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SETI Institute Is Looking For a Few Good Algorithms

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the pulling-a-netflix dept.

Space 98

blackbearnh writes "For years, people have been using SETI@Home to help search for signs of extraterrestrial life in radio telescope data. But Jill Tarter, director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute, wants to take things to the next level. Whereas SETI@Home basically used people's computers as part of a giant distributed network to run a fixed set of filters written by SETI researchers, Tarter thinks someone out there may have even better search algorithms that could be applied. She's teamed with a startup called Cloudant to make large volumes of raw data from the new Allen telescope available, and free Amazon EC2 processing time to crunch the data. According to Tarter: 'SETI@Home came on the scene a decade ago, and it was brilliant and revolutionary. It put distributed computing on the map with such a sexy application. But in the end, it's been service computing. You could execute the SETI searches that were made available to you, but you couldn't make them any better or change them. We'd like to take the next step and invite all of the smart people in the world who don't work for Berkeley or for the SETI Institute to use the new Allen Telescope. To look for signals that nobody's been able to look for before because we haven't had our own telescope; because we haven't had the computing power.'"

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Follow the GW crowd (0, Troll)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879284)

All you need is to hire the programmers who did the GW stuff. Tell then what results you want, and they'll supply the code and data to fit your needs. Well, they'll probably lose it for you before anyone else can review it.

GW is out! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879918)

All you need is to hire the programmers who did the GW stuff

You haven't heard? GW has been replaced by some Kenyan muslim.

"Looking for a few good algorithms" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879326)

That's what she said!

Re:"Looking for a few good algorithms" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879742)

That meme... it does not work in the way you think it works.

Re:"Looking for a few good algorithms" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32880386)

it does not work in the way you think it works.

That's what she said...

Singularity (2, Interesting)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879368)

Maybe it'll all be sorted out retrospectively following the singularity. There's a big crossover between AI and data mining/pattern recognition after all.

Might make a good plot for a novel... ;)

If (signal eq '6EQUJ5') (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879388)

print "WOW!"

Re:If (signal eq '6EQUJ5') (2, Insightful)

gmagill (105538) | more than 4 years ago | (#32881540)

c'mon, moderators... that was a good one

Re:If (signal eq '6EQUJ5') (1)

lenwar (1220040) | more than 4 years ago | (#32884512)

else print "meh..."

According to Claude Shannon... (5, Interesting)

arc86 (1815912) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879430)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from noise. I remembered hearing this in school so I searched and found this paper. [eva.mpg.de]

As I understand SETI has always been searching for narrowband signals in the past. But our technology is moving toward spread spectrum signals for more efficient use of bandwidth, making our transmissions appear more like noise to anyone who doesn't know the encoding scheme. Aliens could be doing/have done the same. So good luck, scientists!

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (1)

32771 (906153) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879640)

We should better look for industrial uses of RF like microwave ovens and such. At least we will know how long it takes the other guys to warm up yesterdays dinner.

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880898)

Well, if there's actually any such thing as usable "wormholes" (dubious, I know) and assuming there's an emission at the ingress/egress then there would be a time correlation between ships entering and exiting. Maybe they should be looking for unusual correlations between different, widely spaced pixels instead of signals from a point source. At the very least they might discover some kind of neato naturally occurring entangement-based phenomena.

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (2, Insightful)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879730)

We're far enough away from any likely candidate systems that we would only pick up very high power omni-directional signals - in other words, intentional beacons. Such a beacon is unlikely to be highly encoded (though there might be an associated signal that *is* highly encoded, and to which there is a pointer in the beacon signal). In other words, we don't have to worry too much about the Kolmogorov complexity of extra-terrestrial signals, because we won't be "overhearing" anything.

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (3, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879744)

But would such "noise" get past a zipf analysis? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zipf's_law). Even compressed and encrypted data doesn't lose order.

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (3, Informative)

rm999 (775449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880358)

If you take truly compressed data, which resembles uniform noise, you will see a uniform distribution, not the one described in Zipf's law.

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32891014)

And what exactly is "truly compressed" data?

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (2, Informative)

arc86 (1815912) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880372)

(This is not my field, but) I think a good way to state it is that if you are sending a data stream that has any order or predictability to it, you are not using your communication resources most efficiently. Surely the aliens wouldn't have truly optimal efficiency, but as they get smarter they will make it harder and harder for us to find them. (Ha. Maybe the efficiency is a happy side-effect.)

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880970)

Help me out, I don't know the physics:
Does the signal vs noise issue hide the fact that you are using a powerful transmitter to cross large distances? Power on a channel that has no naturally occurring phenomenon to make it would seem to be a dead giveaway for intelligent communication.

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32881144)

Yes, over large distances the power of the signal is likely to be lower than that of the noise floor, unless the aliens are using some seriously motherfucking transmitters.

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (1)

arc86 (1815912) | more than 4 years ago | (#32883578)

The cosmic microwave background is everywhere, at all frequencies. Any signal you send has to be stronger than this. But wait, if you use spread spectrum signals, you can actually receive a signal with a power spectral density that's lower than this noise floor! So there could be alien signals lurking below the CMB, but we have no chance of finding them without guessing their code. And as the codes get more complex and more efficient, they become more impossible to guess.

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32883822)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_microwave_background_radiation [wikipedia.org]

It may be at all frequencies, but it would seem to be a meaninglessly low floor at most.

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32885986)

It is *not* meaninglessly low. People have done the math. Even the strongest of our own transmitters here on Earth would fade into the floor across more than a few hundred light years.

SETI is flawed though... eg Arecibo message (3, Insightful)

gmezero (4448) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879884)

SETI as designed is incapable of even detecting and decoding something akin to the Arecibo message, so I'm always puzzled at how they think they're actually going to know when they have hot data for real. I applaud the effort but I've always felt it was more of a feel-good activity for people to join in on. Hmm....

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (4, Informative)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880118)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from noise. I remembered hearing this in school ...

Well, to be more precise, it follows as an implication of:

1) Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (Clarke's 3rd Law.)
2) Maximally compressed data is indistinguishable from noise. (Theorem in information theory.)

A sufficiently advanced civilization will ("magically") hit the theoretical compression maximum, and that will look like random noise. (Anyone's head hurting yet?)

My head is hurting... (2, Funny)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 4 years ago | (#32884540)

But only because you've blown my mind!

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32897938)

A sufficiently advanced civilization will ("magically") hit the theoretical compression maximum, and that will look like random noise. (Anyone's head hurting yet?)

Would would anyone's head hurt? The above is a completely logical conclusion. Nothing weird about it, whatsoever.

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (4, Funny)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880186)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from noise.

So those noise making things that we heard at the World Cup actually were a sign of intelligence?????

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (1)

naplam33 (1751266) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880212)

Not just that, we're using technology that has only had 100 years of evolution, it's like looking for smoke signals, aliens are definetely not using this stuff!! this is what's so ridiculous about seti. Oh, and by the way, i don't know how it's now but the seti@home software used to suck big time: no binaries available with cpu-specific optimizations (which i compiled and verified that resulted in several times faster code) and no options to limit cpu use. Watch out, next news about seti is probably an iPhone app or some crap of that sort, heh..

Re:According to Claude Shannon... (5, Insightful)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880232)

I guess we will also in 100 years or so realize that we emit nothing but noise, and short distance one for that matter (Wi-Fi, some future gen). So, if we want to be visible to potential neighbors, we must establish "pulsing station", which emits something intelligent and easily detectable, like prime numbers. But it is unlikely it will be old fashioned radio signal. It is probably hard to detect from such distances because it is destroyed by objects on its way (stars, galaxies, small objects, gas, whatever). Maybe neutrinos, such pulse could pass trough everything on its way, and maybe there is way to pickup that broadcast somehow on the other side (if there is, they will know how). So, maybe it is just to early for this sort of projects, there is homework on inter-galactic broadcast to do, and one that actually make sense, not analog TV.

stick fuzzy logic and neural networks in there too (1)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879444)

If they're already looking at the Shannon entropy of the Fourier Transform over a Markov chain of prime numbered frequencies then I've shot my wad.

If you thought the "Face on Mars" was fun (2, Insightful)

Wintermute__ (22920) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879602)

Just wait and see what kinds of interesting "patterns" hordes of uninformed basement "researchers" can come up with given this huge dataset.

I predict hilarity.

Re:If you thought the "Face on Mars" was fun (1)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879764)

I'm more worried the RIAA will claim alien copyright infringement.

Re:If you thought the "Face on Mars" was fun (2, Funny)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880380)

Are you kidding? Perfect prior art once and for all. "Your honor, we received the allegedly infringing work from a radio station broadcasting from 20,000 light years away which means it was produced and transmitted well over 19,900 years before it was copywritten on Earth. Based on current laws on Earth, that puts it firmly into the public domain by now, not withstanding any unknown copywrite laws in effect in this galaxy and/or cluster."

Re:If you thought the "Face on Mars" was fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32880630)

> 20,000 light years away
> produced and transmitted well over 19,900 years ago

You got the math in the wrong direction (can't travel 20,000 light years in 19,900 years without exceeding lightspeed).

Re:If you thought the "Face on Mars" was fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32885352)

Learn to read before you try to teach people math.

Re:If you thought the "Face on Mars" was fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879930)

I set up a genetic algorithm, with a fitness function along the lines of {return ifAliens(&signal);}
TURNS OUT ALIENS ARE REAL. My algorithm said so.

Re:If you thought the "Face on Mars" was fun (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880238)

JFK's killer is in space!

A more intelligent method (2, Interesting)

Inoculate86 (1854356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879654)

I don't know about the specifics of analyzing radio waves to search for intelligible communication, but I can suggest one thing. The Kepler telescope set out to hunt for earth-like planets that may contain life. The SETI project as far as I can tell is scanning every part of the sky without discrimination. I suggest that Kepler and SETI team up so that when Kepler finds a planet that is capable of supporting intelligent life, SETI will point its telescopes to it and then run whatever algorithms you have to analyze the radio signals if there are any from that planet. This current method of scanning arbitrary locations in the sky sounds like it could be wasted effort when you don't know what it is you are pointing the radio telescopes at.

Re:A more intelligent method (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879712)

I'm absolutely sure once a planet like that is found that SETI will point the telescopes at it for an extremely close look. Until then they may as well search around randomly while they've got the time and funding anyway.

Questions (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879656)

Ok, I don't know anything about this stuff but basically SETI is a big radio telescope array right? And we get data from all these stars using other radio telescopes right? So at some point we take the data of stuff we know (stars, whatever else) and take it out of the SETI picture right?

That leaves us with a lot of radio noise leftovers, but is that what SEIT is picking through? Do they target certain stars for a while hoping that a body in orbit happens to have been sending out signals?

Or is SETI listening to "everything" hoping to find anything?

I'd like to know!

Re:Questions (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32880262)

Ok, I don't know anything about this stuff but basically SETI is a big radio telescope array right?

SETI [lmgtfy.com]

Re:Questions (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880440)

They've done a mix of celestial-body-targeted and sky-sweep listening. Usually the first is used as a second look for interesting signals found with the second.

There's a whole lot of silence out there (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879674)

SETI is pretty much fumbling in the dark on where to look. The really interesting parts going on now in my opinion is the search for exoplanets, with better equipment we'll soon start having real targets to listen to. It's entirely possible that we've missed it simply because there's been no antenna pointing in the right direction long enough. After all, life as we know it takes millions of years to develop - it's not like they're going to ping us every five seconds "Is there life now?", at least not after the initial attempts at contact. The last could have been thousands of years ago, and you can't assume they're as interested in finding us as we are in finding them. They might know there's life on other planets already, and treat the discovery of earth with the same shrug we discover a new species in the amazons.

One thing I've wondered, if we assumed a mirror image of ourselves on the other side could we do it? Like, how huge an antenna, how narrow a beam, how high power would we need to make a point to point interstellar connection using known technology? Could we do it at all?

Now they tell us. (3, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879694)

So this is the beginning of the contest for better algorithms (ignoring how ee measure if they are better, since no one's found the data they are looking for in the first place), and then of course a new round of analyzing the data again.

- Issue call for better algorithms.

- Reprocess the data.

- Find nothing.

- Must be the algorithm.

- Repeat.

SETI will never die. It will just question its assumptions.

Feh.

Re:Now they tell us. (1)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880244)

Sure, but even a fruitless quest delivers long-term benefits indirectly in the form of tools, techniques and experience which can be applied to more terrestrial use.

Re:Now they tell us. (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880510)

SETI will never die. It will just question its assumptions.

Why should it die? Keep in mind that we already have one group of sentient, radio broadcasting beings.

Re:Now they tell us. (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32881068)

I think we can stop with seti when we've visited all the planets in this galaxy. Picking up broadcasts from other galaxies is pretty pointless assuming the speed of light is really the limit.

Re:Now they tell us. (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32881546)

- ???

- Wait, where does this plan get profitable?

Re:Now they tell us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32881566)

It's called the scientific process.

I wonder if they survive... (2, Funny)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879696)

I don't doubt that there is life elsewhere, there just has to be, right.

I also don't doubt that space travel is possible, though this may well be.

What I am beginning to doubt is if intelligent life really survives long enough. Seriously, the more intelligent we get, the more damage we do, and it seems that extinction is an inevitable consequence of any combination of freedom and destructive power, aka technology, over any long period of time.

One of these days someone will trip on a cord or spill their coffee, and we are all going to die!!!

Re:I wonder if they survive... (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32893500)

Seriously that's not too far out. It may be that most intelligent species extinctify themselves within a few hundred years of their industrial revolution.

Dear Earthlings: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879714)

1. Pizza .............
2. Beer .............

3. Ppppaaaarrrrttttttaaaaayyyyy [youtube.com] !!!

Yours In Novosibirsk,
K. Trout

How hard could it be... (4, Funny)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879762)

if data contains alien_signal then
alert("Found Alien!!! Prepare for destruction!!!)
end if

Re:How hard could it be... (4, Funny)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879812)

if data contains alien_signal then
alert("Found Alien!!! Prepare for destruction!!!)
end if

>>> SyntaxError: EOL while scanning string literal

See, it's much harder to implement than it looks.

Re:How hard could it be... (2, Funny)

reverendbeer (1496637) | more than 4 years ago | (#32885128)

if data contains alien_signal then alert("Found Alien!!! Prepare for destruction!!!) end if

I'm sorry, Dave, I can't do that.

Re:How hard could it be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32885868)

if data contains alien_signal then

alert("Found Alien!!! Prepare for destruction!!!)

end if

You missed a quotation mark at the end of your alert

Re:How hard could it be... (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 4 years ago | (#32887258)

haha... I know, I was waiting for someone to catch that.

Using radio seems a silly method (4, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879826)

Some civilizations will, for a short period of time, use detectable radio as a means of communication, but I suspect that there are very few of these at the same point in their technological development as we are. It would make more sense to look for objects that are almost certainly artifacts. Geometrically placed stars moving in the same direction at the same speed. The infrared signature of Dyson spheres. Anything that's too geometrically perfect to be natural. Anything that's accelerating//decelerating relative to it's surroundings. In our own solar system, what would an asteroid mine tailing look like, and does anything look like that?

Re:Using radio seems a silly method (1)

gmezero (4448) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880310)

"but I suspect that there are very few of these at the same point in their technological development as we are"... you forgot the rest of that sentence ... "today, only thousands if not millions of years ago."

Re:Using radio seems a silly method (3, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#32881232)

The chance to detect radio waves that leaked out from an alien civilization are rather slim, as technology moves forward and thus accidental radio broadcasts quickly become undetectable (lower power, better compression, etc.). So its really about intentionally send signals and for those radio waves are simply the best bet, as they are much easier to produce then any stellar size constructions, they are also easy to detect and they also allow you to actually submit real information. Arranging a few stars tells you that aliens are real, but nothing more and you probably spend a few million or billion years moving them around.

Re:Using radio seems a silly method (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32881840)

Actually, I'm sort of OK with "aliens are real" at this point. I figure there's time to exchange recipes later.

Re:Using radio seems a silly method (1)

Vasheron (1750022) | more than 4 years ago | (#32888038)

Arranging a few stars...

Do you have any idea just how impossible such a task would be? It makes for good science fiction, but the laws as we know the say no.

Re:Using radio seems a silly method (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#32888964)

A swarm of solar sail powered gravity tugs might work, it might take a long long while and you'd be limited to arrangement thats are gravitationally stable (i.e. no smiley face drawings) and you better pick something that looks interesting from all directions, but I don't think the laws of nature make it impossible, just really really difficult. Not sure however if you reach your target before the star burns out.

Typo (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879878)

"SETI Institute Is Looking For a Few Good Algorithms"

You misspelled "Aliens"

I truly wish them success (4, Interesting)

BigBadBus (653823) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880048)

But those of us who were around when the programme kicked off in 1999 got a bit peeved when it was found that we were processing the same workunits over and over again, and then there was the "problem" when it was announced that the clients weren't optimised for the scanning algorithms. A lot of people packed their bags and left the SETI@home project. Myself? I got a little annoyed when it was announced that new ideas for searching through the data were announced...and we'd have to start all over again. Lets hope that whatever is organised next time is a bit better, well, organised :-)

Time for standardization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32880158)

If aliens want to communicate with us we're just going to have to standardize a protocol.

Easier Said Than Done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32880168)

Under the banner Easier Said Than Done:

SETI needs to launch a satellite into deep space that can record broad band emissions from EARTH!!! Then SETI will have a baseline data set on which to build algorithms. The idea of looking for a signal without knowing what you are looking for is just bad science. An experiment MUST be base-lined and to do that in this case, SETI needs some truth data. They can produce all of the synthetic data they like and amazingly enough their algorithms work every time. Clearly, it has been demonstrated that all of their assumptions about the makeup of the signal are incorrect (Or there is not signal to detect in the first place). Without truth data, these two possibilities can never be resolved.

dieharder in cuda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32880274)

I'd try to rewrite Brown's Dieharder Test Suite in CUDA/OpenCL:
http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/General/dieharder.php
If the data passes the suite, it's probably not alien causative.

Numbers (1)

The Wookie (31006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880350)

I tried decoding some of those signals. The only thing I got was this really big Mersenne prime.

Signal Quantization (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880726)

I'm not going to try to use the right terminology, simply because I'm not an astrophysicist, but I wonder if attempts have been made to analyze the signal across different timeframes, as opposed to one continuous stream of radio-waves. Plato has done it [physorg.com] in his works, so why couldn't the aliens?

About time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32880926)

From what I remember of SETI@Home many many years ago back in the days of the dec alpha they would keep running the same codes with different permentations for doppler shift that might then be recognized as a pattern once corrected for.

I'm way in over my head when it comes to signal processing but the gut feeling I've always had was that they were throwing cpu cycles at the problem to solve a problem that could more quickly be solved with a more sophisticated algorithm.

You not going to find random radio signals!!! (3, Interesting)

BlueCoder (223005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32880990)

Sorry to rant a bit but why the hell would a civilization sent out a radio signal from their planet? Look at us, all we do is "listen" but we don't build any transmitters capable of transmitting a signal across a thousand light years. Transmit first, listen second.

But wait, what if they are capable of interstellar travel, they could send an invasion fleet... we are paranoid, why wouldn't another species be as well?

So what to do? One you don't send a signal from your planet. Two you design your signal to be easily found; found by another species not even listening randomly for a signal. Answer: you build a spacecraft and send it someplace interesting. Some place an astronomer would find interesting and you either transmit from there or somehow you modulate the natural phenomena to carry a signal for you.

You would have three types of signals. The first signal would be to get your attention and make you wait and listen for the second signal which would contain enough information (location, frequency, polarity, whatever) to direct you to a third signal that would actually contain an entire database worth of information.

For an example of a type one signal I don't think it's too far outside possibilities that in the future we might discover a way to generate gravity waves and while they might not travel very far they might be strong enough to influence a star, white dwarf, neutron star, nebula. Imagine one day an astronomer looks at a nebula only to think.. hmmm, that part there sure looks like an arrow...

Re:You not going to find random radio signals!!! (2, Informative)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 4 years ago | (#32881878)

"Sorry to rant a bit but why the hell would a civilization sent out a radio signal from their planet? Look at us, all we do is "listen" but we don't build any transmitters capable of transmitting a signal across a thousand light years. Transmit first, listen second."

I hope you're trolling.

http://thepublicinterest.freedomblogging.com/files/2009/10/tv-in-space.png

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arecibo_message

Welcome to 80 years ago. Our civilization has been spamming decipherable signals at the speed of light since it's been able to. And so far, that's the best we can do, unless you have some secret method of transmitting data across dozens of light-years faster than the universal speed limit of light speed with any technology that is practically obtainable in the next few decades.

Not 100% true (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32883006)

Most ofn the signal we sent out will have gone below noise floor after 1 light year, so by our nearest neighbor sun would be already not recognizable. That nicve picture *DO NOT* take into account the reverse square law. The only one we can pretend is MAYBE recognize a few light year away is the arecibo signal. And that was a *3 MINUTES* signal. Hint : it was not a "ping" to show us, it was only a technical demonstration that it can be done. Face it, using our own waste of signal into space from start of broadcasting to today, we would not be able to detect ourselves from alpha centasuri ! No, the only stuff we could detect is a constant willful strong signal from ET civilisation saying "we are here". And that is it.

Re:Not 100% true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32884152)

Did you mean: alpha centauri ?

[Citation Needed]

Yep alpha centauri. here is a citation (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32885064)

SETI themselves.

FAQ distance detection [setifaq.org]

1.2.3 How far away could we detect radio transmissions? By Al Aburto and David Woolley Representative results are presented in Tables 1 and 2. The short answer is (1) Detection of broadband signals from Earth such as AM radio, FM radio, and television picture and sound would be extremely difficult even at a fraction of a light-year distant from the Sun. For example, a TV picture having 5 MHz of bandwidth and 5 MWatts of power could not be detected beyond the solar system even with a radio telescope with 100 times the sensitivity of the 305 meter diameter Arecibo telescope.

(SnIpped but basically only narrow band transmission would be detectable beyond 1 LY).

stupid junk filter

Source ; Frequency ; Bandwidth ; Tsys ; EIRP ; Detection
; Range ; (Br) ; (Kelvin) ; ; Range (R)


AM Radio ; 530-1605 kHz ; 10 kHz ; 68E6 ; 100 KW ; 0.007 AU ;


FM Radio ; 88-108 MHz ; 150 kHz ; 430 ; 5 MW ; 5.4 AU


UHF TV ; 470-806 MHz ; 6 MHz ; 50 ? ; 5 MW ; 2.5 AU
Picture


UHF TV ; 470-806 MHz ; 0.1 Hz ; 50 ? ; 5 MW ; 0.3 LY
Carrier


WSR-88D ; 2.8 GHz ; 0.63 MHz ; 40 ; 32 GW ; 0.01 LY
Weather Radar


Arecibo ; 2.380 GHz ; 0.1 Hz ; 40 ; 22 TW ; 720 LY|
S-Band (CW)

(SNIP)

Note : basically with 1 LY I was even generous as it seems TV and radio won't even go past *pluto*. Therefore my point is that the JPG with all range is misleading as those signal will go nowhere below noise signal. The only signal going outside and which might be recognizable is the arecibo one.

Re:You not going to find random radio signals!!! (1)

psydeshow (154300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32890358)

Welcome to 80 years ago. Our civilization has been spamming decipherable signals at the speed of light since it's been able to.

My alien day lasts 160 years, and I slept in this morning so missed your TV signals. But your beacon was unmistakeably sent by a tasty species, and I'm kinda hungry now, etc.

Re:You not going to find random radio signals!!! (1)

snap2grid (630315) | more than 4 years ago | (#32884174)

Sorry to rant a bit but why the hell would a civilization sent out a radio signal from their planet?

Doesn't even need to be a civilisation. There are commercial services available for individuals or organisations to broadcast whatever the hell they feel like into space for whatever reason. IIRC SFX magazine used to broadcast a .pdf of the current issue each month. Reasons don't have to be rational.

Setting the stage for irony? (0, Troll)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#32881254)

Cloudant is a Y-Combinator company whose founders have more than 10 years of experience managing multi-petabyte datasets.

Y Combinator is a new kind of venture firm specializing in funding early stage startups. We help startups through what is for many the hardest step, from idea to company. We invest mostly in software and web services. And because we are ourselves technology people, we prefer groups with a lot of technical depth. We care more about how smart you are than how old you are, and more about the quality of your ideas than whether you have a formal business plan.

Ironic, if ET is discovered by the kids down at your local middle school who have yet to outgrow their sweet tooth for Reese's Pieces.

Intergalactic Radio Stations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32881698)

Use whatever those guys are using to computer generate music and start listening for other planets' latest teen sensations.

Adjusting the TV (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 4 years ago | (#32881802)

It's like back when analog was around and trying to find the right position for the cheap antenna because you couldn't afford something better... except with SETI you can't be reasonably sure there's something to be found or the Intergalactic Space Government hasn't forced people to switch to digital yet.

GPU Algorithms?? (2, Insightful)

gabereiser (1662967) | more than 4 years ago | (#32881970)

What always amazes me (besides the argument that SETI project will never know if it actually has anything) is the fact that a lot of the data could be processed faster on the GPU than the CPU. Why not use some OpenCL or Cuda or DirectCompute to harness parallel computing power ON TOP of the current schema? Processing Perlin Noise on the CPU is ~5x slower than on the GPU these days so why not map the data to a texture and run the filters on the GPU instead?

Re:GPU Algorithms?? (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32884972)

They already use use CUDA [berkeley.edu] .

Re:GPU Algorithms?? (1)

gabereiser (1662967) | more than 4 years ago | (#32886000)

I stand corrected then sir. It's been a while since I've participated in SETI@Home. Seems they've kept with the times.

Speed of light + SETI = Bad Logic (2)

RFSSystems (1836080) | more than 4 years ago | (#32882088)

I don't understand this. Okay... so we're listening for signals coming from outerspace. These signals travel at the speed of light. Say we hear something that originated from 300 light years away... that means that it was 300 years ago when they emitted that signal. So in essence, if WE send out a "Hello?"... we're likely to get back a "What??" 300 years later. I really don't understand the logic, but more power to ya.

They don't care for communication (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32883016)

What they care for is finding other civilisation that way. Already knowing *somebody* is existing would be an incredible knowledge and confirmation to our theory that "we are not alone". You might not find that great, but to some of us , this would be an incredible finding. That said, I don#t think SETI will ever come to anything valid.

Re:They don't care for communication (1)

RFSSystems (1836080) | more than 4 years ago | (#32896978)

I agree completely. Finding any evidence of intelligent life, other than ourselves would be a huge leap for the human race. I find that thought to be fascinating. It's things like ALH84001, ancient Mayan/Sumerian/Egyptian artifacts and the fact that we received a short "message" from space that corresponded to the plaque on-board the Voyager probe... that stuff really blow my mind. There's bound to be life out there that we are oblivious to, and anyone who thinks differently needs to open their mind a bit. It just sucks that we may never know, at least in our life time what exactly is out there in our nearby cosmic neighborhood.

Here you go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32882624)

bool hasIntelligentAlienSignal( data signalData )
{
    return FALSE;
}

Message for SETI (1)

marianomd (1518677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32883070)

Check your inbox. -- S.R. Hadden

So Dr. Arroway... Wanna Code? (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#32883150)

I dream up, test and use signal analyses, but don't code (not since AppleSoft). I rely on others for that, but they have to have a grip on time series, especially oscillatory/pseudo-periodic signals. My source of study material in the brain, but I've readily adopted techniques from things like radio astronomy, and others have adopted some of mine.

I've got a set of algorithms in mind that'd detect interesting signals for later examination. Two of three already have open source variants. The third is mine, and isn't open source because it's not code, it's a set of instructions to follow when using most any commercially available research EEG software package. I would expect to make it open source once coded.

The set of tests would probably go:

1. continuous wavelet transform, for time/frequency analysis, finding signals in small frequency bins that persist or come and go within a time series

2. synchronization, testing for multiple signals in a narrow band that may shift in phase or near freq

3. blind source separation, pulls apart multiple signals convolved into a single one. Does it whether or not they're there, so s/n ratio is used to determine probability of being real

If needed: 2 recursive back to 1, 3 recursive back to 2 or 1, 2 or 3 may trade places

The middle one's mine. I've used all 3, so I know they work and what they can do. Others have used the first and third for various reasons. Each adds benefits where others have failings. Each can and probably would do more than I describe here. Statistical analyses can and would be developed from them. My paper of my technique stays mine until publication, any code developed would be open but frankly is easier to do as common steps built into existing packages, as far as my field is concerned. But that only means the validity is at least as good as the software I developed the process under, and it's very good.

I'm fairly free to work on this, maybe even travel if it'd help. If anyone wants to dig into the details of what's being made available by SETI to see if they can develop, and wants to try this, threesigma at rocketmail dot com

Quantum entanglement... (1)

nickdwaters (1452675) | more than 4 years ago | (#32883176)

SETI has been interesting only in that it has demonstrated, at least at our technology level, nobody is home and using electromagnetism to communicate. The next level of communication is utilizing "ansible" technology which leverages quantum entanglement, aka Einstein-Rosen Bridge. Quantum entanglement has been demonstrated recently at a distance of 10 miles, and there is no reason to believe any amount of "physical" distance is relevant for the "effect". Lots of luck detecting communication using this technique.

Serious Suggestion (1)

Jheralack (1067056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32883450)

I just happen to have a serious and concrete suggestion. http://www.cs.ucr.edu/~eamonn/iSAX/iSAX.html [ucr.edu] The referenced research paper includes experiments in which significant yet subtle changes in large time series data, such as a full night of EKG recording, can be identified two orders of magnitude faster than previous methods. The approach is relatively simple (the paper isn't heavy on math), and should scale very nicely to a parallel processing attack on the SETI signal detection problem.

move all data to (1)

mtjs (918147) | more than 4 years ago | (#32884126)

/dev/null

'The' Aliens do that too, they told me in a short radio message received through one of seti's dishes.

You're missing the point... (1)

Stone2065 (717387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32884944)

EVERY broadcast signal that starts on this planet, or the Moon, or in orbit radiates in ALL directions. We have little control over their directions, so we've been broadcasting into space for nearly a century. Plus, I think the Skrull, from a Fantastic Four comic a few decades ago said it best, when one of the Skrull told Reed Richards "If you knew what was out there in the universe, you would be HIDING, not trying to contact them..."

People dont understand time. There are no aliens. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32886178)

Do aliens exist? Yes. Have they found us yet? No. Why? Look at the age of the universe. Something like 13 billion years old. Billion.

Humans have been around for 200k years or so.

13 billion. 200k. We're not even a blip in the time line. We're a itty bitty teeny weenie fraction of a blip.

SETI is a total waste of time.

Re:People dont understand time. There are no alien (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 4 years ago | (#32901018)

Yes but what about colonization waves. I recently read a good novel, Manifold: Space by Stephen Baxter. It provides one possible answer. His previous book actually is based on no other aliens existing. That said while you make some sense I'm not convinced. Certainly we know from SETI how hard it is. (real hard)

...whom we lovingly call 'Elmo'. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32887640)

Well, whether I want to lend my algorithmic genius to this or not depends.

Lemme ask you, do you plan on keeping discoveries secret, reporting them to the White House first, until such time as the President can decide what to do?

so what if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32894218)

we assume that all the noise we are receiving already contains data? We could simply assume it is encrypted on a very high level, and therefore run a number of decryption schemes on it.

This just might be crazy enough to work - or just crazy. You choose.

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