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SETI Project Scientist Discusses Prospects

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the sky-big-and-expansive dept.

Space 384

An anonymous reader writes "Today Astrobiology Magazine interviewed SETI@home Project Scientist, Dan Wertheimer, about subjects including the first detailed 'best of SETI' candidate reobservations for repeating telescope acquisition on the most promising 166 star candidates. Their policy is not to release precise sky coordinates on the best ones yet (so far a signal called SHGb11+15a), with this type of Gaussian signal shape. The candidates number some 400 million Gaussians and 5.7 billion spikes."

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384 comments

In the shade of an old oak tree (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660549)

I take shelter in the shards of an abandoned house. It's comforting to be in darkness.. like the feel of cold dew-covered grass brushing against your feet as you step through a field on a sticky morning.. or the piercing pain of a thorn ripping through your flesh reminding you that you are still alive. It's a feeling that grows from deep inside.. and sometimes it wells up until a point where I feel like smiling. But I can't smile when I am alone, only when I'm with you. Only for you do I smile. When you are gone I carry it in my pocket with my knife.

u_make_me_smile [oo00o00o00ooo]
_make_me_smile_ [willjoobeeemy]
make_me_smile_u [daruhlinghuuh]
ake_me smile_u_ [ooohwilljoobe]
ke_me_smile u_m [pleeezletmeno]
e_me_smile_u ma [cuziwantyouso]
_me_smile_u_mak [badbabyohhyes]
me smile_u make [puhleezgiveit]
e_smile u_make_ [rightnowohyea]
_smile_u make_m [smoooochyanow]
smile_u_make_me [giveittopoppy]
mile_u make_me_ [nowdontbeeshy]
ile u_make me_s [causeyouredad]
le_u_make_me sm [willmakeyouuu]
e_u make me_smi [feelsooogoood]

Visit Vuk Cosic's Gallery [ljudmila.org] for abstract ascii art.

Re:In the shade of an old oak tree (-1)

iluvtrolls (717573) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660626)

This was a great troll! You fucking faggot A.C. why didn't you post with a name so I could add you to my friends list [slashdot.org] , YOU FUCK!

Next time try trolling while logged in, Faggot.

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Re:In the shade of an old oak tree (-1)

SpongeScrodSpareCock (717608) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660864)

From the nasty man makes crevase dept [goatse.cx] you may love trolls, but I will only love your anus harder than you ever imaged you faggot!

I don't know about you all, (2, Funny)

Wigfield (730339) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660568)

but I, for one, welcome our new radio communicating alien overlords.

Usefull info on SETI@home graphs (-1, Troll)

tr0llx0r (730590) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660573)

Key Features of Persistency Graphs An important step in SETI@home's signal detection process is to identify radio waves that remain consistent in frequency and location across time. Persistency graphs are used to examine the details of these persistent events, and multiple graphs are often used together to compare event characteristics as well as focus on specific distributions of spikes, Gaussians, pulses, and triplets. The graph itself is actually a combination of a waterfall plot and two histograms, all of which are explained below. Graph label Each persistency graph has a label at the top describing which types of events are plotted ("All Signals", "Spikes", "Gaussians", "Triplets", or "Pulses"), the ID of the identified persistent event, and the time when the event was detected. The waterfall plot The frequency (x-axis) histogram The frequency histogram shares its x-axis (frequency) with the waterfall plot. It shows how many events in the vicinity of the target event (the purple diamond in the waterfall plot) are at each frequency. A spike in the histogram (at 1419.903 MHz in the sample graph, for example) means that there's a particularly large number of detected at that frequency. These histogram spikes typically represent RFI bands; if a target event has the same frequency as one of these bands, it's likely the event is rfi. The time (y-axis) histogram The time histogram shares its y-axis (time) with the waterfall plot. As more events at different frequencies are detected at specific times, the line will spike to the right--a characteristic of a Cum Loving Slut. Since broadband signals require a great deal of energy to produce, the source of such signals is most likely either astronomical phenomena or rfi.

FORMATTED! IGNORE PARENT! (-1, Troll)

tr0llx0r (730590) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660607)


Key Features of Persistency Graphs

An important step in SETI@home's signal detection process is to identify radio waves that remain consistent in frequency and location across time.

Persistency graphs are used to examine the details of these persistent events, and multiple graphs are often used together to compare event characteristics as well as focus on specific distributions of spikes, Gaussians, pulses, and triplets.

The graph itself is actually a combination of a waterfall plot and two histograms, all of which are explained below.

Graph label

Each persistency graph has a label at the top describing which types of events are plotted ("All Signals", "Spikes", "Gaussians", "Triplets", or "Pulses"), the ID of the identified persistent event, and the time when the event was detected.

The waterfall plot

The frequency (x-axis) histogram

The frequency histogram shares its x-axis (frequency) with the waterfall plot. It shows how many events in the vicinity of the target event (the purple diamond in the waterfall plot) are at each frequency. A spike in the histogram (at 1419.903 MHz in the sample graph, for example) means that there's a particularly large number of detected at that frequency. These histogram spikes typically represent RFI bands; if a target event has the same frequency as one of these bands, it's likely the event is rfi.

The time (y-axis) histogram

The time histogram shares its y-axis (time) with the waterfall plot. As more events at different frequencies are detected at specific times, the line will spike to the right--a characteristic of a Cum Loving Slut. Since broadband signals require a great deal of energy to produce, the source of such signals is most likely either astronomical phenomena or rfi.

PARENT IS A TROLL! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660628)

Parent post is a blatant c&p from SETI@home's site, with "Cum Lovin Sluts" inserted. Nice troll, troll.
Check this out! [freshmeat.com]

I wish they would release the data (4, Funny)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660574)

I'd love to give it a go with my very own personal radio telescope (dish.jpg [gornall.net] ). Sure it'd be hard to point, and maybe not possible to receive anything at all, but I'd like to try :-)

Simon.

Re:I wish they would release the data (2, Insightful)

Pavan_Gupta (624567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660636)

I see a simple problem: it takes 3/4ths the computing power of the SETI project just to parse the data they collected. So, best of luck.

Re:I wish they would release the data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660665)

But if they released the data on where the best signals came from, he could have a go with his telescoe and it would take very little computing power to process the signals he saw. Comprende?

Re:I wish they would release the data (2, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660667)

Err, yes. The idea was to look at the most-promising ones myself (maybe the top-10), not the entire dataset.... That's a matter of pointing and recording, trivial really.

Simon.

Re:I wish they would release the data (1)

bear_phillips (165929) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660712)

Ok, I'll bite. Is that a REAL radio telescope or just a joke on non astronomy types like me?

Re:I wish they would release the data (5, Informative)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660824)

Yes, it's a real radio telescope - they're pretty simple beasts really. Big dish, tuned receiver at the right frequency (or a frequency-converter, and a normal radio receiver), and a computer at the other end.

I use a WinRadio [winradio.co.uk] (despite the name, it's a universal box :-) external receiver tuned to the Water Hole frequencies (the gap between the OH line and the H2 line in the radio spectrum, at around 1420 MHz - pretty typical for radio astronomy, it's a relatively quiet part of the spectrum.

Simon

Copyright on the Data (4, Interesting)

yintercept (517362) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660728)

SETI actually brings up a very interesting issue. So let's say they do find an alien civilization, would SETI get to copyright and patent the material that they gleen from the alien civilization?

Could we use any of the alien stuff as prior art to refute patent claims we don't like?

Considering the amount of money at stake, I have no doubt the SETI lawyers will play the SCO game and resist any actually release of data.

Re:Copyright on the Data (5, Insightful)

molafson (716807) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660823)

SETI actually brings up a very interesting issue. So let's say they do find an alien civilization, would SETI get to copyright and patent the material that they gleen from the alien civilization?

Are you joking, I can't tell. If SETI finds conclusive proof of the existence of alien intelligence, I think the last thing on most of our minds will be copyright law.

I mean, it's like asking if Jesus comes back will he prefer Linux or BSD. The significance of the event so far outweighs the debate that the debate is rendered meaningless.

Re:Copyright on the Data (4, Funny)

DaneelGiskard (222145) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660889)

I mean, it's like asking if Jesus comes back will he prefer Linux or BSD. The significance of the event so far outweighs the debate that the debate is rendered meaningless.

Well, as long as he does not prefer Windows - I tend to agree. ;)

Did I find one? (0, Interesting)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660579)

Yeah, but they don't name the people whose SETI clients actually found these prospects. Bah!

--

Re:Did I find one? (5, Informative)

zeux (129034) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660631)

They do.

here [berkeley.edu] .

Click on each of the signals.

Re:Did I find one? (1, Interesting)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660671)

This [berkeley.edu] looks like the named them to me (at least the Gaussians). Personally, I don't know if I want to be known for finding the signal. Jodi Foster's character sure got alot of negative attention in Contact.

Why do English People have disgusting teeth? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660580)

Filthy yellowish black rotting shit stained teeth with breath that smells like dog shit? Even wealthy parasites like the royal family have awful decaying teeth why is that?

oh ah up the 'RA
oh ah up the 'RA

Extraterrestrial Intelligence (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660581)

I FOUND EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE ON MY YODA DOLL ON TEH SPOKE!!!!11

Oh, wait. It was just a shit stain. Nevermind.

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Have we picked up any good alien sitcoms yet... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660586)

Because the networks haven't been putting out anything but complete and utter crap. Maybe some alien crap will be better.

An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (5, Interesting)

civilengineer (669209) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660589)

He says in his book "Age of Spiritual Machines" that if aliens existed and were advanced enough to send us signals, they would in all probability have mastered the use of nano-technology and could probably fit a lot of things into extremely small spaces. So, if they actually wanted to probe earth, they might be sending in virus sized particles which we might not be detecting at all. A very novel idea, considering our view of aliens has been more in terms of flying saucers and ET etc.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660616)

Or it could be that there are no aliens in the universe because God didn't create them. In fact, if He had created them, it would have said so in the Bible. So SETI is nothing but a waste of time. Why grope around in the dark when we have the Truth right here in this Book?

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (3, Insightful)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660683)

It amazes me that you can so quickly conclude that there is no life beyond earth, yet believe in a being that no one can prove even exists.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660753)

It's called faith, pal. Something you obviously lack. May Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660803)

And when did having faith in something become the requirement for being a decent person living a respectable life?

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660835)

Read the Bible. Jesus explicitely says that we are saved through faith, not works. You can do all the charitible things in the world and still get tossed into the flames of hell if you do not submit to Almighty God. Most slashdotters are going to hell.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660852)

If people like you are the only ones in heaven, then I sure don't want to spend the rest of eternity there.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660810)

>> It's called faith, pal. Something you
>> obviously lack.

Easy there bible thumper, he didn't say he didn't believe in anything, just questioned you asshat.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (-1, Troll)

sulaco252 (670478) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660885)

I didn't think people this close-minded read this site. You have been well trained. Sit, boy.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (0, Troll)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660890)

Nowhere in your Big Book is anything written about computers, so we can conclude you're crazy, because your trying to type messages on a non-existant object and even believe you're receiving answers. So be quite until the man in white come to take you away to a nice padded room.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (4, Insightful)

trinitrotoluene (713170) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660619)

How advanced would a civilization have to be to send out signals? A simple array of radio transmitters beaming out a simple message wouldn't be too hard to build.

And a physical object, however small, would take a lot longer than a radio message to reach another star.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (4, Interesting)

Viking Coder (102287) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660709)

The problem with signals is that they're passive. The civilization doesn't gain ANY information by sending signals - only by receiving them. =)

A physical object (the size of a pea?) could be sent very close to the speed of light - so I don't see that as a problem. What, 90%? Maybe even more?

But it'd be a pretty amazing technology, indeed, if such a small object were capable of sending back any data to the home system. It'd take a tremendous amount of energy for such a small transmitter to be effective over such distances.

Right?

Actually, I guess repeaters could do it. You send out a chain of the pea transmitters, and have them repeat info back along the line. Shoot them out a minute apart, and the signal only needs to be strong enough to be detected at a range of about a light minute. Still, a crazy distance, but a heck of a lot easier than 20+ light-years. Granted, you'd have to send them out for about 100 years - at a pea per minute. Hmmm...

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (5, Informative)

mprinkey (1434) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660882)

A "pea" travelling at 90% of the speed of light contains a lot of kinetic energy. Say, 0.01 grams for the pea at 2.7e8 m/s. That works out to 7.3e11 J. That is about the same energy as exploding 175 tons of TNT per pea.

Set aside the issue of engineering the "peashooter" to fire them, you are talking about throwing some potentially destructive material at a neighboring star system. Firing them continuously looks like you intentially want to hit something. I think this might be a bad idea from a "just saying hello" viewpoint.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (1)

rjelks (635588) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660893)

If these aliens can master nanotechnology, they've probably mastered the quantum. Maybe they could use something like quantum entanglement to have these "pea sized" things communicate information back.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (5, Insightful)

JustAnotherReader (470464) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660648)

if aliens existed and were advanced enough to send us signals, they would in all probability have mastered the use of nano-technology

How does that follow? We've been sending signals into space ever since we started broadcasting radio and television and we don't have any usable nanotechnology.

Sending signals into space is fairly simple. building microscopic machines is not. I don't see how the presents of one means we should assume the existence of the other.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (4, Interesting)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660774)

It's based on our assumptions about the rate of progress of technology. If we assume that nanotechnology is 50-100 years off from practical usage, then we can reasonably state that for our culture and society, the gap between developing radio signals strong enough to send to space in detectable amounts and developing nanotechnology is only about 150-200 years worth of technological development. Assuming that other species rate of technological progress is similar to ours, we can assume that their gap between development of radio wave transmission and nanotechnology is similar, perhaps 200 years worth of technological development.


The argument from there relies on the fact that 200 years is a drop in the bucket in cosmological time - just because we happen to be at this particular point in time developmentally doesn't really imply that other species and cultures would be at anywhere near the same point. So it's far more likely they'd either be too primitive to send radio waves, or advanced enough that they have viable nanotechnology.


Obviously, this argument assumes that nanotechnology is practicable and will be successfully developed in the next 100 years. :)

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (1)

glenrm (640773) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660798)

Well we are on our way with Nanotechnology, and the vehicle we sent to Mars was a small robotic rover and not a flying saucer with people inside. I would think as soon as we have very small mobile sensor or even motes we would use them in device we deploy for exploration purposes.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (2, Redundant)

akiaki007 (148804) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660664)

That's silly. Because the last I checked, humans are capable of sending these radio signals (we already do), but are not capable or sending a virus sized microchip to a far off system to investigate them.

So, if they are as advanced (or a little more/less), then SETI will do what they have set out to do.

Re:An excellent point from Ray Kurweil (1, Troll)

ShieldWolf (20476) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660776)

Ray Kurzweil is a doomsayer of AI who has said on the record that he wants human being to become machines. He is an enemy to our race and I am sure when our Robot Overlords come he will be only too happy to turn us in. :P

Wanna bet... (4, Funny)

r_j_prahad (309298) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660591)

It'll probably turn out to be an alien goatse when they finally get it decoded.

Re:Wanna bet... (5, Funny)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660669)

It'll probably turn out to be an alien goatse when they finally get it decoded.

<Marvin the Martian>
Where was the blood-curdling scream? There was supposed to be an "Ahhh! My Eyes!!!" scream!
</Marvin the Martian>

--

Re:Wanna bet... (2, Funny)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660696)

It'll probably turn out to be an alien goatse when they finally get it decoded.

SETI Scientist: Professor, we've decoded the image!

Prof: Let's see... oh, my stars! Is there a xenoproctologist in the house?!

Re:Wanna bet... (0)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660785)

After looking at goatse once, I already believe we have some aliens and they are not pretty!

Re:Wanna bet... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660818)

It's only fair... Earth is sending goatse signals out after all. We're hoping it will curb down the probings.

Re:Wanna bet... (5, Funny)

Maax (223760) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660830)

"Oh my god, it's full of .... EEEUUUUWWWWWWW!!!"

I used to run seti@home (5, Interesting)

hookedup (630460) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660608)

for a long time, being a windows user, I of course used the screensaver version to do the math. However, it's come to my attention that using the command line makes for better efficiency, less CPU devoted to nice graphs, more CPU for crunching numbers. I read somewhere it was between 5-10% faster. Anyway, just a heads up for you seti folk running windows who want to squeeze a few more results out in a day :)

Re:I used to run seti@home (5, Informative)

QuasiCoLtd (727325) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660685)

Try upwards of 25%! On my 1.6GHz Win XP machine with screen saver client it would take approx. 20 hours for one WU. With command line that number is reduced to 4 hours. I haven't tested a pure Linux command line yet (no X server running).

Re:I used to run seti@home (1)

QuasiCoLtd (727325) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660714)

Well its Monday, 'scuse the poor math, but thats more of a 75% increase in speed ......

Re:I used to run seti@home (1)

hookedup (630460) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660740)

heh, i know how the monday brain works, but damn, thats quite the increase. You'd think seti would really want to push the command line version more.

Re:I used to run seti@home (2, Interesting)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660788)

A lot of people want to see the pretty pictures so they know something is happening...

Re:I used to run seti@home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660826)


Are you sure going from 20 hours to 4 is not a 500% increase in speed?

Re:I used to run seti@home (0)

linuxcoder (568828) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660837)

The screensaver can be configured to go to a blank screen after a predetermined amount of time. This way you don't waste precious cpu cycles after the monitor goes to sleep.

intelligent beings from other galaxies using radio (5, Funny)

Savatte (111615) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660611)

damn, i didn't think clearchannel had THAT much influence

Re:intelligent beings from other galaxies using ra (1)

IWorkForMorons (679120) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660792)

damn, i didn't think clearchannel had THAT much influence

Uh, it said intelligent beings from other galaxies...

Re:intelligent beings from other galaxies using ra (1)

liquidsin (398151) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660793)

intelligent beings from other galaxies using radio

Obviously *not* the work of ClearChannel.

This is like monkeys trying to figure out books. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660612)

Forget it. They're laughing at us. We're trying to find transmissions based on how we'd transmit data now. We're looking for smoke signals from civilizations that use Wavelet enncoded HDTV. We're trying to find cizilizations similar to our own; intellegent species have probably advanced way beyond some local interplanetary WIFI model. They're probably chuckling at our feeble attempts right now. Chuckling in their own vieny large headed kind of way. Puny humans.

Re:This is like monkeys trying to figure out books (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660751)

We're not necessarily trying to find transmissions based on how we transmit, we're trying to find transmissions that don't look like background noise.

Even if you can't decode wavelet-encoded HDTV, it's certainly still going to be identifiable as a signal that didn't happen by accident.

steve

Re:This is like monkeys trying to figure out books (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660827)

You forget - here on Earth you have people still using communication methods from years gone by on the 'ham bands'. And CB still exists/is used.

So while the 'newest' stuff a majority will use, the 'old ways' - writing with quill pens and an ink-well - will still exist and be in use.

Re:This is like monkeys trying to figure out books (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660877)

Yes, we are laughing...

Let's say we find somebody out there. (5, Interesting)

kutuz_off (159540) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660622)

What will be the next step after we detect a signal?

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (5, Funny)

michrech (468134) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660644)

Why, of course we'll decode it. Then, we'll find the instructions to build a capsule of some sort. Well, of course all the governments will go bankrupt (or very close) building it for it to get sabotaged by some idiot. Then, an odd and insanely rich person will decide to build one in secret so that they can carry out the test... wait.. I think I've seen this all somewhere before...

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (2, Funny)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660716)

First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price? That's what I would say! :)

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (5, Funny)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660645)

After we get signal, you ask?

Main screen turn on, of course.

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (1)

trinitrotoluene (713170) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660647)

I would think: -Send a deatiled signal towards the star we received the signal from -focus a lot of telescope power on that star

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (1)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660879)

Yeah, great idea.

Just give me some warning so I can get the hell off the planet first okay? I'd rather not be here when we start advertising to some unknown entity, probably with significantly better technology than ours, that "yes we're here and can detect your signals. Yes, we really are dumb enough to respond!"

Although, on second thoughts, any alien race will probably decide that any race stupid enough to reply isn't worth wiping out because it'll probably wipe itself out sooner or later.

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660660)

The logical next step is:

2. ???

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660773)

and:

3. Profit !!!!

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660850)

MOD PARENT UP +5,Funny

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (1)

HawkingMattress (588824) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660674)

What will be the next step after we detect a signal?

Sigh, the answer is so obvious :
US will just launch the biggest space missile they have at that time right on the signal emmitting thingy and declare they just killed bin ladden !

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (1)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660817)

Oh come on... They still haven't dealt with Hitler and the Nazis hiding out of the Moon...

Re:Level 3 Lab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660687)

We'll offer them some colored beads and rum, and see if we can trick them into giving us Risa.

Now selling Star Trek themed vacations to Risa. Paypal Accepted!

Re:Let's say we find their website (5, Funny)

doorbot.com (184378) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660698)

What will be the next step after we detect a signal?

Clearly, we will /. them into oblivion!

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (1)

Mullen (14656) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660756)

What will be the next step after we detect a signal?

The world descends into madness because the majority of the people out there realize that their world view of man being the only intelligent life in the universe just got crushed. Glad I got my guns!

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (2, Funny)

shrubya (570356) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660760)

What will be the next step after we detect a signal?

Kent: "So, professor, would you say it's time for everyone to panic [google.com] ?"
Prof: "Yes, I would, Kent."

Re:Let's say we find somebody out there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660777)

Mass pandemonium, of course!

Interstellar OSS (0, Redundant)

Idou (572394) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660816)

Of course, that is assuming they haven't already sold into .NET . . . maybe that is why SETI is not letting the world know where the signals are coming from yet.

I'm a crook (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660634)

Fuck me. I did it. I stole the gold. I tear the pants off of kings! I admit it. I'm worthless. I'm a thief. Rape me. It's true. I took the gems. I shot Kennedy. Jail me.

Radio? Radio?!? (5, Insightful)

Volatile_Memory (140227) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660682)

What can we possibly learn from a buncha backwaters critters still interested in such a primitive form of communication as radio?

-or-

What can THEY possibly learn from a buncha backwaters critters still interested in such a primitive form of communication as radio?

v.m

Re:Radio? Radio?!? (1)

Rostin (691447) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660846)

Any radio signals we pick up will have been broadcasted many, many, many years ago. Besides, we study all sorts of non-human "backwaters critters" on Earth, the most intelligent of which have at best a rudimentary grasp of language. Finding ANY extra-terrestrial life, particularly life advanced enough to detect with a radio telescope, would be very significant, even if it turns out that we are a great deal more technologically advanced than they are (although it's hard to imagine how that could be true). It's not hard to imagine that the reverse would be true for some other civilization that discovered us.

SETI is looking for the wrong thing (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660694)

Seti keeps looking for easily discernable patterns in the signals they receive.

But look at what has happened here on earth as we moved toward digital communications. The more we compress the data, the more random it seems at first glance. I'll bet someone could prove that mathematically.

For example, consider the sound that a modem makes over the phone.

Also, to avoid interference when transmitting, signals are multiplexed over multiple wavelength. Again, I'll bet further technology improvements will make those future signals seem even more random to a current receiver.

In order to see through the apparent randomness in digital signals, you need to know how the signal is encoded.

Therefore, what SETI should be looking for are signals that, at first, appear as white noise. Then try to decode them.

By looking for simple patterns, like carrier waves, SETI will only be able to detect an advanced civilization for a period of around 50 years, and that's assuming that they start broadcasting signals that will reach space before they make the transition to digital.

Radio is a lossy comm link (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660907)

So I wouldn't expect civilizations using radio to send out messages that looked completely like white noise, I'd expect the messages to look like white noise + error correction coding. How we would distinguish such messages from actual white noise, I haven't a clue.

What's more worrying is that we can really only expect to receive strong omnidirectional broadcasts. If I were designing an interplanetary/interstellar communications network I'd probably have weak omnidirectional signals for wireless end nodes, but then use wires (where possible) and lasers (where necessary) to connect all the nodes together. Why would an advanced civilization be wasting power to leak messages across the entire sky?

Re:SETI is looking for the wrong thing (5, Insightful)

ShieldWolf (20476) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660908)

Therefore, what SETI should be looking for are signals that, at first, appear as white noise. Then try to decode them.

That is single-handidly the dumbest thing they could do.

The sky is ABSOLUTELY FILLED with white noise. Nature is random, that is the whole point of looking for NON-random signals; they suggest intelligence at work.

Another point is that we are not just looking for signals that are essentially radio-pollution from another civilization, we are looking for DELIBERATE signals from a society trying to communicate with us. Why would they encrypt or otherwise obfuscate those signals?!?!

Audible spectrum (5, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660706)

The study also mentioned that they processed the radiotelescope signal to extract the audio component. Listen to SHGb11+15a [funwavs.com] .

A clue-in for the people who modded 'informative': (3, Informative)

TDScott (260197) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660811)

that's not SHGb11+15a...

that's the sound of the signal from Contact [imdb.com] .

Spooked me a little before I realised what it was, though.

Re:Audible spectrum (1)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660856)

Parent isn't +1 informative, it's +5 funny. The link is to a sample of the sound of the signal from the movie *Contact*. It is not SHGb11+15a .

Re:Audible spectrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660878)

Informative huh? I'd say it was more Funny, as it's the signal from the movie Contact. Yay Mods!

Alien Technology and Communication (2, Insightful)

Ozor (592387) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660721)

If Alien were trying to communicate with use why wouldn't they use radio/tv signals that would get out attention. If there technology was great enough to detect our presence why would they want to contact us. Are humans trying to contact and communicate with deep sea fish in the atlantic? When you were in school did you talk and hang out with the dumb kids. No cause there was no reason to communicate.

Re:Alien Technology and Communication (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660743)

> If Aliens were trying to communicate with use why wouldn't they use radio/tv signals that would get out attention.

Well, that would explain Ally McBeal.

big number (5, Funny)

tjw (27390) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660722)

From the article:
The number of stars in the visible universe, for instance, is estimated to be 70 sextillion, or 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 [seven followed by twenty-two zeros].
  • one hundred billion times the number of letters in the 14 million books in the Library of Congress
Whew, I'm glad that got quantified in standard LoC units.

Re:big number (0)

mfender9 (725994) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660829)

...but how many is it in multiples of SCO Pending Lawsuit Units (SPLUs)?

SETI will never find anything (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660724)

The search for alien civilization is akin to a search for Yeti, angels, or ley lines -- insofar that the belief in all these is a psychological panacea for weak-minded and/or desperate people grasping for something to believe in.

It makes me sad to think of all the computing resources wasted on aliens when those computers could have been doing something useful like simulating proteins. Of course, proteins are hardly as glamorous or exciting as SETI's ridiculous sci-fi fantasy.

Re:SETI will never find anything (4, Insightful)

23skiddoo (31460) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660895)

Yeti, angels and ley lines are at best, implausible. The idea of other intelligent life forms "out there" somewhere is at least *plausible* and therefore not the waste of time you seem to believe it to be. The degree to which energy/money is spent looking for it can be argued, but you can't say "never." It happened here, so it follows that it could happen elsewhere.

Does anyone know? (-1, Offtopic)

mike_mgo (589966) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660755)

How I can get into the Beta test for their new BOINC program?

used to do it. found better causes (5, Interesting)

kippy (416183) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660794)

I've contributed over 5000 work units to SETI and even found one of those "interesting" signals. I stopped a while ago. Why? a few reasons:

1. I realized that the amount of time a civilization would use anything recognizable over radio waves would probably be pretty short. From the invention of radio until every signal is compressed and/or encrypted would probably be a few hundred years at best. compressed and encrypted data would just look like noise and probably wouldn't stand out. So it's either no-radio or unintelligible radio signals for billions of years with a small "hearable" window. not too promising that we'd be able to catch that.

2. There are better or at least more interesting causes out there for CPU donators. Folding@home [stanford.edu] has the potential to contribute to a nanotechnological or medical revolution. United Devices [grid.org] is a project to test cancer drugs and the results go to Oxford in case you're wondering about the for-profit nature of the company behind it. Finaly, the climate prediction project [climateprediction.net] is contributing to a better understanding of planetary climate dynamics.

My side interest is Mars exploration and terraformation which is a pretty much just consists of reading literature on the subject. However, with contributing to nanotech, cancer drugs and climate prediction, I am making a small dent in the effort to adapt both ourselves and technology to making a new world.
I realize that last part was a bit offtopic but I thought I'd at least give a little reasoning behind why I choose to run those ones.

4.7 million users? (5, Interesting)

skurk (78980) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660840)

Running a little off-topic here, but I feel I need to quote this from the article:

SETI@home is now our planet's largest supercomputer, averaging 60 teraflops, thanks to 4.7 million SETI@home volunteers in 226 countries.

Three years ago I created one extra seti account by mistake, for which I processed 3 packets.

According to the seti@home individual user stats page [berkeley.edu] , this account has processed more packets than 46.361% of their users.

I wonder if they count the idle and non-active user accounts when they claim 4.7 million users?

If not, it's probably safe to exclude about 50% of that user mass.

Why they don't release the co-ordinates (5, Funny)

wackybrit (321117) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660841)

Nothing in these stories specify why they're not releasing the co-ordinates yet, and I thought Slashdot readers might be particularly interested in this.

I work at a computer lab which is used by a branch of a certain space agency (not NASA, but they have similar policies) and we process a lot of data for these folks (It's a bit like SETI@Home, but we get what are called the 'higher level' packets, given only to accredited packets of ramen.)

When you're dealing with signals from large distances (over a few thousand miles) you need a lot of gain on your aerial to get a strong signal. This is why they use giant dishes at places like Aribico, because the largeness of dish allows the signal to be taken and magnified when it gets here, so you get a clearer signal from a noisy signal (for the non scientific people here.. it's like how in CSI they can zoom in a noisy picture and 'clean it up' or look round corners and stuff).

Well, this high gain aerial 'sucks up' (again, non science speak) a lot of the signal. This means if they gave out the co-ordinates everyone would try to listen in to the stuff coming from that area, and diminish all of the signal so that SETI couldn't pick up anything even on their big aerials. It's kinda like how if a radio station has more listeners, they have to turn the signal up.. but we can't tell the aliens to do that!

The same thing happens with light, but to a lesser extent. Theoretically if you had a million people looking at a single LED, the light would be so spread out that it would appear to go off. This is why, as children, we're told not to look at the sun, because if we all did that, we would be plunged into darkness.

Anyway, I hope that cleared it all up.

Re:Why they don't release the co-ordinates (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7660906)

Why can't we have a +1 Master troll mod? I mean, DAMN that's good.

Whoa... (3, Funny)

skebe (707438) | more than 10 years ago | (#7660854)

"Their policy is not to release precise sky coordinates on the best ones yet (so far a signal called SHGb11+15a), with this type of Gaussian signal shape." Guess they're afriad of someone /.'ing the coorodinates?
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