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Seti Live Website To Crowdsource the Search For Alien Life

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the we-want-to-believe dept.

The Internet 90

bs0d3 writes "Scientists need your help in the search for life beyond Earth. The SETI Institute is asking the public to join in its hunt for signals from intelligent civilizations out there in the universe. Anyone can register on the new website, SETI Live, to help analyze data from SETI's radio telescope devoted to scanning the heavens for signals from E.T.."

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They pointed the dishes at Washington DC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203693)

Nothing registered.

Re:They pointed the dishes at Washington DC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39205199)

This was an original frosty, and you fuckers didn't even give it the consideration.

Earth (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203699)

>> intelligent civilizations out there in the universe

Why not start the search a little closer to home?

Re:Earth (5, Funny)

sehlat (180760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203723)

Because closer to home, like within 100,000 miles of Washington, the odds are VERY low.

Re:Earth (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203807)

intelligent civilizations out there in the universe

Why not start the search a little closer to home?

Because, in the so-apt words of Monty Python, 'There's bugger-all down here!'

And this is different from seti@home ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203705)

I just glanced over the website, and wasn't able to answer the question how this is any different from seti@home, buzzwords aside. Can anyone clarify?

Re:And this is different from seti@home ? (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204105)

Human eyes involved instead of computer algorithms.

Re:And this is different from seti@home ? (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205105)

how this is any different from seti@home, buzzwords aside

Unlike the SETI@home 'screensaver,' it probably doesn't permanently burn this image into your CRT's phosphors:

http://blog.sherweb.com/wp-content/uploads/seti_home_screen_l.gif [sherweb.com]

Re:And this is different from seti@home ? (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39206923)

CRT? You are still using a CRT for your computer?

Re:And this is different from seti@home ? (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207845)

CRT? You are still using a CRT for your computer?

The old SETI at home "screensaver" was popular ten years ago when most people were still using CRTs. Almost everyone I knew who ran it had their phosphors burned in their screen. That's what I was referencing.

Re:And this is different from seti@home ? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39225389)

I am. It still works, why replace it? Waste of good money I could spend elsewhere. I mean, I'm a nerd but I'm not Bill Gates.

When the last CRT burns out (or phosphors become too dim) I'll replace it.

Re:And this is different from seti@home ? (1)

NoseyNick (19946) | more than 2 years ago | (#39246525)

"Waste of good money I could spend elsewhere" - like on your electricity bill? Your CRT is using something like 60-120W more than an LCD.

That is until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203725)

Someone is going to fake results, lead to a massive hunt and cause a conspiracy of epic proportions... never let idiots look for ETL.

Re:That is until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203813)

never let idiots look for ETL.

I don't think anybody else is willing to do it.

Re:That is until... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204323)

Because god didn't create aliens. He only created humans and animals, and gave us the earth to fuck up and leave all the unbelievers to suffer on.

Re:That is until... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39208277)

Just send in Fox Mulder to investigate.

Better idea (5, Funny)

devleopard (317515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203733)

Hey, they could build an app that people could install on their computer or something! I think if they do that, they could give it a name like "distributed computing" or the like. Or even better, since most people use their computers at home, they could throw that in the name as well.

Re:Better idea (4, Interesting)

LivinFree (468341) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203795)

I thought the same thing. Although, from the site:
> One of the hardest parts of hunting for signals
> from space is separating what might be an ET
> signal from the earth-based RFI sources. We
> think that human eyes, and our amazing brains,
> should be better than a computer at finding
> interesting signals in the noise.

So it's an attempt to use the brain to manually pick out patterns? (I can't tell yet because the site may be overloaded - I get a "Loading..." screen but no updates.

I'm not sure that's a great idea, since the brain tends to make associations even if none truly exist.

Re:Better idea (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203925)

haha, I read that in Seth's voice. Maybe I listen to too much 'big picture science.'

Re:Better idea (2)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204277)

the brain tends to make associations even if none truly exist.

Bingo.

I see one of two possible scenarios:

1. A person is concentrating so hard on ignoring earth-based signals that they mistake anything that could possibly be there as one and any potential discovery is missed.

2 (far more likely). SETI suddenly gets reports of eight million new signals because as you say, we're far too good at seeing patterns in noise.

Re:Better idea (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204563)

> One of the hardest parts of hunting for signals from space is separating what might be an ET signal from the earth-based RFI sources

I saw something on TV a while back called, "Superjail" that might very well have been an alien transmission.

It was really really good, so if it was made by aliens, I really hope they come back soon.

Re:Better idea (2)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205907)

Your missing a key point though. Human brains make associations where none exist precisely for the same reason they are good at what computers are not.

Human brains are amazingly powerful pattern recognizers. We pick up almost any pattern that exists. Sometimes however those patterns are not significant and we get confused by it, but in this case, SETI just wants *any* pattern to be picked up. The RFI junk can be filtered out easily enough, but its finding the patterns thats hard. Its better to find all the patterns that exist but include some that are not significant, then not find any including the ones that are significant

I'm dubious (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39220309)

Whether or not there's intelligent life out there, I seriously doubt that we would recognise any alien signals as communication.

Some SF on this subject:
A strange discovery [slashdot.org]
We still haven't found extraforgostnic life [slashdot.org]
Both look at it from the perspective of aliens looking for us.

Re:Better idea (1)

pezpunk (205653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203893)

haha yeah i had seti@home installed on so many computers .. surprised that pretty visualization didn't get burned in to the monitors.

Re:Better idea (3, Interesting)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204305)

I knew a few people that worked at AOL in it's heyday. At one point AOL was one of the biggest contributors (cpu cycle wise) to SETI@home. I don't think it was a corporate idea. I believe that someone started installing it for their own personal reason and a sizable part of the company seemed to think it was a good idea.

Re:Better idea (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39210289)

A friend of mine used to install Seti@home as a service on all of his corporate desktops. The whole company was running Seti@home and didn't know it!

Re:Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204281)

You mean, seti@home before they fucked it up with that boinc thing? I dedicated decades of whole companies' idle computing time to them before that. It was better than showing a 3d clock on windows screensavers....

Re:Better idea (3, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205283)

But costed the company in terms of an increased power bill. You're lucky you weren't using modern GPU and CPU technology. Depending on how many powerful workstations you have in an office environment, you might pop the circuit breaker searching for ET.

Re:Better idea (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205311)

Thin provisioning for power is not a good idea. It will bite you in the rear, hard, the first time you have a power outage, and when the electricity comes back every device turns on and all the UPSes start charging as fast as they can, simultaneously.
That buys you another power outage.

Re:Better idea (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39208161)

True. However with newer computer technologies, they can be both extremely efficient in low power consumption and draw upon a tremendous amount of power on demand. The delta change in power consumption for each workstation can anywhere from 250 Watts on up. So imagine all workstations getting maxed out in both CPU and GPU? Such a scenario is extremely unlikely in average day to day work use. But queue up a CPU/GPU distributed processing program for all workstations...well it could be a bad day.

Re:Better idea (1)

fremsley471 (792813) | more than 2 years ago | (#39206493)

The boinc move also removed my interest. I was enjoying seeing my results from implementing all that spare capacity; it was quite a bit of work across a number of architectures, and I felt a little proud being part of it.

Then they just started again, in a relatively non-intuitive manner, and what you'd done before didn't count. Lost interest, dedicated the cpu space to Condor and went away.

I already donated to an alien life search company (2)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203741)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7YK2uKxil8 [youtube.com]

After Peter Weyland's brilliant TED speech I donated my money and spare computing power to the Weyland Corporation.

From April 2010 (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203745)

SETI To Release Data To the Public [slashdot.org]

"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.'"

Brilliant idea (4, Interesting)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203753)

It's not as if the humans most likely to spend time looking for ETI signals are also the most likely to be affected by optimism and confirmation bias. I'm sure we'll see many more signals than when boring computers did it.

Re:Brilliant idea (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203941)

What they are lookimg for doesn't work well on computers... certainly not as well as humans. While confirmation bias will be an issue, its not like they aren 't double checking.

Re:Brilliant idea (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204317)

Confirmation bias isn't an issue. Citizen Science works by people characterising various signals - such as categorising galaxies or pointing out transits in light curves. When someone flags up a potential find, the software then farms it out to multiple people. The current target for Galaxy Zoo is 30, which they deem enough for the moment. In addition the software does sneaky things like inverting images because apparently orientation is a big factor in whether you percieve a galaxy to be rotating clock or anti-clockwise.

Similar approaches apply to the Planet Hunters site:

We will always identify the simulated transit points in red after you’ve classified the star and list the radii and period of the simulated planet we injected into the light curve. The reason we don’t identify the simulated data first, is that if you knew the lightcurve had simulated events you might look at it differently. To be able to use the data from the simulated transits accurately, we need them to be examined in exactly the same conditions as the real lightcurves.

The people organising these sites know very well what humans are capable of misconstruing.

SETI can't detect earth-like civilizations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203809)

Current SETI projects would strain to detect an earth-like civilization even at our nearest stellar neighbours. I heard some talk years back about using MWA-LFD but I have no idea if it ever came to fruition. Until SETI improves its resolution, this is all just masturbation.

Re:SETI can't detect earth-like civilizations (4, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204527)

"Until SETI improves its resolution, this is all just masturbation."

Well, then, count me in!

Re:SETI can't detect earth-like civilizations (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 2 years ago | (#39206597)

> > "Until SETI improves its resolution, this is all just masturbation."

> Well, then, count me in!

Is this what they call the Slashdot effect? :-P

Re:SETI can't detect earth-like civilizations (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205335)

Well, they have conducted experiments that should be sensitive enough to pick up airport radar within several hundred light years and that would pick up a directed ping from an equivalent antenna over 10000 light years away. Our TV and radio signals are too weak and airport radar would be a lucky blip with no content, but the last one sounds like something we'd do in the next 50 years as we find good candidate exoplanets so we should be able to hear civilizations slightly more advanced than our own, assuming they want to talk to us and everything is pointing in the right direction. But yes, it would take a fair amount of luck right now. Of course we are building much larger arrays, the Square Kilometer Array should be done in another decade or so but everybody wants to be the first to make the discovery so we'll take the slim chances too.

"me too" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203895)

What's the point? We already know the Turians will find us, and we'll know in 2 weeks the feud with the Reapers.

Is SETI wasting its time? (5, Interesting)

Froggels (1724218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203969)

Is SETI wasting its time listening for radio signals? Just how powerful would a stable radio signal (such as a television type of transmitter)have to be at the source from a "nearby" star-system (say 20 light years) in order to be detected here on Earth, and as a corollary to that question, how powerful would an inadvertent stable signal on Earth have to be in order to be be detected at the same distance using similar equipment as that used by the SETI program? Do we even transmit anything strong and long enough that it could be detected at such a distance? I would imagine that the signal-strength would drop off too quickly to be detectable.

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (3, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204131)

They are wasting their time if the (presumed) radio signals signals are like ours -- planet bound and not intended for other ears. If, however, someone is sending something this way intentionally, then it's well within the bounds of reason that we could hear it. With the relatively simple creation of an antenna and transmitter system in space, there's no reason a signal we could hear couldn't be produced. In fact, this is likely the only way, because the portion of the spectrum SETI is listening in isn't likely to be used for communications on a planetary surface, or if so, certainly not at the radiated power levels and steady aim required to light up any sort of detection at this end.

However, I would ask, why not light? You have a handy sun nearby, radiating all manner of otherwise unused visible energy... all you need to aim, focus and modulate that -- are mirrors. Seems like an altogether easier project, and certainly less expensive, plus less likely to have technical problems.

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (1)

nomel (244635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204355)

Beings that we're just now able to see *entire planets* orbiting distance suns, I doubt a relatively small array of mirrors, encircling a sun (you would want omnidirectional) would be even close to visible. If they were intentionally going for ease and being highly omnidirectional, I think RF would be the way to go.

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205683)

I doubt a relatively small array of mirrors, encircling a sun (you would want omnidirectional) would be even close to visible

Planets are very poor reflectors. Not comparable. You've not got your head wrapped around the thing. RF isn't that different from light in terms of visibility, focus, etc... except you have to *make* it, therefore need a power plant, etc. whereas the light has already been made for you, for free, quite reliably, and at quite significant energies. Light also concentrates wonderfully, and with smaller gear, because it is of (considerably) shorter wavelength than most RF.

BTW, omnidirectional is a really, really bad idea: it ups the energy required by many orders of magnitude. What you do is point at a target, let fly, then point at the next target, let fly, etc. Repeat and loop. You might have several installations doing this at various points, but not all directions at once.

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (1)

nomel (244635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267409)

>Planets are very poor reflectors. Not comparable.

Not comparable!??? From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :
"The average overall albedo of Earth, its planetary albedo, is 30 to 35%, because of the covering by clouds, but varies widely locally across the surface, depending on the geological and environmental features."

Just because one square inch of mirror reflects better than one square inch of planet surface does not mean the mirror will be more visible. Your positionable mirrors will still need to cover a surface area that's a pretty large fraction of a planet.

BUT unfortunately that's not how Kepler detects planets [nasa.gov] . Assuming the detectors can detect an increase in brightness as well as a decrease...you're going to need an array that's close to 100% reflective and exactly the size of a planet.

>What you do is point at a target, let fly, then point at the next target, let fly, etc

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :
"While only about a dozen planets have been confirmed in the habitable zone, the Kepler spacecraft has identified a further 54 candidates and current estimates indicate that there are "at least 500 million" such planets in the Milky Way."

Either the transmitter or receiver will need to have a wide lobe...otherwise the probability of intercept is stupid low. If you could position your absolutely massive mirrors array at a rate of 1500 planets/second, you would, on your receiving planet, see a signal once every three days for 1/1500 of a second. Kepler can see something like 15 degrees, and requires DAYS of averaging to get something statistically useful [nasa.gov] . Seeing a 1/1500 second signal even with, literally, planet sized light blockers or reflectors isn't anywhere close to our grasp yet.

Not saying that some aliens aren't doing this....but I don't think we're ready to see it yet.

And, if you're talking about planet sized mirror arrays being feasible, why not planet sized light blockers arrays that can be modulated? Way easier to construct. Is there a benefit in making the average brightness of a sun look brighter rather than darker?

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (1)

nomel (244635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39268949)

And yes, I realize 1500 planets a second is a stupid low number considering a realistic beam width. Point is, anything you do will have to be over days aimed at a single planet...assuming you're trying to talk to us right now.

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205403)

I can so see an alien Stephen Hawking come up with the brilliant idea of beaming radio pulses at this nearby G-type star (us), and getting funding for a couple years.

And then I can totally see the local legislature pulling the funding for all that 'Buck Rogers stuff that nobody will get any use out of' in favor of buying itself some more votes and/or shutting the local neocon-alikes up before they march on the government with pitchforks and torches to kill them because the thought of intelligent life other than on Zykos is an affront to the gods.

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205695)

In our case, funding for this kind of thing, however clumsy, has been unavailable basically due to fear. Congress has looked at funding several proposals over the years and has come down pretty solidly on the side of "seems like a risky idea. If it doesn't work, it's a waste, and if it DOES work, we could be in huge trouble." Listening for aliens is one thing... yelling "here we are!" is quite another.

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39205943)

We do in fact transmit signal powerful enough to be seen by distant stars. For example when doing adaptive optics imaging we shine a laser into the sky which outshines the sun at a very specific wavelength.

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39207009)

Better go drop a note to the teams of PhDs at Berkeley running SETI since they clearly didn't think about this very hard! LOL. Moron.

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (1)

sithlord2 (261932) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207025)

Good point. And if the aliens use digital communication (maybe with a bit of encryption and DRM on top of it :p), it will only show up as noise after analog conversion.

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (1)

schiefaw (552727) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207705)

Good point. And if the aliens use digital communication (maybe with a bit of encryption and DRM on top of it :p), it will only show up as noise after analog conversion.

Even digital data uses a carrier wave.

The problem with this idea is that the human brain does not react well to large amounts of negative data. Eventually, the mental "squelch" of the viewer will drop to the point where they will see a pattern whether one exists or not.

I could see sending flagged data to humans, but this project is in "real-time". I think this is just a publicity gimmick.

Re:Is SETI wasting its time? (1)

khakipuce (625944) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207185)

Probably because of timing. We just assume that our civilisation will go on for ever, but our own history shows that all civilisations die out in only a few thousand years. Given that if an asteroid hadn't randomly hit earth 65 million years ago a species that developed radio could have evolved any time between 65 million year ago and anytime in the future. There is no reason to suppose that there is any species in the galaxy whose evolution and scientific development is coincident with ours.

Hasn't this already been done? (1)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204003)

I seem to remember an application like this back in '96/'97 timeframe that did the same thing with the fledgling WWW, around the same time as the Mersienne prime # search app. Did that happen?

Re:Hasn't this already been done? (1)

Froggels (1724218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204081)

That sounds like seti@home which is still around.

Design of life (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204019)

Isn't it curious that scientists can treat the search for intelligence as a scientific matter? Unfortunately, society (and many scientists) are not ready to consider the hypothesis that life and the universe (or aspects thereof) are products of intelligence.

Some scientists are willing to accept that life on our planet may have been seeded by life or proto-life from elsewhere in the universe, and others are willing to concede that someday scientists may be able to synthesize life in the lab. But, very few are willing to allow for the idea that life itself is the product of intelligent action.

The irony is that the evidence for design is far stronger than the evidence for completely naturalistic origin.

Re:Design of life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204207)

The irony is that the evidence for design is far stronger than the evidence for completely naturalistic origin.

[citations needed]

Re:Design of life (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204849)

The irony is that the evidence for design is far stronger than the evidence for completely naturalistic origin.

[citations needed]

It's not provable. But you sound like an imbecile when you say life evolved from nothing and out of random chance in this completely entropic universe. You sound like a fool when you speak of theories of order coming out of disorder. It flies in the face of your rock-solid thermodynamics equations.

So we need a citation for your nonsense. I don't think you have any proof, either.

Re:Design of life (1)

ArghBlarg (79067) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205347)

Wow, you've never heard of the Miller-Urey experiments, or considered that local entropy can decrease, so long as the entropy in the surroundings increases to match? There are a raft of real-world phenomena where molecules spontaneously self-organize given some energy gradient.

Ah, why am I bothering, if you can look up everything, if you're actually willing. The onus isn't on everyone else to prove some invisible sky-man doesn't exist...

Re:Design of life (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205475)

There's what, 100 billion stars in our galaxy? Say, 1 in a thousand has a planet in the proper zone from its primary for carbon based life and liquid water. That's 100 million planets capable of carrying life as we more or less know it. How many galaxies are there in this universe? Every time I hear a number, I hear a bigger one 6 months later. Say, 250,000 galaxies so far, even though that's liable to be on the low side (any astronomy geeks handy??) So, we're looking at over 100 billion planets where life might be possible. They've already demonstrated how simple proteins could have formed 3 billion years ago here on earth. You're telling me that it's over 100 billion to 1 that life would start by itself? I think it's more likely that there's several hundred million planets in the universe with life on them. The odds seem to be on my side. For extra credit, look up 'the Drake Equation', even though I didn't go all the way through it, and keep in mind that Earth is 4.5 billion years old. It's not like life showed up, oh, say, 6000 years ago...

Re:Design of life (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205747)

The marketing departments of a number of failed businesses used the same math. You didn't show what the possibility is, you showed what all you don't know.

Re:Design of life (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39209305)

And you showed that you have no comprehension of mathematics. Turn in your geek card.

Re:Design of life (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39210079)

You're right. I'm terrible at math, I used to work ib marketing. And... we used the same sort of math to project our profits!

Re:Design of life (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211323)

And yet you've never heard of the Drake Equation.

Lemme guess. Bookkeeper? Accounts clerk? Harvard MBA?

Re:Design of life (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39211799)

And yet you've never heard of the Drake Equation.

Yes, I have, and you are misunderstanding it.

Lemme guess. Bookkeeper? Accounts clerk? Harvard MBA?

I can see we have a reading comprehension problem in general, here, as opposed to just the one that prevents you from understanding what the significance of that equation is. I just said I was bad at math and I was in marketing. Why would you compliment me by asking if I was a bookkeeper, accounts clerk, or even an MBA?

Anyway, you're misunderstanding it in a way that is hilariously similar to the way I've seen a marketing department fail. Let's boil it down:

"If one in a thousand planets meets some criteria that means there's billions of them out there!"

That's not a measurement of data you know. It's an indicator of what you don't know. The key word? If. Since you do not know what the conditions are for life to exist anywhere, all you're saying is: "Welp, there's lotsa places to look!" That may sound like it means lots of life is out there, but since you're missing the key info of what it takes to get life started on an average planet, it doesn't mean anything.

I'll put it another way, at the company I did marketing work for, we figured that the market we were entering our product into made something like 15 billion a year. So the math we used was: "If we sold our product to just one percent of those people, we'd be raking in tens of millions of dollars!"

We all nodded our head in agreement, hilariously unaware of how stupid we were. You see, we didn't factor in one crucial bit of the equation: Nobody wanted our product. Anything times zero is zero.

I don't imagine you're going to let this soak in, and that's fine. Just remember that a similar style of math was used to prove that we never actually landed on the moon. Turns out there's a less than one percent chance of safely landing a man there. Who know we could beat the odds so consistently?

Re:Design of life (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39224797)

The odds are that there's life in other solar systems, and even greater (almost a certainty) that there's life elsewhere in the universe, but considering how slow EMF travels through the incredible distances between stars, it's also highly unlikely we'll come into contact with any of it any time soon.

There are only a handful of stars within 50 light years, and odds are good that there's no intelligent life on any of them. Odds are even greater that we could never communicate with them even if we knew they were there.

Re:Design of life (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205495)

It's not provable. But you sound like an imbecile when you say life evolved from nothing and out of random chance in this completely entropic universe. You sound like a fool when you speak of theories of order coming out of disorder. It flies in the face of your rock-solid thermodynamics equations.

Um, no. The entropy of an entire system has to remain the same or go up, but there's nothing preventing parts of a system from losing entropy. Your air conditioner is a good example of that.
But anyhow, life doesn't imply order. If anything, life has increased entropy considerably, through chemical reactions and using energy. What you think of as "order" has nothing to do with the scientific term.

First you say:

The irony is that the evidence for design is far stronger than the evidence for completely naturalistic origin.

Then you say:

So we need a citation for your nonsense. I don't think you have any proof, either.

So because you cannot provide the evidence you claimed, your opponents should provide proof?
Do you not know or care about the difference between evidence and proof? Or that you've been called out on a lie?

Re:Design of life (1)

terjeber (856226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39215743)

The irony is that the evidence for design is far stronger than the evidence for completely naturalistic origin.

Evidence? You are jesting, right? Nobody has even formulated a single alternative theory about the origins of life. Evidence? There is none.

How exactly is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204263)

Seti has been "crowd sourcing" since I was in high school...which was some time ago now.

Re:How exactly is this news? (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204345)

The point of SETI@home is to make use of otherwise unused CPU time. This new application is much more hands-on, allowing for human-based pattern identification (we are awfully good at that, after all).

Is there any kind of signal... (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204371)

... that an automated search WOULDN'T find but that a sentient being would recognize? Perhaps by being able to pick up some sort of quantum phenomenon that wouldn't register with deterministic sensors? (I read that there the was a proposed experiment to see if the human eye could perceive quantum entangled images; if they could, the subject would see some sort of pattern, if not just random "static").

Perhaps if the galaxy was full of self-replicating machines bent on the destruction of organic life, this would be a way for the organic life to seek out each other without attracting the attention of the machines. This follows from such sci-fI books as "The Forge of God".

Anyway, if such a signal were discovered and it was determined to be encoded in such a manner, we would seriously have to think about our safety in our galactic neighborhood! Perhaps there would be an effort to enact radio silence on a planetary scale.

(Ok, enough with the wild speculation).

Excellent idea! (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204417)

Look for the aliens here already. I find them in nearly every crowd and flash mob I have been in. Oh, thats not what was meant by crowdsourced?

Dupe! (1)

Reeses (5069) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204909)

I'm pretty sure this is a dupe.

http://news.slashdot.org/story/98/04/17/91338/seti-at-home [slashdot.org]

Don't the editors double check for anything around here?

So, ... (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205129)

... it has come to this.

Re:So, ... (0)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205343)

Please don't. That xkcd meme is a new low, even for slashdot.

Re:So, ... (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207323)

but it got +4 Funny. You need to get laid.

Re:So, ... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207545)

but it got +4 Funny. You need to get laid.

I'd say the moderators need to get laid...

Re:So, ... (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | about 2 years ago | (#39220191)

Hey everybody! We're all gonna get laid!

Someone please change the description (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205821)

Nothing is unique compared to its '90s counterpart except the name...

I sincerely hope not (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 2 years ago | (#39206131)

I sincerly hope that if there are aliens out there, we'll never find them, or rather, they never find us. As life on Earth is 3 billion years old, and the aliens can't be less developed than we are, give or take a few centuries, or they wouldn't transmit signals we can detect, there's a 99.9% chance that they are more developed than we are. Not by a decade, but probably by a few million years. A few million years ago, the most intelligent life on earth was as smart as cows. So, if aliens find us, they won't consider us equals, they will see us as live stock or zoo animals, or worse, as food. So for heavens sake, don't let them find us. There should be a global ban on sending out signals that aliens can detect, and there should be prison time for people who try to contact alien life forms.

Re:I sincerely hope not (1)

jerryjnormandin (1942378) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207331)

Wow! That's the same perspective I have on the subject!

Re:I sincerely hope not (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39208849)

I believe it would be impractical for a space fairing race to be reliant on meat for food, or at least meat grown naturally rather than lab grown.

Any resource the Earth has, other uninhabited planets have more.

We would make horrible slaves since we would just barely be able to grasp their technology, we might make decent soldiers, but we would make great pets.

How far our signals have travelled (1)

labradort (220776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207261)

First, to share the link that was going around on google+. Here is a shot of a galaxy similar to our own with a yellow dot to show how far radio waves would travel out from the center of the yellow dot in 200 light years.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2107061/Earth-calling-Tiny-yellow-dot-shows-distance-radio-broadcasts-aliens-travelled.html [dailymail.co.uk]

From this you can see our efforts are puny.

The Arecibo message is now revealed to be a complete joke. It was aimed at a cluster 25,000 ly away which will be in a different place by the time our carefully crafted bitmap arrives from 1974, and of course it would take 50,000 years for any reply to come from that message if it had been aimed properly. I feel the current SETI efforts are in the same minor league of effort as this.

The other thought I have, to expand on another made here about use of light... What about these gamma ray bursts which arrive here once in awhile and show enormous releases of energy? Has anyone considered that they could be the equivalent of flashing a light in your eyes to see if you are paying attention? We don't have the means to produce such a burst of energy, and so it was assumed this must be a natural event. But we are thinking of our technology and our scale of capability. It doesn't mean there isn't another being capable of massive energy releases like this, to act as a lighthouse beam of sorts

I don't think anniuncing our existance is good (1)

jerryjnormandin (1942378) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207317)

Hmm... Why do we assume aliens are friendly ? What if they exhausted their natural resources ? What if they are looking for a source of food and we look like cows to them ? I don't think it's a good idea to assume E.T. is friendly. I don't think I watched way too much sci fi in my lifetime. I just think we really need to be careful.

Re:I don't think anniuncing our existance is good (1)

cpghost (719344) | more than 2 years ago | (#39213059)

Actually, it tells a lot about one's way of thinking whether he/she considers aliens as potential friends or as potential enemies. Prior sci-fi used to be mostly of the former optimistic kind (think Star Trek e.g.) with the hostile alien being the exception, or at least the minority. Newer sci-fi belongs to the latter pessimistic kind and is a lot darker and quite depressing. What turned a formerly mostly utopian-minded readership into a mostly dystopian-minded one tells a lot about the state of the country they're living in, IMHO.

Re:I don't think anniuncing our existance is good (1)

jerryjnormandin (1942378) | about 2 years ago | (#39219847)

Yeah but assuming that an alien life form could be helpful and friendly is foolish. You don't know one way or the other.

hmmm (1)

samsonov (581161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39208795)

Time to unearth my speak and spell.
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