually run into a time where we really needed more tech.

2003-Nov-25, 10:34 AM
Given the evolutionary aspect of a civilization enabling themselves to communicate through space, one can imagine that we would be dealing with an advanced species. We're certainly not going to be contacted on the galatic equivalent of tin cans on a string.

Now having said that, we also have to assume that either our evolutionary progress is similar to that which we are contacted/being contacted by, or that we are "catching up". I would be very surprised to learn that we are more advanced than extraterrestrials, given our current limitations in space travel and communications.

With those two options, we are presented with a few logical assumptions. If we are technologically and intellectually on par with ET, then it stands to reason that both civilizations understand the ramifications of such contact, and would not hesitate to strengthen the bonds through some form of diplomacy. If we have been catching up, we can be led to believe that other forms of galactic life have simply waited for first contact. An ET that waits, is not an agressive ET.

The logical conclusion of the after-effects of first contact is simple. Business. The trade of knowledge initially, most likely followed by trade of goods and wares. It stands to reason that if civilization on this planet has progressed as such, there is a good chance that intelligent life elsewhere operates in a very similar manner.

But then....I've also seen Independence Day. But I didn't see any of them attack Canadia. So I figure either way, I'm safe.

2003-Nov-26, 06:22 PM
:D We should have universal greetings ready to be transmitted when ET arrives in his flying saucer ship. If we get it wrong it could spell the end for humannity. And we should have several key places on the planet ready to transmit these codes in multi - mechanical computer languages and not just in humble binary. Gene Roddenberry would have been pleased. :D

Love thy Alien neighbour and ET etc ...

2003-Nov-27, 01:57 PM
Considering a radio transmitter is cheap enough for an individual to own, I'd think that ET would get thousands of messages - all saying different things.

2003-Nov-27, 10:52 PM
It just have to be powerful enough to be detected so far away.

2003-Nov-27, 11:21 PM
I would much rather organize a giant target. And one populated area in the world a day gets to be "it" (think of the tv ratings...I'm onto something here). Nothing says friendly like a willing sacrifice!

2003-Nov-27, 11:39 PM
I was replying to Luke, saying the aliens had arrived in-system.

2004-Jan-19, 02:42 AM
The discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe would present certain religions with apparently insuperable contradictions and difficulties. Arthur C. Clarke said years ago "The claim that God made man in His own image is ticking like a time-bomb in the foundations of Christianity" and he was right, except it's also in the foundations of Judaism and Islam as well.

I don't think Buddhists would be too discomforted by the discovery of ETIs and maybe not Hindus either (though I don't know enough about either religion to be sure) but all the "Book" (Old Testament Bible, Koran and Torah) religions would seem to be in trouble as they all subscribe to the belief that humanity is the pinacle of God's creation and that we are made in God's image. They have enough trouble coping with the idea we evolved from earlier animals and that evolution is a directionless process without any "ladder of progress", with us at the top, etc. How they would cope with the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligences that looked nothing like us (e.g. jellyfish with radiotelescopes, reptiles arriving in starships or insect philosophers from Alpha Centauri) is anybody's guess!

However, I believe they _would_ cope--eventually. The Catholic Church took a while to get to grips with Galileo and a Sun-centred solar system but they got there in the end. Most religions are adept at rationalizing new discoveries and incorporating them into their belief systems over time, though often at the cost of splintering into new sects and considerable violence in the interim.

The really interesting thing would be finding out if the ETIs had their own religions or not and if they do what resemblence, if any, they had to ours. Maybe religion is a purely human idea and ETIs don't have them, maybe they had them once but discarded them millennia ago, maybe they're even more fanatically religious than we are but with completely different beliefs and would seek to convert us...

2004-Jan-19, 06:35 AM
I don't think the impact on the religious sector would be as dramatic as you may think. That is IF contact is ever made.

I seem to remember the Johova's Witnesses wrongly predicted the start of the Bible's Revelation times giving at least 6 different dates, but they still seem to be growing their following.

While Jews and Christians contend that man was made in God's image, the Bible never said that we are the only life, and it never said that we are not. However, the way some people understand it, is that we.

Galaxy dweller
2004-Jan-27, 01:41 AM
GOURDHEAD: I agree that the devil is in details. So, let’s not go into them. At this point we won’t be able to determine plausible scenarios of what we will tell them and HOW so that they understand us because all we can work with are assumptions. But even those are very few:
Assumption 1: If they are capable of communicating with another civilization their
intelligence is at least as highly developed as that of the humans (probably much higher).

Assumption 2: Most probably our symbolic language (numbers, words, formulas,
algorythms etc.) and theirs are incompatible, and mutually incomprehensible.

Assumption 3: If they are capable to perceive energy radiation (such as light)
there is a chance they would understand pictures. All other sense perception communication is hardly possible – touching can bemisinterpreted, dangerous or meaningless; sound is too symbolic to mean anything; smell? – we are not ants to decipher it;

Assumption 4: They will let us survive the first moments of our contact.

Assumption 5: We will let them survive the first moments of our contact.

Assumption 6: We can still hope for the best if we believe in the spirit of
adventure, exploration, and progress.

2004-Jan-27, 01:06 PM
Galaxy dweller:

Bravo!! I like your assumptions and the positive attitude implied. Even though the first meeting between Columbus's crew and the natives of the new world was between members of the same species (however mutually culturally isolated) and therefore much easier, my guess is that some of the things they did may have constructive application when we meet our sentient contemporaries for the first time. Let's hope for a more equitable outcome the next time for each party.

Manchurian Taikonaut
2004-Mar-04, 10:30 AM
The SETI quest for aliens,
contact with an alien race, hit or miss?

-Early quest with radio astronomy and search for LGMs, Jocelyn bell even thought she might have found aliens back in the 60s, false alarm! turned out to be a pulsar, PSR 1919 in 67'

- Also in the 60s, Drake detected a strong periodic pulsed signal while aimed at the nearby sun-like star Epsilon Eridani. The signal at first seemed to exhibit many of the characteristics we would expect of an extra-terrestrial message. It was found to be interference from a passing high-altitude aircraft.

-The Real X-file first Contact?? The shocking "Wow!" signal from Ohio State University was detected in August of 1977. Twenty years later, after hundreds of investigations it remains an intriguing unexplained phenomenon.

-In 1996. The Anomalous signal detected by SETI League member Dan Fox on 1 , while preparing to scan the Crab Nebula just below the hydrogen line frequency. This signal could well be terrestrial static, or an equipment malfunction. It could just as easily be an astrophysical oddity or ET. Without a quick follow-up we will never know.

- Hack hoax. 1998 October, a mailer posted images of a SETI hit, received on a 10 meter dish coming from the direction of the EQ Pegasi binary star system, SETI was poseted to its closed signal verificaion email list by an anonymous hacker. 63 Project Argus participants, plus three professional radio astronomy facilities, wasted three weeks trying to verify what proved to be a blatant hoax.

-Equipment Bugs. Chairman Dan Fox spent several months trying to figure out occasional Alien bursts of interference. They were especially perplexing because they tended to rise and fall in amplitude in a manner consistent with an extraterrestrial source. In fact, Dan is now convinced he's seeing an intermittent gain variation due to equipment malfunctions.

-Did Hutter find an alien signal? Tom Hutter detected a strange signal in January 2003. It turned out to be the Geotail spacecraft. It is a US/Japan probe to explore regions of the Earth's magnetic field.

-ETs lighthouse. Peter Cheasley, found a narrow-band signal component, standing out against the background, from RA 23:58:46, on the 8th November 2003. The spectral display is what one would expect from an unmodulated carrier such as might be emitted by an alien interstellar beacon. Unfortunately, without independent corroboration or a repeat of the signal, further analysis is not possible, and we can only speculate as to the signal's true origin.

-Future projects. Checking Tau Ceti , Centauri and Wolf for alien life forms ? The next major step in the search for extraterrestrial signals involves the development of a new SETI system. As with META, this new SETI spectrometer is intended for the detection of carriers and other spectrally narrow transmissions, and is insensitive to pulses and chirps. BETA-I (Billion channel ExtraTerrestrial Assay) will make a new set of continuous observations. Project BETA2, Project SERENDIP, Project META II