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(BBC)   SETI researchers try new technique, have yet to receive pictures of Hitler at 1936 Olympics   (bbc.co.uk) divider line 34
    More: Misc, SETI, Radio Astronomy, civilizations, rocky planet, Seth Shostak, International Centre, red dwarf stars, interferometry  
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2482 clicks; posted to Geek » on 02 Jun 2012 at 11:30 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-06-02 09:07:46 AM
Oh I just wait for all the IT folk here to start complaining about some of their coworkers installing SETI on their PCs...
 
2012-06-02 10:30:10 AM
I see what you're doing there, Subby.
 
2012-06-02 12:45:37 PM
"Why build one when you can build two for twice the price?"
 
2012-06-02 12:54:40 PM
Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT
 
2012-06-02 12:58:30 PM
I got a chance to hear a panel discussion with a few SETI guys last year. One thing they mentioned that TFA didn't is that in the years since humanity started pumping radio signals into space, we've been moving away from long-range radio technologies in favor of ultra-fast wired telecommunications (e.g. optical fiber) with short-range radios at the endpoints (e.g. WiFi) that aren't nearly powerful enough to be heard from space. Furthermore, we're getting better at focusing radio signals in particular directions, which allows them to cover longer distances without using more power, but again makes them harder to detect from space. And if wireless laser communication ever becomes widely used (e.g. flashes of a laser beam to carry information between orbital satellites), detecting the signals from space would become exponentially harder.

And if that trend continues, and if it is typical of alien civilizations, it would imply that civilizations with 20th-century technology are easy to detect using radio telescopes, but their signals get more difficult to detect as they advance--which is the opposite of what SETI has historically assumed. Meaning that the only way we're likely to discover an alien civilization is if it deliberately advertises its existence, e.g. if it broadcasts a radio or laser signal analogous to Voyager's golden record to planets that it thinks are candidates for intelligent life.
 
2012-06-02 12:58:37 PM
While I find this article interesting, I must point out that there seems to be debate about whether there are four or six planets in the Gliese 581 system. There are also some questions regarding the habitality of planets orbiting red dwarf stars. Yeah scientific debate!
 
2012-06-02 01:02:58 PM
I should add that my previous post is not meant to criticize SETI's choice of where to target this new technique, as this technique does seem to allow us to target particular areas we may think are potential candidates for life.
 
2012-06-02 01:31:16 PM
Of the volume of worlds out there...

1. Needs to be habitable
2. Needs to be sophisticated
3. Needs to have ability to receive signals
4. Needs to have ability to transmit signals
5. Needs to have desire to contact us

Kind of shakes out the tree, doesn't it???
 
2012-06-02 01:40:40 PM

Comsamvimes: Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT


The book was a hell of a lot better.
 
2012-06-02 01:57:49 PM

Comsamvimes: Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT


That movie pissed me off, and it wasnt even the alien looking like her father. It was the whole staunch rational woman of science has an experience with hyperdmensional aliens which in the context of the movie is still rational and logical, but because of this profound experience she loses her skepticism entirely?
 
2012-06-02 02:01:25 PM
It makes me glad that the boundaries of our scientific efforts in locating intelligent life is based on listening for interplanetary CB hams.

It's quite possible there are millions of planets out there where intelligent life exists, but only at the level of where humanity was at the end of the 18th century. It's also possible that there's a species out there who received communication from earth long ago and immediately up sticks and moved to the far side of the galaxy when it realized how thunderingly stupid and classless their neighbors were.
 
2012-06-02 02:02:20 PM

rogue49: Kind of shakes out the tree, doesn't it???


Yes, but check out the Drake equation.

upload.wikimedia.org

The numbers can still be staggering.
 
2012-06-02 02:12:51 PM
imgs.xkcd.com
 
2012-06-02 02:26:58 PM

rogue49: Of the volume of worlds out there...

1. Needs to be habitable
2. Needs to be sophisticated
3. Needs to have ability to receive signals
4. Needs to have ability to transmit signals
5. Needs to have desire to contact us

Kind of shakes out the tree, doesn't it???


But it's a pretty farking big tree.
 
2012-06-02 02:54:37 PM

The Smails Kid: rogue49: Of the volume of worlds out there...

1. Needs to be habitable
2. Needs to be sophisticated
3. Needs to have ability to receive signals
4. Needs to have ability to transmit signals
5. Needs to have desire to contact us

Kind of shakes out the tree, doesn't it???

But it's a pretty farking big tree.


...said the Space Cowboy, aka the Gangster of Love, aka Maurice, to your mom.

/hey, I make a Your Mom joke. Did I do it right? New to this
 
2012-06-02 03:07:08 PM
Watch some scientists look at the spectroscopy results from a planet out there and deduce that the atmosphere has been influenced by some kind of biological process. Watch the deniers all suddenly jump on the SETI bandwagon until it continues to not find anything, then pull the funding completely, demolish the radio dishes and build a Wal-Mart or a megachurch on the site.

I desperately want them to find something, but am willing to be patient.
 
2012-06-02 03:28:23 PM

Cyno01: Comsamvimes: Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT

That movie pissed me off, and it wasnt even the alien looking like her father. It was the whole staunch rational woman of science has an experience with hyperdmensional aliens which in the context of the movie is still rational and logical, but because of this profound experience she loses her skepticism entirely?


appstorehq-production.s3.amazonaws.com
 
2012-06-02 04:15:55 PM
Look at from the perspective of someone trying to find life on earth. We've been broadcasting radio waves for about a hundred years. Within 50 years, not so much. With SETI level equipment, even if they had the array pointed right at us, there's little chance they would be able to hear us within 25 light years. Pretty low odds for success. For an alien culture they might not have hit on radio at all. It's not impossible to see a world where communications are always wired. Alien cultures may not even have interest in radio level civilization. Perhaps they look for gravity manipulation or some other exotic tech.

Drake equation isn't dead, but radio might be.
 
2012-06-02 04:16:11 PM

Cyno01: Comsamvimes: Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT

That movie pissed me off, and it wasnt even the alien looking like her father. It was the whole staunch rational woman of science has an experience with hyperdmensional aliens which in the context of the movie is still rational and logical, but because of this profound experience she loses her skepticism entirely?


No, she had to abandon her false belief that everything she believed in could be proved to others. She became more open-minded, not less correct.
 
2012-06-02 05:06:15 PM

Nem Wan: Cyno01: Comsamvimes: Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT

That movie pissed me off, and it wasnt even the alien looking like her father. It was the whole staunch rational woman of science has an experience with hyperdmensional aliens which in the context of the movie is still rational and logical, but because of this profound experience she loses her skepticism entirely?

No, she had to abandon her false belief that everything she believed in could be proved to others. She became more open-minded, not less correct.


Except from the point of the viewer, there was no need to prove anything because we saw it happen, we know it happened. Now if theyd cut that part entirely, let the viewers see her as a possible crazy woman, but keep the 18 hours of static to leave things completely ambiguous for the audience as well as the characters, THAT would have been a good last act.
 
2012-06-02 06:06:32 PM

Cyno01: Nem Wan: Cyno01: Comsamvimes: Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT

That movie pissed me off, and it wasnt even the alien looking like her father. It was the whole staunch rational woman of science has an experience with hyperdmensional aliens which in the context of the movie is still rational and logical, but because of this profound experience she loses her skepticism entirely?

No, she had to abandon her false belief that everything she believed in could be proved to others. She became more open-minded, not less correct.

Except from the point of the viewer, there was no need to prove anything because we saw it happen, we know it happened. Now if theyd cut that part entirely, let the viewers see her as a possible crazy woman, but keep the 18 hours of static to leave things completely ambiguous for the audience as well as the characters, THAT would have been a good last act.


The 18 hours of static wasn't even in the book anyway.

/stupid movie
 
2012-06-02 06:58:22 PM

PleaseHamletDon'tHurtEm: The 18 hours of static wasn't even in the book anyway.


The book included a much more concrete proof that the trip was real.
 
2012-06-02 08:00:24 PM

anfrind: One thing they mentioned that TFA didn't is that in the years since humanity started pumping radio signals into space, we've been moving away from long-range radio technologies in favor of ultra-fast wired telecommunications (e.g. optical fiber) with short-range radios at the endpoints (e.g. WiFi) that aren't nearly powerful enough to be heard from space.


That one is actually a wash: Those long-range radio technologies generally worked by having the ionosphere reflect the signal back down to Earth over the horizon, so very little of the signal actually escaped into deep space anyway. What does leak through is often largely attenuated. I commonly use them at low power myself. In fact, on the way home today, I contacted both Morocco and Mexico from NYS using Morse code from my car.

The biggest signals you could hear from space have always been (since WWII, at least) VHF/UHF/Microwave radars and the VHF/UHF TV and radio broadcasts. All of those things have actually either stayed the same, or become more common.

The only thing that hasn't is microwave relays. Those are being replaced by fiber optic links, but they weren't as powerful as you would think anyway.
 
2012-06-02 08:02:41 PM

wiredroach: PleaseHamletDon'tHurtEm: The 18 hours of static wasn't even in the book anyway.

The book included a much more concrete proof that the trip was real.


But still ambiguous, in that she could have taken it with her. Plus, it wasn't just her on the trip.
 
2012-06-02 08:05:42 PM

gbob23: It's not impossible to see a world where communications are always wired.


Well, if you are always stationary, or nearly so, maybe. But seems to me if you want to go anywhere, and yet still communicate, you need some sort of wireless communication system that involves electromagnetic radiation of some kind.
 
2012-06-02 10:09:30 PM

Cyno01: Comsamvimes: Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT

That movie pissed me off, and it wasnt even the alien looking like her father. It was the whole staunch rational woman of science has an experience with hyperdmensional aliens which in the context of the movie is still rational and logical, but because of this profound experience she loses her skepticism entirely?


Skepticism of what?
 
2012-06-02 10:17:58 PM

dittybopper: anfrind: One thing they mentioned that TFA didn't is that in the years since humanity started pumping radio signals into space, we've been moving away from long-range radio technologies in favor of ultra-fast wired telecommunications (e.g. optical fiber) with short-range radios at the endpoints (e.g. WiFi) that aren't nearly powerful enough to be heard from space.

That one is actually a wash: Those long-range radio technologies generally worked by having the ionosphere reflect the signal back down to Earth over the horizon, so very little of the signal actually escaped into deep space anyway. What does leak through is often largely attenuated. I commonly use them at low power myself. In fact, on the way home today, I contacted both Morocco and Mexico from NYS using Morse code from my car.

The biggest signals you could hear from space have always been (since WWII, at least) VHF/UHF/Microwave radars and the VHF/UHF TV and radio broadcasts. All of those things have actually either stayed the same, or become more common.

The only thing that hasn't is microwave relays. Those are being replaced by fiber optic links, but they weren't as powerful as you would think anyway.


At night. AM skywaves only bounce at night. In daylight, they do go out into space. The first powerful signals from earth that went out into space were super-powerful AM signals from pre-regulation days. There was a 400 kW station in Detroit at one point.
 
2012-06-02 10:48:04 PM

Cyno01: Comsamvimes: Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT

That movie pissed me off, and it wasnt even the alien looking like her father. It was the whole staunch rational woman of science has an experience with hyperdmensional aliens which in the context of the movie is still rational and logical, but because of this profound experience she loses her skepticism entirely?


Cyno01: Comsamvimes: Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT

That movie pissed me off, and it wasnt even the alien looking like her father. It was the whole staunch rational woman of science has an experience with hyperdmensional aliens which in the context of the movie is still rational and logical, but because of this profound experience she loses her skepticism entirely?


The movie glosses over it, but the big thing that affected her about the meeting with the alien was when she asked the alien about its religious beliefs and the alien strongly hinted that if she started looking into transcendental numbers she would find a message from the creator of the universe. The movie didn't have nearly the impact of the book because they left out the scene where a staunch agnostic finds definitive proof that the universe was created, basically shaking her belief system to its core.

It is a little interesting how some of the background details of Mass Effect were lifted right from Contact: a galactic transportation system that was built by a mysterious civilization that disappeared and a giant space station at the hub of that system in the center of the galaxy that is maintained by all the space faring races of the galaxy.
 
2012-06-03 10:58:50 AM

Sylvia_Bandersnatch: There was a 400 kW station in Detroit at one point.


Great, we're going to have to explain to the aliens what became of Ernie Harwell.
 
2012-06-03 12:15:20 PM

Mad_Radhu: Cyno01: Comsamvimes: Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT

That movie pissed me off, and it wasnt even the alien looking like her father. It was the whole staunch rational woman of science has an experience with hyperdmensional aliens which in the context of the movie is still rational and logical, but because of this profound experience she loses her skepticism entirely?

Cyno01: Comsamvimes: Whatever anyone says, I still liked that movie.

/And screw anyone who complains the alien doesn't look like an alien, THAT'S THE POINT

That movie pissed me off, and it wasnt even the alien looking like her father. It was the whole staunch rational woman of science has an experience with hyperdmensional aliens which in the context of the movie is still rational and logical, but because of this profound experience she loses her skepticism entirely?

The movie glosses over it, but the big thing that affected her about the meeting with the alien was when she asked the alien about its religious beliefs and the alien strongly hinted that if she started looking into transcendental numbers she would find a message from the creator of the universe. The movie didn't have nearly the impact of the book because they left out the scene where a staunch agnostic finds definitive proof that the universe was created, basically shaking her belief system to its core.

It is a little interesting how some of the background details of Mass Effect were lifted right from Contact: a galactic transportation system that was built by a mysterious civilization that disappeared and a giant space station at the hub of that system in the center of the galaxy that is maintained by all the space faring races of the galaxy.


Let me admit straight up that I have not read the novel, though I'd like to. What I've made of a couple synopses of it, though, suggests to me something a bit different from what you seem to be saying. It sounds more me like the evidence she finds towards the end suggests that the universe we know may indeed be a construct, but not by anything similar to what most contemporary earthlings mean when they invoke various deities. Except, perhaps, in the Clarke sense of "magic": It suggests something more like an abandoned project, created by intelligent beings not extremely dissimilar to ourselves, only far, far more advanced (and apparently long gone, one way or another).

I know you know this, so I'm not saying this to be pedantic. I only wanted to clarify for others what the specific implications in the book appear to be (again, based on the couple synopses I've read). The reason I ran it down is that I'm a huge fan of Sagan, and admired him very much when he was alive. I've read a lot of his work (not all of it -- he wrote over 400 books), and it seemed to me very unlike a man who was earnestly agnostic to deliberately invoke anything in the manner of a deity. I'm pleased to surmise that he did no such thing. Rather, this seems to be a sly extrapolation of his repeated perspective that, "Others -- for example Baruch Spinoza and Albert Einstein -- considered God to be essentially the sum total of the physical laws which describe the universe. I do not know of any compelling evidence for anthropomorphic patriarchs controlling human destiny from some hidden celestial vantage point, but it would be madness to deny the existence of physical laws."

I believe by this twist in the novel Sagan means to offer one of many possible non-mystical explanations for physical laws that veers very close to Intelligent Design, but in a strictly non-deific sense. I think this is also why the character Joss is there, as well as the ethical conundrum of faith she encounters when accused of fabrication: Sagan means to pound home the message of inquisitive doubt, as a companion of wonder and curiosity, rather than the inherently antagonistic dichotomy of blind faith and cynical skepticism that characterises so much of human society.
 
2012-06-03 01:59:15 PM

dittybopper: gbob23: It's not impossible to see a world where communications are always wired.

Well, if you are always stationary, or nearly so, maybe. But seems to me if you want to go anywhere, and yet still communicate, you need some sort of wireless communication system that involves electromagnetic radiation of some kind.


Well, I think the key is that you don't *need* this to advance as a society.

Regardless, my feeling is that detectable radio signals are only a very small portions of an intelligent civilizations time on a planet, and may not be the best approach to find them (although I concede it's the best we currently have. I'm sure we'll have this discussion again in fifty years.)
 
2012-06-03 02:45:10 PM
Western Brook Pond is way cooler without the big spinny thing CGI'd into it.
 
2012-06-03 10:48:18 PM

gbob23: dittybopper: gbob23: It's not impossible to see a world where communications are always wired.

Well, if you are always stationary, or nearly so, maybe. But seems to me if you want to go anywhere, and yet still communicate, you need some sort of wireless communication system that involves electromagnetic radiation of some kind.

Well, I think the key is that you don't *need* this to advance as a society.


I'd agree with that, but moving towards high-speed wired networks and lots of short-range networks does result in more bandwidth and lower power usage. Presumably, any alien civilization that develops telecommunications would come to the same conclusion, unless their telecommunications evolve on a path so different from our own that we can't even imagine it.

Regardless, my feeling is that detectable radio signals are only a very small portions of an intelligent civilizations time on a planet, and may not be the best approach to find them (although I concede it's the best we currently have. I'm sure we'll have this discussion again in fifty years.)

As I understand it (and admittedly most of my knowledge comes from the aforementioned panel discussion), this is a discussion that has been going on almost constantly within the SETI community. As of right now, the best theoretical way we know of to communicate across interstellar space is with laser pulses, so the best way to search for extraterrestrial intelligence might to send a transmission to a planet that looks habitable and (try to) ask if anyone is there. Maybe send a transmission that looks something like this:

timecapsulestospace.net

Of course, it only works if there's intelligent life on that planet, AND they have the technology to receive laser communications from space at the time the transmission arrives (which I don't think we even have yet), AND they're willing to send a reply. And even if everything goes correctly, we wouldn't get the reply for tens or even hundreds of thousands of years, depending on how far away their planet is.
 
2012-06-04 09:57:05 AM
I liked the book but I threw it across the room twice yelling that Cornell should rescind Carl's PhD for making two EXTREMELY stupid errors.

1) You can't see Alpha Centauri from the VLA.

2) Vega doesn't have sunspots.

C'mon Carl - pass Astro 101 already.
 
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