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(Liebert Publications Online)   A new paper has an interesting explanation for the Fermi paradox, based on the pacing of significant evolutionary transitions   (liebertpub.com) divider line
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896 clicks; posted to STEM » on 24 Nov 2020 at 10:50 AM (7 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2020-11-24 10:17:10 AM  
Yet another wildly over-elaborate explanation for something that never needed explaining.

Space is big. So is time. The speed of light really is a limit. Nobody is coming to visit.
 
2020-11-24 10:36:55 AM  

HugeMistake: Yet another wildly over-elaborate explanation for something that never needed explaining.

Space is big. So is time. The speed of light really is a limit. Nobody is coming to visit.


Not with that attitude they won't
 
2020-11-24 10:54:46 AM  
They all killed themselves?
 
2020-11-24 10:56:38 AM  

HugeMistake: Yet another wildly over-elaborate explanation for something that never needed explaining.

Space is big. So is time. The speed of light really is a limit. Nobody is coming to visit.


On top of which, we have no idea about practically anything. We live under a very small streetlight. The rest is dark.
 
2020-11-24 10:56:48 AM  

HugeMistake: Yet another wildly over-elaborate explanation for something that never needed explaining.

Space is big. So is time. The speed of light really is a limit. Nobody is coming to visit.


This.

Even if the galaxy is teaming with intelligent life, we're likely to be 100 light years or more from any of them.   And that's worse than you might think, because *PRACTICAL* forms of interstellar transportation that don't require unobtanium limit your speed to well below even half the speed of light, so no significant time dilation.

So no, visitation is almost certainly not going to happen.

But it is certainly possible that we might hear them.   That's what we should be doing, listening for signals.  Not intentionally beamed ones, but the "leakage" of advanced, intelligent, technological species.
 
2020-11-24 11:07:37 AM  
And what constitutes communication. An Alien here could be interacting with our endocrine systems and think it's having a conversation. The least anthropomorphic attempt at aliens comes from Stanislaw Lem. Read Solaris..
 
2020-11-24 11:29:05 AM  

Captain Scratch: And what constitutes communication. An Alien here could be interacting with our endocrine systems and think it's having a conversation. The least anthropomorphic attempt at aliens comes from Stanislaw Lem. Read Solaris..


It can't do that without being close to us.  So it will never happen.

Electromagnetic radiation is the only way we're ever going to know about, much less interact with, intelligent alien life.
 
2020-11-24 11:33:08 AM  
The most likely answer is that intelligent life is rare, possibly because complex life itself is rare or for some unknown reason. Yes space is big but time is longer, at least on a galactic scale, so if life is common then a species that emerged a billion years ago would certainly have explored and colonized the galaxy by now. There are enough materials in a single asteroid to send probes to every star in the galaxy so even a slow exploration would have let them catalog every possible to inhabit planet in only a few million years and then as long as they had any amount of population growth the exponential growth over that much time would force them out into the stars. It doesn't even have to be a major effort, just like the number of people willing to sign up for a mars colony today I'm sure you could find people willing to start a long voyage to settle another world. And of course if life extension technologies are prevalent than you might even finish it yourself.
 
2020-11-24 11:35:56 AM  

dittybopper: HugeMistake: Yet another wildly over-elaborate explanation for something that never needed explaining.

Space is big. So is time. The speed of light really is a limit. Nobody is coming to visit.

This.

Even if the galaxy is teaming with intelligent life, we're likely to be 100 light years or more from any of them.   And that's worse than you might think, because *PRACTICAL* forms of interstellar transportation that don't require unobtanium limit your speed to well below even half the speed of light, so no significant time dilation.

So no, visitation is almost certainly not going to happen.

But it is certainly possible that we might hear them.   That's what we should be doing, listening for signals.  Not intentionally beamed ones, but the "leakage" of advanced, intelligent, technological species.


So let's look at the problem from a practical standpoint:

1. Detecting an alien intelligent civilization depends on several key points about this civilization: 1) They be Technological Adept. 2) They use Radio signals. 3) They broadcast signals in enough strength to be detected over interstellar distances
2. Civilization matching criteria 1 reach that point in their civilization at the precise window that allows us to detect their signals here in our own system

This is the problem. Hypothetical Alien civilization 100 light years away may have broadcast their signal in our direction.... 1000 years ago, but not now. We had to be looking for that signal 900 years ago. It had to be powerful enough to overcome the background noise of the universe and various stars, to reach us, 100 light years away. This is the most basic issue, and requires, even in a crowded universe, almost impossible odds to happen naturally.

Of course, you say, once we reach the level of civilization where we use radio signals, we'd keep using them... but why would we? Even now we may be on the verge of whole new technologies in communicating information - point to point, using a hub based structure (perhaps similar to the intertubes?) might be possible in the future - perhaps such communication is instantaneous, leveraging some sort of spooky action at the quantum level. Perhaps we'll find all this RF flying around us has had a bad effect on our well being (turning many of us into self-entitled snowflake conspiracy-believing morons, for example). We'd abandon radio in a heartbeat, most especially for communication in space, where the speed limit imposed on RF signals is limiting even within our own solar system.

It could be a darker turn, as well. Perhaps after developing radio, such civilizations also unlock the power of the atom, and blow themselves up, or use up their resources, burning out, or destroy their ecosystem.

It's most likely that the use of radio as a means to communicate is limited to an even tighter window of operation than the civilization itself.

So let's go more optimistic, what if civilizations transcend the speed of light, and move between stars. They would have clearly abandoned communication tools limited by the speed of light. I'd posit the following about them:
1. They may simply not be interested in us. Who wants to deal with some other world's babies?
2. The Galactic Civilization scene may be more hostile than space itself. Maybe it's better to stay quiet?
3. Space is HUGE. Our galaxy is 50,000LY (light years) across. In our own stellar "neighborhood" of 1000 LY, there are 7 to 8 million stars. That's a lot to explore and settle, and why bother with ones already occupied and perhaps used up?

In Sci-fi, we go big or go home, right? So interstellar wars are punctuated by stars and planets being blown up, huge space fleets, but the reality is it would never reach that scale. A whole war could be raging all around us, and like a farmer in the European countryside during WWII, you might go the entire time without ever noticing. Sol is the most important thing to us, but probably a backwater to any star-faring race, with a half used-up planet and a difficult race of beings who are xenophobic and show no signs of growing up. It's not a hill that some advanced aliens want to die over.

So Occam's Razor: detecting advanced aliens is hard and improbable because it depends on astronomical odds, and if they are worth talking to, they probably don't want to talk to us.
 
2020-11-24 11:43:02 AM  
My personal theory is that intelligent life hangs out in dark matter and thinks it's impossible for any sort of life to exist in this type of matter.
 
2020-11-24 11:47:06 AM  

LesserEvil: They would have clearly abandoned communication tools limited by the speed of light.


OK, I'm sorry, but I can't take you seriously if you say things like that.
 
2020-11-24 12:02:52 PM  

dittybopper: LesserEvil: They would have clearly abandoned communication tools limited by the speed of light.

OK, I'm sorry, but I can't take you seriously if you say things like that.


Why? It's impractical to communicate across light years, both for the power consumption and lag. If you are talking generation ships, AIs, or clone factories, what is the point of anything but phoning home, and that might not even be important to some alien civilization. IF they can somehow circumvent the speed of light to communicate, why would they keep using radio?

How many people still have landlines in their home? Cellular technology has eclipsed copper lines (POTS) as a communication medium (ignoring the internet infrastructure, of course). If there was a leap to some sort of communications that relied on spooky action, it would mean secure, instantaneous communications between two points, and we'd want that, right?

Even if such technology required a 100km diameter sphere to build a transmitter or receiver unit, they'd use that over radio signals between interstellar colonies, if they wanted to even do that. We would not be able to eavesdrop on that, would we?

I just don't understand why we think RF is the end-all, be-all of communications from this point onward, for a technological civilization. I have no idea what form the next generation will take, but I do feel there is more for us to discover and exploit.
 
2020-11-24 12:07:11 PM  
Getting burnt out by the constant debate about intelligent aliens. We don't have enough information to come to a conclusion so every discussion boils down to the same dozen theories, pulled out of our asses, over and over and nobody gains anything.

We'll find out when we can safely and consistently leave the planet cheaply and easily. Until then you may as well be debating God. And we all know how useless that is.
 
2020-11-24 12:16:03 PM  

Esroc: Getting burnt out by the constant debate about intelligent aliens. We don't have enough information to come to a conclusion so every discussion boils down to the same dozen theories, pulled out of our asses, over and over and nobody gains anything.

We'll find out when we can safely and consistently leave the planet cheaply and easily. Until then you may as well be debating God. And we all know how useless that is.


It's even better when they start arguing about the future.  It's already happening just a few posts above us.  Brilliant these farkers are.
 
2020-11-24 12:30:17 PM  

LesserEvil: dittybopper: LesserEvil: They would have clearly abandoned communication tools limited by the speed of light.

OK, I'm sorry, but I can't take you seriously if you say things like that.

Why? It's impractical to communicate across light years, both for the power consumption and lag. If you are talking generation ships, AIs, or clone factories, what is the point of anything but phoning home, and that might not even be important to some alien civilization. IF they can somehow circumvent the speed of light to communicate, why would they keep using radio?

How many people still have landlines in their home? Cellular technology has eclipsed copper lines (POTS) as a communication medium (ignoring the internet infrastructure, of course). If there was a leap to some sort of communications that relied on spooky action, it would mean secure, instantaneous communications between two points, and we'd want that, right?

Even if such technology required a 100km diameter sphere to build a transmitter or receiver unit, they'd use that over radio signals between interstellar colonies, if they wanted to even do that. We would not be able to eavesdrop on that, would we?

I just don't understand why we think RF is the end-all, be-all of communications from this point onward, for a technological civilization. I have no idea what form the next generation will take, but I do feel there is more for us to discover and exploit.


1.  First and foremost, no FTL travel, no FTL communication.    This is about as settled science as is possible.   It's not some engineering challenge like the speed of sound, it's a fundamental property of the Universe, and it's exceedingly unlikely that there is a way to "cheat".

2.  It's not that expensive to communicate over interstellar distances via electromagnetic radiation.   Let's take the sadly to-be-demolished Arecibo facility as an example.

Using the SETI range calculator here:  https://www.satsig.net/setical​c.htm

We find that with Arecibo's 1 megawatt transmitter at 3 GHz, and an available diameter of 240 meters for both transmit and receive, you've got a potential communication distance (at 1 bit per second) of 966 light years.  Of course, that's a bit of a stretch for "communication".   But even with a 3000 Hz signal (similar to SSB voice over HF quality), that's a 17 light year system.   Based on technology from the 1960's.

3.  Even today while we've moved to fiber optics and the like, we still radiate signals.

If you plug the numbers for a WSR-88D NEXRAD weather radar into that site, you'll see that an Arecibo-size facility could detect it out to about 1.9 light years.   If you've got a whole bunch of them transmitting (as we do) you can extend that out quite a ways.     And not just weather radars, but also air traffic and military radars, and even astronomical radars.

In fact, that's my favorite extraterrestrial explanation for the Wow! signal.  That it was a radar, specifically a planetary radar similar in concept to the Arecibo planetary radar, at least in concept if not in construction.  We just happened by accident to be in the beam of that radar when the signal reached Earth.  It explains a lot:  The short duration, the narrow beamwidth, the fact that it didn't repeat, and even to an extent the frequency (could be trying to probe hydrogen clouds or something).

You don't need 100 kilometer antennas and gigawatts of power to communicate over reasonable interstellar distances.
 
2020-11-24 12:38:29 PM  

dittybopper: We find that with Arecibo's 1 megawatt transmitter at 3 GHz, and an available diameter of 240 meters for both transmit and receive, you've got a potential communication distance (at 1 bit per second) of 966 light years.  Of course, that's a bit of a stretch for "communication".   But even with a 3000 Hz signal (similar to SSB voice over HF quality), that's a 17 light year system.   Based on technology from the 1960's.


How wide is that signal? How wide is the cone at 900LY?
 
2020-11-24 12:58:34 PM  

dittybopper: HugeMistake: Yet another wildly over-elaborate explanation for something that never needed explaining.

Space is big. So is time. The speed of light really is a limit. Nobody is coming to visit.

This.

Even if the galaxy is teaming with intelligent life, we're likely to be 100 light years or more from any of them.   And that's worse than you might think, because *PRACTICAL* forms of interstellar transportation that don't require unobtanium limit your speed to well below even half the speed of light, so no significant time dilation.

So no, visitation is almost certainly not going to happen.

But it is certainly possible that we might hear them.   That's what we should be doing, listening for signals.  Not intentionally beamed ones, but the "leakage" of advanced, intelligent, technological species.


The problem with all of this is that we assume everything based on our own perspective. "Oh, it took 50,000 years for the human race to move from stone tools to a Democratic Republic and me on the moon, so aliens would need at least that long. Plus, the Earth wasn't able to support human life for 3 billion years.", stuff like that.

But that's just OUR frame of reference. There's a chance that intelligent life could have formed earlier, and there's a chance that scientific development would progress faster. A lot of our problems exist because we had so much diverse area to form civilizations in, and they ignored each other for a long time, but when they did start paying attention to each other, they spent thousands of years only trying to destroy or subjugate each other. What if we had developed as a single landmass, or even two, with extreme areas like mountain off to one side? Still get the benefits of mountain ranges, but very few separate tribes for example. Hell, eliminate the Dark Ages alone, and that's what. 400 years' worth of scientific suppression?

There may be and there may not be other intelligent species, but we need to step back from this and quit basing it on how it's going for us...
 
2020-11-24 1:13:59 PM  

LesserEvil: dittybopper: LesserEvil: They would have clearly abandoned communication tools limited by the speed of light.

OK, I'm sorry, but I can't take you seriously if you say things like that.

Why? It's impractical to communicate across light years, both for the power consumption and lag. If you are talking generation ships, AIs, or clone factories, what is the point of anything but phoning home, and that might not even be important to some alien civilization. IF they can somehow circumvent the speed of light to communicate, why would they keep using radio?

How many people still have landlines in their home? Cellular technology has eclipsed copper lines (POTS) as a communication medium (ignoring the internet infrastructure, of course). If there was a leap to some sort of communications that relied on spooky action, it would mean secure, instantaneous communications between two points, and we'd want that, right?

Even if such technology required a 100km diameter sphere to build a transmitter or receiver unit, they'd use that over radio signals between interstellar colonies, if they wanted to even do that. We would not be able to eavesdrop on that, would we?

I just don't understand why we think RF is the end-all, be-all of communications from this point onward, for a technological civilization. I have no idea what form the next generation will take, but I do feel there is more for us to discover and exploit.


The speed of light is not just the speed of light.  It is the speed of the fabric of the universe.  James Clerk Maxwell invented the mathematical term when he was working out relative motion problems with electricity and magnetism in the 1860's.  He called it the speed of causality, or "c".  It was the speed at which things could cause other things to feel a magnetic or electric force.  It is an essential property of space time.
 
2020-11-24 1:22:36 PM  

Mikey1969: dittybopper: HugeMistake: Yet another wildly over-elaborate explanation for something that never needed explaining.

Space is big. So is time. The speed of light really is a limit. Nobody is coming to visit.

This.

Even if the galaxy is teaming with intelligent life, we're likely to be 100 light years or more from any of them.   And that's worse than you might think, because *PRACTICAL* forms of interstellar transportation that don't require unobtanium limit your speed to well below even half the speed of light, so no significant time dilation.

So no, visitation is almost certainly not going to happen.

But it is certainly possible that we might hear them.   That's what we should be doing, listening for signals.  Not intentionally beamed ones, but the "leakage" of advanced, intelligent, technological species.

The problem with all of this is that we assume everything based on our own perspective. "Oh, it took 50,000 years for the human race to move from stone tools to a Democratic Republic and me on the moon, so aliens would need at least that long. Plus, the Earth wasn't able to support human life for 3 billion years.", stuff like that.

But that's just OUR frame of reference. There's a chance that intelligent life could have formed earlier, and there's a chance that scientific development would progress faster. A lot of our problems exist because we had so much diverse area to form civilizations in, and they ignored each other for a long time, but when they did start paying attention to each other, they spent thousands of years only trying to destroy or subjugate each other. What if we had developed as a single landmass, or even two, with extreme areas like mountain off to one side? Still get the benefits of mountain ranges, but very few separate tribes for example. Hell, eliminate the Dark Ages alone, and that's what. 400 years' worth of scientific suppression?

There may be and there may not be other intelligent species, but we need to step back from this and ...


I think part of the concept is that it is entirely possible for other intelligent life to have a billion year heard start on us, but the universe is HUGE. Even with that head start it would be nearly impossible for them to get to us. The speed of light being a limiter.

Second, if I remember the premise right, Diamond proposed in "Guns, Germs and Steel" that western Europe came to dominate the world because of close proximity to competition. Without that, development was slower. Competition really is what drives advancement. If people weren't idiots we could drive technology and other areas WAY faster than what we do now, but people are idiots and what really pushes things is a very tenuous balance between competition and helping.
 
2020-11-24 1:28:12 PM  

tedduque: Competition really is what drives advancement. If people weren't idiots we could drive technology and other areas WAY faster than what we do now, but people are idiots and what really pushes things is a very tenuous balance between competition and helping.


I was thinking the other day that the best way to get out of your solar system is to have two or three other habitable planets nearby.  Without that, you have no practice.  We're stuck here forever.

Robotic probes will be the best we can do.  Quantum entangle enough bits for an entertaining science mission stream, send it out on a 100 year mission, and hope humans are left to pick up the signal in the future.
 
2020-11-24 1:40:30 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: tedduque: Competition really is what drives advancement. If people weren't idiots we could drive technology and other areas WAY faster than what we do now, but people are idiots and what really pushes things is a very tenuous balance between competition and helping.

I was thinking the other day that the best way to get out of your solar system is to have two or three other habitable planets nearby.  Without that, you have no practice.  We're stuck here forever.

Robotic probes will be the best we can do.  Quantum entangle enough bits for an entertaining science mission stream, send it out on a 100 year mission, and hope humans are left to pick up the signal in the future.


Early civilization had no way to reliably sail the seas, yet eventually developed enough that it became possible. Things take time to develop, and that would include being able to develop large enough interstellar ships to transport a population large enough to be self-sustaining. We might not get it right on the first few ships, but eventually we would. If humans had the will to want to do these things. I doubt we do. At least not for a long, long time.

I don't see how you can have enough planets in the Goldilocks zone to be able to practice. You might have one other, like Mars is to us, but after that it seems unlikely. Which either means civilizations learn to spread out into the stars without having practice planets or they are stuck.
 
2020-11-24 1:51:37 PM  
We just need a graviton lens to bend spacetime, and move at 0 mph while in a bubble of space that is moving quite fast. Graviton lens, you heard it here first.
 
2020-11-24 2:22:32 PM  
Said said it before, and I'll say it again:

Long before any society becomes advanced enough to engage in interstellar travel, they will die off because they're too busy jerking it to VR pornography
 
2020-11-24 2:22:43 PM  

dittybopper: HugeMistake: Yet another wildly over-elaborate explanation for something that never needed explaining.

Space is big. So is time. The speed of light really is a limit. Nobody is coming to visit.

This.

Even if the galaxy is teaming with intelligent life, we're likely to be 100 light years or more from any of them.   And that's worse than you might think, because *PRACTICAL* forms of interstellar transportation that don't require unobtanium limit your speed to well below even half the speed of light, so no significant time dilation.

So no, visitation is almost certainly not going to happen.

But it is certainly possible that we might hear them.   That's what we should be doing, listening for signals.  Not intentionally beamed ones, but the "leakage" of advanced, intelligent, technological species.


media2.giphy.comView Full Size

The Pan-galactic scrambled porn channel  will be our first evidence of xenos.
 
2020-11-24 2:30:11 PM  

OldJames: We just need a graviton lens to bend spacetime, and move at 0 mph while in a bubble of space that is moving quite fast. Graviton lens, you heard it here first.


How could a bubble of space time even be able to "move" in relation to greater space time?
 
2020-11-24 2:32:04 PM  

IndyJohn: OldJames: We just need a graviton lens to bend spacetime, and move at 0 mph while in a bubble of space that is moving quite fast. Graviton lens, you heard it here first.

How could a bubble of space time even be able to "move" in relation to greater space time?


encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.comView Full Size
 
2020-11-24 2:43:58 PM  

dittybopper: If you've got a whole bunch of them transmitting (as we do) you can extend that out quite a ways.     And not just weather radars, but also air traffic and military radars, and even astronomical radars.


Just to expand upon this, at certain frequencies, Earth is far more "bright" than the sun.

Once we've been noticed, they can determine quite a lot even if they can't get enough signal to decode anything.  Depending on where they are in relation to Earth's orbit, they could use the Doppler effect to determine Earth's orbital distance from the Sun, how fast it rotates, and its approximate diameter.   Based on when certain transmitters appear and disappear, they could get a rough idea of the location and sizes of the occupied land masses on Earth.

They could even possibly determine (very approximate) political spheres of influence based upon the signals used.  The US uses one standard weather radar.  Other countries use different ones that have different characteristics.

All that without even being able to detect actual communications, just our radars.
 
2020-11-24 3:01:46 PM  

HugeMistake: Yet another wildly over-elaborate explanation for something that never needed explaining.

Space is big. So is time. The speed of light really is a limit. Nobody is coming to visit.


Seriously, why do quantitative analyses when you can just hand wave?
 
2020-11-24 3:09:01 PM  

knight_on_the_rail: Esroc: Getting burnt out by the constant debate about intelligent aliens. We don't have enough information to come to a conclusion so every discussion boils down to the same dozen theories, pulled out of our asses, over and over and nobody gains anything.

We'll find out when we can safely and consistently leave the planet cheaply and easily. Until then you may as well be debating God. And we all know how useless that is.

It's even better when they start arguing about the future.  It's already happening just a few posts above us.  Brilliant these farkers are.



The part I love is that scientific knowledge will never increase beyond what we know right now; technology will not improve beyond what we have right now; and all the scientific knowledge we have right now is the absolute, eternal, and unchanging truth beyond question. It's like the Congresscritters back in the thirties who introduced legislation to close the patent office because "everything that can be invented has been invented."

Mind boggling it is.
Yes, my precious.
 
2020-11-24 3:21:54 PM  

tedduque: Second, if I remember the premise right, Diamond proposed in "Guns, Germs and Steel" that western Europe came to dominate the world because of close proximity to competition. Without that, development was slower. Competition really is what drives advancement. If people weren't idiots we could drive technology and other areas WAY faster than what we do now, but people are idiots and what really pushes things is a very tenuous balance between competition and helping.


Can you imagine if we had the sci-fi unified planet idea where actual science was shared among all people and we could develop things with cooperation, rather than sequestering it away, lest your enemies see it?

And yeah, some competition is good, but it would be interesting if we'd all cooperate.
 
2020-11-24 3:43:56 PM  

Diagonal: knight_on_the_rail: Esroc: Getting burnt out by the constant debate about intelligent aliens. We don't have enough information to come to a conclusion so every discussion boils down to the same dozen theories, pulled out of our asses, over and over and nobody gains anything.

We'll find out when we can safely and consistently leave the planet cheaply and easily. Until then you may as well be debating God. And we all know how useless that is.

It's even better when they start arguing about the future.  It's already happening just a few posts above us.  Brilliant these farkers are.


The part I love is that scientific knowledge will never increase beyond what we know right now; technology will not improve beyond what we have right now; and all the scientific knowledge we have right now is the absolute, eternal, and unchanging truth beyond question. It's like the Congresscritters back in the thirties who introduced legislation to close the patent office because "everything that can be invented has been invented."

Mind boggling it is.
Yes, my precious.


That quote has been debunked. No one ever said it.
Knowledge and technology will advance. How willing are you to bet they'll discover the planets aren't really rotating about the Sun? Is that something you think is now pretty well settled? Some things in science give every indication of being fully settled. It might change. But I know which way I'd bet.
 
2020-11-24 3:49:37 PM  

tedduque: Early civilization had no way to reliably sail the seas, yet eventually developed enough that it became possible


The edge of our universe is not a location.  It is a velocity.  At the speed of light, the universe shrinks to the size of a point, and time stops.  Any mass you might have also becomes infinite.

This is quite a problem for a weary traveler, and the Standard Model of particle physics is of no help whatsoever.
 
2020-11-24 3:51:46 PM  

Mikey1969: tedduque: Second, if I remember the premise right, Diamond proposed in "Guns, Germs and Steel" that western Europe came to dominate the world because of close proximity to competition. Without that, development was slower. Competition really is what drives advancement. If people weren't idiots we could drive technology and other areas WAY faster than what we do now, but people are idiots and what really pushes things is a very tenuous balance between competition and helping.

Can you imagine if we had the sci-fi unified planet idea where actual science was shared among all people and we could develop things with cooperation, rather than sequestering it away, lest your enemies see it?

And yeah, some competition is good, but it would be interesting if we'd all cooperate.


I'm not so sure it is a matter of sequestering. Look how quickly the Russians were able to develop a nuclear bomb after the US. Once a technology exists, it will permeate quickly. I think what drives development is the fear someone else has something better. Back to the bomb, the soviets wouldn't have gone after all that if the US didn't have one. Not with the same drive. Similarly, the US wouldn't have been developing its nuclear power without fear of staying ahead of the Russians. Same with the space race and countless other examples.

We can and do develop amazing things, but often that is in pursuit of some reward, sometimes financial and sometimes political. Without that competition, on some level, humans are generally pretty lazy.
 
2020-11-24 3:58:46 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: tedduque: Early civilization had no way to reliably sail the seas, yet eventually developed enough that it became possible

The edge of our universe is not a location.  It is a velocity.  At the speed of light, the universe shrinks to the size of a point, and time stops.  Any mass you might have also becomes infinite.

This is quite a problem for a weary traveler, and the Standard Model of particle physics is of no help whatsoever.


I'm not sure what you are getting at. You implied we are stuck on this planet because we don't have practice planets. I was pointing out early civilizations didn't have cruise liners but eventually humans have been able to sail the seas. We might someday be able to explore the universe even though the technology today doesn't exist to do so. We won't get very far, but we can at least start to get out there.
 
2020-11-24 4:11:27 PM  

Diagonal: knight_on_the_rail: Esroc: Getting burnt out by the constant debate about intelligent aliens. We don't have enough information to come to a conclusion so every discussion boils down to the same dozen theories, pulled out of our asses, over and over and nobody gains anything.

We'll find out when we can safely and consistently leave the planet cheaply and easily. Until then you may as well be debating God. And we all know how useless that is.

It's even better when they start arguing about the future.  It's already happening just a few posts above us.  Brilliant these farkers are.


The part I love is that scientific knowledge will never increase beyond what we know right now; technology will not improve beyond what we have right now; and all the scientific knowledge we have right now is the absolute, eternal, and unchanging truth beyond question. It's like the Congresscritters back in the thirties who introduced legislation to close the patent office because "everything that can be invented has been invented."

Mind boggling it is.
Yes, my precious.


We're not talking about something that's iffy, or something that is ambiguous when we test it.

The restriction on anything going faster than the speed of light is, to the very best of our knowledge and ability to test it (and we've been testing it for over 100 years now), a *FUNDAMENTAL* property of the Universe.

This isn't something like "Well, we just don't know how to do it yet".  Our current understanding of the Universe, while far from complete, is pretty damn good.  It's not like we're at the end of the 18th Century and there is a bunch of discoveries we're going to make in the next 100 years that will fundamentally change our understanding.  We're taking apart subatomic particles.   We're doing things that even 50 years ago could only be imagined.   And every time we look farther into the Universe, or deeper into the quantum world, that fundamental property of the Universe is confirmed over and over again.

It's *EXCEEDINGLY* unlikely that we're ever going to find away around that cosmic speed limit.   Or even get close to it:  There is no fundamental law that says you can't get arbitrarily close to the speed of light, but there are practical problems that prevent us from achieving even half that value.   Those can perhaps be overcome.

But there isn't anyway we are ever going to "break the light barrier".
 
2020-11-24 4:13:48 PM  

tedduque: Early civilization had no way to reliably sail the seas, yet eventually developed enough that it became possible.


This is not the same kind of thing.   There was no fundamental property of the Universe that prevented us from building steamships.

There is a fundamental property that prevents us from exceeding the speed of light.
 
2020-11-24 4:14:32 PM  
I think the issue is, the Fermi Paradox was formulated when humanity was starting to learn about other stars, and we found that stars like the sun were common. But now we're learning a lot more about exoplanets, and about what it took for Earth to develop life, and really, truly earthlike planets are far rarer, and there can be a limit to the time span during which they are habitable.
 
2020-11-24 4:23:02 PM  

dittybopper: tedduque: Early civilization had no way to reliably sail the seas, yet eventually developed enough that it became possible.

This is not the same kind of thing.   There was no fundamental property of the Universe that prevented us from building steamships.

There is a fundamental property that prevents us from exceeding the speed of light.


There's many fundamental properties of the universe that prevented steamships from being invented.  That's why they didn't exist until the 1800's where 1000s of years' hard work finally found workarounds for every obstacle and assemled one.

The propagation of photons seems like a hard speed limit, but you can't just give up. Maybe there's something we have yet to discover that makes it a laughably quaint notion. You don't know what you do
 
2020-11-24 4:23:15 PM  

leeksfromchichis: dittybopper: tedduque: Early civilization had no way to reliably sail the seas, yet eventually developed enough that it became possible.

This is not the same kind of thing.   There was no fundamental property of the Universe that prevented us from building steamships.

There is a fundamental property that prevents us from exceeding the speed of light.

There's many fundamental properties of the universe that prevented steamships from being invented.  That's why they didn't exist until the 1800's where 1000s of years' hard work finally found workarounds for every obstacle and assemled one.

The propagation of photons seems like a hard speed limit, but you can't just give up. Maybe there's something we have yet to discover that makes it a laughably quaint notion. You don't know what you do


n't know.
 
2020-11-24 4:27:43 PM  

dittybopper: tedduque: Early civilization had no way to reliably sail the seas, yet eventually developed enough that it became possible.

This is not the same kind of thing.   There was no fundamental property of the Universe that prevented us from building steamships.

There is a fundamental property that prevents us from exceeding the speed of light.


We don't need to break the speed of light to be able to explore beyond our own planet or even solar system.

Yes, you are absolutely right, we will never exceed or even approach the speed of light. That wasn't my point. The other poster said we will never leave this planet and the best we can hope for are robot explorers. I simply pointed out we might, someday, have the will and technology to actually send people from Earth with the full expectation they will not return and will survive for generations.
 
2020-11-24 4:31:16 PM  
We are probably alone, or what amounts to being alone---being far away enough from other intelligent life in time and/or space as to make communication impossible.

That's probably just as well. Our other option was having our planet consumed for raw materials by an army of von Neumann machines capable of withstanding the stresses of interstellar travel, as if we were just another lump of iron ore.

(Let's face it---even on Earth, contacts between peoples with large gaps in technology have rarely ended well for the less technologically advanced people.

Could we genuinely expect to be treated with dignity by a culture literally millions of years ahead of us---if we were noticed at all?)
 
2020-11-24 5:04:55 PM  
It seems to me that the explanation is pretty simple.  Any visits by intelligent life would have had to occur within the last 4.5 billion years.  But ancient texts and moving pictures tell us that a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away there was a tremendous war, which the religious zealots won.  After that some guy named Thanos snapped his fingers and wiped out half of the remaining life in the universe.  This was followed by another creature named Galactus wandering around eating entire solar systems.

Consequently, intelligent life became more rare, and religion was used to keep the masses in line.  Since religion frowns on knowledge, and the learning of it, it would be exceedingly rare for any civilization with intelligent life to gain enough technical knowledge to traverse the great expanse of the universe.  And even if they did, why would they want to visit some backwater planet devoid of intelligent life such as Earth.
 
2020-11-24 6:27:27 PM  

leeksfromchichis: dittybopper: tedduque: Early civilization had no way to reliably sail the seas, yet eventually developed enough that it became possible.

This is not the same kind of thing.   There was no fundamental property of the Universe that prevented us from building steamships.

There is a fundamental property that prevents us from exceeding the speed of light.

There's many fundamental properties of the universe that prevented steamships from being invented.  That's why they didn't exist until the 1800's where 1000s of years' hard work finally found workarounds for every obstacle and assemled one.

The propagation of photons seems like a hard speed limit, but you can't just give up. Maybe there's something we have yet to discover that makes it a laughably quaint notion. You don't know what you do


No there weren't.  Building a steamship is merely an engineering challenge.

FTL violates a fundamental property of the Universe.
 
2020-11-24 6:47:40 PM  

dittybopper: leeksfromchichis: dittybopper: tedduque: Early civilization had no way to reliably sail the seas, yet eventually developed enough that it became possible.

This is not the same kind of thing.   There was no fundamental property of the Universe that prevented us from building steamships.

There is a fundamental property that prevents us from exceeding the speed of light.

There's many fundamental properties of the universe that prevented steamships from being invented.  That's why they didn't exist until the 1800's where 1000s of years' hard work finally found workarounds for every obstacle and assemled one.

The propagation of photons seems like a hard speed limit, but you can't just give up. Maybe there's something we have yet to discover that makes it a laughably quaint notion. You don't know what you do

No there weren't.  Building a steamship is merely an engineering challenge.

FTL violates a fundamental property of the Universe.


As humans understand it currently.

Humans didn't always understand the universe through the standard model. Their knowledge was lacking in ways they never imagined.

FTL too might just be an engineering challenge we've yet to discover the way to approach

. I'm typing this from a handbrain. What was the fiction to fact turn around on those? 50 years?
 
2020-11-24 7:40:42 PM  

dittybopper: Diagonal: knight_on_the_rail: Esroc: Getting burnt out by the constant debate about intelligent aliens. We don't have enough information to come to a conclusion so every discussion boils down to the same The restriction on anything going faster than the speed of light is, to the very best of our knowledge and ability to test it (and we've been testing it for over 100 years now), a *FUNDAMENTAL* property of the Universe.

This isn't something like "Well, we just don't know how to do it yet".  Our current understanding of the Universe, while far from complete, is pretty damn good.  It's not like we're at the end of the 18th Century and there is a bunch of discoveries we're going to make in the next 100 years that will fundamentally change our understanding.  We're taking apart subatomic particles.   We're doing things that even 50 years ago could only be imagined.   And every time we look farther into the Universe, or deeper into the quantum world, that fundamental property of the Universe is confirmed over and over a ...


And we all know definitely for absolutely sure that disease is caused by bad air. That's why you have to keep your windows closed at night.
 
2020-11-24 7:46:36 PM  
Life has existed on Earth for three billion years, give or take.
Homo Sapiens, for about a million years or so.
Civilization, for about ten thousand years, give or take.
A civilization capable of even the most elementary technology for detecting other civilizations? Fifty years.
And when will we destroy ourselves? Pollution, irreversible climate change, nanites, VR, hard AI, bioengineered plagues, antimatter bombs... any of those could appear within our lifetime.

One of my professors had as his solution to the Fermi Paradox that intelligent civilizations were very short lived and so it's not likely that there's more than a few in existence at any given time. And they usually don't last long enough to get out of their own solar systems.
 
2020-11-25 6:52:22 AM  

southernmanblog: And when will we destroy ourselves? Pollution, irreversible climate change, nanites, VR, hard AI, bioengineered plagues, antimatter bombs... any of those could appear within our lifetime.

One of my professors had as his solution to the Fermi Paradox that intelligent civilizations were very short lived and so it's not likely that there's more than a few in existence at any given time. And they usually don't last long enough to get out of their own solar systems.


I've long tended to agree with that for one simple reason -- basic biology.  Not Earth biology, but what I would suspect basic biology to be on any planet that develops multicellular life.

I'd guess that a universal trait of life is that it requires energy -- it has to eat.  And once life evolves from single celled to multi-celled, a predator/prey relationship is sure to follow.  Strictly speaking, even herbivores are predators that prey on plants.  If complex life can exist on a planet long enough to develop intelligence, will it be the animal that's constantly looking over its shoulder, worried about being attacked and eaten?  Probably not.  It'll be the predator.

We're this planet's apex predator, and as you allude to above, we're preying on the planet to the point that most scientists agree we're driving it into a mass extinction through climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction.  One of our greatest acts of hubris is thinking we're special, but we're not.  If we're not the only intelligent life in the galaxy, I'd guess we're not special in our behavior, but rather typical, and our predatory attitude toward the entire planet is the rule rather than the exception.
 
2020-11-25 8:46:16 AM  

leeksfromchichis: As humans understand it currently.


And we understand it pretty well at this point.   Not *PERFECTLY*, I'll grant, but good enough that we can be pretty confident in saying that we understand the fundamental properties of the Universe.  Not to the very last decimal point, but well enough that we know you can't send anything, physical objects or information, faster than the speed of light.

We've been testing this for over a hundred years now.  It's about as settled a fact as you will find in science.

And it's not like the "facts" of the 18th Century, where we didn't understand things.   We were missing very fundamental data back then and it's very unlikely that we're missing it today, because people have been using increasingly sophisticated methods and no one has demonstrated even the possibility of FTL travel or communication being true.

I think the real problem is science fiction.   Most, if not nearly all, science fiction that handles space travel has "cheats" in order to move the story along.   So you get hyperspace, warp drives, etc. so the travel times aren't measured in decades, and you get things like ansibles and "sub-space radio" so you can have instant or nearly instant communications across the vast distances of interstellar space.

There are some exceptions.   One notable one was the FIrefly series (but they farked it up in Serenity).

But there is no reason why we can't have science fiction that follows the rules, and it wouldn't have to sacrifice the story for it.  After all, for almost all of human history, communications and travel on Earth was painfully slow.  George Washington faced the same exact problems in that manner as Alexander the Great, even though they were separated by two millennia

It wasn't until relatively recently, just 175 years ago or so, that we figured out how to send messages faster than a person on a horse or ship could carry them.   And no, there is no communications revolution like the invention of the electric telegraph in our future.   The telegraph was merely an engineering challenge.   We simply didn't know what we needed to know in order to build one.   Heck, you could have built them with Roman technology.  All of the materials needed for it (iron, copper, lead, glass, acid) were available.  There was certainly no scientific consensus that you couldn't make something like that, because the concepts hadn't been conceived yet.

But we're not at that stage.  We *CAN* and *HAVE* conceived of FTL devices, and none of them will work.

One of the reasons why "Firefly" was such a good series is that there was no faster than light travel and no faster than light communication.   You could have a video chat with someone while in orbit around their moon or planet, but you couldn't do it across the 'Verse.   You had to "send a wave", and it would take a while for it to get to its destination and for you to receive a reply.   I was saddened when this was thrown out in the film "Serenity".

But back to my main point, saying "as we understand it" is a false hope because we understand it pretty damn well at this point.   What you don't understand is that science fiction has conditioned you to think that it's possible, when we're pretty certain here in the real world that it isn't.
 
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