Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

cancel ×

454 comments

Too short a window (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476146)

We are in far too short a window in cosmic terms. A million years here, a million years there, adds up.

Obligatory XKCD... (4, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476440)

The Search [xkcd.com]

Re:Obligatory XKCD... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476456)

best xkcd ever!

Patience! (5, Insightful)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476158)

We are trying to find signs of intelligent life off the Earth. Give it some time, people. And try to become civilized yourselves.

Re:Patience! (3, Interesting)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476386)

Why don't start trying to find signs of intelligent life on Earth? Intelligence don't have to mean technology, and some species right here (dolphins? whales?) could be as intelligent or more than us, but while we see intelligence as use of tools we will keep ignoring them.

Re:Patience! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476432)

I appreciate your message and such, but if we were to look for intelligent life on Earth would we have to skip YOU? Your words look suspiciously like they were typed out using a drinking bird toy.

Re:Patience! (2, Interesting)

rickkw (920898) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476632)

If by means of intelligence, we are talking about lifeforms that invent religion, and would dedicate their lives killing each other because it's god's will, then no, dolphins and whales don't fit the bill. If this is how intelligent lifeforms should be, then any extraterritorial beings that are like us but are (more) intelligent probably don't exist anymore.

Our eight tentacled friends. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476686)

Octopus.

They use tools, disguise themselves, and other things that display intelligence.

And people EAT THEM! And yet, they have no problem saving dolphins, and stupid mean nasty creatures that have fur.

Re:Patience! (1, Insightful)

madmarcel (610409) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476700)

Just to clear up this common misconception:

Whales are not as intelligent as you may have been led to believe, in fact quite the opposite...ask any marine biologist.

Re:Patience! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476398)

Well, I'm trying to find signs of intelligent life on the Earth, and I haven't been very successful either.

Fermi Paradox anyone?? (4, Insightful)

Mr804 (12397) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476166)

Re:Fermi Paradox anyone?? (4, Interesting)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476290)

The Fermi Paradox is woefully shortsighted. How long did it take modern human to actually explore other continents and find out that other intelligent human life was inhabiting a large patch of land on the same planet? Decades? Centuries? Whatever the plural of millennium is? It took ages for humans to even begin to explore our own planet. Every single day we find new species, new small islands, new pockets of underwater ocean life.

If we can't even complete a species list on our own planet how can you expect us to even begin to understand how to contact (theoretical) alien life that exists far outside of our immediate grasp? For all we know a planet just like our earth, or earth in its infancy, or like our earth but at its end cycle, may exist somewhere out there. We have no way of being able to immediately confirm that though. And we might not ever.

Carl Sagan even wrote that we should be open to the idea that an intelligent life form could have visited earth in the past.

url:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_astronauts#Scientific_consideration

I hope something is found in my life time (1)

mrflash818 (226638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476358)

"It took ages for humans to even begin to explore our own planet. "

I agree. I think it will take a long time of searching, and a large region of sky surveyed, before we find anything.

I hope we do find something that is confirmed as 100% made by ET in my lifetime, because maybe it would help people, globally, to find better ways to coexist and direct their energies.

Re:Fermi Paradox anyone?? (5, Interesting)

msevior (145103) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476512)

You miss the point of the Fermi Paradox entirely. Given that humans have only been in existence on earth for 200K Years, why is it that no aliens have colonised Earth *before* we got here? It would take only one expansionist alien culture to exist in the billions of years the galaxy has existed before us and the Earth and the entire galaxy would have been well and truely colonized already.

I mean some relatively straight-forward extrapolations of humans shows *us* colonizing the galaxy in a few million years.

Basically the Fermi paradox says, they are *no* other intelligent civilizations in the galaxy otherwise we would have had dramatic evidence on Earth.

Still I see no particular harm in continuing to look. If something were found it would be a monumental breakthrough.

Re:Fermi Paradox anyone?? (0, Offtopic)

afabbro (33948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476712)

You miss the point of the Fermi Paradox entirely. Given that humans have only been in existence on earth for 200K Years, why is it that no aliens have colonised Earth *before* we got here? It would take only one expansionist alien culture to exist in the billions of years the galaxy has existed before us and the Earth and the entire galaxy would have been well and truely colonized already.

I mean some relatively straight-forward extrapolations of humans shows *us* colonizing the galaxy in a few million years.

...assuming some sort of FTL travel, which is a pretty far-fetched extrapolation.

Re:Fermi Paradox anyone?? (1)

Obyron (615547) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476776)

Whatever the plural of millennium is?

That would be "milleniums."

Think of the dangers, though. (1, Funny)

Korey Kaczor (1345661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476178)

It's already hard enough to live on this planet without being irritated by terrestrial life. What makes you think we'll find intellient life on other planets, if we can't even find it on our own?

Just remember the most irritating person you've ever come across? What if we come in contact with aliens, only to find out they're even worse? Maybe they don't have decent indoor plumbing on their planet, and put the used toilet paper in the trash cans instead of inside the toilet?

I'm thinking that we should stay hidden.

Re:Think of the dangers, though. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476244)

Being a pessimist is easy.

Saying "I told you so" when something goes wrong isn't backing up prophecy, it's being an asshole.

Try being an optimist once in a while, you might be happier.

Re:Think of the dangers, though. (3, Funny)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476296)

Saying "I told you so" when something goes wrong isn't backing up prophecy, it's being an asshole.

I just knew you would say that, you dick.

Re:Think of the dangers, though. (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476650)

He is an optimist. Just like Murphy.

Re:Think of the dangers, though. (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476520)

My life philosophy is "plan for the worst, hope for the best, and expect the most likely."

Re:Think of the dangers, though. (4, Interesting)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476350)

SETI is a detector, not an emitter.

If you're worried about any possible aliens' intentions, then SETI is precisely the right approach. You'd want to know if something is coming our way, and get at least some idea of what it might be like.

It also seems unlikely we can affect our visibility much. On one hand, we're absolutely tiny compared to other things happening in the universe. Any amount of energy we could send into space for instance is a drop in the bucket compared to what the Sun outputs. Anything we emit is unlikely to be received unless somebody is already looking in our direction for some other, more visible reason. But, on the other hand, if somebody is really looking, and capable of getting here, they almost certainly can figure out there's something here, and there's no way we can become quiet enough to pretend there isn't.

At this point we can barely get off this rock. If anything shows up, they almost certainly vastly surpass us just from the fact that they can travel all the way here. So if there's anything to do about that the best plan would seem to be to try to figure out if anybody is coming, and if they are use that information to come up with a plan.

Re:Think of the dangers, though. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476588)

Maybe they don't have decent indoor plumbing on their planet, and put the used toilet paper in the trash cans instead of inside the toilet?

We have had Korean homestay students who do exactly this and couldn't seem to fathom what was wrong with storing your shit and paper in a box.

They are there invisibly (4, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476196)

As we ourselves transition to all digital-communications and the associated low-transmission-power-levels we will fall off the radar for other civilizations detecting us too. That little blip of 100 years of analog full-blast will not been seen by anyone else either. This is in addition to the numbers associated with space: it is big, fricken' big and long in time. The last civilization anywhere near enough to us to be detected probably went extinct around 100 million years ago and in another 2 million years until humanity goes extinct the next civilization close enough to pick us up probably won't develop technology for another 60 million years... Missed in the night. But imagine in your mind an alien on an alien world because those same numbers say that it is a logical certainty that they exist.

Re:They are there invisibly (1)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476518)

Two million years? Pretty generous don't you think? I give us about two years if our current scientific understanding of calenders is to be believed.

Re:They are there invisibly (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476598)

This is a classic variation of the old standard "I'm stupid, laugh" gag.

You might think you are making fun of the silly new age nonsense, but you aren't doing a very good job of it.

Re:They are there invisibly (3, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476630)

That's always so odd, since from a scientific stand point we still aren't really that much closer to really understanding things like quantum entanglement or the force which causes people to believe that they're subjective reality is more real than somebody else's subjective reality.

Re:They are there invisibly (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476748)

There's nothing subjective about pretending that the Maya calendar ends in 2012, it is pure stupidity.

You might as well imagine that our calendar predicts the end of the world in 9999.

Re:They are there invisibly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476582)

Counterpoint:

If ANY civilisation made it to the space travel phase, then then our galaxy the milky way should be colonized in 1, 10, or 100 million years as it is 100,000 ly across, so these times are for 1%, 0.1% and 0.01% of lightspeed travel assuming worst case scenario of outer rim origin.

Of course this still leaves the options

  • Interstellar travel is harder still, or even impossible as everything gets obliterated beyond the oort cloud
  • Civilisations have a tendency to self destruct
  • They are here and they don't want to interfere
  • We truly are the first!

If we are not the first, I would love to read the discussions of the species that eventually did find out they were the first!

Expanding their search is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476202)

Focusing their search for intelligent life on Washington DC was doomed to failure.

After 50 years? (2, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476210)

50 years out of 13.75 ±0.17 billion years? People need to study orders of magnitude [youtube.com] before they get on SETI's case about not finding anything exciting. As with most scientific institutions of our day, the general populace/government's don't seem to care unless they see whizbangpops REAL-SOON-NOW.

Re:After 50 years? (5, Insightful)

ilguido (1704434) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476250)

People need to study orders of magnitude [youtube.com] before they get on SETI's case about not finding anything exciting.

Better not: they'd know that SETI is useless and a waste of money.

Re:After 50 years? (2, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476340)

Better not: they'd know that SETI is useless and a waste of money.

Can you justify that statement?

Re:After 50 years? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476444)

Better not: they'd know that SETI is useless and a waste of money.

Can you justify that statement?

Can you justify that it isn't?

Re:After 50 years? (3, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476500)

Can you justify that it isn't?

It's more fun than the lottery. Your turn.

Re:After 50 years? (1)

ilguido (1704434) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476492)

What's the purpose of something that has an infinitesimal probability of success? If you really want to know if there are alien civilizations, wouldn't you use all that money for finding a viable method to discover alien life rather than insisting on treading a neverending path?

Re:After 50 years? (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476614)

That... doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. How is searching for evidence of life or the artifacts of a technological civilization outside of the purview of SETI? What Davies is saying nothing new. The only thing that is new is that we now have the technology to image extra-solar planets.

As for probabilities, a low probability is as much the result of Drake equation wankery as a high probability. The payoff is incalculably huge, the cost is relatively minor, so even an infinitesimal probability is good odds.

Re:After 50 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476638)

Your logic is both circuitous and confounding.

Is your newsletter distributed in the form of a Mobius strip?

Re:After 50 years? (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476546)

Why couldn't an advanced civilization try to ping us every 1000 years or so and see if anyone responds? It's not like it has to be stray TV signals. To me it seems a reasonable thing to do if we start discovering Earth-like exoplanets, sure we'll try more often at first but it's not like we're going to ask "Has intelligent life evolved now?" every five minutes. Narrow beam, high power, simple signal, the kind that should be easy for SETI to detect if there's a big enough antenna pointing in the right direction at the right time. But if they're run by people like you, I suppose nobody will be there to listen...

Re:After 50 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476424)

I don't understand your ratio. I can detect the existence of stars even if I look just 1 second out of 13.7 billion years. Why not aliens?

Re:After 50 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476564)

But yet people are ready to declare global warming as truth with only 50 years of data....

Re:After 50 years? (2, Insightful)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476780)

I've got a better idea. Why don't we take the money we've been spending on SETI, and put it toward a research program that produces some information occasionally.

I'm not asking for information with proven immediate practical value. Pure research can prove to be valuable later, in unanticipated ways. I understand that. But that's assuming that there's actual *research* going on.

Scientific research is constructed so that you find out *something*, even if it isn't what you'd hoped the answer would be. That's the scientific method. Even if your experiment fails, you *learn* something from it. SETI, however, is not set up that way. SETI is designed up to keep on promising, year after year, decade after decade, that maybe *next* year we'll find [the desired answer -- and there is only one result SETI is interested in finding]. No premise is tested and proven, disproven, or revised. Ever.

Calling SETI science is intellectually dishonest. SETI is politics, and a boondoggle.

(Granted, it's not a very BIG boondoggle, because it's not all that MUCH money. But every penny of the money spent on it is wasted.)

Here I am! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476214)

You were looking in the wrong place. I've been here on slashdot!

LOL (1)

mrflash818 (226638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476368)

:)

Do we really want to find them? (1, Flamebait)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476228)

Seriously? We can't handle the various cultures we live in relative close proximity too, do we really need to bring other races here to see the embarrassment we call Earth?

Re:Do we really want to find them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476260)

Humanity is a failed experiment.

We must contact whatever species which started our evolution and demand that they either:

a. Fix things around here
b. End the experiment

Either way, there will be a lot less pain, hate, and suffering on this spinning little rock.

It's like violence (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476242)

"... says it's time to re-think and expand the search for ET."

SETI obviously is not using enough XML. What you need is...

maybe they're smarter than we are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476256)

Maybe any civilization that's made it through the industrial and electronic ages and all the social, military, population, and environmental upheavals that come along with it, has learned that you don't, like, broadcast your presence information to everyone in the friggin' universe.

Obligatory Bill Hicks... (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476274)

But what if the ET's are just a bunch of hillbillies? [youtube.com]

Fast reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476276)

Damn I thought the title said YETI is 50 years old;no sign of IT.

I need new contacts.

Of course (4, Funny)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476282)

Looks like ET's spam filter is working just fine ;)

We are the only ones (2, Interesting)

zaax (637433) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476284)

Look how difficult it was to get here in the first place. We are the First Ones.

Re:We are the only ones (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476324)

Look how difficult it was to get here in the first place. We are the First Ones.

Actually, that was a premise behind a ST:TNG episode, as well. The ancient race that seeded itself on Earth, Vulcan, Kronos (sp? or am I a pa'tak?), Romulus, and so on searched the whole galaxy and found no intelligent life. It was only the later evolved races (hu-mans, klingons, etc.) that could therefore discover each other and the biological connection they all shared.

mod 0p (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476288)

market. Therefore fucking percent of don't be afraid was what got me are just way over move forward, website. Mr. de today. It's about are She had taken Save Linux from a not anymore. It'S market. Therefore there are TROUBLED OS. NOW to use the GNAA my efforts were

I think expectations are too high... (4, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476292)

I see lots of posts that seem to miss the point. The mere _finding_ of an ET would be _dramatic_ for our civilization. Think of all the things that would change (not all religious).

If we can ever _prove_ we're not alone out here, I honestly believe it could sway the attitudes and priorities of many governments. I mean, honestly, if we know there is another alien life out there, that we could potentially communicate with, how many stupid squabbles would end?

Right now, we only worry about ourselves because, well, that's all there is to worry about. The prospect of learning from another civilization, or even just being afraid and try to "defend" ourselves from them (sad, but you never know what spin governments would put on a finding like that) could be utterly revolutionary.

Then again, so many people would dis-believe due to religious and/or conspiratorial reasons would probably be mind boggling.

Re:I think expectations are too high... (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476352)

Just out of curiosity, which religions are incompatible with the existence of extraterrestrial life? To my knowledge, such an issue is not addressed by most religions, and is compatible with most beliefs. Scientology expressly revolves around the concept of aliens, but Scientology is a tax dodge, not a religion.

Re:I think expectations are too high... (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476510)

Ultimately none of course. If religions would be disbanded because they are incompatible with science or simple truths, we would have rather less religions (if not none).
Religions die out if people start to believe in other religions, by force or not.

Re:I think expectations are too high... (1)

HBoar (1642149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476648)

Interesting point -- I can't give any examples of explicit incompatibilities with the existence of ET life (although I have little knowledge of religion), but plenty of religious types seem to THINK that their religion states states that ET life does not exist. My guess is it's like the only-child faced with the prospect of a new sibling -- Their god gives them so little attention as it is, they don't want another 'child' vying for his/her attention!

Re:I think expectations are too high... (5, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476430)

even just being afraid and try to "defend" ourselves from them (sad, but you never know what spin governments would put on a finding like that)

Government spin? That's the primary purpose for which we should be looking.

Where does this idea of the peaceful alien come from? There has never been mutual cooperation between civilizations or species competing for the same resources. Among civilizations, it has always resulted in destruction or subjugation of the less technologically advanced civilization. We need to be keeping our ears open and our mouths shut.

Re:I think expectations are too high... (2, Interesting)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476560)

I'm sorry you feel everyone is out to get you/us, but are we searching just to conquer an ET? Or are we doing so just for the sake of doing it and for whatever benefits/truths can be made from such a discovery?

Maybe they want our resources, maybe we make good eats or maybe we make good batteries, I don't know. Could they want to find us just to kill us for one reason or another? Of course it is possible, but there is no reason to not look.

Re:I think expectations are too high... (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476674)

Where does this idea of the peaceful alien come from? There has never been mutual cooperation between civilizations or species competing for the same resources. Among civilizations, it has always
resulted in destruction or subjugation of the less technologically advanced civilization. We need to be keeping our ears open and our mouths shut.

I think that if anything can show up here and say hi they probably don't need anything from us. Unless they come from Proxima Centauri they can probably find whatever they need much closer, and sending anything from here back wherever they came from is probably mind boggingly expensive in energy expenditures.

For instance take the lack of interest in mining asteroids or the moon. We probably could if we had a good reason to, but it's so expensive it's not worth it.

Re:I think expectations are too high... (1)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476634)

Wow, being optimistic is nice once in a while but you're taking it pretty far. Do you honestly believe the average Homo sapien gives a damn about whether or not we are on the only habitable planet? Seriously. Think about it for a second. Most people care about one thing. Money and sex. Okay, two things, money, sex, and ruthless efficiency. Okay, three things, money, sex, ruthless efficiency and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope. Well anyway I'm quite certain most people would waive off the discovery like it was news of a bit of bad weather and go down to the local strip mall for another pair of $300 sun glasses and complain about the price of gas for their SUV with their bimbo friends over a $10 cup of coffee.

Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476302)

I'd settle for some signs of intelligent life here on Earth! Deciding not to destroy the planet we depend on would be a great start. So would refraining from killing people for believing in a different fairy tale.

Maybe... (1)

hargrand (1301911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476314)

... we listen in vain?

Re:Maybe... (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476348)

... we listen in vain?

Nah, you're confusing SETI with marriage. A common mistake.

The aliens aren't using radio... (3, Funny)

Rocky (56404) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476344)

They're using subspace communications, or ansible, or ultrawave.

or semaphore...

Re:The aliens aren't using radio... (1)

HBoar (1642149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476672)

OR maybe they have a series of tubes connecting their hydraulic computers, in which pressure waves are used to transmit data.

Listening to the Heavens (1)

Kris Thalamus (555841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476354)

Given that any intelligent god that wasn't born on earth would be (by definition) an extraterrestrial intelligence, do any religious people expect SETI to one day contact one of the gods or find evidence for their existence?

Re:Listening to the Heavens (1)

Trivial Solutions (1724416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476572)

Just do mysticism. God says... findeth protest lest cheap seeing writing moan rejected ointments meanings take tales refund tellest deepness struggle fervently alive smoothing replenished religiously milder CONSEQUENTIAL consideration requitest injure fighting sated joying struggle Go perceives this recommending beatific slackened

Differing levels of civilization (2, Insightful)

ezratrumpet (937206) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476362)

We generally view the Stone Age tribes still lingering in the world as worthy of monitoring from a distance. Perhaps we occasionally intervening with some sort of sustenance or relief if it won't really mess them up, but all in all, we leave them alone rather than turn their world upside down.

With that in mind, how would a civilization sufficiently advanced to travel here from Alpha Centauri view our civilization?

"Mostly harmless."

"We'll give them a little longer. When they manage to visit the rest of the neighborhood - maybe when they're able to travel to another planet in their little solar system - we'll say hello. As long as we use short words and simple sentences, we might be able to help them understand speed-of-light travel."

"Okay. But if they start shooting those cute little firecrackers at us, I'm throwing a marble [read: black hole] into the middle of their little planet."

Request Denied (1)

BeerDiablo (1168795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476364)

Is this akin to having a Myspace/Facebook friend request ignored?

Re:Request Denied (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476502)

Even worse... THEY'RE MADE OUT OF MEAT!!!

http://www.terrybisson.com/page6/page6.html

Antenna not big enough? (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476370)

Question, what kind of antenna would we need to build in order to detect a TV or FM radio transmitter on another planet with similar strength and radiation pattern as common commercial radio TV and Radio transmitters on this planet, if they were located on the other planet. What about other common transmissions of ours as well?

I think at some point that SETI assumed that a ET civilisation would eb generating a signal stronger than we normally produce in day to day activities and pointing it at this solar system. It could be that there may be lots of civilisations out there but simply none are doing that. S

So how big of an antenna would it take for, lets say, a civilisation on a remote solar system planet to detect the day to day RF activity on this planet?

Re:Antenna not big enough? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476486)

Depends entirely on how far away your planet is, of course. Read up on the inverse square law.

Re:Antenna not big enough? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476504)

Here's a calculator someone cooked up that might be able to answer the question.

http://www.satsig.net/seticalc.htm [satsig.net]

If you run with the default numbers (Aerocibo sized receiver+transmitter) the range is around 23 light years. The real numbers are going to be a bit different however, since our transmissions are usually not directional, but the transmit power is also higher.

Re:Antenna not big enough? (1)

HBoar (1642149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476714)

So how big of an antenna would it take for, lets say, a civilisation on a remote solar system planet to detect the day to day RF activity on this planet?

As I understand it, an impossibly large one. And it still wouldn't work. It just gets lost to the background noise of the universe at any real distance...

earth like planets (2, Interesting)

agwis (690872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476378)

I'm too lazy to look up the links, or the names of the projects, but I understand within the next few years focus is being placed on locating earth like planets (close to our same size, orbiting a similar star at roughly the same distance we are ours, etc.). I just assumed when I read about this the first time that SETI would be very interested and excited to be given locations of planets that actually have a decent chance of supporting life (as we know it) rather than just randomly focusing on a particular area. This should be exciting times for SETI and their followers but I'm surprised there isn't any mention of it in the interview.

I hope SETI is going to be all over this as locations of earth like planets are announced and that that is what Paul Davies means by "time to re-think and expand the search for ET"!

Maybe intelligent life is impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476406)

Perhaps the existence of intelligent life is just not compatible with the laws of physics in this universe.

After all, after billions of years there still isn't any on this planet.

they are doing it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476410)

do you really think that et will use radio waves to contact one planet to another no they will use something called quantum physics to communicate to each other instantly instead of years what i think we should do is to wait for the technology to come out and create a telescope using that technology

Re:they are doing it wrong (1)

HBoar (1642149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476736)

Great Idea, with the small exception of the fact that you'd need to travel to the said far off planet first with an entangled particle. At which point it would be pretty clear whether there was life there or not.

still looking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476420)

I am 58 years old and still looking for signs of intelligent terrestrial life.....

Re:still looking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476514)

Jesus H. Christ, will someone with mod points start modding these fuckwits 'redundant' already? The slop that passes for wit these days on slashdot is nauseating.

So? (1)

mingbrasil (997857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476428)

If we can't even find Osama bin Laden, why do you think SETI would be able to lead us to ET?

God and angels (1)

Trivial Solutions (1724416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476446)

E. T. ? Yawn. E.T.'s been around for millinium.

The problem is time (4, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476460)

The problem's basically one of time. Think about this: the first radio transmission on Earth was in 1866. That's 144 years ago. That means that any alien civilization more than 144 light-years away from Earth can't see us in the radio bands. They'd have to be inside the bubble formed by our first radio transmissions to even have a chance of spotting us using the methods SETI does. And that bubble isn't a sphere either, it'll eventually have an inside surface as well as an outer one. We're getting more and more efficient, wasting less and less power beaming radio waves off in all directions. Eventually we'll be broadcasting so little that we won't be detectable at any reasonable distance. Anybody inside that inner surface won't be able to see us either. That'll leave probably a 250-300 light-year thick zone moving steadily outwards that any race looking for us will have to be in to see us by looking for radio transmissions. They won't have to just be looking for us, they'll have to be looking for us during the 3-century period when they're in that zone. Look too early or too late and we're invisible to them.

And the same applies to us: we can look all we want, but if we're not in the radio-transmission zone for another species they'll be invisible to us.

Re:The problem is time (2, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476544)

> ...the first radio transmission on Earth was in 1866...

I think you mean 1886 (and that transmission by Hertz was very low power and wideband).

Sigh (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476524)

At the most, a SETI search could have detected intelligent, broadcasting in cleartext life at a range of 50 light years. That's not terribly far. And halve that if we're sending out a message and waiting on a return.

Re:Sigh (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476652)

> At the most, a SETI search could have detected intelligent, broadcasting in
> cleartext life at a range of 50 light years.

How do you figure that?

is there space fade that is like rain fade? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476554)

is there space fade that is like rain fade? or other stuff that makes some stuff show up as something that is too broken up to be any thing that looks like something from ET.

Or are we just looking at the wrong band?

This Must be a Government Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476558)

We've been at it for 50 years with no results, the solution is obvious; expand the program.

Imagine the arguments a discovery would create! (2, Insightful)

agwis (690872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476584)

A significant number of the population doesn't even believe we landed on the moon. Should SETI ever detect artificial radio transmissions then the arguing, debates, and conspiracy theories that would abound are unfathomable!

We can't even agree that we landed on the moon. How are we going to convince the world when we discover an ET version of 'Star Trek'? ;)

They are looking in the wrong place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476590)

I've got E.T. right here. What's that, you want to go home?

-Elliot

They'll listen and and learn. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476618)

From one of TFA (time to re-think and expand the search):

It would make much more sense for them to wait for our first signals. They might as well just monitor us passively and then start beaming messages.

I think it much more likely that, after monitoring signals from Earth, they'll specifically decide to leave us alone to our own destruction. Yes, we have some very good qualities, but seriously, we're a short-sighted, narrow-minded, self-absorbed, fucked-up primitive species.

there all over the frikin place (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476620)

I thought you said "illegal" aliens.

Obviously nothing there (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31476708)

In other news, the Untied Ants of the Cupboard have checked the entire kitchen for the most common types of pheromone trails for the last 50 seconds and found nothing. Clearly, reports of mutilation and abduction by "Humans" is just wild fantasy.

Intelligence, Smelligence. I'd settle for life. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476726)

We know that a pre-condition for intelligence is simply life, right? Life should be far more common than intelligence, though possibly harder to detect. So instead of looking for intelligence, why not look for life? Call it SETL. The search would consist of looking for things that only life produces. (Certain chemicals are one example).

So.. what would it take to be able to detect the signs of life on other planets? Highly sensitive spectrometers? What is it that life produces that's distinguishable from long distances?

Patience, grasshopper... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476752)

It's a search that's expected to take tens of thousands of years. Don't worry about the lack of results yet.

It is time (0)

postmortem (906676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476754)

To find better meaning for your life, Mr. CEO.

I often wonder why seemingly great minds get involved into some unrealistic endeavor like this. Some do it for power and money, but not all do.

Once again, Douglas Adams said it best... (1)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476766)

"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 drug store, but that's just peanuts to space."

Giraffes are aliens (1, Funny)

thoughtspace (1444717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31476778)

The other animals would have eaten the food from the trees before the food reached the giraffe's height. So giraffes should be extinct.

Unless ... all giraffes are aliens pretending to eat food.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...