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Fraser
2005-Mar-01, 07:05 PM
SUMMARY: The chances are very high that you will encounter another intelligent life-form in the course of your life and when you do it may come as a big surprise. When, for instance, did you last visit the zoo? Remember those chimpanzees - very smart. And how about those dolphins at the marine aquarium? Brilliant! And that cat of yours is probably smarter than you think - but your dog will never admit it. Finally that grey parrot your Uncle Ned has may actually know what its talking about! Ultimately by paying attention to signs of intelligence on Earth, we may also come to recognize signs of intelligence amongst the stars.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/are_we_alone.html)

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

dbackfan
2005-Mar-01, 07:35 PM
So true. Just as some IQ or comprehensive tests are biased against some ethnic groups, human assessment of other animals' intelligence, languages, and social culture is biased. Here is the last frontier: understanding and respecting other life forms, starting in our own back yards.

scorpio711
2005-Mar-01, 08:22 PM
yeah, interesting article...
by the way, there are 2 threads in "Life in Space" on the same topic:
* if "life" if found,what will be their language?
and
* What Is Needed To Make An Intelligent Species?

Scorpio

Liza'sFascination
2005-Mar-02, 02:57 AM
Compliments to the author of the article who opened many doorways. There are many stories written about contactees and abductees so we need to get into the present rather than the future in this. Many of us are looking forward to it. It is no secret that we need to clean up our own act first though. We are not the role models for other planets right now so it would be nice if they could teach us what we have not yet learned about living peacefully for one thing. The technology is secondary to that. The danger right now is within us so a second chance is in order. Looking around and appreciating the beauty that is already here would be a good start. Then we might be able to make our guests from another planet welcome. :D

vet
2005-Mar-02, 03:45 AM
after letting SETI eat over 4 years of cpu-time---i whacked 'em. sure, ETs exist---a rudimentary grasp of Lamarckian evolution vs. adsurd Darwinian will 'show you the light'---read 'The Presense of the past" and "Lamarck's Signature'---then look in any mirror---the rest is up to you.

Molecular
2005-Mar-02, 04:29 AM
Very interesting article..........reading it was like looking up out into space and seeing a giant mirror casting a reflection back of Earth itself. ;)

alfchemist
2005-Mar-02, 07:44 AM
Nice article. Reminds me of the movie "Contact" where the candidate was asked for the the first thing he/she will ask if/when he/she encounters the "alien". The answer (which of course is a question) was "How did you do it? (how did you achieve such an advance state without blowing yourselves up? ) This assumes that the "alien" civilization also started(or has gone through) the way we are. Correct me if im wrong but the article did not consider this very logical assumption and therefore did not consider that such an awakened alien could in fact have compassion on these earthlings who are like children who can't figure things out for themselves. The very reason or motivation to make "contact". Of course, I am assuming that the alien shares something a human being has, a "heart"! The thing that makes him human. Is this unique to humans? I guess that's up for debate.

dbackfan
2005-Mar-02, 02:50 PM
Response to Scorpio. "If life, what is their language?" That would have to be discovered through patient and organized study of how the organism, simple or complex, responds to its environment. Bees communicate through dance and even amoebas respond by moving away when touched by another amoeba. But observing language and understanding it are two different things. It's been said that language is culture. When humans learn another human language, we don't always use words and phrases in the "correct" context until we experience it (idioms, for example). Already, marine scientists are correctly studying whale language in the context of whale environment.

"What is needed to make an intelligent species?" If we assume that measuring human intelligence includes assessing a person's level of knowledge, comprehending that knowledge in context, applying it to activities (including thought), analyzing, creating, and evaluating processes and results, then we could use this method to study the intelligence of other species. But is that assumption appropriate?

dbackfan

dbackfan
2005-Mar-02, 03:06 PM
Response to alfchemist regarding heart. So far, the only "alien" beings we have to study (and what a wealth of them we have!) are other life forms right here on Earth. Do any of them show evidence of "heart"? When we observe or feel compassion for one another, we call it "heart." When we observe a mother bear protecting her young, we call it "instinct." What do we call it when a dolphin shows affection for each other and for humans? Pets that mourn (can we call it "mourn"?) the loss of their owner? Pet owners and animal scientists could, no doubt, add much to this list.

dbackfan

greenone
2005-Mar-02, 05:26 PM
well written! to bad we have to make all the humans get along before we get to meet ET though.

wonderer
2005-Mar-02, 09:43 PM
Something that I rarely see is the analysis of how we are likely to behave, once we are able to travel to the stars - say 100 years from now? Imagine; probably a one way trip to some star. Technology of the day will have found "habitable" planets around nearby stars. When we get there, the travelers have no choice but to stay; e.g., colonize the planet. That is what we are, colonizers. Why do we colonize? Through history, we have colonized for all kinds of apparent reasons, but at the root of it is survival. And during the colonization process, we typically impact negatively what ever the present "system". Are we going to do the same when we reach out to a new star? Probably, unless you are naïve enough to believe in the Star Treck Prime Directive (ha, ha, ha). Why should any other intelligence be different? After all, they too must have survival instinct that will drive them to colonize any planet they can. I do not think they really would care that we are here and we're a bunch of loonies fighting each other and all the other problems we have here. I'm sure they'll be able to resolve us as a problem with a snap of a finger, or tentacle or what ever...
Nope, they ain't here, cause we are the only ones, in this Galaxy at this time, within some number of light years (100 -1,000?). And nothing else matters. If they are farther out, who cares, they'll never get here and we'll never know about them, so in effect, they do not exist. We are it. I we accept that we are it perhaps that may be the best reason to start living with each other. In peace...

Hyginus
2005-Mar-03, 01:06 AM
Dear fellow imaginateurs,
In the Story "Are we alone?" a question was raised in my mind. The author maintains it is a mathematical impossibility that we are alone. Before horns, tail and hoof appear, I don't want to sound like Rupert Sheldrake, but, given geological knowedge, what exactly were the conditions and pre-conditions of life? The bald(too bold)assertion is life began in the sea[we need somewhat saline body fluids] and as soon as plants conveniently transformed the CO-2 rich and O-2 poor atmosphere; then,then a mettlesome sea creature could switch to the life amphibian and any Darwinian mutations etc.
Try thinking the genesis of life is still an unrevealed mystery and let's all go back to basics, Yr obt srvt, Hyginus

antoniseb
2005-Mar-03, 01:33 AM
Originally posted by Hyginus@Mar 3 2005, 01:06 AM
the genesis of life is still an unrevealed mystery and let's all go back to basics
While I sometimes disagree with Hyginus, in this case, I agree that we do not yet know enough to say whether there is life elsewhere in the universe of not. It may be that some day in the next century we will discover that there is life in more places than just the inner solar system. Please note that if we find DNA based microbes on Mars, I don't think that will tell us we are not alone. It will tell us that life may have started on Mars and spread to Earth after the sterilizing event that created the moon happened.

vet
2005-Mar-03, 02:46 AM
as even bacteria are known to show-up at the edge of a petri dish when nutrients are placed, on time, in a specific location, one must wonder where they bought their tiny rolexes---humans are no 'smarter' than empty space/time---simply more specialized to Life's need of transit---out of here.

and what do you do with 'senient' plant-life? few even consider it---but consider this from an old 1980's 'Smithsonian', whose cover showed trees yakking away to one another---the northern hemisphere is circled by a band of cottonwood trees.
if a new pathogen 'invades' siberian 'folk' they quickly begin making chemical defenses---and so do the rest of this bunch, globally. are they reading invisible medical journals? caffeine, cocaine, both 'insecticides'. the list goes on.

a poem, published in 'Hawaii Review' for pay (try that one), and later with kudos in The Russian Journal of Culture---i think it says it all---

in the beginning
we ate starlight
and boy
it was great
we'd flop-out our
photon-grabbers
and enjoy that scenery
but then that cursed clown
showed
stars burn out
and before an offended
neighbor
could poison his root sytem

we realized
the need
for saviours
as many as possible

ASAP


junk doesn't get published---not for pay, international prestige---the human form best do its job---or Life will find another---i think that says it all.

vet
2005-Mar-03, 03:41 AM
Originally posted by Hyginus@Mar 3 2005, 01:06 AM
Dear fellow imaginateurs,
In the Story "Are we alone?" a question was raised in my mind. The author maintains it is a mathematical impossibility that we are alone. Before horns, tail and hoof appear, I don't want to sound like Rupert Sheldrake, but, given geological knowedge, what exactly were the conditions and pre-conditions of life? The bald(too bold)assertion is life began in the sea[we need somewhat saline body fluids] and as soon as plants conveniently transformed the CO-2 rich and O-2 poor atmosphere; then,then a mettlesome sea creature could switch to the life amphibian and any Darwinian mutations etc.
Try thinking the genesis of life is still an unrevealed mystery and let's all go back to basics, Yr obt srvt, Hyginus
my chum, rupert, is the only man 'the great randi' apologised to, for doubting. rupert simply 'beat' academic competitors---that paints a 'bullseye' on your butt---for closed minds with personal agendas seeking grants. apologise for sounding like rupert???---read 'Lamarck's Signature' and rest easy---as this topic deals with such, i may only hope it is not expunged, as it deals with the purpose and destiny of humanity---spacefare, or die.

vet
2005-Mar-03, 04:13 AM
i am very confident this 'bit' of the multiverse is teeming with what may be considered 'super-intelligent' life---higher plant-life. to me the stars are as gro-lites.
the assumption that 'animals rule' looks pretty naive where common aspen groves, conifers, cresote mesquites survive for millions of years. as i age, i understand 'the coinage of Life is time.'

blueshift
2005-Mar-03, 04:33 AM
We have only been able to detect radio signals for just a little over 100 years and anything we sent out could not have been responded to unless it was inside a 50 light year bubble..

If there are others like us it would be rather astonishing..

If there isn't, I would find that equally astonishing..

The Near-Sighted Astronomer
2005-Mar-03, 07:10 PM
..........reading it was like looking up out into space and seeing a giant mirror casting a reflection back of Earth itself.


There is much to this insight. Perhaps as more of us practice this type of global self-reflection we will begin to develop the type of intelligence that makes us worthy of interstellar compassion and recognition.

As for Fermi's paradox (aluded to also in this thread) I offer another.

Let's assume we here on Earth decide to colonize another solar system - what would be involved?

First: We would have to identify a system with the potential to support life as we know it. We would have to be very confident that such a world could be self-supporting since the supply line would be very long indeed. (My best guess is that such a world might be found within 100 light years.)

Second: We would have to develop a self-contained, multi-generational starcraft capable of traveling 100 light years in a reasonable amount of time and be able to recruit colonists willing to live almost perpetually in space. Right now this is not possible. We are incapable of such an undertaking - why? Because our resources are spent in other and often less productive ways...

Third: We would have to launch a craft of tremendous mass with enough human and biotic diversity to establish a sustainable presence on another world. It would have to supply all the needs to support its crew and colonists for say 10-20 generations and in order to travel 100 LYs in this time frame it would have to achieve an average speed of one-quarter to one-half the speed of light. Again we have achieved an impasse: Such a technology is simply beyond us at this time and may take several hundred years for us to develop the propulsion systems (as well as sociological and ecological insights) needed to achieve such incredible velocities, human compatibility, and organic sustainability.

Fourth: Say we launched such a colonizing expedition and they arrive in a system that turns out to be incapable of supporting life sustainably. Why would we bother to take the risk?

Fifth: Say technology on Earth continues to evolve as our multi-generational craft makes slow progress against the vast distances of space. We achieve near light-speed craft. With that prospect before us why would we ever bother sending out anything slower? No we would wait until we were absolutely sure no further improvement in propulsion was possible and then only out of great necessity would we undertake such a monumental task.

Colonization of other worlds is not as simple as a polynesian putting together a rattan craft and hopping to the next island. The vast distances between the stars may very well exist for a reason ie to isolate worlds until they are worthy of undertaking the challenge!

Just think of all the changes that must occur on this world before we would be able to get our act together enough to undertake such a venture. In fact by that time (if this article is correct in its assumptions) we would already "qualify" for "first contact".

Again Fermi's paradox is checkmated - you truly have to be intelligent and perhaps even sociologically well-adjusted enough to survive long enough as a culture to colonize other solar systems. And by that time you have perhaps become wise enough to avoid the kind of "interference" with those cultures that are not ready for it.

But there could be a few bad boys out there still. Why? Because some rats do manage to escape sinking ships - but maybe, just maybe - we have enough promise as a planet that wiser heads in the galaxy keep them in check...

Cheers,

jeff

Bobunf
2005-Mar-06, 07:36 AM
Jeff,

An idea alluded to frequently and implied in your post is that while there currently exist advanced civilizations in our galaxy, we don’t know about them, because they’ve decided to avoid contact since humans are so ___________ (fill in the blank). Frequently cited is “violent,” “immature,” “lacking in environmental sensitivity,” “not ready,” and just generally unsatisfactory.

I think this hypothesis has zero evidence to support it, and contradicts our experience in relations between asymmetric civilizations, and how those relations change with advancing technology. It reminds me of the assertion, “Ghosts are invisible to you, because you don’t believe in them.”

For instance, a general rule might be stated that more technologically advanced cultures interact more with other cultures than less technologically advanced cultures. The higher the level of technology the greater the level of exploration, trade, instruction, proselytizing, conflict and co-operation with other cultures. In short, advanced civilizations tend to have more contact with others than do less advanced civilizations.

Maybe that tendency changes as technology becomes much more advanced, but where’s the evidence that such a change occurs? There isn’t any. It’s just a speculation.

Also, we can observe that more advanced civilizations are more heterogeneous than less advanced civilizations, and it’s easy to see why that might be the case. But the “ET isn’t contacting us because we’re so yucky” hypothesis requires a completely monolithic response on the part of ET.

There aren’t any groups saying (as would certainly be the case with any modern culture on Earth today), “How can it be wisdom to refuse to show them how to set bones? How can they be ‘not ready’ to be told the Germ Theory of Disease?”

Or, “Their interference with other life requires our interference. They’re not ready not to be interfered with when they have an articulated and practiced policy of killing all the birds in the name of Mao—what a nutty leader he must be.”

The possibilities of philosophical, religious, political, altruistic, artistic, environmental, and other indoctrinations and practices are endless.

Maybe the tendency to heterogeneity changes as technology becomes much more advanced, but where’s the evidence that such a change occurs? There isn’t any.

The Academy of the ETs must be a dreadful and morose place. Confronted with an ecology that has independently evolved for four billion years, and a completely independently developed intellectual tradition of 100,000 years duration, ET academics are content to watch from afar—all of them--until the Earthmen are ‘ready,’ if ever.

How many human volunteers would go to Europa if the most primitive life were found there? Even if it were a one-way trip?

As an explanation of the Fermi paradox the “Who’d want to belong to a club that let me in?” argument is unsupported by any evidence, and contradicted by what we’ve observed. And it requires ET to behave in a way that has to be characterized as unfeeling, monolithic, dull, fearful, and maybe just plain dumb.

With ETs like that, who needs them? Let's cheer for the rats.

Bob

ASEI
2005-Mar-06, 07:45 AM
The Academy of the ETs must be a dreadful and morose place. Confronted with an ecology that has independently evolved for four billion years, and a completely independently developed intellectual tradition of 100,000 years duration, ET academics are content to watch from afar—all of them--until the Earthmen are ‘ready,’ if ever.

How many human volunteers would go to Europa if the most primitive life were found there? Even if it were a one-way trip?

As an explanation of the Fermi paradox the “Who’d want to belong to a club that let me in?” ar-gument is unsupported by any evidence, and contradicted by what we’ve observed. And it re-quires ET to behave in a way that has to be characterized as unfeeling, monolithic, dull, fearful, and maybe just plain dumb.

With ETs like that, who needs them? Let's cheer for the rats.

Thank you for that! The misanthropy present in the popular futurist atmosphere is noxious at times.

astromark
2005-Mar-06, 09:13 AM
:rolleyes: Time is so long, The Universe so big, Yes for the moment we are all alone. For how long we dont know. No we are not being ignored, or avoided. We just havent been seen yet.
Its like the time travel idea; No it will never be possible. Becouse if it was they would surely want to come back and witness avents from history. and as we have not seen groupes of people standing whatching in odd clothing or with strange equipment. . . stop this line of thinking that we are alone. We are not. Its not logical. The only resone we havent met with a ET is that they havent found us yet. The answer to the following question is yes in all cases. Will the earth be struck by a roag asteroid.. Will we lose millions to a volcano in a populated area. will we find life in space. Yes. :unsure:

astromark
2005-Mar-06, 09:15 AM
but it might be us.

alfchemist
2005-Mar-06, 05:03 PM
Hey, ASEI! been a while! It's good to hear from you again, especially so we are agreeing on something. An advanced ET will make contact for so many reasons (assuming they are really far more advanced than we). Why they haven't done this yet? Nobody knows for sure. But let me offer one weird scenario. If we could look and see a very distant mature supercluster 9 billion lightyears away, we are looking at the past in reference to our frame. Are we really the present? What if there's an ET or maybe an advanced earth in distant future looking at our supercluster, would they be interested to contact us? Maybe they know better tinkering of the "past" as evolution depends on the past or the past made evolution possible. This is what I feel will happen. At some distant future, when our technology would enable us to travel to stars, that's the only time when interaction with other cultures would occur. I believe that advancement or evolution is at a constant rate and there maybe ET but not so advance as compared to us. This may sound fictional but think about it.. :rolleyes:

The Near-Sighted Astronomer
2005-Mar-06, 08:02 PM
Hi All,

This "Are We Alone?" question seems to have stirred up a bit of interest. Such a multilog is very much appreciated and I am thankful that the article has produced a seed around which it might condense here at UT now.

There are some very excellent insights coming out of all this but as it turns out I remain farily centered in my hypothesis. For a culture to travel in space it must get its act together. When getting its act together it learns a certain wisdom or discretion. That discretion means (despite all the compassion in the world) that the culture is very reluctant to "entangle" itself in the affairs of others.

Take a look at the situation in Iraq. Will good come out of a 20th century culture (note I said 20th - not 21st) imposing its ideals on a non-20th century culture? Sure ultimately there is a silver lining to everything (for me that's the only real justification for "evil" in the cosmos - roses grow out of manure). But would a truly 3rd millenium culture have interjected itself in the situation?

Now think about the way the apartheid situation in South Africa was resolved. 21st century cultures (the US was one at the time) chose to "cut themselves off") from a 19th century culture. This loss of international interaction forced a change that seems to be working itself out quite nicely (despite the inevitable ups and downs). In this case good came from good. And this good requires little oversight and inevestment of resources by the world community.

Now both situations arose out of propinquity in space-time. Iraq and South Africa both had an effect on the quality of life here in the US. (We are entangled in space-time the other countries of this world, some more some less) So some kind of response was dictated. But ET is not yet entangled (think here on every possible level sub-atomic to sociological). Intelligent beings who have worked out their own liberation (overcoming negative-entanglement within their homeworlds) are no doubt very alive to the consequences of entanglement with others.

So again - on the most scientific and philosophical basis Fermi-paradox denied...

jeff

Bobunf
2005-Mar-07, 05:10 AM
You string together a series of unsupported assertions:

“For a culture to travel in space it must get its act together.”

The first venture into space of which we are aware was a consequence of an on-going conflict. When has getting one’s act together produced travel in space? I would opine, never.

“When getting its act together it learns a certain wisdom or discretion.”

I think it’s a stretch to equate wisdom with discretion. Many times the better part of discretion is valour. Churchill said, as near as I can recall, “Those who seek to avoid war at any cost are doomed to both war and a much higher cost.”

On a less grand scale, it’s frequently, usually, maybe always, wise for academic researchers to take risks; to try something that might not work; to throw discretion to the winds. I think the same can be said for artists and business people. Should Gates and Dell have elected the discrete and sensible course of finishing college? Should Galileo have kept his views (literally and figuratively) to himself? Were Gandhi and King unwise? They were certainly indiscrete in the extreme.

Should Percival Lowell have stayed home, helped manage the family textile business, and gotten really rich? Or was Lowell right to run off to the wild territory of Arizona to look for life on Mars, and establish the largest private observatory in the world, which honors his memory more than a century later?

Is ET really going to be the kind that finishes college rather than boldly participate in a technological revolution? Will ET really play it safe, and not say anything indiscrete about oppression? Will ET really stay home and run the textile factory; leaving the Martian equivalent to fend for itself?

What a truly hopeless bunch they would be. Three cheers for the rats—and for us less discrete ones.

Again, where’s an example of this assertion in action? As humans have gotten their act together in some degree they’ve become less discrete, more heterogeneous, and greater risk takers about weightier matters. There’s no evidence to support this wisdom =discretion assertion at all.

“That discretion means (despite all the compassion in the world) that the culture is very reluctant to ‘entangle’ itself in the affairs of others.”

Where's the evidence for this assertion? Of higher levels of technological accomplishment resulting in less entanglement with the rest of the world?

As our technology has advanced we’ve become more involved in the affairs of others. Some examples are the eradication of smallpox, the near triumph over polio, the worldwide entanglement in Africa concerning the AIDS epidemic, the tsunami relief effort, and hundreds of other examples.

In the politica arena, I would cite late 20th century events in Bosnia, Kosoval, Hati, East Timor, Cyprus, and a host of others as examples of the type one wouldn’t have seen occur in Medieval Europe, or China.

There are hundreds of cultural, artistic and environmental examples such as UNESCO's whole program of World Heritage Sites, the concept of which didn't exist a hundred years ago.

The trends are all the wrong way. A much more plausible case can be made for exactly the opposite behaviour on the part of ET. And he’d wind up a lot more likeable and interesting that way.

Space faring races are more likely to be heterogeneous risk takers than monolithic souls of discretion. Misanthropy shouldn't have to mean ETs that are totally dull and clueless.

Bob

Bobunf
2005-Mar-07, 06:45 AM
I think most historians would tell you that the Iraq situation is too recent for us to have perspective. But it is easy to imagine scenarios in which those actions would be viewed as farsighted statecraft. For instance, what if what’s happened in Libya and Lebanon, happens in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, and a dozen other countries?

What if a Moslem Reformation occurs? What if a century from now half the Nobel prizes are awarded to Arabs, women in Moslem countries are treated as equals with men, a vibrant culture of creative expression comes from the Moslem world? Music, art, literature and commerce center in Egypt and Indonesia? Pakistan and Iran are the principal space faring nations having established permanent research bases on both the Moon and Mars, with temporarily occupied facilities on Mercury, Deimos, and Europa? With intersellar probes looming as a serius possibility?

And the great changes were precipitated by the challenges of the overthrow of the Taliban and the oppressive government of Iraq?

Today we think of Seward as farsighted for squandering $7 million on Alaska.

I think your analysis and description of the South African situation are inaccurate. Sanctions are hardly disengagement, but diplomacy by another means. They are an attempt to influence behaviour, by inflicting punishment; like spanking a child. That’s not disengagement, but very active involvement.

I’m also of the opinion (shared by the likes of George Will and Henry Kissinger) that sanctions have an unblemished record of failure. Contrary to popular opinion (mindlessly encouraged by unthinking news media), the transformation came about in South Africa because of acts of persuasion.

These people redeemed themselves, in part, because of the confidence in outcomes encouraged by the collapse of Communist ideology. The end of the Cold War precipitated the end of apartheid.

Is ET really so stupid as to say, “I want them to change their behaviour, and I’m going to accomplish that by not saying anything at all to them. They won’t even know I exist. That’ll teach ‘em.”

But, of course, it won’t teach us anything; we won’t know what the message is, because there isn’t any. It’s like not telling a child what you expect of him. It’s like what might have happened if we hadn’t engaged the South Africans, persuaded, set an example from our own troubled racial history, and stood ready to help.

These ETs haven’t got a clue about making friends and influencing people. They need some serious work on their relationship and communication skills. We could help them.

Mankind to the rescue of the inarticulate and lethargic ET.

Bob

alfchemist
2005-Mar-07, 10:06 AM
Looks like this thread is going philosophical whether ET would want or wouldn't try to make contact with us or any other civilization for that matter. What about the logistics? It was always assumed that ET would be so far advanced than we that it could just dropby at warpspeed at will. What makes computer war games realistic is that it takes logistics into account. And just like war, peaceful endeavor requires proper logistics, the means to go about it. This is where discretion comes in. I still maintain that if we are not logistically ready to go to the next star, ET is not far ahead or behind as far as evolution or advancement is concerned

The Near-Sighted Astronomer
2005-Mar-07, 02:20 PM
Yep logistics is a big part and to overcome the problem of logistics you need three things: Technology, resources, and motivation. The original article assumed that technology and resources existed but motivation (to actually make contact with us) was in abeyance (the "entanglement" problem). In this thread we have had a discussion of logistics and resources couched in terms of how very difficult even a multi-generational colonial starship would be to pull off for any civilization whose resources are tied up in homeworld security issues and had not gotten its planetary act together.

But Fermi's paradox really does sum everything up. "If alien's exist, and interstellar travel is possible, and the universe is very old, then why aren't they here already?"

Like any question of this type you can analyze its assumptions.

1. Do alien's exist? (We are someone elses "aliens".)

2. Are they advanced enough to travel between the stars. (We aren't)

3. Is the Universe really that old. (We could be the most advanced in our galaxy!)

4. And finally would they choose to reveal their presence. (We won't send signals into space announcing our existence willingly.)

Despite being a single data point the fact that we exists satisfies the assumption that somewhere among the one to two hundred billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy there is at least one! In fact using the conservative "powers of ten" notion we could probably end up with ten at least as advanced as our own. (This goes something like ten billion stars with at least one planet. one billion with at least one planet having at least some H20. 100 million with liquid water. 10 million with single cell lifeforms. 1 million with with multicellular life. 100 thousand with vertebrate equivalent life. 10 thousand with mammalian equivalent life. 1 thousand with primates, 100 with hominids, 10 with technically advanced hominids such as our own and 1 capable of interstellar travel thats a very, very conservative estimate - in my estimation.

Interstellar travel in an Einsteinian universe is very very slow and would require some kind of stasis chambers or multiple generations even if half light speed were possible. (Earth-moon distance in 3 seconds at maximum velocity.) Is it possible sure but that leads up to technolgy, resources, logistics, and motivation.

The age of the Universe could be a factor our planet has been around for about 1/3rd the history of the Universe. Are we late comers? Early achievers?

And finally by the time we solve our homeworld entanglement issues will we really care to travel to other stars? I personally think so - but not out of necessity (well colonization on the Moon, Mars etc may be a necessity should we ever take a big hit from an near earther or undergo destructive geological disruption (such as a magma gas-chamber explosion). But then we'd just move back here once things settled out. We'd travel our of curiosity, quest, adventure. But would we entangle ourselves with other worlds going through the stage we are? Primitive cultures maybe but like we are? Hmmmm. Keep in mind we won't be the same old "colonializing brutes" we have tended to be in the past...

Finally when we do get out there will we even be able to contact lesser worlds. Is there a "Federation of planets" that uses planets like Earth as "nurseries of sentience?" and proscribe limits on contact?

If you had two horns, a tail, and glowing red eyes would you show yourself in a culture such as ours without thinking it through carefully (Please read "Arthur C Clarkes "Childhood's End".)

Personally i think intelligence is as intelligence does and we have a way to go to do things intelligently... (But perhaps not as far as we might think.)

jeff

alfchemist
2005-Mar-07, 03:46 PM
hello, near-sighted astronomer! It's good that you consider the age of the universe in your stats but considering evolution, the past (2/3 age of the universe) made the present (us) possible. Civilization more advanced than ours seems unlikely to exist unless we are part of their past

Ola D.
2005-Mar-07, 04:13 PM
Originally posted by Bobunf@Mar 7 2005, 06:45 AM
What if a Moslem Reformation occurs?* What if a century from now half the Nobel prizes are awarded to Arabs, women in Moslem countries are treated as equals with men, a vibrant culture of creative expression comes from the Moslem world?* Music, art, literature and commerce center in Egypt and Indonesia?* Pakistan and Iran are the principal space faring nations having established permanent research bases on both the Moon and Mars, with temporarily occupied facilities on Mercury, Deimos, and Europa?* With intersellar probes looming as a serius possibility?

A century? Many sciences has been originally founded and developed by the muslim world; astronomy, algebra, chemistry and some others too. Recently, some arab scientists have been awarded Nobel prizes and the number will probably increase.

You'll not need a century for that. It's already going.

I think I drifted off the topic. But I had to make this brief comment.

dbackfan
2005-Mar-07, 04:56 PM
Ola D., I don't think you're off subject at all. The topic is "Are we alone in the universe?" All life forms on our home planet are in the universe, just closer than other life forms that may be "out there." Prejudice, which can be defined as opinion based on lack of knowledge, causes earthlings to be as far from each other as if we were from different solar systems. Your appreciation for the marvelous intellectual and artistic contributions by the Arab world is well-founded. I would go further and acknowledge that every ethnic group has produced genius.

As for the particular sciences you mention ("astronomy, algebra, chemistry and some others too"), they are documented to have originated with the Sumerians. This history brings us to a name I find rarely mentioned and I'm puzzled at the omission in such a discussion as "Are we alone in the universe?": Zecharia Sitchin. I wonder if anyone else believes his research/translations deserve attention. If his work is valid, our topic question has been answered.

dbackfan
2005-Mar-07, 06:07 PM
Oops. Caught my own fallacy ("If his work is valid, our topic question has been answered.") I'll restate it. If his work is valid and his conclusion is fact (alien astronauts have visited and lived on Earth, and their descendents still do/humans), then our question has been answered.

The Near-Sighted Astronomer
2005-Mar-07, 11:22 PM
Hi All,

Let me say this - i don't have all the answers. No one of us is as smart as all of us. It'd be kewl if someone on this forum were to go through and write up a summary ofall the points then we could do some speculating about the "real why" behind the fact that the presence of aliens is not a "self-evident" fact in our world.

Is it because they don't exist anywhere? Is it because they can't get here from there? Is it because they are here but our governments don't want to admit it? Is it because they are here but veiled out of their own discretion? Is it because they haven't stumbled upon us yet in their travels? Is there some secret planetary cabal telling them to stay clear - one with enough real power to enforce the edict? Is there a Federation of Planets saying "hands off" with the power to enforce it? Are there other possibilities?

We could then run a poll and make a SWAG at the reasons across a spectrum from
"Don't exist" to "Don't care" and everything between above and below.

I still say intelligence means an understanding of cause and effect and the effects are too voltile at this time for revelation... That would be my 50/50 reason...

Cheers,

jeff

Bobunf
2005-Mar-08, 03:24 AM
It seems to me that the time required of interstellar travel becomes less of an issue as life spans increase. Medicine is our youngest science. We’ve barely begun with an understanding of biology. Isn’t it conceivable, even likely, that by 2100 humans will usually live past 100 years? That by 2200 the human life span will be approaching a millennium—ending mostly due to accident, homicide or suicide?

It seems kind of unlikely that technologically advanced biological entities are condemned to life spans not much longer than a century. But, even if that were the case, what about computers, or what they develop into? The life span of an advanced sentient computer like entity could easily be tens of millennia.

Sending such entities to investigate star systems within a few hundred light years would require propulsion, energy and communication systems not much beyond what we could plan for today.

If we are so tantalizingly close to interstellar possibilities—a few centuries at most—imagine another ten thousand years of technology advancing at an increasing rate. The difficulties will fall to concepts beyond our imagining.

Bob

Bobunf
2005-Mar-08, 03:31 AM
I think alfchemist’s idea is tenable that “ET is not far ahead or behind.” Mostly, I think alf-chemist hasn’t considered the immense times involved. Even if one made the assumption that nothing much could have happened, that things weren’t quite right, until just about the time our sun was born; even from there we have 4½ billion years of history.

For a civilization to be at a point in its development within ten thousand years of us would require that the two started and developed with a variation of only one part in 200,000. Over a period of a thousand years their development would have to be within two days of ours. Pretty unlikely; and then to sustain that identical development for 4½ million millennia?

As for Zecharia Sitchin. I don’t believe he deserves anybody’s attention.

Bob

suntrack2
2005-Mar-08, 11:29 AM
detectation of the eti is relent upon our follow-up to search the life other than earth, today this question is just become more teasing for the brains of the people of earth and they feals that they are alone, but who know? the intelligent people will certainly come to visit the people of earth but when? question 'when' comes because no one can guarantee of bringing or calling them, and hence the question fall in the mind that "Are we Alone", the topic is very nice, and one has to think and solve this quiz type question whoes answer is much difficult in our arena still today, but what on tomorrow it is just the logic and our ideas and castles of mind, but let the science prove and let the science detect all such positive aspects to search and bring the eti from the universe, and till then we have to wait like just a farmer who waits after soawing the field "of rains". may be the intelligence of earth is narrow too short, may be the eti are here on earth in invisible format, may they are collecting the information of earth people with their powerful vision from the sky, but they are invisible to us. ! !

sunil :rolleyes:

alfchemist
2005-Mar-08, 12:35 PM
Hello, suntack2! Feeling alone means longing for someone to be there who could relate and communicate with you. There's just too many species here on earth but why are humans still feeling alone?

Hello, Bobunf! It is not just the time or stat that is to be considered. There were isolated ancient civilizations which didn't make it this far. I feel that the underlying principles of evolution is of greater consideration. Imagine many alien civilization capable of annihilating the human race. Each species need to survive. What would stop them from taking control of our resources? No species was endowed by nature with undue advantage to survive. Evolution just doesn't work that way

The Near-Sighted Astronomer
2005-Mar-08, 03:32 PM
Hi Bobunf,


It seems to me that the time required of interstellar travel becomes less of an issue as life spans increase.

One of the great problems any successful planetary culture has to resolve is population density. As lifespans increase increased pressure is placed on all the resources of that planet. If some kind of reproductive discipline is not learned the possibility of a complete breakdown in the social structure looms with extended longevity.

One reason ET might be compelled to colonize is due to this factor. But like many things in nature there is a playing out of influences. For instance, population pressures create contention over limited resources - land, energy, raw materials etc. This contention causes what resources may be available to be squandered on military defense issues (rationing is often foisted on populations during times of war). Where resources are in short supply, the short-term need to survive outweighs the longer term need to explore and colonize.

Of course major wars often reduce populations pressures too so colonization becomes a less immediate necessity.

Where am I going with this? Once again we have struck against the shoals that planets that "do not get their act together" are less able to export their problems to other stellar systems. To travel the immense distances between stars requires a self-discipline and self-control that does not lead to brash and sudden interactions with technologically and sociologically volatile cultures such as our own.

Of course there are those who would ascribe to ET far less circumspection than i do and their arguments are worth consideration but once again i remind folks that this planet (and others poised for true sociological transformation) may be "off-limits to the rabid colonizers and "devil-take-the-consequences" adventurers of the galaxy...

But let's start simple here: Are We Alone? (in terms of sentience).

1. On the Earth? (keep in mind dolphins etc.)
2. Outside the Earth but natively to the Sol System?
3. Within the em bubble of the 1940s (ala the movie Contact)?
4. Within Allen Array detection (say ultimately some 1000 light years)?
5. In our own quadrant of the Milky Way?
6. In the Milky Way as an entirety?
7. In the Local Group of galaxies?
8. In the entire Universe?

Excluding that I have already personally accepted the sentience of certain cetaceans, I think that the nearest intelligent lifeforms lie within the Earth's em bubble ("3"). And I suspect that there is a homeworld of interstellar spacefarers within reach of Allen Array detection ("4"). Having never personally met ET I can not tell you whether or not any spacefarers are monitoring us right now but i have to point out that some fairly credible reports (Kenneth Arnold 1947 for instance) indicate that such may very well be the case.

jeff

suntrack2
2005-Mar-09, 10:48 AM
Alfchemist, hello,
i thought that "Are we alone" has some different-different sort of meanings, but near sighted astronomer has point out the possibilities of question and its derived meaning.
and getting all such questions i think now we are not ofcourse alone, the aloofness and once's one ness are the fealings of aloneness.
"we are not alone on earth the other nature is here to live" all are working as per their portfolios determined by the god.

sunil

dbackfan
2005-Mar-09, 02:17 PM
It's amazing to me that we can even ask the question, "Are we alone?" I think of the Eames film Powers of Ten that starts with humans and goes both ways--into the microscopic arenas and into the telescopic arenas. The views stop at the "edge" of our universe, making it finite. That begs the question, Are there other universes?

Are we alone? Is our universe alone?

What could many universes be part of?

scorpio711
2005-Mar-09, 02:53 PM
Hello to all,
This is a very interesting topic discussed here, with a lot of discussions and opinions on very different aspects of the question “are we (a supposedly intelligent and advanced specie) alone?”
This question means – to me – that not being alone means that there is another “intelligent and advanced” specie – in a similar way to us so that we can communicate and understand minimally this intelligence and level of advancement to be able to recognize and acknowledge it –.
Wow, this question raises immediately the anthropocentrism of all our logic and way of thinking and type of abstraction etc…
And I do personally believe that the intelligence of a monkey or a dolphin is definitely of the same “order” as ours… However we are incapable of really evaluating it, as it is rightly pointed out in the original article of this thread. And what I’ve read in most of the opinions posted into this thread, are all showing a deeply biased “human-like” way of thinking and reasoning.
May be we are regularly and intensively contacted by alien species who communicate with us, who analyse us, but we don’t understand nothing about it? Some ESP experiences look so strange ! Do we know what the dreams we have when we sleep are? I do not mean that I believe in ESP or that I believe that dreams are communications from/to aliens… simply that there are still many very strange and still largely unexplained things in our environment. Let’s just stay open and curious… and let’s acknowledge that we are extremely deeply biased all the time (including myself in this message !!!!). Yes, “heart” is human-biased. But so is “instinct” and mourn”. And so is the concept of “colonization” and the “prime directive” and “sociologic” behaviour etc...
I like vet22 point of view coz when we start to think about intelligence in trees and plants, we start to move away from human-bias…. But we only start ! plants are still part of our environment, based on CHON life, on DNA etc…
I believe that in this perspective, Fermi’s paradox loses a lot of its sense, and as I said already, the sentence “if intelligent specie already exists, why haven’t we meet it yet?” is possibly completely wrong !

Does it means that it’s hopeless to try to find an answer to the question “are we alone” outside of “species similar enough to human race”? I don’t think so… May be (I don’t have the answer… it’s just ideas here) we need to go back to the fundamentals –not necessarily related too strongly to “human way of thinking” – such as: the race to the increase of complexity, language as an interaction with the external world (interesting point mentioned by dbackfan earlier in this thread), what is “abstraction”, etc… and by questioning all the time ourselves “are we not being too human-biased in this reasoning” ?

Well, these are just some questions and ideas I have… but I like this discussion very much J
Scorpio

suntrack2
2005-Mar-10, 04:28 PM
The answer is so simple > No
because we are getting responses.

TuTone
2005-Mar-11, 12:10 AM
Here's something one of my boyz sent me. He's all into this other life mumbo jumbo. I didn't read it yet, because it just seemed to long for me at the moment.
Would like food for thought thought.

Executive Summary (http://home-2.worldonline.nl/~gibbon/ExecSummary.pdf)

The Near-Sighted Astronomer
2005-Mar-11, 08:14 PM
Hi All,

In the spirit of open-mindedness (as expressed in the article "Are We Alone") I read the first few sections of "Executive Summary". Although I have not spent a lot of time evaluating it I do a have a few comments.

I really appreciated the emphasis on the ecological / sociological aspects of the discussion. This elevated it beyond the usual "conspiracy theorist glamour" often associated with the UFO / government conspiracy approach.

I did not agree with the notion expressed that we are currently ready sociologically for a revelation regarding the existence of ET by the government. Why? For the same reason Mars Rock did not go well received. This last election demonstrated that a sizable proprtion of the electorate have a certain mind-emotion set of a religious nature that would not be able to handle revelation.

I do agree that the potential primary motivation of non-disclosure could be due to the fact that our entire economic system with its distribution of power, wealth etc would undergo a complete shift if advanced energy-saving devices etc were to hit the ground running. But there is also a subtler socio-economic issue here as well: How many of us would continue to run "the rat race" of a less than satisfying job etc if suddenly the whole universe opened up and the possibility of a much larger even "romantic" reality were to precipitate?

Consider the industrial revolution: How many rural towns and families lost children to the cities once they grew up?

Now finally let's say that the "Black Ops" crowd exists on this planet. Is their end that objectionable? My answer: Only if they are using "ends justify the means" amorality to "extinguish" lives and bring them to ruin or blatantly lying about stuff. That would be personally reprehensible to me.

There is nothing wrong with "keeping silent" however. Say I personally had contact with alien intelligences (I don't BTW) would i bother to subject myself to the "flaming" that goes on were such a contact to be publically admitted?

Of course not - I get all the flaming i am interested in just by writing articles such as "Are We Alone"...

Cheers,

jeff

PS: One other thought NOT every country on the planet gains by non-disclosure I can think of several (Brasil, India, New Zealand) that would have a lot to gain by accepting ET and ET tech with open arms. Why haven't they? Maybe ET isn't open to this sort of thing (if ET is here) and maybe ET is smarter than we are because of this...

suntrack2
2005-Mar-15, 04:05 PM
Cute site ! astronomer

The Near-Sighted Astronomer
2005-May-03, 02:46 AM
I guess it falls to me to drop the last word - "Entanglement"
Think carefully - we're stuck with one another on this planet and we've done a lot of unwise things. Right now our environment is under intense pressure, other sentient beings (cetaceans) are being killed due to our shortsighted preoccupation with "money". We still involve ourselves in bloody conflict.

Should ET get involved? Can ET get involved? Is ET allowed to get involved?

Not if it were me - I'd be watching - discretely - perhaps enthralled by a process that either moves whole worlds forward into a vast interstellar community ("Contact") or devastates a civilization and plows it under for a future round of technological inculturation.

"Entanglement" yes or no - that is the question...