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SETI Finds Funds For the Allen Telescope Array (For Now)

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the for-all-time-is-a-little-loftier dept.

Space 137

Ransak writes "It looks as if SETI has met its short term funding goal to restart the Allen Telescope Array. Is crowdsourcing the long term future of pure research projects?"

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Good to hear (2)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012532)

At least there's still a significant number of people interested in space.

Re:Good to hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37012560)

I thought that was the POINT of privatizing it.

Re:Good to hear (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012732)

And yet, somehow, none of our political leaders are. Aren't out Congressional representatives supposed to, you know, represent us in some form or another?

Re:Good to hear (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012774)

Are none of them interested in space, or just a minority ? In the latter case, it may be a correct reflection of the general population.

Re:Good to hear (1, Flamebait)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012852)

Uhhh...we're broke, it case you haven't heard. We have THREE wars going on now, an infrastructure falling apart, and at every turn you got the teabaggers, many of whom signed a "Never raise taxes, I don't give a fuck WHAT happens" pledge cockblocking at every turn.

I mean sure it'd be nice if we could afford science, hell I'd like to cut the military budget a good 40%, bring our boys home, kill the F35, and use that money to fund R&D to bring us back on top INCLUDING space tech, but that ain't gonna happen as long as we got teabaggers flinging shit everywhere like rabid monkeys and going "Give teh rich more MONIES LOL!"

ya know, never has a name been more apropos than that.......teabaggers. Because they sure as hell remind me of those little 14 year old Halo shitheads. But to fund space (and bridges, and SS/Medicare/Medicaid) you actually need this thing called ...oh what is it? Oh yeah money which the teabaggers would happily see the country go third world before ever making a rich man pay a dime. Remember the one who is bringing them the pledges to sign is none other than Grover Norquist, Mr "I want to drown government in the bathtub" himself. you think we can afford anything but bombs as long as THESE bozos are around? As if!

Re:Good to hear (1)

bejiitas_wrath (825021) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012934)

I doubt that they will stop the wars whilst people like Obama and others are in the White House and in charge of the nation with their own agendas that do not benefit the majority. Most people care more about Lady Gaga than space exploration.

Re:Good to hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37014012)

Or maybe space is dead because fundamentally, it IS dead? What's so appealing about an immense, deadly radiation-blasted vacuum? We can't even get our shit together on a planet that has EVERYTHING!

Re:Good to hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37013132)

"Aren't out Congressional representatives supposed to, you know, represent us in some form or another?"

Almost. They represent the lobbyists who then give them the money to buy our votes.

Re:Good to hear (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013304)

That is not how the democracy in US works. There, you vote for the rich guy with the most agreeable politics.

Re:Good to hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37013772)

"That is not how the democracy in US works. There, you vote for the rich guy that tells you what you want to hear."

FTFY Sorry, but the politics, as in the actual maneuvering, portion is largely ignored. The facade, the illusion of benevolent leadership is what is most people vote on.

Re:Good to hear (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013152)

Interested in space? This is communicating with space aliens, which is science fiction. It's slightly better than the army spending billions of dollars on remote viewing and other psychic nonsense, but it's still so far removed from science that I shudder to think of all the people wasting their talent on this. It's harmless, it's keeps idealistic dreamers busy, and there's the ever so slight chance that something interesting will turn up, so I'd say that it's probably not worth raising a stink over it. On the other hand, I'm glad that Obama is more concerned with practicality than idealism, because I find the idealism necessary to support SETI naive.

Maybe it's true what they say about how you become more conservative with age, because it becomes harder and harder for me to retain the idealistic beliefs that I had 20 years ago, when I was an ardent socialist. These days, I usually just hope for gridlock, so that nothing gets done and nobody fucks up the system any worse than it already is. I'm still probably more of a social democrat than anything else, these days, but it's difficult to even work up the enthusiasm and idealism for that watered-down philosophy. Oh well. Such is life for that most melodramatic of people, the disillusioned existentialist.

Re:Good to hear (2)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013312)

Interested in space? This is communicating with space aliens, which is science fiction. It's slightly better than the army spending billions of dollars on remote viewing and other psychic nonsense, but it's still so far removed from science that I shudder to think of all the people wasting their talent on this.

It is still science though - however useless it is, not science fiction.

Re:Good to hear (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013432)

It is still science though - however useless it is, not science fiction.

I wonder.. has SETI found anything at all that is the least bit scientifically interesting?

You would think that it would be the Search for Extra Terrestrial Unexpecteds, instead of Intelligence.

This:
Noise, Noise, Quasar, Noise, M-Class Star, Noise, Unknown, Noise, ...

Instead of:
Not Intelligent, Not Intelligent, Not Intelligent, Not Intelligent, Not Intelligent, Not Intelligent, ...

If you are going to analyze the data, then why on earth would you not try to classify and database as much as possible? Seems like a big waste of resources.

Re:Good to hear (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013622)

It is still science though - however useless it is, not science fiction.

I wonder.. has SETI found anything at all that is the least bit scientifically interesting?

You would think that it would be the Search for Extra Terrestrial Unexpecteds, instead of Intelligence.

They haven't found anything yet, and may never find anything at all. That certainly doesn't stop government agencies from spending millions and millions listening in on an undisclosed (yet presumably large) number of phone calls hoping to hear something besides Not Intelligent noise.

Sometimes the possibility of finding something is the only motivation (or justification) for searching for something. Hoping to stumble across it is not good research.

Re:Good to hear (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#37014720)

Let's see... Whose opinion should I trust about the scientific validity and importance of SETI: some random guy on the internet, or Carl Sagan [youtube.com] ?

Why was there a need for this? (3, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013756)

Shouldn't the "invisible hand of the market" have fixed this?

Re:Good to hear (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013928)

I think the SETI people are more interested in spacing-out.

Money (5, Funny)

identity0 (77976) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012536)

>Is crowdsourcing the long term future of pure research projects?"

It is in the US if the current budget news is any indication....

Re:Money (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012846)

Nice shitty little ad hominem attack there. SETI was defunded by the US government a long time ago because they're a bunch of slackjaws who couldn't write a decent grant proposal. Their amateur hour effort got laughed out of Congress.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37012928)

Nice shitty little ad hominem attack there. SETI was defunded by the US government a long time ago because they're a bunch of slackjaws who couldn't write a decent grant proposal. Their amateur hour effort got laughed out of Congress.

Protip: if you don't know the meaning of a word, don't use it. You can trick idiots into thinking you're smartar than you really are, but everyone else will know you're a fool.
Ad hominem is when you attack the other person instead of their arguments.

Re:Money (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013172)

Yes, but he has STRONG OPINIONS that NEED TO BE HEARD.

Actually, I've been debating adding him to my ignore list for a good long time, but I think he means well, even if he's a bit of pseudo-intellectual blowhard. Then again, aren't we all? This is Slashdot, after all.

One can either rage at all the trolls, pseudo-intellectuals, and partisans, or one can accept that the internet is actually a very amusing circus, and that each of us play our part to entertain the audience.

Re:Money (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37013582)

Yeah, except the quote wasn't referring to SETI at all, but "the future of pure research projects". I work in science (completely different field, though) and from discussions with colleagues I know many are getting nervous about finding funding in the future. This doesn't apply just to the US, and didn't start just now - but obviously it doesn't appear to be getting much better, as GP pointed out.

Re:Money (2)

colinnwn (677715) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013616)

The array construction costs had already been funded, so SETI must not be too bad at grant writing. All they needed was small amounts of operational funding. It was a novel design that allowed easy and cheap upgrades to the array performance, and had the side benefit of allowing concurrent SETI observations to reduce the marginal costs of those observations. It is specifically in their "charter" that hard science projects take observational priority, and SETI observations are secondary. It was retarded and short-sighted that the array was defunded. It demonstrates our society's complete lack of commitment to basic scientific research today; the same kind of research that allowed all the amazing advances of the space age.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37014076)

Hmmm... in the last 60 or so years the US has largely lead the way in R&D and pure science research and those that have come close have had their national wealth bolstered by the charities of the US military shouldering some if not most of the load of their national defense. This is to speak nothing of the foreign aid that the US has showered the world with. Maybe having other nations start to put in their fair share isn't too much to ask?
 
The world's population continues to turn to the US in nearly every instance of poverty and disaster but they're also the first to shit on the US when we're up to something they disapprove of. If those of you who don't like US policy and live in foreign lands would be so good as to tell your national leadership that you don't want US monies or defense in your lands please do so as vigorously as you attack the policies of the US. When you can turn the tables and not come to the US for monetary or military aid for 60 or so years then I'd be willing to take such snide remarks with a bit of credence.

I'm very happy to see this. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37012546)

It certainly indicates that there is a very healthy support on the ground for scientific research endeavours such as this. Could the same thing be said for research projects that are a little dryer? Who can say...

Despite that I am very happy for SETI to have received this funding and I am looking forward to seeing more fresh data coming from this project. Even more so that they did not need to shut down the cryogenic components.

Cue the jokes... (1)

caspy7 (117545) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012608)

...about what SETI *hasn't* found

obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37012618)

...about what SETI *hasn't* found

I for one welcome our new crowd sourced overlords.

Re:Cue the jokes... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013632)

...about what SETI *hasn't* found

Um, ok ... Did you hear the one about SETI finding enough funding to do their research? No, that's OK, no one has. ;-)

Read this as... (1)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012644)

I read this as "SETI Finds Funds For the Alien Telescope Array"...

Re:Read this as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37012658)

Yeah me too, but I'm half asleep and half fucking retarded.

Re:Read this as... (1)

bluemonq (812827) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012690)

That's all right, I read it as that three times, saw your comment, went back to the title, and still couldn't figure what was wrong until right now.

Re:Read this as... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013004)

Same here. Little bit of dust was on my screen in just the right place. I was very disappointed when I moved the browser window and it became Allen.

Re:Read this as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37014244)

Still, it is great that the search goes on, even if the space Allens remain elusive.

Re:Read this as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37013768)

I read this as "SETI Finds Funds For the Alien Telescope Array"...

Alien Telescope Army!

James Webb (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37012680)

SETI is a wast. James Webb is a much better project.
let the fight begin!

Re:James Webb (2)

djl4570 (801529) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012734)

Not sure it was a waste but I think the assumptions need to be revisited before throwing more money at it. If ET were broadcasting in the EM spectrum SETI should have detected a signal by now. Either we are looking at the wrong frequencies, or the signals are beneath the SN ratio, or ET isn't broadcasting in the EM spectrum.

Re:James Webb (5, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012906)

Actually, and I can't remember who said this, maybe some here can, but I remember reading how the odds that SETI would find squat would be so low as to be non-existent simply because there is only a teeny tiny window if you use our world as a model because one progresses from "blasting EM everywhere" to highly localized signals that don't go anywhere so quickly.

Look at how quickly we went from nothing to analog "blast EM everywhere" to tight digital sat signals. What 100 years? In space time that would be less time than a girl's little squeaky fart. So even if there were tens of thousands of races out there, and they all used the same EM bands we did the amount of time their signal was sent out into the cosmos was so damned tiny you would have to watch the entire sky simultaneously to have any hope at all and even then it would be teeny tiny odds. it is like a blind man trying to find a needle in Nebraska and the needle is moved randomly.

So while I thought the golden records were fine, hell it didn't really cost much to throw those on a ship we were launching anyway, I have to wonder if our limited resources wouldn't be better spent in studying our own solar system instead of hunting for ET. Hell even if we found ET it isn't like we could do a damned thing about it, the distances are simply too great. But if folks are willing to put up the cash because they are looking for ET? More power to ya, free country and all that.

Re:James Webb (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013020)

It's not just a question of blasting EM everywhere, it also has to be the kind of low frequency EM that will be distinguishable from noise at stellar distances. If there were another Earth-like civilisation around Alpha Centauri, at the same level of development, then we probably wouldn't spot them with SETI.

Re:James Webb (1)

djl4570 (801529) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013024)

Technological civilizations will only broadcast high power radio signals for a limited period of time, probably less than two centuries. The total number of alien signals that we might detect can be approximated by the following: The number of civilizations predicted by the Drake Equation minus the sum of the following: Fraction extinct or no longer broadcasting due to natural causes (i.e. Extinction level event such as a GRB, supernova, impact etc.), Fraction extinct or no longer broadcasting due to exchange of WMD, and the fraction that ceased high power broadcasts when they migrated to low power digital broadcasting. Given the large numbers predicted by the Drake Equation we should have heard from ET by now. Having not heard from ET we should reevaluate the premise on which SETI is based. Is the Drake Equation overly optimistic? It took two billion years for life on earth to evolve beyond primitive cells into more complex organisms. Life may not be as common as the Drake Equation suggests. Are analogue EM broadcasts detectible at the distances involved? We should have some baseline data on signal strength from the Pioneer and Voyager probes. What happens when we extrapolate that signal strength and SN ratio from a few AU to a few light years?

Re:James Webb (2)

sophanes (837600) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013536)

Read the original SETI report (NASA SP-419) - from its inception, SETI didn't expect to overhear information-bearing signals. Instead, it was looking for deliberately generated 'beacons' - high-powered, spectrally dense transmissions. These should be detectable over distances of the order of several thousand light-years.

Re:James Webb (1)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013990)

Well, even though the chances might be incredibly slim, I do not see the objection to looking for those signals. It's only futile until you find something.

Besides that, the tech they're using and developing is advancing telescope tech, so something good comes of it regardless of actually finding the ET life signals..

Re:James Webb (1)

hotdoghead (1577461) | more than 3 years ago | (#37014516)

It's a good telescope [wikipedia.org] .

"... the efficiency of the ATA will be increased by doing radio astronomy and SETI searches simultaneously."

In fact only one of the science goals listed is actually related to SETI, and the rest are quite interesting even if you think SETI itself is useless.

Safe Funding Source (2)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012728)

Is crowdsourcing the long term future of pure research projects?"

Why not? God knows funding from the government isn't safe anymore.

Re:Safe Funding Source (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013270)

Or rather,
Why not? God knows funding from the government isn't anymore.

Well, at least they found something... (2)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012760)

Finding the funding for an alien telescope array is the first step in actually finding the alien telescope array itself...

Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (3, Insightful)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012788)

Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. We do away with income tax and you get to spend your money on things you care about. Put it to use where it's most efficient.

Fund a telescope array, feed the needy, keep non-profit hospitals open, invest in the local electric car startups, go part time at work and volunteer at the local EFF. I'm willing to bet you can spend your money better than the government can. Crowdsourcing could be the way of the future of the government would just get off your backs.

No more bridges to nowhere and tax refunds for G.E.
No more occupations, murder and wars.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37012804)

Occupations, murder and wars are extremely efficient uses of resources for those who intend on profiting from those actions.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (2)

deadcrow (946749) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012826)

A great point. Because taxation is nothing but forced crowdsourcing. And inefficient croudsourcing at that, because the government only ever spends a small percentage of the take on projects.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (5, Insightful)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012832)

I'm willing to bet you can spend your money better than the government can

Yes, for some things. The free market is excellent at solving some problems. Government is good at solving other problems, and usually government programs are created after people notice that the free market isn't taking care of it.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (5, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012854)

Riiiight... and if we took your profound advice, every stretch of road would be owned by some corporation, there would be no "highway neutrality", and we'd wind up paying multiple tolls to drive anywhere... because the government wouldn't be allowed to tax anyone to collectively buy off the builders of the roads for the ownership (and CONTROL) of them. Who do you suppose paid for all the roads you traverse every single day for free? The government... WITH TAXES. Exactly how would you propose crowdsourcing our streets and national highway system?

Why do you think we're having these endless debates about "network neutrality" now? It's precisely because the government - WE - didn't insist on retaining ownership of all the telegraph, telephone, and telecommunications wires that companies like AT&T have been laying for more than a century. It's shared infrastructure, just like highways, and it should have been our government - us - paying to retain ownership (and control) of those wires... with taxes If we had done that, we wouldn't be worrying about network neutrality now because the wires would be TRULY neutral.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37012882)

except for the things that the government doesn't want to pass through it

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (2, Interesting)

genjix (959457) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012898)

And who says we need roads all over the planet? They're truly a scourge on the environment. Maybe we don't need roads to go right up to people's houses- they could drive and park to a spot and then walk 15 mins to their house. Either that or get public transport.

The current mess with cities is due to government over-regulation. Urban planners agree that suburbanism (suburban means less than urban FYI) is ugly. It was Jane Jacobs who asked "Are we building cities for cars of for people?" If the free market doesn't pay for it then maybe you should think that maybe it isn't needed.

Your internet argument is moot given that people can lay their own wires or easily route around using satellite dishes.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37014722)

>People can lay their own wires
Now you've gone full-retard

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37012856)

No more bridges to nowhere

No more bridges to anywhere

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012878)

Crowdsourcing could be the way of the future of the government would just get off your backs.

Your conclusion does not follow from your premise. Seems to me that the two are only marginally related.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (1)

damienl451 (841528) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013140)

"go part time at work and volunteer at the local EFF"

Fire up the stake! We all know that there is no such thing as an income effect and that lower taxes will mean that you'll work MORE, not less! How dare you challenge libertarian orthodoxy!

Disclaimer: I'm a classical liberal myself. I just couldn't resist pointing this out though ;-)

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (1)

cgomezr (1074699) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013146)

So instead of everyone having to pay for public services, let only the generous pay, while the egoists also get the benefits but for free (with the added advantage of having more money to spend in themselves, i.e., a better position in the "free" market).

Very efficient, yes. Maybe it's because I'm European, but I honestly can't understand how anyone but the super-rich can defend such an anarcho-capitalism. It's just beyond me.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (0)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013390)

So instead of everyone having to pay for public services, let only the generous pay, while the egoists also get the benefits but for free (with the added advantage of having more money to spend in themselves, i.e., a better position in the "free" market).

Very efficient, yes. Maybe it's because I'm European, but I honestly can't understand how anyone but the super-rich can defend such an anarcho-capitalism. It's just beyond me.

It's a religion. They believe in the invisible hand doing good, and only good.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37013464)

Welcome to the cheaters paradise. That road outside my door, let someone else pay for it,

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (1)

tgv (254536) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013518)

Except no-one would pay for the scientists getting their education in the first place. The world would very, very quickly become a dumb and hard place, run by tribal war lords. What? You think people are good and are interested in what you care about? Forget it. They want to have your car, your house, and your wife. And without police, they'll have it.

Wanna see how absence of government works? Go to Sudan.

Welcome to libertarian heaven, a.k.a. humanitarian hell.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37013542)

That's libertarians for you - anarchists who want police protection from their slaves.
Kim Stanley Robinson, "Green Mars" p318

Fitting quote.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37013858)

Wanna see how absence of government works? Go to Sudan.

Welcome to libertarian heaven, a.k.a. humanitarian hell.

Somalia is nice this time of year too.

Re:Welcome to the libertarian viewpoint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37014328)

Fund a telescope array, feed the needy, keep non-profit hospitals open, invest in the local electric car startups, go part time at work and volunteer at the local EFF. I'm willing to bet you can spend your money better than the government can. Crowdsourcing could be the way of the future of the government would just get off your backs.

Sorry, this is just idiotic. The rich will not voluntarily share their wealth with the poor out of sheer altruisms. Yes, there are exceptions here and there---particularly in case of people that are so insanely rich that there is no difference in their lifestyle if they spend 90% of their money---but in general wealthy people do not just help the public good, feed the needy, etc. Libertarianism is the same bullshit as communism, except that it replaces "insight" by "free market".

This is the way it's supposed to be (4, Interesting)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012814)

SETI, like all other religious endeavours, should be funded on donations by its adherents alone. The government has no business subsidising it.

And yes, SETI is about as scientific as Intelligent Design. The whole fundament of SETI is a belief that something must be out there, with no better theoretical basis than the Drake Equation.

Mart

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37012858)

SETI is perfectly scientific. You have a hypothesis ("There is intelligent life in the universe trying to communicate with us."), and conduct an experiment to test it.

Of course, there are a few cranks who have a religious belief that aliens exist ("They probed me three nights ago!") ... but a group of people capable of engineering a radio telescope must be a bit saner than that.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012922)

and conduct an experiment to test it.

Except that the likelihood of (a) some super advanced civilization existing (b) close enough that the EMF radiation didn't dissipate into unreadability and (c) that they'd actually have the foresight to know when and where we are listening is.. Z E R O.

The mere existence of SETI, that "serious" scientists could even think that "someone else" is bathing the universe with encoded signals, and that so many people want to pay money to listen for these non-existent signals is -- IMNSHO -- an even bigger indication of the decline of critical thinking in the US than Real Housewives Of Atlanta.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (2)

Ragondux (2034126) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013062)

I'm wondering how you calculated that probability of [b]ZERO[/b]. I have no idea about the number of advanced civilization out there, but the only one I know of did broadcast messages to potential neighbours. Granted, it did so for a very short time, so that probably wasn't very effective, but it tried, and it might try again.

You probably mean that that probability is not zero, but is too low for us to spend money on it. That would be a bit more reasonable, wouldn't it?

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013050)

SETI is perfectly scientific. You have a hypothesis ("There is intelligent life in the universe trying to communicate with us."), and conduct an experiment to test it.

So, if SETI is scientific, what outcome of the experiment would falsify their hypothesis? It is equally scientific to hypothesise that God exists and is watching us and test it by the experiment of staring at the sky and trying to spot him.

A real scientific theory makes predictions that can either be supported or contradicted by experiment. SETI makes no falsifiable predictions, and is therefore faith, not science.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37013216)

A real scientific theory makes predictions that can either be supported or contradicted by experiment. SETI makes no falsifiable predictions, and is therefore faith, not science.

I think you have an overly black and white view of the way science works. It's rarely as simple as "we run experiment X and if we see (do not see) Y then we accept (reject) theory Z.". Often you can only make statements like "given assumptions A, B, C we can excluded this region of parameter space of theory Z at the 95% confidence level." That doesn't mean theory Z is unscientific or that the experiment is worthless.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

Ragondux (2034126) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012860)

SETI is about belief that something may be out there. You don't search for something if you don't believe it might exist, what a surprise. What's unscientific is believing, like you seem to do, that we are very special and that there can't be intelligent life on the other billions of planets in the vicinity.

Once upon a time, SETI opponents relied on the fact that we didn't know if there were exoplanets. Now we discovered hundreds of them. What's your theoretical basis for claiming that life can only appear on Earth?

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (2)

Nutria (679911) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012992)

What's unscientific is believing, like you seem to do, that we are very special and that there can't be intelligent life on the other billions of planets in the vicinity.

Nothing in OP's message indicates that we are unique in the galaxy. The point is that we don't broadcast all sorts of messy EM, why should anyone else?

What would be a REAL scientific test would be to launch a large-antennae "Can you hear me now?" satellite with an ion engine aimed away from the orbital plane. Aim the antennae towards Earth. If it can't detect Earth signals at one Lunar orbital radius then SETI should close up shop and give the radio telescopes over to some worthwhile purpose. If it's still detecting signals at 120 AU, then the probability of SETI detecting something goes from zero to 10e-30.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

Ragondux (2034126) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013036)

The OP's message claims it is unscientific to believe that there is "something out there", it says nothing about broadcasting EM, or likelyhood of detecting things that actually are out there. There are many good criticisms to SETI's approach, calling it religious or unscientific just isn't one of them.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (0)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013064)

And like all true believers confronted with uncomfortable truths, you just refuse to listen.

I claimed it to be unscientific to believe in something out there with no better basis than the Drake Equation.

Actually reading the argument and addressing it next time, instead of burning down a strawman, would help your case.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

Ragondux (2034126) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013082)

I'm not part of SETI, never invested money in SETI and never will, because I don't believe they stand a chance of detecting anything. There goes your 'believer' ad hominem.

I assumed you meant that it was unscientific to believe in ETI today, with our current knowledge, because we only had the Drake equation. Did you mean that we have other evidence that could make it scientific, but the SETI guys only rely on Drake, so they're not scientific? If so, I stand corrected. If not, I think I addressed your argument, but feel free to ignore it and continue feeling unjustly attacked.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37013388)

Proper science can conclude, very quicky that the chances of finding ET are about sweet three fifths of fuck all. Even if you presume something is out there - and the chances of that are in itself about zero, intelligent life has only been produced once in Lord knows how long - the sheer distances involved mean that the only kind of signal we'll ever get is from a power source that was orginally a sun and even that takes our very best equipment to even sniff out so applying some logic what exactly are the chances SETI could ever sense anything?

SETI is a religion - it doesnt even pass the merest glance of maths, let alone the "Just look up at the massive expanse of space - you aint gonna find shit out there, even a planet is next to impossible to find"

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013784)

The point is that we don't broadcast all sorts of messy EM, why should anyone else?

SETI isn't looking for random EM transmissions (which last I heard would be lost after some 50 lightyears in background radiation anyway), but for directed beacons aimed into our direction and in general simply ways of how interstellar communication might work. Why somebody would transmit them? Well, we don't know, but there isn't all that much reason to think that nobody ever would try it either. Can't know how much or how little is out there until you start looking and searching.

What would be a REAL scientific test would be to launch a large-antennae "Can you hear me now?" satellite with an ion engine aimed away from the orbital plane

That wouldn't be science, that would be a waste of money, since we already know the answer to that reasonably well.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013936)

directed beacons aimed into our direction

Why and how "on Earth" would any advanced ET have known hundreds of years ago to aim a directed beacon at not just Earth (if it were aimed at Saturn, we wouldn't detect it), but Earth now when we have the technology?

Unless the thinking is that ET decided to continually blast directed EM beacons at every planet circling every star. Which is, of course, absurd.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#37014056)

Why and how "on Earth" would any advanced ET have known hundreds of years ago to aim a directed beacon at not just Earth (if it were aimed at Saturn, we wouldn't detect it), but Earth now when we have the technology?

For the very same reason why we "know" where to aim our antennas: Looking at the stars and planets around them gives you a very rough estimation for the likely hood of life. The hypothetical alien race likely has much better telescopes then us and thus more information about our planet, its atmosphere and composition (which in theory could let you detect things such as industrialization). Now of course that doesn't preclude all our assumption from being wrong, maybe an advanced alien race will consist of robots that love to fly around Hot Jupiters instead of more Earth like planets. So SETI might be looking at the wrong things, but you can't know that until you start looking and have searched a reasonable number of the things out there.

If anything, SETI is a hell of a lot closer to playing the lottery then it is to religion. The chance of "winning" might be small, but its non-zero and the potential "win" could be gigantic.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (0)

Nutria (679911) | more than 3 years ago | (#37014212)

If anything, SETI is a hell of a lot closer to playing the lottery then it is to religion.

Playing the lottery is a "tax on the mathematically challenged". Nothing that you or Ragondux wrote have convinced me that SETI is anything but a "tax on the reality challenged". Flat Earthers have a closer grip on reality [tufts.edu] .

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (2)

Ragondux (2034126) | more than 3 years ago | (#37014290)

Playing the lottery is being called a tax on the mathematically challenged because we know the expected payoff is negative. We (reasonable people) don't know the expected payoff of SETI, so it's a bet, not a tax or a scam. Most research is a bet.

(Please note I'm not trying to convince you, as you made it clear with your flat-earther comparison that you can't be convinced. I'm just stating my opinion for the sake of other readers: http://xkcd.com/386/ [xkcd.com] )

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013138)

What's unscientific is believing, like you seem to do, that we are very special and that there can't be intelligent life on the other billions of planets in the vicinity.

There is a serious mismatch between:

1) vicinity
2) billions of planets
3) SETI programs

If ET emits random radio waves, similar like we do on earth, and we wish to detect them with our SETI program, the vicinity does not have billions of planets, but just 7, namely the ones in our solar system.

Also, the Drake equation only estimates how many ETIs there are. It says nothing about our chance to detect each one. If you add those terms as well, the result is pretty much zero.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

Ragondux (2034126) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013184)

First of all, the OP seemed to question de belief that "there is something out there", not the belief that SETI can detect anything. Wikipedia says our galaxy is supposed to contain about 50 billion planets, so the belief that more than one might be inhabited doesn't strike me as unscientific or religious (given that we know of one that is inhabited).

I don't have much hope in SETI as it stands today, but I don't think they expect to catch random radio waves, I think they're hoping to catch a powerfully broadcasted "hello world", from much farther than our own solar system.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013220)

I'd call it religious if the Drake equation was used as a basis for the SETI experiment.

If you fix the Drake equation, it should be clear that the SETI experiment is pointless.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37012940)

SETI is testing the hypothesis that something is out there.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (4, Informative)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012970)

SETI is testing the hypothesis that something is out there.

No, they are testing that something is out there (but not too far), with a powerful transmitter, and using a big dish aimed at us at exactly the same time we are aiming our dish at them.

Everything else is too weak to detect.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013070)

And when Christians pray to God, and Muslims pray to Allah, they are testing the hypothesis that someone is listening to them.

See? Perfectly analogous.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013404)

And when Christians pray to God, and Muslims pray to Allah, they are testing the hypothesis that someone is listening to them.

See? Perfectly analogous.

Not perfectly analogous. Unlike Christians or Muslims, SETI does a scientific analysis of the results, and openly admits that they haven't yet found anything. You'll probably not find many Christians who tell you "yeah, well, I don't know if god hears my prayers, up to now I haven't found a sign that he does, but I keep trying."

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013486)

Indeed. "Winning a football game" serves as evidence that God exists for most religious yokels.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

varargs (2260180) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013548)

Yep. Hippie pseudo-science. Greenies everywhere should say a prayer to Al Gore for all the CPU cycles wasted on the so-called "Search for SETI." Jesus wept (or wiped).

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (2)

thue (121682) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013556)

And the search for the Higgs is also religious, because we have a belief that something is there? Of course not; we search to validate (or repudiate) our hypothesis.

It is a perfectly valid scientific hypothesis that intelligent life exists elsewhere, based on current scientific consensus. We are merely trying to confirm that hypothesis.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (5, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013736)

And yes, SETI is about as scientific as Intelligent Design.

That's bullshit. SETI does not proclaim that alien live exist, it doesn't proclaim anything. SETI is simply looking for it and they aren't exactly hiding the fact that they haven't found anything. In so far its not much different from a biologist or archaeologist running through a jungle or desert looking for interesting things, he might find something or not.

Intelligent Design is vastly different, as they proclaim to already have the answer and then try to support it with fraudulent evidence, ignoring a far better theory that already explains everything they try to explain.

The whole fundament of SETI is a belief that something must be out there, with no better theoretical basis than the Drake Equation.

It's not a believe, its an assumption that there might be something out there and you can't know how false or true it is until you start looking. Also the Drake Equation isn't the theoretical basis for SETI, its not even a theory in the first place, its just a fancy why of saying "I wonder how likely intelligent live would be?". It was meant to foster discussion on a conference some decades ago, not hard science.

Re:This is the way it's supposed to be (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013796)

GTFO of my Slashdot.

No it is not. (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 3 years ago | (#37012870)

If they reach $200000 for a project which is a prominent as seti, then i can say: no.

Must postings end with a rhetorical question? (1)

fche (36607) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013278)

Is there no end to the gimmick of inviting pop vox with a rhetorical question at the end of every posting?
Could we ever see questions for which our informed readership could have material answers?
Is there any purpose other than habit, or the quest for page views?
Well?

What a huge waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37013380)

Humanity is lost.

SETI Found Something!!!! (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013478)

OMG! I saw the words "SETI" and "Finds" and got immediately surprised! Was I the only one?

I just don't expect SETI to find anything... ever...

Re:SETI Found Something!!!! (2)

Xtense (1075847) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013568)

Nobody expected to find a new continent by going around the planet to India.

It's not a question of what we're looking for - it's a question of what we might find, and that, IMO, is what makes SETI worth keeping.

Progress needs 'random goals' even if unachievable (2)

winterice (1172013) | more than 3 years ago | (#37013764)

The way I see it is this: One of the way science and engineering advance, is when a difficult arbitrary goal is set with enough conviction. We try to reach to it, putting a lot of resources into it. Along the way, we are forced to solve difficult engineering problems and gain scientific insights. War is one way to achieve this (and certainly gets its share of resources) but trying to find life elsewhere or putting man on Mars, for example, is a much more pleasant way to do it.
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