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SETI To Release Data To the Public

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the find-the-hidden-aliens dept.

Communications 150

log1385 writes "SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is releasing its collected data to the public. Jill Tarter, director of SETI, says, 'We hope that a global army of open source code developers, students, and other experts in digital signal processing, as well as citizen scientists willing to lend their intelligence to our exploration, will have access to the same technology and join our quest.'"

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Why NOW? (1, Insightful)

PatPending (953482) | about 4 years ago | (#31931010)

Why NOW? They should have done this from the beginning!

Re:Why NOW? (4, Funny)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31931094)

Why now? Because now they found the alien mind control signal they have been looking for, the pink laser shining from the stars into the black iron prison. And now, now they unleash it onto the public. The plot thickens...

Re:Why NOW? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931338)

Why now? Because now they found the alien mind control signal they have been looking for, the pink laser shining from the stars into the black iron prison. And now, now they unleash it onto the public. The plot thickens...

Come on you really expect me to believe a bunch of hippy alien nut balls got their hands on pink lasers?

If this is the case we better put economic sanctions on them before they start shopping for sharks

Re:Why NOW? (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#31931172)

I guess they had their hopes up really high and didn't want the public to know if ET was out there before the government had time to prepare some form of press conference.

But honestly, I think its all a clever ruse. We'll get some bogus data on some random #'ed star, and the open source signal analyzers will derive that there is something there. After an intense round of "Whats going on?" and people wasting their lives away to decode the message, we'll learn that it was all a viral marketting campaign for a new Michael Bay Transformers movie.

Just remember, you heard it here first.

Re:Why NOW? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931248)

They've pulled a complete 180.

Now it's "Intelligent Terrestrials, Extra Searching"

Re:Why NOW? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 4 years ago | (#31931330)

Because they've already built the Carl Sagon transporter, so they don't have to worry about it triggering again.

Re:Why NOW? (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#31931406)

I would guess no real means to use that data (heck, even no realistic way of transmitting and storing those amounts) were available to "amators" for most of SETI existence...only lately have bandwiths, storaga and processing capacities of small teams or individuals become meaningful (that said, they waited few years too long)

For a long time you would just get noise from quacks and conspiracy theorists.

Re:Why NOW? (1)

PatPending (953482) | about 4 years ago | (#31931930)

True; still they could have "opened" the algorithms for comments, etc.

Re:Why NOW? (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#31932192)

Are you sure they didn't? I would expect there to be quite a lot of papers from them, being part of the general research categories of signal processing, pattern recognition, etc.

Re:Why NOW? (5, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | about 4 years ago | (#31931418)

I think their original hope was that those most interested in the SETI project would contribute their knowledge and expertise to a single project.

SETI@HOME proved that leveraging tons of processors to crunch algorithms developed by a relatively small number of good brains allowed them to expand their science. They've analyzed the everlovin' crap out of that signal for about 50 years now (or millions of years if you count SETI@HOME computer time) and nothing has surfaced yet, so maybe it's time to let others have a crack at it.

But there's good reason not to do that too soon.

The problem is that expanding the number of brains can be a good thing and a bad thing. Good in that more people will take novel approaches to analyzing the data, bad because there's going to be a lot of duplication, a lot of working at cross-purposes, and a lot of people so desperately wanting to be the one to discover the Greys that SETI will have to work up some method of validating claims.

And, of course, just debunking false claims from every 9-year-old who forgot to set the right floating point settings on his compiler and ended up with a filtration pattern, every nutjob who thinks that a pattern match of 2 bits against the latest copy of the "Music of the Spheres" constitutes a valid find, and every attention-seeker who just makes shit up in the hopes of getting their name in lights for a few seconds will now be a full-time job for a population of scientists much larger than the current SETI project supports today.

Right now, there are fewer brains working on the project, but they seem to have really good integrity. In radio terminology, there isn't much signal but the signal-to-noise ratio is quite good.

Make the data public, and you'll have a lot more theories on how to find a match, and some of them will even be good. A few will almost certainly be better than the original scientists had going on to start with. But the signal-to-noise ratio is going to be awful.

SETI already has credibility problems from those who do not believe that life could exist anywhere but God's Chosen Sphere, and those who believe that if life existed it would be a colossal coincidence indeed if it could emit patterns we'd recognize, and those who believe that such signals would never have had time to reach us yet. Add in a months' worth of multiple daily stories about some lunatic claiming to have found aliens based on pattern matching the raw SETI data against the screech marks on his underwear from the same day the data was collected, and they'll find it even harder to get funding.

But I suspect the SETI project, as it stands, is probably going to wither away at some point anyway. So releasing the data is a good way of making sure someone, somewhere, will preserve it in addition to expanding the uses of it.

Re:Why NOW? (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | about 4 years ago | (#31933094)

bad because there's going to be a lot of duplication, a lot of working at cross-purposes

I don't see duplication as a negative. Duplication validates that the implementation is correct.

Re:Why NOW? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31933828)

I don't see duplication as a negative. Duplication -validates- corroborates that the implementation is correct.

Re:Why NOW? (1)

ascari (1400977) | about 4 years ago | (#31931902)

Because if they had found something they would have been heroes. Turns out they foudn diddly squat, so now they want your help to avoid looking like tards.

Redundant answer? Hell yeah. After all the reason for their behavior is so fundamentally human that the very fact you're asking makes me wonder whether YOU are... So let's hear it: Which galaxy are you really from, Pat?

Re:Why NOW? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31932310)

Why NOW?

Because all the researchers have scored, and the whole "I'm with SETI" line just doesn't work with the babes in the bar like it used to.

signal (2, Funny)

Jodka (520060) | about 4 years ago | (#31931032)


Republican analysis will find WMDs. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931058)

Republican analysis of this data will likely find WMDs of all sorts. Dirty bombs, mobile bioweapons labs, links to al-Qaida, and worst of all, socialism.

They will conclude that ETs hate American freedoms, but more importantly, they must have huge reserves of untapped oil. Not only that, but a "War on Extraterrestrials" would bring in some mighty sweet cash for "security contractors"...

Re:Republican analysis will find WMDs. (1)

mikael_j (106439) | about 4 years ago | (#31931132)

This isn't a bad idea, we'll have FTL travel and cities on Mars by next year if we can just convince the military industrial complex that there's a bunch turr'ist aliens out there.

Meh (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#31931062)

This is like the young earth creationists releasing their data to the public.

They found nothing in what...50 years? And 11 years of SETI@Home crunching data. I mean, its a cool screen saver though.

Re:Meh (1)

PatPending (953482) | about 4 years ago | (#31931154)

They found nothing in what...50 years?

According to TFA it's been 25 years: Throughout the institute's 25-year history (we are a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education and public outreach), we have analyzed these raw data with custom algorithms operating on semi-custom hardware. Now we are transitioning to readily available hardware and servers because technology has caught up to us -- hooray!

Re:Meh (3, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31931182)

Because YEC drivel is in any way equivalent to scientifically measured radio telescope data. Yep, right, sure. Hey, we haven't found working fusion, gravity waves, proton decay, a cure for cancer, a cure for AIDS, and lots, lots and more lots of stuff. So, obviously all of this is bunk, yes? Hell, why don't we just stop doing science at all, it won't be complete ever, so it is a waste of time, correct? This used to be a site for nerds...

Re:Meh (1)

Threni (635302) | about 4 years ago | (#31931294)

Analyzing noise looking for messages from Aliens so we can say...yes, out there there are some aliens...out there in the billions and billions of stars there are other species. What a surprise. It's so obvious that we're not the only populated planet it's just numbing that anyone would seriously believe otherwise. But...we find a message and....what? What do we do then? Compare that with some of the other things you just put; things which have a tangible payoff, perhaps in our lifetimes.

Re:Meh (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31931384)

Like all these other question of rather fundamental nature that we pursue in science, which have no immediately visible tangible payoff? Should we stop them too? Who let the economist take over science? Who decided science should be about payoff, not about finding out things about the universe just because it is there? Who knows what the payoff might be?

Re:Meh (5, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | about 4 years ago | (#31931550)

Having proof positive that aliens exist would not have a profound impact on our daily lives, true, but it would have a deeply profound impact on our outlook and perception of the universe around us. And, of course, who knows what information they may be broadcasting, if they do exist and we eventually find a signal?

Having said that, SETI has never been a very expensive project, so it's not like we're spending big money on SETI. Back when NASA funded SETI, it was less than one tenth of one percent of NASA's budget. Now that it's privately funded, it isn't really cutting too deeply into any other projects. Maybe you have a handful of scientists working on SETI instead of one of the other projects you mentioned, but then again most of our efforts in the world are wasted on things that are not only not in our best interests, but could arguably said to be acting against our best interests. SETI may not be optimal, but it's very small in the big picture and certainly doesn't appear detrimental.

Re:Meh (1)

Stook (1270928) | about 4 years ago | (#31932234)

But...we find a message and....what? What do we do then? Compare that with some of the other things you just put; things which have a tangible payoff, perhaps in our lifetimes.

Don't just think about monetary or tangible payoffs. Think about the effect that confirmation of ET life would have on world culture. Think about the effect it would have on religion. If "man" was created in "God's" image, what where they created in? How long have they been around? More than 6,000 years? This could cause some serious issues for a lot of people out there.

That aside, maybe this could be the impetus for us to stop looking at things from a country to country perspective and actually cooperate and accomplish some goals as a species rather than individual societies. I think you've trivialized the impact this could have.

Counter example (1)

mrflash818 (226638) | about 4 years ago | (#31932432)

It is my opinion that the proof of existance of other sentient communications would be profound, akin to proof of religious dieties existances.

Re:Meh (2, Insightful)

Bragador (1036480) | about 4 years ago | (#31933778)

I disagree. The universe is a very harsh and unwelcoming place for life. Life, intelligent and complex life, might almost be impossible to create. We might be that 1 in a very large number statistical exception.

Saying it's obvious aliens exist is a very dangerous thing since we have no proof of them. Might as well replace that word with angels, gods, etc.

Believing and knowing are two very different things.

Re:Meh (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#31931234)

They found nothing in what...50 years?

Maybe them smarty-pants extraterrestrials don't want to be found?

Well, at least by us anyway.

They've probably been watching our TV shows, and have decided that "Gilligan's Island" and "Oprah Winfrey" aren't worth the trip here.

And they are intentionally keeping quiet, because they don't want us coming looking for them.

Re:Meh (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#31931282)

Yes, because on cosmic scales, 50 years is an eternity! I know if I were a highly advanced alien species, I'd spend all my time pointing transmitters at random planets in the night sky, especially ones which I haven't seen any activity from and which failed to respond to my last transmissions a mere 200 years ago.

You've got to realize that SETI depends on aliens actively trying to make contact. Even a highly advanced civilization would be unlikely to devote the resources necessary to flood the cosmos with signals that are detectable all the time and everywhere. It's more likely that they A) send signals in bursts, in which case 50 years really isn't that long to be searching or B) wait till they detect signals coming in (which would presumably be easier for them than it is for us), which means that the only civilizations we're likely to contact at this point are ones with 30 light years.

SETI should be, in my opinion, more interested in searching the asteroid belts for Von Neumann probes than listening for radio signals. Besides being more likely (again, just in my opinion) it would have the added benefit of providing actual communication with an alien intelligence (assuming a strong AI powered probe) verses shouting at each other and waiting 50 or more years for a response.

Re:Meh (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#31932346)

I suspect that if the goals of any hypothetical Von Neumann probes wouldn't include avoidance of detection (in which case they would be likely Berserks...), we would have noticed by now.

nope (1)

formfeed (703859) | about 4 years ago | (#31932502)

You've got to realize that SETI depends on aliens actively trying to make contact

Nope, they don't.

A lot of civilized activities make non-random electro-magnetic noise:

  • radar
  • uplink stations for interplanetary communications
  • energy beams for space stations, space elevators, or remotely powered probes.
  • the beams used in asteroid mining activities and meteorite protection

You're right however, that any civilization that can be discovered has to be further advanced than we are.

Re:Meh (3, Interesting)

thesandtiger (819476) | about 4 years ago | (#31933256)

Personally, I think SETI should be looking for patterns in everything that's out there - patterns that might indicate intelligent life - and I don't just mean via radio/light/whatever transmissions.

It is not unreasonable to think that in 1000 years humanity would be capable - assuming we survive and continue to advance at even a fraction of the speed we are advancing today - of projects that would essentially engineer our solar system to make it over into a place that is more conducive and efficient for human (or trans-human, if you go that way) life. Certainly in 10,000 years it isn't unreasonable to think - again assuming survival and any kind of advancement - that we wouldn't be capable of essentially gardening our sun to make it much, much more stable than it already is, extend the lifecycle of it, etc.

Let's look for that kind of change - stars that simply should not, by our theories, actually look like they do. On a bigger scale, areas of the universe that seem to have been tended or tuned to better serve life's (whatever that life is) purpose. We may not be able to recognize it as anything but a random pattern, but I'd say that it seems pretty reasonable to think, given our single example of an intelligent and technologically capable species, that intelligent and technologically capable life elsewhere in the universe might decide to modify its environment to better suit it as we have ours. Given how early we are in our own technological development it makes sense to look for the evidence left behind from species far in advance of ours (as it's astronomically unlikely they'll be at or near our level of advancement).

Radio signals are great and all, but that's not the only way to prove there's something out there. Let's look for sources that are in disequilibrium and figure out how that's happening. At the worse we find nothing, middle of the road we find things that are perfectly natural but that our theories don't account for, and best case we find some truly amazing stuff.

Re:Meh (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#31931670)

The original, classic client screensaver was better though :(

And c'mon, are you seriously comparing activity which follows strict, scientific code of conduct to YEC? (the latter have their sources in public domain for few thousand years btw, doesn't help them much) Yes, yes, "but they base their project on dubious promise"...well duh, who is going to get those data for Drake equation?

Yes, the probability of SETI succeeding is very small...and so is, all things taken into consideration, their energy usage. But the overall impact of SETI (in stark contrast to creationists) is very positive - they not only gave us BOINC and generally popularised distributed computing (hence contributed to many "serious" projects), but also...they share the infrastructure with "normal" astronomy and astrophysics! They directly contributed, made astronomical discoveries.

Plus if they were to succeed...that would be something. But for that, the little bit they do must be done by somebody.

Re:Meh (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 4 years ago | (#31931672)

They've already completed their scanning and analysis several times over.

I suspect the problem isn't that SETI hasn't been going at this long enough, but rather that the entire assumption is that alien life would communicate in the same ways we would.

http://www.xkcd.com/638/ [xkcd.com]

While contact with a spare-faring alien species might be very beneficial, I'd rather donate my spare cycles to protein folding personally.

Re:Meh (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 4 years ago | (#31932582)

Yeah, they've covered less than a thousandth of a percent of the galaxy, that's certainly an adequate sample size.

Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (0, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#31931078)

We have a limited supply of coal and oil, and you're wasting our precious watts on this silliness.

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 4 years ago | (#31931148)

but, but the future runs on dreams.

Continue on the Silliness!

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931220)

Unplug your tv we'll turn off our SETI.

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931408)

Well said. GP needs to shut up and stop wasting OUR energy purely for his comfort...

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (4, Interesting)

pezpunk (205653) | about 4 years ago | (#31931288)

at which point of the process does it become silly to you?

1. believing that alien life exists?
2. believing that some of it is intelligent?
3. believing they would intentionally broadcast their existence to the rest of the universe?
4. actively seeking out that sign?
5. looking for it in narrow band radio signals?

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 years ago | (#31931618)

I would say Number 5.

Just as our TV shows being broadcasts into space by the time they leave the solar system there is so much interference of background noise there is no statical way to differentiate it. The Narrow one may be better however... It will need to be pointed directly at us. Which would be silly just because we are sun is so boring and so many others that look like it that there is a near 0 chance that they will send a signal.

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 4 years ago | (#31932256)

Well, I'll put it this way: there's a significantly higher chance of all of those things working out for us than there is of there being some sort of omnipotent omniscient entity directly involved in our daily lives.

2.5 Inverse-Square Law. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31933222)

The sheer enormity of any confirmation of the existence of life - especially intelligent life - beyond the Earth probably justifies the search, but people need to be made aware of just how immensely unlikely it is that there are signals capable of even being detected.

Much is made of our own signals (radio, TV, Radar, etc) which have been leaking out into space for the past 100 years or so, but few of the engineering facts are ever explained to the public, such as that by the time any of those signals have reached even the nearest stars they are so weak as to be essentially undetectable from background noise, and certainly indecipherable.

Even one detected and confirmed "alien" signal will be worth everything SETI, for sure, but few have any idea of just how long the odds are.

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (1)

Tarsir (1175373) | about 4 years ago | (#31933378)

Given that humans are doing all 5 of those things, I don't see why it has to be silly at all.

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (1, Troll)

DJ Jones (997846) | about 4 years ago | (#31931430)

Why don't you stop wasting our precious watts by posting on slashdot.

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931462)

We have a limited supply of coal and oil, and you're wasting our precious watts on this silliness.

It's only silly until they find something.

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931498)

You prove your own point with the very first part of your sentence. "we have a limited supply of coal and oil"... since this is the case,we need to get off this rock we call earth. If we can find other lifeforms that can help us do this, then I would say that this is pretty darn important.

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931710)

seriously bud, stop being an idiot, coal and oil are used to run electricity, people are in their houses running all sorts of item unneseccarily, such as tvs plugged in over night, light left turned on for no reason, etc etc, a contact with different species could and its a big could potentially give us insight into technologies and or resources that could change the way me you and everyone live, hopefully it could bring and end to problems like finite resources so people can leave their tvs plugged and it wont matter....how do like that idea??

Re:Stop wasting my energy, dreamers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931856)

Your energy? Mwuahahahahaha I'm fapping with your energy right now!

Is this a waste of Your energy?

Aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931126)

SETI, I'll save you the time... Just call Select Staffing, they'll send the aliens your way....

Modern data is "random" (1, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 4 years ago | (#31931128)

From TFA:

Access the raw data we have published at setiQuest and show us how to process it in new ways, find signals that our current signal detection algorithms are missing.

I suggest looking for data that fits too closely with white noise. Modern human digital data is highly compressed, and as such is nearly indistinguishable from random bits. Images, Music, Movies... the bulk of the traffic on the internet looks like random bits.

Re:Modern data is "random" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931204)

The problem with this is that there's almost no way to know for sure that something is "random"

Re:Modern data is "random" (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 4 years ago | (#31931310)

Looking for data that fits too closely with white noise is like looking for items just as white as the background they are against...

Re:Modern data is "random" (3, Interesting)

pezpunk (205653) | about 4 years ago | (#31931484)

no, he's suggesting looking for items that are whiter than the background. an intense burst could be a solar flare (or whatever) or a highly compressed bitstream of alien porn.

Re:Modern data is "random" (1)

pclminion (145572) | about 4 years ago | (#31931554)

Wow. You've just totally rocked my world with that deep insight. Turns out I wasn't a DSP expert after all.

Access to the same technology? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#31931184)

Where exactly is a 'citizen scientist' going to get the world's largest supercomputer (the Seti@home cluster)??? Unless by 'citizen scientist' you meant 'black market botnet operator'... because they are probably the only ones with the resources to pull it off with the scale that Seti@home has attained.

How about democratizing the seti@home algorithm design? Maybe some fresh ideas, along with what is arguably the largest most successful distributed computing system ever created, is the best way to go; instead of just starting over from scratch.

Re:Access to the same technology? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 4 years ago | (#31931374)

I thought that was what they were saying.

As you state they have access to some heavy computation, they are just asking for fresh ideas on how to use it.

Scent of a lady's underwear... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931192)

There is nothing quite like the scent of a lady's underwear.


The stink of wet panties!

doesn't change anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931250)

If there is extraterrestrial life, unless it happens to be in one of the closest star systems (probability approximately 10^-22) we will never be able to reach it. SETI is thus pointless.

Better Compression Algorithms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931266)

We will never detect advanced signals. Any communication will use encryption/compression algorithms better than anything we can dream of at the moment. It will always be noise to our ears.

Is It As Easy As Pie? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 4 years ago | (#31931318)

With apologies to Carl Sagon.

Re:Is It As Easy As Pie? (1)

pezpunk (205653) | about 4 years ago | (#31931576)

are you suggesting SETI@HOME invent the universe?

Re:Is It As Easy As Pie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31932110)

It's the only way to make the aliens from scratch!

Narrow time windows (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 4 years ago | (#31931582)

One serious problem with SETI is that even if there are other civilizations out there the timespan where they are sending out lots of radiowaves may be small. For example, humans have only had radio for about a hundred years. We sent out a lot for around 80 years but are now sending out less as we get more efficient and have other methods of communication (such as fiber optics). Moreover, many devices today use a spread spectrum approach http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spread_spectrum [wikipedia.org] which looks like close to white noise. Unfortunately, we don't have many options for searching for other types of signals since almost any other signal type that we can conceive of we simply won't be able to find.

Re:Narrow time windows (2, Insightful)

SETIGuy (33768) | about 4 years ago | (#31932356)

The assumption of most SETI searches is that we are looking for a deliberate transmission and that a deliberate transmission will be sent in a form that is easy to detect. We've never had the capability of detecting earth's leakage signals even out to the nearest stars, even at our noisiest.

Suppose you're on a tiny deserted island. On your island, you have a cell phone, a laptop computer, a flash light, a book of matches, and ample driftwood. In the distance you can see a large island or part of a land mass. How are you going to attract the attention of any of its inhabitants? There's only one real option: Use the lowest technology available.

How long till we realize they already left? (1)

Orga (1720130) | about 4 years ago | (#31931584)

I have a feeling we'll be folding dimensions, poking holes in them and making new ones by time we understand how to break the laws of the one we're in. And then only to realize now that we've figured it all out why the hell would we want to figure out what else is in ours. Take out our trash and poof we're gone.

A Message to Critics (1, Troll)

cosm (1072588) | about 4 years ago | (#31931588)

Before somebody pedantically states "wah wah universe is too big look at the scale of things we will never find life... enormous cosmic distances...blah...blah", let me just state to everybody making this argument until they are red in the face, one must consider the fact that an advanced Type II or Type III civilization may have the ability to utilize nifty physical principles like relativistic space contraction.

Just because something seems astronomically and impractically far away from the standpoint of classical physics, stating bluntly "we will never find intelligent life due to cosmic distances" is a bit bold, considering the possibilities that unfold once relativistic speeds are taken into account. I know this doesn't apply for electromagnetic signals, but what if an extraterrestrial body travels from the outer another galaxy via 'hyper-space', or crossing dimensional planes, with the possibility that they 'contract' the distance they must travel to our solar system by travelling at relativistic speeds, and then once they are here they broadcast their signals within a reasonable space-time range for our detection equipment to gather data. Of course this sounds far fetched, but these concepts are not new. Space contraction is a real phenomena, and is the reason Muons [wikipedia.org] make it to our detectors, even though classical physics states that the time it takes them to travel to the ground is longer than their theoretical lifetime.

Yes this is making the assumption that these civilizations haven't reduced themselves to smoldering rubble once they discovered the power of nuclear reactions, and also making the assumption that they have the technology to generate the energies needed to achieve those speeds comparable to C in order to really take advantage of space contraction, but look at our society. In 100 years, look how far technology has progressed. Imagine a civilization that is 2000 years advanced from our current state. It is vain and ignorant to use arguments of what we have now to what is possible as technology grows by a function of time. 100 years ago, who would have imagined particle accelerators, space-ships, MRI machines, invisibility-cloaking technology, night-vision goggles, electromagnetic projectile accelerators, etc...All developments of the past two centuries.

But then again, as mind-numbing brain-wasting entertainment permeates our culture, perhaps our technological advancement may stagnate. Why would anybody want to study quantum-physics when they have Farmville ;)...

the reason I stopped computing for SETI@home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931718)

After reading up on it I wasn't satisfied that the collected data was well analyzed. SETI@home admits this too. It is also radio frequency which we don't expect advanced civilizations to be using "currently"

So I hope this will change things.

best bet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31931862)

well, from the data i see that they (U.S.a) should release
the british hacker.

The SETI Institute is not "SETI" (2, Informative)

SETIGuy (33768) | about 4 years ago | (#31932228)

Repeat after me... Jill Tarter is director of the SETI Institute. Despite their desire to be called SETI, they are not SETI. SETI is a scientific discipline. The SETI institute is an organization.

Jill Tarter doesn't direct me, and, unlike most of the people at the SETI Institute, I actually do SETI.

WTF if... (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about 4 years ago | (#31932600)

What if... contact was made decades ago and "The Powers That Be" decided to keep this a secret.
The contactors waited patiently for disclosure and now are impatient and will make disclosure themselves.

What if ... the fears of "TPTB" are realized, that the world population will truly be pissed at "TPTB"?

Should I feel sorry for the "TPTB" or should I call for the censure/ expulsion/ trial/ investigation of "TPTB" for all the grief perpetrated against all sentient life.

How would YOU respond?

Translation (0, Troll)

SetupWeasel (54062) | about 4 years ago | (#31932854)

We've been looking for 50 years, and... we got nothin'.

So let's see if an army of tinfoil hat types and Star Trek nerds can find enough false patterns in the static to ensure our job security, because we're worried Obama wants to derail our gravy train. Something about "results." Don't people know that SETI is about giving hope to the world that we can find aliens that we can't communicate with in any way. Imagine what we could learn from the broadcast of an interstellar Jay Leno. The mind boggles!

Re:Translation (1)

stwrtpj (518864) | about 4 years ago | (#31933592)

because we're worried Obama wants to derail our gravy train.

What the hell does Obama have to do with it? SETI is privately funded. Get your facts straight before you use the topic for a political jab that makes no sense.

/i/ for invasion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31932982)

SETI release data to /b/, 3 months later, aliens are being trolled, DDOSed, and picketed by doughy white guys in Guy Fawkes masks.

There's an army? (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#31933116)

We hope that a global army of open source code developers, students, and other experts in digital signal processing,

I had no idea there was this army. Who is the General in charge of it? What are its military objectives?

Meanwhile (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 4 years ago | (#31933124)

At some time in the future, aliens will be trying to decode OUR signals...

(The information they broadcast must be very important. It is repeated many times - they had rotary wing VTOL craft, wore Khaki and lived in tents)

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