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Thread: What do you think is the most likely explanation for the Fermi paradox?

  1. #1291
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    Much though I do think self destruct/self evolve to sustainable state is part of the paradox, I am also suggesting that we cannot yet see feasible planet modification.

    For the subset of carbon, water based life that we know, the water is he key to planet stability and so the distribution of land to water is important and that also drives clouds which are, I believe, the key factor in regulation. A planet can get too cold as well as too hot, so deliberate modification of albedo and clouds makes a lot of sense for a planet like ours.

    We are not there yet but getting closer. If techniques allow us to see distant planets in enough detail, it would then be interesting to see what has been done.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Much though I do think self destruct/self evolve to sustainable state is part of the paradox, I am also suggesting that we cannot yet see feasible planet modification.

    For the subset of carbon, water based life that we know, the water is he key to planet stability and so the distribution of land to water is important and that also drives clouds which are, I believe, the key factor in regulation. A planet can get too cold as well as too hot, so deliberate modification of albedo and clouds makes a lot of sense for a planet like ours.

    We are not there yet but getting closer. If techniques allow us to see distant planets in enough detail, it would then be interesting to see what has been done.
    Reflectors floating in atmospheric balloons might have some impact on planetary climate and might be noticeable in multiple surveys of the same world.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  3. #1293
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Reflectors floating in atmospheric balloons might have some impact on planetary climate and might be noticeable in multiple surveys of the same world.
    Yes balloons with solar panels and the box of tricks that switches clouds on and off, they would tend to drift about but that could be managed by a release and collect system. Their effective area might be far greater than their size. But visible from a few light years away?
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  4. #1294
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Yes balloons with solar panels and the box of tricks that switches clouds on and off, they would tend to drift about but that could be managed by a release and collect system. Their effective area might be far greater than their size. But visible from a few light years away?
    The albedo of a planet changing more regularly or quickly than natural, or reflecting more efficiently or fully than white clouds, might be a sign readable from great distances. A reflector that is mirrored would mimic the exact light of the star (minus atmospheric filtering) too perfectly.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  5. #1295
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    The albedo of a planet changing more regularly or quickly than natural, or reflecting more efficiently or fully than white clouds, might be a sign readable from great distances. A reflector that is mirrored would mimic the exact light of the star (minus atmospheric filtering) too perfectly.
    But this would be a long term stable solution. Changes would be very slow. Surely.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  6. #1296
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    But this would be a long term stable solution. Changes would be very slow. Surely.
    I don't understand what you mean. What changes are you talking about?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I don't understand what you mean. What changes are you talking about?
    Presumably profloater is talking about the same changes you were talking about — the changes in albedo...

    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    The albedo of a planet changing more regularly or quickly than natural, or reflecting more efficiently or fully than white clouds, might be a sign readable from great distances. A reflector that is mirrored would mimic the exact light of the star (minus atmospheric filtering) too perfectly.

  8. #1298
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    Well, if the network of floaters is established, presumably they'd work in sync.

    ADDED: I think you think I mean static units and not adjustable ones. They can't be static or they're just another positive feedback. They have to shift when they reflect and when they don't.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  9. #1299
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Well, if the network of floaters is established, presumably they'd work in sync.

    ADDED: I think you think I mean static units and not adjustable ones. They can't be static or they're just another positive feedback. They have to shift when they reflect and when they don't.
    I am just pursuing a plausible reason why with billions of planets we cannot detect other intelligences. Having covered the low probabilities of a series of near catastrophes followed by self destructive civilisation, we have wise and coordinated civilisations who modify their albedo to stabilise their planet while their star changes. That extends the intelligent life timescale from thousands to millions of years. It remains undetectable from interstellar distance.

    Using our only example, life on Earth, we can speculate about the feasibility of albedo management, and we see serious rocket work to visit nearby planets. Interstellar adventures remain science fiction except for the Voyager probes and they have a long way to go to visit other stars. So for me, the paradox is not a surprise.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  10. #1300
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    So for me, the paradox is not a surprise.
    That's good. It should not be surprising that in something the size of a Galaxy, let alone the whole Universe, that the default setting of any living world is "alone". That's a rational expectation.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    You mentioned a shield in post #1270. We're just discussing how such a shield would be arranged.

    I agree that a planet with a habitable species needs some sort of climate control to dampen the positive feedback. This would reduce the risk of existential self-destruction implied by an industrial society. But a sunshade is a mitigating factor, a bandage for the symptoms not a cure. To cure would require developing a civilization that can dynamically sustain its environment indefinitely under changing conditions. It requires more than technological solutions.
    Hi Noclevername,

    I think you overstate the notion of "risk of existential self-destruction" and I suppose, given the right or wrong context, any cure can be described as a bandage.

    As with humans, an alien species will want to develop the technology to harness the _wasted_ energy radiating from its primary star. (Hmmm. Maybe they'll develop cheap fusion first.) The more of that energy that is tapped, the easier and cheaper it will be to control a planet's climate, construct a Dyson swarm, whatever. Concerns of sustainability, whatever that means, may not translate to aliens.

    The universe is full of free energy. Technological aliens will want to use it. We don't see them doing it. You believe it is due to attaining beliefs such as yours? I don't buy it.

    cheers,

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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    We don't see them doing it.
    I think you make a good argument in the rest of your post, so I'll comment just on this point.

    Maybe they have and do harness all the availible energy they require. But, just because we can't currently see them doing it is not a good argument against it. We just have not been looking long and far enough to make such an assumption. Our current observable exposure thus far is less than the blink of an eye in comparison to the age and scale of our galaxy, let alone the universe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmocrazy View Post
    I think you make a good argument in the rest of your post, so I'll comment just on this point.

    Maybe they have and do harness all the availible energy they require. But, just because we can't currently see them doing it is not a good argument against it. We just have not been looking long and far enough to make such an assumption. Our current observable exposure thus far is less than the blink of an eye in comparison to the age and scale of our galaxy, let alone the universe.
    Hi cosmocrazy,

    Yes. I agree. We have only started searching. And, Dyson swarms, while facilitating harvesting of stellar energy and increasing overall real estate, may not be necessary to a more sophisticated technology.

    Thanks,

  14. #1304
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    Hi Noclevername,

    I think you overstate the notion of "risk of existential self-destruction" and I suppose, given the right or wrong context, any cure can be described as a bandage.

    As with humans, an alien species will want to develop the technology to harness the _wasted_ energy radiating from its primary star. (Hmmm. Maybe they'll develop cheap fusion first.) The more of that energy that is tapped, the easier and cheaper it will be to control a planet's climate, construct a Dyson swarm, whatever. Concerns of sustainability, whatever that means, may not translate to aliens.

    The universe is full of free energy. Technological aliens will want to use it. We don't see them doing it. You believe it is due to attaining beliefs such as yours? I don't buy it.

    cheers,
    No, I already said what I believe is the cause... time, distance, and relative rarity of intelligence. Add to that cosmocrazy's observation as summarized so well by Randall Munroe:

    the_search.png
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    Concerns of sustainability, whatever that means, may not translate to aliens.
    Simple enough concept; running out of or destroying vital resources is not sustainability. Coming up with a way to avoid this and maintain your existence long term, is sustainability.

    Any system has losses. Sustainability is minimizing them enough to thrive on what's available.

    Any life that expands into space using closed cycle life support systems will have to be extremely sustainable, or die quickly. So yes, aliens that colonize the Galaxy would have to understand the idea. It's been discussed n this thread and elsewhere.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Hmmm. Maybe they'll develop cheap fusion first.

    In the late Seventies, I asked my Physics Professor when we would have fusion power. He replied that it was twenty years away and always would be.
    Right so far...
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    Hmmm. Maybe they'll develop cheap fusion first.

    In the late Seventies, I asked my Physics Professor when we would have fusion power. He replied that it was twenty years away and always would be.
    Right so far...
    And what does this have to do with Fermi's Paradox?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Simple enough concept; running out of or destroying vital resources is not sustainability. Coming up with a way to avoid this and maintain your existence long term, is sustainability.

    Any system has losses. Sustainability is minimizing them enough to thrive on what's available.

    Any life that expands into space using closed cycle life support systems will have to be extremely sustainable, or die quickly. So yes, aliens that colonize the Galaxy would have to understand the idea. It's been discussed n this thread and elsewhere.
    OK. And the energy available from the sun wastes away. Any life that taps into an increasing amount of that energy is advancing. For humans around the Sun the numbers of people supportable in a Dyson Swarm is too vast to ponder and for bilions of years. Die quickly? I don't think so.

    It seems to me the concept of sustainability is inappropriately used to our Climate related problems. When should our ancestors have decided we are too disruptive? When we took over caves as our own lairs? When we started using fire? Burning coal? Oil? It would be stupid of us to be so disruptive as to exterminate ourselves but the lesson is not sustainability. Why would aliens seek sustainability in an evolved universe? Rapid growth could be the preferred option.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    OK. And the energy available from the sun wastes away. Any life that taps into an increasing amount of that energy is advancing. For humans around the Sun the numbers of people supportable in a Dyson Swarm is too vast to ponder and for bilions of years. Die quickly? I don't think so.
    But to reach that elder stage they'd have to go through other stages of growth. You cannot leap from one-planet ecology to massive swarm of habitats without first developing viable habitats. Which will require closed cycle biospheres. Which must be ...you guessed it... sustainable. An unsustainable life support eventually results in no life, period.

    Why would aliens seek sustainability in an evolved universe? Rapid growth could be the preferred option.
    But again, the logistics of closed cycle life support would not change by location. Unless they start with totally unlimited rapid expansion capability, which I can't see happening, they'll face sharp limits to growth while "evolving". Otherwise they'd never come near the kind of mass expansion of either Dyson swarms or galactic colonies.

    Replacing losses, yes, and building new habs will happen, but neither will be instantaneous or free of cost or effort. So there needs to develop some throttle on population expansion or you wind up with the "three generation" problem. A space station overrun, overloaded, and unable to support its inhabitants. A Biosphere II in space, in other words.

    As for the rest of your argument about human history, it seems irrelevant to discussion of aliens.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  20. #1310
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    And what does this have to do with Fermi's Paradox?
    Should have quoted that, even if I had to remove most of the quote.
    I was replying to the earlier post.
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

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    Hi Noclevername,

    I looked it up and Wikipedia returned Closed Ecological System.

    I think the work on such ideas is important. Attempts at measuring and understanding our environmental impact makes total sense to me. I'm on board for trying to conserve biodiversity.
    With that in mind, I think a Closed Ecological System is good. But not for its own sake. We might get more efficient in using resources and especially when contemplating interstellar travel. But it will be a question of economics. And, regardless, we will likely expel much mass in our interstellar travels, which is not Closed.

    Why should aliens strive for Closed Ecological Systems? Their early sources of energy may have been way less dangerous than coal and oil. Their only climate concern may be due to their heat impact and they might conclude (I think correctly) that this is something all technological civilizations face and how fortunate they are to understand it and that it must be solved. And it can be.

    There need be throttles? Of course. But the natural ones that will occur. As the technology to mine resources and harvest energy improves, and the ability to autonomously produce solar panels and habitats ensues, those throttles will be mostly culturally imposed. I don't know when this prowess will be available but I guess 200 years, surely not 1000.

    WRT "overrun, overloaded, and unable to support its inhabitants". It is difficult to debate this point. The examples and counterexamples of historically improving human dignity are numerous. Needless to say, your expectation for our future is more somber than mine.

    Cheers again,

  22. #1312
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    Closed ecological systems are a necessity for biological life support in space habitats and starships. Supporting more population than there's food and air for in space, is physically impossible.

    I'll leave it to your imagination as to why that is.

    My expectations, or rather estimates, of the future are based on the studies done by scientists and engineers whose job it is to figure these things out. I go where the evidence takes me, whether I like the results or not. I can provide citations if you want, just ask for specifics.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    ADDED: The lessons of how to maintain a space-based biological life support system will be hard to avoid, because the alternative is to not have space-based life support. So yes, I think any species that makes it into space will have learned to be sustainable, because the only other choice is to be unsustainable in an inhospitable environment.

    I also think that lesson will continue to resonate regardless of technological advances in mining or manufacturing. Establishing a biosphere is not like building a new space station; one can be mass produced, the other requires establishing seed growth and bacterial cultures, or the alien equivalent. This takes time. It's literally planting a garden, it has to be cared for or it's a weed patch.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    And, Dyson swarms, while facilitating harvesting of stellar energy and increasing overall real estate, may not be necessary to a more sophisticated technology.
    Or to a society with birth control. If there's a limited population there's no need for a sun-girdling swarm of habitats, or massive scale energy harvesting. Only a constant positive growth rate would lead to those things being necessary.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  25. #1315
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Or to a society with birth control. If there's a limited population there's no need for a sun-girdling swarm of habitats, or massive scale energy harvesting. Only a constant positive growth rate would lead to those things being necessary.
    So right! One might think an intelligent species would learn self control for stability and sustainability. The alternative is growth and collapse, and neither suggests long term expansion into other planets let alone stars.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  26. #1316
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    So right! One might think an intelligent species would learn self control for stability and sustainability. The alternative is growth and collapse, and neither suggests long term expansion into other planets let alone stars.
    Depends on the circumstances. A single planet is basically a fixed system; a world physically can't ship off its members fast enough to solve an overpopulation problem, unless the species is very slow to reproduce... which would make overpopulation an unlikely scenario. So the ground-bound population faces hard physical limits to growth, always and forever.

    But if some can settle space, that involves building "world" habitats, and if you can build one you can build more. A newly constructed habitat can then be seeded with life and populated, allowing for slow, controlled growth.

    A fast population boom in a space habitat's limited ecosystem, however... yikes. So they have to learn self discipline the hard way, as a survival mechanism. There are no Dark Ages in space; no fallen space station or generation ship reverts to barbarism, no matter what Heinlein wrote. It's either live or die, and there will no doubt be plenty of bad examples to educate the spacers, especially during the early ages of space colonization.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  27. #1317
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Depends on the circumstances. A single planet is basically a fixed system; a world physically can't ship off its members fast enough to solve an overpopulation problem, unless the species is very slow to reproduce... which would make overpopulation an unlikely scenario. So the ground-bound population faces hard physical limits to growth, always and forever.

    But if some can settle space, that involves building "world" habitats, and if you can build one you can build more. A newly constructed habitat can then be seeded with life and populated, allowing for slow, controlled growth.

    A fast population boom in a space habitat's limited ecosystem, however... yikes. So they have to learn self discipline the hard way, as a survival mechanism. There are no Dark Ages in space; no fallen space station or generation ship reverts to barbarism, no matter what Heinlein wrote. It's either live or die, and there will no doubt be plenty of bad examples to educate the spacers, especially during the early ages of space colonization.
    I lost track, what depends on the circumstances? Are you referring to our Earthbound overpopulation and tentative planetary adventures? I do feel our example, which happens to be the only one we have, illustrates the situation well.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  28. #1318
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    A thought experiment: two goldilocks planets for the same star.
    One obviously hotter, but both with oceans and moons to encourage life as we know it. There is a situation to encourage either colonisation or, more exciting, two rival intelligent species. That might engender both an arms race and a space race, using the human experience as a guide, cooperation would have to come much later. That might be the start point for a technology that favours space travel, robot exploration, deliberate communication radiation.

    So that thought experiment ends in disappointment for any hopes of alien contact. Two competing planets does not happen or ends in disaster.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  29. #1319
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I lost track, what depends on the circumstances? Are you referring to our Earthbound overpopulation and tentative planetary adventures? I do feel our example, which happens to be the only one we have, illustrates the situation well.
    No, not what I meant.

    The different circumstances I referred to were the differences between planet-based and space-habitat-based living. The latter is not yet something we have an example of, but can make statements about with basic reasoning. For instance, if the population (of any species) exceeds the carrying capacity of its biosphere, there will be a drastic consequence. This is true whether the biosphere is that of a natural planet or a space habitat, but the difference is, a whole planet likely has enough buffer space and redundancy to recover and still support life (though perhaps not civilization), the limited cycle and diversity of a hab will not.

    If you are in space and your biosphere falters, forget it. You either move out or die, and if there's nowhere to move to that can support you, or no way to get somewhere else, you die anyway. This teaches hard lessons that have to be baked into space-dweller culture, or the alien equivalent, for it to survive; "don't rock the boat".

    All beings living off a planet will by necessity be fanatics about maintaining their life supporting ecosystem and infrastructure, including not overloading it with extra bodies.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    A thought experiment: two goldilocks planets for the same star.
    One obviously hotter, but both with oceans and moons to encourage life as we know it. There is a situation to encourage either colonisation or, more exciting, two rival intelligent species. That might engender both an arms race and a space race, using the human experience as a guide, cooperation would have to come much later. That might be the start point for a technology that favours space travel, robot exploration, deliberate communication radiation.

    So that thought experiment ends in disappointment for any hopes of alien contact. Two competing planets does not happen or ends in disaster.
    Why does it end in disaster?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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