Tobias L

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Are we truly alone in the Universe?

Given the decades that SETI has been in progress, why have we not found a single shred of evidence that proves that there are some form of intelligent civilization existing on other planets? We have advanced so much in just over 200 years since the Industrial Revolution. Billions of stars and habitable planets surround us. Why are our calls out to the Universe returned with chilling silence?

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    Feb 28 2013: SETI cannot provide evidence (most likely) for 3 reasons..
    1. You have to presume that the life in question is close.
    2. You have to presume that the life is developed enough to even have our level of technology.
    3. You have to presume that the life has our form of technology AND that its sending it out.

    Ofcourse there aren't just 3 issues, theres hundreds
    (maybe they saw us and decided not to involve themselves, maybe they already lived and died, maybe they've made themselves microscopic to conserve resources, maybe they're just cows, maybe they're so far away that when they look at us (from 100,000 light years away) they just see trees and mammoths, maybe they have different technology, etc etc..).

    I believe that life exists out there, but given the limitations we have even now, it would be hard to find anything at any level. We need alot more technological progression before we can legitimately argue that maybe theres nothing to find.
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      Mar 1 2013: Xavier, I do hope that what you have raised is true too. Perhaps there is life out there but have already expired many thousands of years ago, therefore making it impossible to find them. Or, they might exist right now but we would never reach them nor have the means to communicate with them. Still, there exists the frightening situation that Earth is the only planet which has life.
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    Feb 28 2013: About non-availability of evidence. If one samples a second of the life of a human being at the prime of his youth, it will be equally non evident that there is something such as death.
    We can miss out on intelligent civilization on account of distance, communication difficulties and on the idea of intelligence. Or we can miss out on them just because we have not tried long enough (200 years).
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      Feb 28 2013: I think one might still envision some way in which death is evident in a human in the prime of his youth. Looking at our physically frail bodies that are dependent on water, oxygen and food, among many others, wouldn't a scientist conclude that there is a myriad variety of ways that our life could possibly be extinguished? I do agree with your points regarding distance and communication difficulties. However, could intelligent and technologically advanced extraterrestrial life have transcended these boundaries and could possibly reach out to us (if they have good reason to)?
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    Feb 28 2013: I want to answer in few different angles:

    1.If we are alone, Don't you think a lot of space is wasted?

    2.We don't have that much technology
    3.Why they want to communicate with us?
    4.Maybe they don't know we exist either
    5.Maybe they don't how to act and communicate with us .
    6. Maybe our world can not be known for them and the other way. we have lots of theory and proven topics like worlds in different dimensions , different time meaning, different sky and lot more

    I think we are in the beginning of knowing the world around us and I have serous doubt about them to try communicate us, because let's face it: Why?
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      Feb 28 2013: Hello Farokh,
      I LOVE the idea of exploring from different angles:>)

      I agree that we are beginning to try to better understand the world around us. You ask "why" would other life forms communicate with us? Perhaps they ARE trying to communicate with us? Are we listening? Hearing? Observing? Open to a different kind of communication?

      As Kate insightfull points out..."we have only just found out that dolphins actually talk to each other, have names, are intelligent, etc! And how long have we been studying them, and they are right on our door step ... ".

      We have begun to cooperate with dolphins as they connect with children who communicate in a different way....autism for example.

      They are learning, through scientific reasearch, that dogs communicate better than some humans. You've heard of the "horse wisperers"? People who communicate with horses? Humans used to think we could simply "break" horses to make them do what we wanted to do. We are now finding out that we can share a language and cooperate with each other. We may need to learn to communicate in many different ways before other life forms are willing to communicate with us.

      You suggest that "maybe they don't know how to act and communicate with us?" How about the idea
      that WE don't know how to communicate with THEM?
  • Feb 28 2013: There are so many problems and issues that make actually finding this elsewhere problematical. Maybe the problem of whales and dolphins is more related to not having the hands needed to do what we do. Then again maybe they are so intelligent that they do not seek the problems we have created. Civilized people have often reverted to more primitive lives. Remember "off to Croatia" written at the first English settlement in America by those leaving the hungry village to perhaps live among the Indians. Others have done this. Sam Houston who was known as the "big drunk" and latter the greatest leader of Texas lived for extended periods of time among his Indian friends. Of course, in Sci-Fi there are rarely travels among the stars at sublight speed. In short, the laws of physics are boring. The damage from cosmic radiation to neurons on a trip to Mars are one thing, but a long trip- that's another issue. Finally, highly intelligent creatures on our planet have existed only a short time. What do I really believe? A 1350cc brain is an expensive luxury. Of course, there were early groups of men with larger brains, but that's not the point. Is a man really that much better in a quest to survive over long periods of time than rats or certain crocadiles? I am beginning to wonder if a large brain is a biological mistake that is corrected in a reasonably short period of time before it can spread beyond its planet of origin. Has anyone seriously suggested that we spread our seed throughtout the universe? Could that be frozen fertilized eggs, an artificial womb, and Rosie the Robot from the jetson's ? Grow new people elsewhere. Okay someone is going to start waving a Bible and yelling. See my point. One would hope other species would do something like that. Duh - maybe they did, but how would we know?
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      Feb 28 2013: This is an interesting viewpoint that you have. However, I am admittedly an optimist and believe that our large brains are here for a good reason; not an anomaly to be eradicated over time.
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      Feb 28 2013: That was very interesting to know! I knew that dolphins were highly intelligent, but did not know that they gave each other names. This is even more proof that we might not be the only intelligent lifeform on Earth.
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    Feb 28 2013: No
  • Feb 28 2013: Probably not. There probably is now and has been in the past many other civilizations of creatures that don't look like us at all and think very differently....or not.
    The problem was summed up by Douglas Adams very succinctly. "Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."
    The laws of physics being what they are make visitations impossible, unless you have come up with some smart ass way to slip through space without violating the speed of light law and other annoying things.
    If you are that smart, why would you come here?
    I mean it is an insignificant yellow sun in the unfashionable western spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.
    • Feb 28 2013: lol
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      Mar 1 2013: Gordon, you raise very interesting points. However, scientists have theoretically managed to find a way to travel faster than light, though it would require exceptional amounts of energy. By the way, I do love Douglas Adams and his work too!
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    Gail .

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    Feb 28 2013: I cannot fathom being alone in this universe, nor can I fathom being alone in the multiverse.
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      Feb 28 2013: Hopefully one day our scientific progress can allow us to make good progress in discovering the multiverse (if it exists). I do share your fears that there is a possibility that we are completely alone in the universe.
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        Gail .

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        Mar 1 2013: I guess I was misunderstood. Given the size of the known universe (and who knows how big it is beyond what is observable), I assume that we are not alone.
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      Mar 1 2013: but you also cannot fathom the principles of the general theory of relativity, yet it is a precise representation of reality. i can assume you can't fathom, with certainty: no human does. we humans have very limited understanding about the world.
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    Feb 28 2013: No. I have not once, in this life time, believed that we are alone in the universe.

    Here's an interesting clip:

    oops....that one is photos and article:
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      Feb 28 2013: This is very interesting! I will research more on these mysterious objects that you have shared :)
    • Mar 6 2013: Hi Dear Colleen,I watched the clip,it is fantastic.Thanks for the sharing
  • Feb 28 2013: Yes, we are.
    That is why we search. The truth that we are totally enveloped in darkness of such depth, breadth and width, is overwhelming to our consciousness. When you look at it while in space, it is so dark that it can almost appear to be breathing and looking back at you. Such is a first-hand report I read from one astronaut. The fear quickly took over them before they were able to go back inside the space shuttle. The darkness was such that the fear just took off.
    It appears there are some structures on Mars that have lines to them suggesting they were built by some being, and not from geological activity. Well, we build with right angles and these have right angles. In fact, that is what we look for, what catches our eye. So I think they were built by humans, many millennium ago as we traversed the universe, destroyed Mars and came to this blue planet. (which we have pretty much destroyed)

    So over time and distances we may have moved further away from others instead of staying close by. Certainly the distance is massively prohibitive and time removes the connection from those searching and those watching the search. They will die out, breaking any connection they might have hoped for.
    If I was another being and found out anything about 'us', I wouldn't want to be contacted by humans.
    We are uncivilized. We are horribly acquisitive, destructive. We are thieves, polluters, destroyers, breakers of trust and cruel. We do not yet have civilization as long as we behave this way.

    If there were others, would they send out probes? One scientist said no. Another said, "why not? We do".
    Well, I would stay as far away from the human species as space would make possible.

    On this planet we have such a variety of life and life forms that looking out there may be looking in the wrong place anyway. What lives in the oceans is sometimes very strange indeed.
    And we act and look more and more like robots. Maybe that is why we are so programmable.
    • Feb 28 2013: "If I was another being and found out anything about 'us', I wouldn't want to be contacted by humans.
      We are uncivilized. We are horribly acquisitive, destructive. We are thieves, polluters, destroyers, breakers of trust and cruel. We do not yet have civilization as long as we behave this way."

      Right on ,brother!
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      Feb 28 2013: I do believe that should we find extraterrestrial life, we could possibly change our views on life collectively, and begin to see the similarities between fellow humans. Instead of delineating people based on race, socioeconomic status or gender (just to list a few), I have hopes that we can all take pride in that we all reside and thrive on Mother Earth.
  • Feb 28 2013: I do not think we are alone, but I think that extraterrestrial intelligence may be so far away that we may never contact them. Interstellar distances are extremely challenging, both technically and economically.

    We are becoming very good at exploring other planets with robots, and have every reason to expect that we will get much better at it. If there is an advanced culture, within a reasonable distance, I think they would be exploring our solar system with robots. There is no evidence of that yet. I find this discouraging.
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      Feb 28 2013: Barry, I do agree with your point regarding the vast distances that separate us and possible intelligent extraterrestrial life. Judging as how we are merely looking at stars and planets in the past due to the finite speed of light, perhaps the Universe is already teeming with intelligent lifeforms but just that the light of their technological advancement has not reached us yet?
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    Mar 6 2013: What if intelligent civilizations exist but evolved using none verbal communication, like bat sonar or like cuttlefish and use skin color and patterns to communicate?
    Would we even recognize their mass communication signals?

    Also we been using radio wave for about 50 years and considering the progress made, it is likely that in the next 50 years radio wave will be obsolete.
    So we may be receiving signal in a yet unknown format, and they could have advance beyond radio wave 100s of years ago.
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    Mar 4 2013: No
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    Mar 2 2013: ...
    a few points:
    -our signals have only gone a very short distance in our own galaxy.
    -More advanced civilizations probably do not use radio waves.
    -Intelligent aliens are unlikely to share our level of intelligence or be anywhere near level of technology and may have no real interest in talking to us.

    on the issue of life elsewhere, there are technologies under development which will enable us to take spectroscopic readings of the atmospheres of nearby planets and from that infer the existence of life.
    • Mar 6 2013: a few more points...

      -The Drake Formula was set up to measure ONLY civilizations capable of interstellar travel. so the inferred numbers include a likelihood they will recognize intelligent communications as such, no matter what part of the energy spectrum we choose to send them in... we might not get their message, but they should be able to get ours...

      -As we have been beaming at SETI since 1960, we have at least canvassed the immediate neighborhood. If the numbers do hold up in the Drake Equations even a little, somebody HAS heard us already...

      -Carl Sagan's book Contact made one point abundantly clear; communication will begin with mathematics, so the matter of a joint language or means of communication is moot; as for actual WANTING to talk to us, THAT is conjecture fraught with ifs, buts and ors.

      -The technology to determine planetary atmospheres in far-distant planets is not future tech, but in process and already yielding results; seems a few Earthlike proxies have already been spotted... so it is NOT the case that the Big Blue Marble is a lone aberration of cosmic chance. That ALONE should be reason to suspect we are not alone. But still no answer... I suspect as soon as we as a species start to make some sense in how we live together (a trait only occasionally manifested by Homo Sapiens, and not reliably), the lights will pop on, some(thing)one will yell suprise and a well meaning, truly civilized race will take us under their wing for the indoctrination lecture. But boy are we a long way from there...

      We could be the petri-dish experiment of some far advanced race, to be scraped off and discarded if we don't turn out. I like Perry Ferrell's take on alien abduction; check out his song "We Make Great Pets."... the abduction thing is either a bizarre psychological disorder affecting people all over the planet in incredibly similar ways despite widely disparate backgrounds, or somebody is snagging humans for joy rides. Either or, it needs looking at...
  • Mar 2 2013: "Know thyself" and probably aliens will not be aliens.
    Why not to apply Occam's razor here ?
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    Gail .

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    Mar 2 2013: But I can cathom the bulk of relativity. Yes, questions remain - such as about what gravity is - but the essentials are readily comprehensible to all who care to comprehend
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    Mar 1 2013: Yes, by dint that we are being ignored. I mean, you don't try to talk to the cat while it is trying to work out that it's reflection is not another cat? This may sound horrible but there has been ample time for some E.T to make contact right? Then why not?
  • Mar 1 2013: I suspect the reason is that any civilization that could hear us and react is so far advanced that they recognize we are not ready. In the fashion of anthropologists trying to limit contact so as not to pollute primitives, any advanced race looking at this mess ("They still have nukes? And they have USED them?! ON EACH OTHER?!"), would be well forgiven a decision not to trust our reaction to first contact in any sort of rational terms.

    The Drake Formula, developed by and named for the inventor of SETI, suggests, depending on variable input, that we are alone only if we input the very lowest end of suggested data. Anything above that low end infers we are not alone. Kriztian (rightly so) raises the same question Enrico Fermi did; if we are not alone, why is no one answering the phone? (known as the Fermi Paradox). I have rejoined with the Zoo Hypothesis, which says we are observed, but not contacted; some also use the Great Filter Hypothesis which suggests there is an unknown factor that makes intelligent life rare, or technological societies short lived (see supposed alien thought bubble in above paragraph).

    In any stead, Drake estimated between 1000 and 100,000,000 civilizations capable of contact in the galaxy alone. Seems a big number for no hits at all; the Fermi Paradox is firmly in place, as Krisztian has already made clear. But why do the Dogon tribe in Africa have a verbally transmitted tradition that they are decended from "frog people" from the Sirius star system, who interbred with the "hairy people" here to make humans? Superstition? Then how have they been teaching, for thousands of years, that Sirius is a tertiary stellar system, when we did not see the second star until the 30's, and did not find the third star until the 70's? Coincidence? Not likely, tertiary systems are rather uncommon...

    The truth is out there...
  • Feb 28 2013: For those who might think we got here, as a species, by planet hopping -- you seem to forget how very, very similar we are to virtually all other forms of higher life on earth. I like the idea that if our planet is the only one to be inhabited by anything resembling a civilization, then there is a lot of wasted space in the universe. It's not that I don't like rocks. I really like some forms of rocks. But I like symphonies and good musicals and Van Gogh portraits a lot better.

    We probably haven't been looking for ET's very long or very proficiently, either. Mathematically speaking, there are bound to be other intelligent forms of life in other solar systems, though the closest one could be at least one hundred light years away. How could we not be curious as to what they are like? But I agree with Hawking. There's such a good chance that they could be destructive and cruel that we might very well be lucky if they haven't noticed us yet.
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      Feb 28 2013: I have hopes that extraterrestrial life is benevolent and willing to teach us should they be technologically advanced in comparison to us. If they are cruel and malevolent, SETI itself could be like opening up a Pandora's Box.
      • Feb 28 2013: We can hope for the best. But when it comes to something like this, can we truly prepare for the worst? How could we fight an enemy that we couldn't even begin to understand? We might need some help like from viruses or something like in War of the Worlds. We're maybe out spearfishing for perch in shark infested waters.
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          Feb 28 2013: I agree that it would be exceptionally difficult to "fight an enemy" that we cannot imagine or perceive of right now. Though, I do think that we should not adopt a combative stance, as there exists a probability that the technological differential between humanity and them could be very large, and any efforts that are presently available are simply not enough. Perhaps diplomacy and peace could be our options should extraterrestrial life be encountered.
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    Feb 28 2013: My theory is that we are alone in our galaxy, and that each galaxy has its own developed specie.
    And if the specie fails and dies off, it is black hole time, or it collides with anther failed galaxy.

    This is just one aspect to my quest in search of the meaning of life.
    In which God created a second plane of existence for his offspring, commonly known as heaven by us.
    Then possibly because gets boring in heaven after billions of years, God created this plane of existence (AKA the Universe) to entertain his offspring in heavenly. With the plan to have it become a Massive Multi Angle Role Playing Game.

    Now being a game created by god it does not just feel real, it is real.
    It is so immersive we don’t even know for sure that god or heaven is the true reality.
    And we don’t play just for entertainment, but also to learn to better back in heaven and also to improve/change the game as we play.
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      Feb 28 2013: I agree Don...."....we don’t even know for sure that god or heaven is the true reality." It is a belief for some humans. I sincerely hope this conversation does NOT turn into another god/no god discussion!
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        Feb 28 2013: I did not mean to hijack that conversation, so I will point some the else out.
        SETI started in 1961, so it has reached out about 50 light years and the universe is estimated to be around 1 Billion (1,000,000,000,000) light years.
        Plus all we know dark-matter blocks radio-waves.

        Oops! I meant to say” FOR all we know” that is to say that there may be unknown factures in our search.
        • Feb 28 2013: "Plus all we know dark-matter blocks radio-waves."

          Indeed it may; but do you really think we all know this :-) ?
        • Feb 28 2013: Dark Matter does not block radio waves. It interacts very weakly with regular matter and photons so they are invisible to each other.
          We know this because of the density in and around our galaxy and therefore also around the sun and our solar system that if there was a strong interaction we would not be able to do much radio astronomy. Evidence is to the contrary
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        Feb 28 2013: Colleen, I do share your hopes that this conversation doesn't turn into one regarding religion! For that may be highly contentious and we would not be able to learn from one another. I do respect the beliefs of all religions, but I think we can agree to disagree at certain points.
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    Feb 28 2013: the SETI program has no real chance to find anything at the current level of technology. they don't advertise it too much, but this is the case.
    • Mar 1 2013: I don't doubt that you're right, but could you explain yourself, please?
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        Mar 1 2013: SETI listens to microwave radio frequencies. if you observe the pattern of communication on earth, we emit such radiation since the 50s, and they are already on the decline today. mankind uses less and less powerful broadcasts, and many communication becomes cable/optic. there is a peak-radio in a civilization's history.

        the closest atar is the proxima centauri. suppose there is a civilization that has the peak-radio just now, the same size as we had a few years ago. SETI would not be able to detect those signals, they were way to weak. that means that SETI can not pick up random radio chatter.

        it is not all hopeless though. because there are some possible signals that SETI can pick up. aliens might actively try to contact us. in this case they use much stronger signals, or maybe they even direct it to us. there is radio-astronomy, which uses powerful microwave beams for scientific measurements. such beams are very strong and coherent. we could spot such beams too.