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    • #58530
      Howard Smith, a senior astrophysicist at Harvard, made the claim that we are alone in the universe after an analysis of the 500 planets discovered so far showed all were hostile to life.

      Dr Smith said the extreme conditions found so far on planets discovered outside out Solar System are likely to be the norm, and that the hospitable conditions on Earth could be unique.

      “We have found that most other planets and solar systems are wildly different from our own. They are very hostile to life as we know it,” he said.

      He pointed to stars such as HD10180, which sparked great excitement when it was found to be orbited by a planet of similar size and appearance to Earth.

      But the similarities turned out to be superficial. The planet lies less than two million miles from its sun, meaning it is roasting hot, stripped of its atmosphere and blasted by radiation.

      Many of the other planets have highly elliptical orbits which cause huge variations in temperature which prevent water remaining liquid, thus making it impossible for life to develop.

      A separate team of scientists recently declared the chance of aliens existing on a newly discovered Earth-like planet “100 per cent”.

      Professor Steven Vogt , of the Carnegie institution in Washington, said he had “no doubt” extraterrestrial life would be found on a small, rocky planet found orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581 last September.

      Such hopes are likely to be raised further in the coming weeks, when Nasa’s Kepler satalite is expected to confirm the existence of hundreds of new planets.

      But Dr Smith dismissed the claims, insisting that other extrasolar planets differ starkly from our own and that even if they did support life, it would be impossible for humans to make contact.

      “Extrasolar systems are far more diverse than we expected, and that means very few are likely to support life.

      “Any hope of contact has to be limited to a relatively tiny bubble of space around the Earth, stretching perhaps 1,250 light years out from our planet, where aliens might be able to pick up our signals or send us their own.

      But communicating would still take decades or centuries.”

      I personally don’t believe in Alien life in the ‘classic’ context is absolutely ludicrous by any stretch of logical thought. The sheer idea the alien life is bipedal, and perceives the world in visual cues and sounds is just idiotic. Its even more absurd that any form of sentient life would look at things like war, and politics as you do, as these things are not universal, and generally revolve around the (rather substandard) human psyche.

      That all being said, I think this guy jumped the gun a bit. I mean 500 planets and we are disbarring all life? Talk about utterly ignoring the scientific method. (as I understand it.)

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/spac … anets.html

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    • #81565

      Actually I think things like warfare will be a constant in the universe as no matter the species, scarce resources at their local area will always provide the excuse. The style and shape of that warfare though could vary a lot. But for species at around the same tech level as us, it’s certainly possible they would have nukes, rockets, tanks ect as the laws of physics would be the same for them. The weapons though, especially smaller arms, would be more tailored to exploit their own weaknesses. For example some alien life might have an aversion to loud noise. So its likely you might see such a culture develop sonic based weaponry. God help us if an advanced species ever decides it likes the look of our mud ball. 😕 Mind you, perhaps their biggest weapon might be a massive water pistol! 😆

    • #81566

      Speaking of war, lack of resource can be negotiated, but when you throw religion/faith into the mix, alien or not, war is the most likely result.

    • #81567

      Well, then you add religion into the mix, all bets are off. This in itself has caused many horrible chapters to be written in our own history. 🙁

    • #81568

      Scientists can’t even get global warning facts straight so a guy that has analyzed data from 500 planets out of billions in our galaxy doesn’t sound to dependable.

    • #81569

      I am guessing that Howard Smith may have been mis-quoted. Only an idiot would claim that by looking at just a few (on a galactic scale) planets, with still un-proven methods, that we are alone. The universe is simply too big for us to be the only life within it. Such an idea of humanity being the universe’s only attempt to look upon itself, is totally preposterous. So much so in fact, that we as a race should get out there asap and stake our claim before all the good stuff is taken by others! 😛

    • #81570
      Geraldine wrote:
      Such an idea … is totally preposterous.

      Incredulity is not a safe premise from which to form a position. Fact is, we don’t know what the odds of life cropping up are like; we only have this one example, and the anthropic principle means that of course we’ll always have at least one example, otherwise there could be no study.

      Life itself, sentient or otherwise, is an amazingly counter-intuitive bit of chemistry. What we have is a localised patch of reversed entropy, where a chemical reaction tends from chaos to order, and spreads whilst doing so. It seems so obvious to us that it can happen, only because we (earth-evolved life) are the example of it happening. It does go counter to most of what’s observed around the universe, though.

      The universe is a huge place, so there might well be more of it. What we don’t know is whether the odds of it happening are as long as the universe is wide. If the odds are hundreds of billions to one or longer, we might never see non-terrestrial life. It’s all likely to be in other galaxies.

      Of course, life is no guarantee of space faring life. For most of the history of life on this planet, the dominant species have not been big technology users. Remember, we didn’t out-evolve the big reptiles; we only had the chance to evolve at all when they were smashed out of existence by some external force. They were remarkably successful, having lived on Earth for a statistically noticeable proportion of Earth’s time. If they hadn’t been wiped out, they’d still be here, adapted perfectly to the current climate and terrain. Large mammals wouldn’t have shown up.

      So, life might be unlikely, and technological life a complete fluke. It’s by no means inevitable. We just won’t know how likely it is until we find more. Until then, we appear to be alone and might have to face the fact that this might actually be the case.

    • #81571

      My opinion. Well I disagree with this astro dude.

      It’s about chance and statisticks.

      There something like goldylock zone.

      we got one planet in it and most out side.

      Wich means that most planets are indeed very extreem positioned. So exclude at least 95%

      We discover first the most large and close to the sun gas giants.

      Wich is very different then what we have. So there is extreem variation and most of them outside the goldylock zone.

      But with many miljard of stars and factor 3 to 15 planets per star.

      Wel most of them wouild be so extreem thus steril.

      But the extreem numbers do great deal to chance.

      we know that there can be life in extreem conditions. On vulcanic oceanic floor.

      But there is a limit. So we curently don’t even know if moons could have life. We only know that there is fluid water.

      So the chance that there is life out there and inteligent is large.

      but could be rare like 1000 or 10000.

      Wich means not likely in the neighberhoud.

      Our milky way 200miljard stars / 10.000. So per 20mil one alien race.

      Also we are isolated by the extreem distances but also in what time the evolution come to be, but also could fade away.

      In miljard of years planets can change to.

      I don’t expect life in the galacy core area. to much radiation

      It boils down how many stars got somethin in that GZone.

      And if how many are earth like 1 out a miljion with 1% in GZ means 2000

      And with all those space game scifi stuff. That there is lot of interaction out there. NO.

      That how we wish it could be. More brainwashed by hollywood.

      It could be that aliens are mostly isolated. Not all barriers can be taken.

      braking the sound barrier doesn’t mean speed of light is breakable. We are now not sure it can be. Keep in mind it could not be broken even by a race with miljard years of evolution. If so. they are far far far awayyyyy……

      So space trading would be something that isn’t so posible . you need next to a broken FTL barrier a releative close group of aliens with a few lightyears.

      It make no sense to trade with a race with no FTL means of travel. if your neigbure is 250 Light years away.

      And with that war between races would be rare to.

      Might be possible but not plausible.

      It hard to commit to with the 25 Lightyears.

      So if aliens are out there if more then I took as example. we don’t see any because they are by extreem distances isolated for and likely to each other to.

    • #81572

      Some good common sense points there in my opinion SuperG.

      We are making some headway, slowly on traveling in space. Do I think we will travel the speed of light in the next 100yrs, hell no. We are still using gasoline powered cars so no way.

      But the ‘New Horizons’ spacecraft was launched in Jan 2006 and it reached Mars by April 2006. Granted we did use a slingshot effect to propel the craft faster and it is going at about 33,000+ mph currently and should make Pluto in 2015.

      This is why your points are so valid. It’s because I don’t think we could sustain a crew that long without cryosleep, they would go insane or food and/or power would pose a problem.

    • #81573

      My point is that we are just at the front door wenn about talkin of exploring.

      the funding is done on scientific exploring nature and is very expensive.

      this fase far away of a interstellar trading economics.

      The problem is with this is the technology.

      First fase.

      Orbital reach

      orbital satelits.

      orbital station.

      Moon walk

      Moon exploration

      Moon base

      Moon mining

      Moon city.

      Moon space port.

      Space mining of close astroids.

      With all those fases thenology need to leapfrog to higher level also make it more economical feasable and not just traveling time.

      Still far away of trading because the resources and funding need the collective support of severel big countrys.

      not big corporations.

      Wenn technoligy comes wen going to orbit is economical and commercial feasable more fases are doable with less financial support.

      And single big country can handle that and coporations.

      But the one man company space trucker is still far far away.

      The technolohgy and economical commercial feasability must be the same for one man company similar to own a truck on earth like a 18 weehler. but then the same runtime and higher tech to support something like that in space.

      this also need a high level of space kolonisation. On earth lot of regions to do bussnes for a trucker. But in pre trading local space not.

      a mars base and moon distric is not much for a fleet of corporations and lot of small companys.

      So you need 10.000 places to trade and that can only be wenn kolonising also other stars with nations in multi miljion people with lots of space stations and space mining in suroundingh stars and FTL is a must.

    • #81574

      My response is small, but I must just say that 500 planets is simply not enough considering the scope. Since we now estimate 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe (and no that number is not just made up by me), I would have to say 500 planets is sort of a laugh in comparison.

    • #81575

      Always reckon there's a good chance of some thing out there.

      Was it carl sagan or arthur c clarke who said that there was three possibilities.

      1 The galaxy is teaming with life.

      2 No one out there.

      3 We are the fist ones.

    • #81576

      My hunch and that's all it really is = life is rare but we are not alone…

      No idea what rare means though.

      But if you think about it if there's only one earth in every galaxy that's literally millions of earths.

      Sad thing we won't get to see a single one..

      Space is big guys..

    • #81577

      I agree that a 500 planet sample may be a bit small to make such a sweeping declaration. I personally find it very hard to believe that there is not some other planet somewhere in our universe if not within our galaxy even that has conditions capable of supporting some form of life. As others have pointed out, our galaxy is enourmous and it is only 1 out of billions of galaxies in the universe.

    • #81578

      I think with the number of other galaxies in the universe its quite likely there exists other planets just like Earth. Probably many of them. So there is a reasonable chance that one or some of them have life.


      Its most likely that the life that exists there will work the same way as our world. There wont be the same animals or plants, but unless there is an entirely different way of constructing a living cell to the ones on our world, then the process of life will progress in a similar way to on our planet. The life on any Earth “clone” could be at any stage of evolution. The very nature of “living things that can die” creates the evolutionary cycle.


      One way to find out how likely there will be life on an Earth clone, would be to figure out how it spontaneously appeared in the first place. A question I have never found a satisfying answer for.

    • #81579

      .. how it spontaneously appeared in the first place. A question I have never found a satisfying answer for.

      Thereby hangs a tale!

    • #81580

      Thereby hangs a tale!

      Um……what does this button do again? <presses button> Oh! :girlcrazy:

    • #81581

      either the guy was misquoted or he is an idiot.


      the facts are SIMPLE: exoplanetary detection is SKEWED towards inhabitable planets, simply because the LARGER the planet, and the CLOSER it is to its star, the easier it is to detect, since we find planets by analyzing the WOBBLING in the star because of the gravity interactions between planet/star. The larger a planet, the more mass, more gravity. The closer to the star, the stronger the gravity pull will be.

    • #81582

      There are 2 methods one wobble and passing in front of star. But that not relevant.

      His observation that solar systems are very diverse. And most planet are due to these extreme condition lifeless.

      On that point he right. Life might be very rare but not impossible. The chance to find a intelligent life form close like within 1000 LY is very small. And still out of reach. But that’s following the goldilocks zone.


      Then there is these primitive one cell life things. As lot of discovery documentary’s point out. Life can exist in extreme conditions. Earth is example. where there is life where other life can’ t exist.

    • #81583

      I think it could be possible to find life forms on planets with ellipsoidic orbits, where a winter would last 300-500 years and a life-prosperous summer will occur for only 1 or 2 years when the planet comes near to the sun, the ice transforms in ocean, the top crust of landscapes lose ice consistency etc, etc. There is a pleiade of possibilities that is difficult to define by statistical means, the more elements considered, the more the whole response could swing in one direction or the exact opposite that would – or not – favor life. For Earth, such elements are:


      – presence of a large gas planet that deviates bigger asteroids from earth, thus making evolution possible

      – right distance from the sun for oxigen in gas form and liquid water

      – magnetic field than keeps the atmosphere from burning away

      – no continental discreapencies (like on Venus)


      I could tell about at least 20 more such “uncommon” elements that all have a very small overall probability – all at once would be the more smaller if you multiply them. That’s the essence of the reasonning that says “no other life in the immediate vicinity”, but there’s a central flaw with all that: it doesn’t take account of the possible laws that may build a solar system, or a single planet. Observation alone is not science but empirical data only.

      There are 2 fundamental problems to all that, to be divided in 2 generic formulas:

      – The Antropic Principle (we would all not be there to discuss if the universe was not at least in part life-friendly)

      – The limits of Science: What we discover and analyze by scientific means is not totally independent of our (human) self-satisfaction.We generally find what we are searching, a larger rule of quantic physics that we just start understanding. This is to say our searching and analyzing FORMS  the universe.


      But what is life on a planet? One definition could simply be a system of mutual dependencies, intelligent or not. If considered such systems, the stats change dramatically.




    • #81584
      Vuzz reasoning ….



      We perceive the world around us with our senses, there is no evidence that it is the only way available in the galaxy, we assume in our extrapolations (through our senses) that life is as we perceive it. But nothing saying that our carbon-based scheme is universal. Maybe we sum blind planet in the middle of a packed galaxy life


      These are just assumptions but no more stupid and unrealistic that all of these scientific theories nicknames.


      The theory of relativity can not be applied What space and time …
    • #81585

      My take on this: Drake equation


      Ok, it is not mine :p. Anyway, a 500 planet sample – and bound to be planets easier to find from outside the solar systems, is not much of a sample compared to the .. ahh .. trillion+ planets of this galaxy alone. 


      Who knows…

    • #81586

      I took one look at the personal homepage of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Alan_Smith (see “External links” section), and all my alarm bells started to ring. (Other stuff already covered by others.)

      So … After a bit of searching. As short headline-articles from papers like The Telegraph are never a good source. Especially not as only source.


      http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/id.91/past.aspx (just short of the article in question.)

      http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/feature/2011/4/alone-in-the-universe (synopsis)

      http://lettherebelightbook.com/wp-content/uploads/On_living_alone_AAAS.pdf (not sure, but this might be the article in question)


      http://melpor.hubpages.com/hub/Evidence-That-We-Are-Alone-In-The-Universe (Way better than that “The Telegraph” page.)

      http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/world-wide-mind/201104/are-we-alone-in-the-universe (other one on the same subject.)


      Seems to me the issue was not that we are factual alone in the Universe, but that from a practical point of view we probably going to be. (well … for at least a long long time.)

    • #81587

      Neil DeGrasse Tyson answered this question.


    • #81588

      After seeing a documentary about the SETI project, I noticed that the most important question has not been asked during all the interviews and explanations of the very interesting work of this group.

      This question is: how can we interprete the Silence in the past 40 years? I mean the absence of any intelligent signal, be it laser, radio or any wave that propagates with the speed of light and has its origin from a technological and space-oriented life form. I dare to say that this silence should give us information about the absence of such life forms.


      What I don’t understand is: how strong is a radio signal after propagating in space for 500 years ? How has it been affected – if at all – by the space evironement?


      Not sure about the exact year, but we have roughly started sending signals in space in the year 1900. All sort of radio stuff.

      Now let’s assume that there is a high-tech civilization at exactly 500 light years distant from us, and let’s further assume that they will reach our exact current tech level of 2015 in the year 2400. Let’s also make the adventurous assumption that they have the same radio and telescope equipment that we have (a 2nd earth let’s say). So, from 2400 and past, are they going to hear all our radio stuff, our first radio signals, the song of Lili Marleen, communications about World War II, the Kennedy speach for the moon project, etc. etc. all in the exact chronology? Or are the radio waves so distorted or just absent due to space environment (magnetical fields etc..) so that they wouldn’t hear anything ?


      My point is: If such a 2nd earth would in fact hear everything from us in 2400, then we should already be bombarded by such signals from other such distant high tech civilisations, it doesn’t matter if they have already disappeared. Our galaxy is old enough to allow for the transit of many such radio stories from past civilizations.

      But no, we are not bombarded, we don’t receive anything, or we don’t realize it for some obscure reason, which I don’t  believe. So, it’s very simple: such high tech civilisations do not exist, period.

      On other planets there may be a lot of fishes in the water, creatures living in some clouds around gaz planet giants or anything else we could imagine, all maybe intelligent but clearly not sending signals into space, and surley no creatures like human kind.


      So, where is the lag in all this reasoning? Does this silence mean anything? What will happen with our own radio signals in 500, 5000 or 80.000 years (the limit area of our galaxy if our waves pass around the center) ?




    • #81589

      Why would aliens communicate through radio signals? Why would they even be carbon based? Why would they have aural senses in the first place? Who’s to say they don’t communicate through phermones? Or light? Maybe we have been getting bombarded and we call it radiation?


      My point is this. Look at humans. Now look at Jellyfish. We have such a rediculously large variety of life here on earth, and you are going to try and convince me life in the rest of the universe is ANYTHING like us? Its silly.

    • #81590

      Interesting points are yours, IronHound.

      I guess searching for signals is the only thing SETI can do, but as for your opinion this is doomed to failure. Especially your point with the aural senses is a big one. Communication is a very vast subject that has to find its place in evolution (it would be cumbersome for species that don’t need it, for example).

      Carbon-based structures allow for more molecules to form, so it has a higher probability to be ingredient for a life-form, but this only counter-weights for a small part our ignorance about out-of-earth biological laws IMO. What’s sure is that evolution can allow different structures for life forms if the environment is the appropriate one, but again: that’s only what we see on Earth, so we keep speculating.


      So, it seems that we still don’t have any hard information about extraterrestrial life (or non-life), even this ‘silence’ of signals doesn’t mean anything, most probably we are going to solve this the ‘old school’ way: getting there… And even then we may not notice… 🙂


      As for the ‘Silence’ question, Smith’s article points to a book of Paul Davies that I should read I think:

      Paul Davies : The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence (2010).


      But what’s hard to digest in Howard A. Smith ‘s arguments comes when he’s talking about the “1250 light years perimeter” as a “practical purpose” for us mankind to communicate with intelligent species. Also his “100 human generations” idea for the same practical purpose doesn’t make much sense if, as in my example above, we start to hear the signals and we continue to hear such signals. Once they are there, we can learn from them, be their origin 1250 or 1.250.000 years away, it wouldn’t matter because the one-way-only road for the signals is significative enough as for getting hard information of any kind, wether we understand it or not. Everything else (responding to signals, cosmic horizon etc.) is pure sentimentalism and doesn’t matter for science…


      My theory is that SETI was condamned to find everything possible at once and immediately 40 years ago, or: nothing at all and forever (because there’s nothing). There is no waiting for something, if anything then it should be there already.


      This argument can only be tossed away, and probably will, if there is a technical reason for signals not propagating further than some distance due to the space environment. And it would in fact add strongly to Smith’s practical purpose argument.


      So, my question remains: will a wave travelling after 500 light years be received differently than after travelling 80.000 years? Is there any technical and finite reason not to receive the latter one?




    • #81591

      Natural Evolution is a universal process (bound by physics) that has a tendency to generate similar things in similar situations.


      See Convergent evolution

      And List of examples of convergent evolution


      This don’t excludes, alien life we would find otherly alien, Nor alien life we would find, well, very familiar.

    • #81592

      will a wave travelling after 500 light years be received differently than after travelling 80.000 years? Is there any technical and finite reason not to receive the latter one


      Mmm. It kinda depends. Two main things that come to mind here are:


      – With distance the signal gets weaker because it spreads out. So here it matters what the strength of the send signal was, and the sensitivity of the receiver at the other end. (But other than that there is no real fixed limit)


      – The wave length of the signal. As interstellar gas clouds will absorb and scatter certain wave lengths. Potentially blocking your signal completely (if it a narrow band signal).



      The main problem with using EMR for signals across the Universe is … that it so darn slow.

    • #81593

      O yea. I almost forgot. Some news on the Seti front.



    • #81594


      thanks for your interesting links (more above) and your response. I now realize that all technical stuff about waves doesn’t matter at all. In fact, I conclude now that this kind of signal searching is totally useless and the reason is interesting.


      Even if we could by technical means receive very distant radio, laser or other wave signals loud and clear, this won’t help us to resolve the alien question because:


      1) We are out of synch

      The good timing of signal reception is essential, alas the probability of this happening is almost nil, unaware of a big possible number of civilizations in our next vicinity.


      2) Opening the machine with a bone…

      Radio or laser signals or any other ‘beacons’ are a primitive method to communicate that will only last maybe 100-300 years for any civilization. This should be nil compared to their lifetime. This makes the reception timing even more questionable.

      We see this on Earth already: our TV is cable-transmitted, not radio-waved anymore; our communication satellites are pointed towards Earth to transmit phone calls, and not towards space where it could be received more easily by ET. All these technologies will be gone latest in 100 years, replaced by better solutions if still necessary.


      3) The Voyager spacecraft: Target or museum ?

      The reasons for sending powerful signals into space on purpose would be extraordinary for any species (a matter of survival I guess), and it would not be good news for us anyway. (I will discount here the adventurous idea of any physical alien visit, but no question that this would mean trouble rather than knowledge for us, at least in the first place.)

      Although we have already sent such messages on purpose (the Voyager plaquette;  the message elaborated and sent by Carl Sagan and his wife), this is more folklore and sentimentalism (and serves more as a promotion for a better NASA budget) rather than fullfilling any scientific mean. ET is not likely to ‘feel’ or get on line with us about this, so I’m afraid that Voyager will meet the same fate as Pioneer in the Star Trek movie, unless we catch it up to put it in a museum…


      4) Philosophy and some hard facts to digest…

      We won’t understand any intelligent signals that made it into space without the purpose of interplanetary communication (our radio and TV  broadcasts are an example). We cannot even translate some hieroglyphs from our own people here on Earth!

      It’s easy to believe that if such signals were sent on purpose instead, then it would be easier for us to ‘decode’ them, the aliens would make efforts in that sense, but no, I toss it away: Perception, mathematics, science (the ingredients we trust for understanding), all these are human constructs, already explained by René Descartes or Immanuel Kant. Today the quantic theory starts telling us that the human ‘forms’ his universe, as strange and frightning it may sound. At least some strange quantic effects discovered will make this hypothesis worth to investigate in the comming decades, but that’s all to say: in such a chaos we are farther than ever from any sort of ‘global’ or ‘universal’ understanding that would allow us to read in the mind of ET. To understand the universe and alternative life forms we get to the point where we cannot rely on physics anymore, it’s a question of metaphysics, not physics. Science has a limit: the human limit. Our intelligence and the enforcement of the ‘scientific method’ (that we falsly deem useful for understanding aliens) is still a very young phenomena in our lifespan and part of the evolution. Also it can be supplanted at some point and just dissapear, the evolution goes its own very special way. Other lifeforms, even here on Earth, don’t need such things to succeed and survive. Therefore, aliens may not even have any ‘science’ in our sense (for simplicity I’ll skip the question of Culture here), or they have ‘their’ science that we’ll be very stretched to perceive or follow for a iota. There’s no chance to communicate with ET in my opinion.


      The first point above is the most objective, but also a very deceiving one. In his book The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence (2010), Paul Davies gives a powerful analogy that is also easy to understand:

      He plays with the idea that in a village all houseowners would switch on and off their lights for 10 seconds at a random time during night. We can ask now: Will 2 or more houses ever be lit at the same moment? It depends on the number of houses, on how long the light is on and how long the night is. With only 100 houses we probably aren’t going to see 2 houses show any syncrhonity, with 10.000 houses we may get some cases, but not as much to get me out of my chair…

      In the case of the aliens it means: we must receive the signals in the right time interval or they will simply pass by without us knowing about it. Maybe this has already happend and some signals have reached Earth, but at the epoch of the dinosaurs…Even in the most optimistic case where our galaxy would count about 10000-50000 high tech civilizations (I don’t give a dime for it, with Frank Drake’s equation applied to today’s knowledge I would say even some vapor of alien in our galaxy would be exuberant), so even with such ‘crazy numbers’ the chance to synchronize at the perfect moment with such signals is almost nil, not to speak about the 3 other points or our problems to identify such signals as being intelligent alien ones.


      The other points just add meat to the plate, so the conclusion is:

      To find out about aliens, we have to get there or solve this enigma here on Earth without receiving any signals. If other ET’s are out there we must accept that we aren’t ever going to know about it. Other ETs are in the same boat, except if we believe in some kind of Neuman’s replicating machines invading the whole galaxy, but then: we are back to the Fermi paradoxon (which isn’t one, it’s a simple question) asking “where is everybody?”. And we are back to the start with no better arguments.

      I’m afraid, even the ‘practical purpose’ mentioned by Howard A. Smith in his article above has just vaporized. And he is a pessimist in the matter.


      And what about space sponsoring?

      Yes, more than ever I think that space projects need sponsoring, we have to go into space not to meet ET but to ensure our survival in the medium term. Politics and governments alone can hardly enforce this road.

      Some very to-the-point projects are necessary, but this doesn’t hamper any useful research on alien lifeforms.

      So, for example, I think that Mr. Yuri Milner should be careful before spending millions in such catch-the-signal endeavor, even the methods of SETI have changed since, it’s not anymore about signals and ET but, just to pick one, about finding life forms on Earth that differ from the standard forms because of more evolutions that possibly have occured on our planet. This would be the prime evidence that independant life forms are indeed possible. I think that’s all we can discover here, no need for any telescope, a microscope for a good exobiologist is the better tool. Back to Earth by scavenging in some unusual places!




    • #81595

      I conclude now that this kind of signal searching is totally useless.

      I kinda disagree here. Mainly because I think that that kind of thinking goes against why science projects, like Seti, are done. Basically science projects are done to see if something can be found that adds to our knowledge base. And in science you also put your money on as much horses as possible. The fact that you don’t find what your looking for in the time you expected is data to (although this kind of data is highly ambiguous and is generally misused / misinterpreted by the lesser science minded.)


      The biggest scientific issue we currently have in relation to the probability of the creation of life. Is that we currently only have one example to go by (Earth + a single tree of live). The ET signal search part of Seti is just one project to see if we can find data that tells us where not just a strange single exception. (Cultural wise it might have a bigger impact, but only for a short time I think.)


      Personally I think a nice additional project to possibly detect ET (and thereby also opening a lot of other interesting ideas) would be to have plenty of small, high-res and mobile 24/7 sky camera’s running around the world. (as a side effect we might learn a bit more about other strange Earth, or even Human, related stuff.)

    • #81596

      In science, if a method doesn’t work it means it has failed and must be replaced by a better one. Any theory must have elements like predictability, repeatability and the possibility to evolve which means: it must be contestable or provable by its own. The Synchronity problem above is contestable and anyone is welcome to dismantle it.


      Until then, based to the point 1) above, any signal searching is not reasonable for what it is proposing to discover. This synchronity problem has been recognized as scuh by SETI itself and his supervisor, Paul Davies, largely has admitted that the search has to be focused on more promising methods, and unfortunately, this has to happen here on Earth. Any alien message is out of reach, period. (This is not a quote, but in essence the content of his book mentioned above).


      This is to say that for going on searching signals in space, then one must first validly contest the Synchronity problem related to a possible space communication between planets, showing it is wrong and that signals can be received (before doomsday) in order to prove alien life.  Facts cannot simply be ignored because they are deceiving and not fitting into someone’s plan. Or: Go play roulette with Mr. Yuri Milner, see the end of the post.


      Radio telescopes could indeed indicate some traces of possible alien life, but these traces will have to be linked to an acceptable theory in order to for us to say “There is alien life.” The state as for now is: telescopes may find these traces, but won’t provide us with this essential type of evidence. Again, this important evidence has to be elaborated here on earth. The traces found by telescopes would otherwise only be subject for speculations. And with speculations, I can as well say: Woody Allen is in the stars…


      Behaving differently by continuing searching signals and losing our time and ressources means we are hoping to succeed against the odds and we would need an extraordinary strike of fortune by finding any alien artifact (including signals). We shouldn’t rely on chance, also because the costs and ressources needed for it are currently not in any reasonable relation.

      Of course Mr. Yuri Milner is free to spend his money as he please, but his ‘project’ is to say: I go to a roulette table and bet on number 24, 15, 3, 21, 33, 21, 35 one after another and I expect to win every time. Yeah, there is such a thing like midlife crisis. I’m yawning, no need to make a blog for that. I’m really surprised to see the names of big scientists in this blog, which they don’t want probably and weren’t asked for; this actually makes me think that the whole blog is just a hoax (like many blogs in social medias, that’s why I usually never read them, they are open for any sort of shit, uncontrollable and tollerated ad libitum).


      Also where there is money any science seems to stop immediately I suppose…



    • #81597

      Signal Information Value SI(v)…


      A better way to clarify the Synchronity problem above is to express it in numbers and play with it.

      If we take the Drake Equation, which calculates the probable number of N civilizations looking on 5 main factors, then we have to couple it with the Synchronity problem in order to express how useful any intelligent signal would be and how likely are we getting such signals based on N. I call it the Signal Information Value SI(v).


      SI(v) will have following factors:


      – Synch (N): Probability of a signal synchronity within 200 years based on N (*)

      – S(i): Signal interval; reduction factor betwwen the time intervall where alien is able to send its signals into space versus the alien’s total life time (****)

      – S(t): Signal type; Signal reduction factor based on the type of signal, the 2 possible types are signals sent on purpose directed towards Earth, and such ones without such purpose (**).

      – AL: Prove of Alien Life based on the information content of the signal expressed in a probability that we can actually ‘decode’ the signal (***)


      There may be other factors that come into play, they would need to be expressed as a probablity of an event further reducing the overall value (excluded such events with p=1).

      Attentive readers will have found out that I’m overly enthousiastic here and just assume that any intelligent alien lifeform covered in the N value will send out signals that can be analyzed. Also I will take for granted that once the signal is decoded then it will effectively prove alternate life, which may not be the case; see my point 4) “Philosophy and some hard facts to digest” more above. I’ll just skip this argument for simplicity and in our favor, also because the one-way-road of the signal would be enough to make the evidence of alternate life, no need for communication. This all requests that the signal’s source is well documented and proved to be originated as such. Also my point 3) is irrelevant for the evidence of an alternate lifeform and is not a factor here.


      The Signal Information Value would then be:


      SI(v) =  Synch (N) * S(i) * S(t) * AL


      The result is a probability value for getting a useful signal given any N value. A useful signal is one that reaches us before we have hard information about alien lifeforms and one that we can use as a clear evidence for such lifeforms. SI(v) corrects the Drake equation by adding the Synchronity factor. It should be represented in a grafical f(x) function with the x-coordinate being N and the y-coordinate being SI(v) for better understanding of its significance. Obviously, the bigger N is, the better is the Signal Information Value, but by adding alien worlds, its increase is far smaller than you may think!



      200 years is a reasonable time in order for the signal reception to be useful. If we have to wait longer for a case of signal synchronity, then chances are we are faster to discover such life forms by other means.

      There is no guessing here: it can be determined exactly using probability calculations, but I’m really lazy today, sorry 🙂

      To calculate it yourself, just build a corrisponding case with the Village and the lightening houses as described in the post above, assuming a unitary time intervall of 1 second for which any houseowner could start to switch on the light.



      Should be in the range of  0.5-0.8. The most severe 0,5 would mean we won’t understand / identify or just ignore any non-purpose signals but receive all purpose ones (stll optimistic), and with 0.8 I assume that we resolve all tech and money problems in order to also include the reception of 80% of all non-purpose signals (in addition of all purpose ones).

      Just as a curiosity: With our today’s technology in 2015, we would need to build a 100 km telescope in diameter with the finest sensors in order to barely receive a non-purpose signal distant 8 light years away!



      It may seem strange, but not every intelligent signal is automatically an evidence for a life form in the biologic or cosmic sense of Evolution. Intelligent systems don’t need life, they don’t need any planets or all the requisites of the Drake equation.

      To find out we have to be able to decode the signal content AND to exclude any intelligent system which is not a lifeform. It’s a judgment call, but I suggest to give a very low number here anyway (the solution of this problem is or very easy or quite impossible).



      I suggest 0.03 here as optimistic for us. I count 300 years out of 10.000 lifetime. Of course aliens may last much longer, but then: the 300 wouldn’t change and it gets much worse for us to ever receive any signal. A wave-sending method for communication is not a durable factor for a lifeform, except if it’s part of the organic system of the alien itself with the capability to send signals into space; such a case is just a rare one amongst many and can therefore be neglected for simplicity.


      Play with these numbers and tweak them as you please, maybe starting with optimistic N and SI(v) values and getting to pessimistic ones. Also just set the Synch(N) = 0.85 for a maximum number of alien worlds and with still signal reception problems for us. Don’t set it to 1, because this would mean an infinite number of alien worlds in our galaxy…But then: we would have no problems with the signal reception, making it of no significance!

      You will find out the deceiving fact that knowing about the likely number of different ETs out there (N value of the Drake equation) won’t really help us to prove any alternate lifeform which would allow us to extrapolate life and discover new important cosmic evolution laws (amongst many other things).

      In the spirit of Enrico Fermi’s argument we could say: If they are there and we never know it, then..they are not there.


      2 Example calculations:


      Example 1: Optimistic case

      Synch(N) = 0.85 will include a very high number of alien worlds in our galaxy and a 80% chance we can identify and decode the alien message if we receive it:


      SI(v) = 0.85 * 0.03 * 0.8 * 0.8 = 0,01632


      This is to say: there is a 1,6% chance that we receive, identify and decode an alien signal within the next 200 years given the Drake’s N number for a Synchronity Factor of 0.85.


      Example 2: Pessimistic case

      Synch(N) = 0.4 gives still room for a lot of alien worlds, but now we have problems by either receiving (because less wolrds), identifying and decoding alien signals (30% chance).


      SI(v) = 0.4 * 0.03 * 0.6 * 0.3 = 0,00216


      The chance to receive, identify and decode an alien signal within the next 200 years has droped to 0,2% or 1 out of 500.


      It’s important to see that in both cases we won’t get any useful prospectives based on signals. And we could install and use as many powerful telescopes we want, it doesn’t matter. To overcome the Synchronity problem we would have to install huge numbers of telescopes *covering different time periods* which is impossible.

      We better search for the aliens differently.



      Any comments welcome,


    • #81598

      Showing Seti cost in relation to some other stuff.

      image(big):  http://www.flickr.com/photos/microcosmologist/5676633160/sizes/o/in/photostream/

      Related post: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/05/01/the-cost-of-seti-infographic/#.VbMsnrOqqko


      Dropping out of discussion part as I see to much theoretical stuff being used as if there facts.


    • #81599

      The thing is – signals have been picked up from space – the most famous one would be the “wow” signal – the rest may well be signals that we simply don’t have the technology to pick up.

    • #81600

      The thing is – signals have been picked up from space – the most famous one would be the “wow” signal – the rest may well be signals that we simply don’t have the technology to pick up.

      Yes right, as to my definition, chances are that the wow is a type-2 signal (non-purpose one). In my S(t) above I have made an over-simplification in our favor: In fact I guess that 99% of possible signals are of type-2, and therefore very hard for us to get because of technical problems. I have reduced them to 50%…saying that ET is very talkative and the other 50% aimed towards us…

      The problem with the wow is: It doesn’t fullfill our scientific method to give a better explanation to what we know already, essentially because it has not lasted long enough to give us a chance for analyzing. The wow would not qualify in my filter above (which means it’s of no value to us, even if it originated from a alien civilization).



    • #81601

      Hi MvGulik,




      Showing Seti cost in relation to some other stuff.

      image(big):  http://www.flickr.com/photos/microcosmologist/5676633160/sizes/o/in/photostream/

      Related post: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/05/01/the-cost-of-seti-infographic/#.VbMsnrOqqko


      Dropping out of discussion part as I see to much theoretical stuff being used as if there facts.


      Which facts? There are no facts, except the synchronity problem. If its wrong, then please say why so we can progress.


      You should not post any blog links, they are trash most of the time or hard to accept as a good reference. Here is a better one (still will have to read it, but I doubt it counters much of my good-sense argument):




      As for your other links (money for SETI):

      If I have a good idea for a space game, I can start a Kickstarter project. If I don’t convince, I won’t get any money for it. Guess why. I cannot ask 10.000 of my neighbors to skip smoking 1 cigar in order to finance my project. It doesn’t matter if cigars (or 5 Tomahawk missiles) are important or not. The same goes with SETI. They will have to demonstrate that telescopes etc. will indeed help for the work they propose and also convince people. They cannot simply wait for a Mr. Milner to come in. What if they fail? Their work is a rather long-term one, nothing for sprinters. How many Milners will come afterwards? So, they better convince and money will not be a problem anymore.




    • #81602

      Updated my post above with 2 example calculations.



    • #81603

      Only a fool believes that all life within the universe will be like ours.

    • #81604

      Right, and they likely don’t send any signals. I think there’s still the possibility of life in our solar system. The moon Europa is my horse nr. 1 for it.



    • #81605

      Oh, just one thing about the so-called WOW signal:

      It has often be argued that the signal has never repeated, which is true, but totally irrelevant and this argument is also fallacious.

      If we ever receive a type-2 signal it would already be by the means of incredible fortune involved. It’s then important to record and document it well so that further analisis can take place. Has this been done with the WOW and has it been analized? The statements from SETI or the involved astronomers are all not crystal clear about this, so people on the street didn’t get a satisfying answer IMO. Go on the Seti home page and type in wow in the search, you will find plain nothing. Google it on the net and you will find a lot of UFO stuff, but nothing interesting and to-the-point.

      It’s totally stupid to consider that the same type-2 signal would ever come to us twice (a type-1 signal is different obviously!), so who has put this naive idea in the world, I don’t know, but he must have been drunken…

      The shorter a signal is, the most probable it’s a type-2, especially if it doesn’t repeat. So a signal not repeating has of course information value, but to say “it must repeat in order for us to be considered” that’s trash.



      For example, the very first google result (“wow signal analyzed”) tells a lot but says nothing, also it adheres to the fallacy explained above:




      Or take this one:


      Maybe interesting, but the author doesn’t give any meaningful conclusion in simple words, so it’s rather worthless (at least for our purpose).


      This one is hilarious:

      Don’t read all this and waste your time, instead just scroll down to the “Conclusion”. Should I say more?



      The Wikipedia article:


      It contains interesting data about the signal but no conclusion to what it means in simple words. Someone seeking to find wether this signal is useful or even evidence for ET won’t find a yes or no answer. By carefully going through the article, the answer is no (still assuming it’s referenced and complete), but few people will have the patience and a lot of folks would rather advance ‘spectacular’ theories in the absence of such answer, biasing the overall value and creating a myth.


      All such articles and their waterfall of words aren’t to give any explanations to people who aren’t familiar with the scientific work, that is the majority of people.




    • #81606

      Just pray it’s not like this one…


    • #81607

      I like your postscrypt (Where logic…) 😎



    • #81608

      The ‘money’ value of signals:


      Up to now, I haven’t had any kind words about Mr. Yuri Milkin’s project and his generous sponsoring. Maybe time has come to change this.

      Because the odds may be in Mr. Milkin’s favor. My pessimistic calculation says: 1 chance out of 500 within 200 years to meet Alien. That’s not too bad afterall. It means that if you bet 100 millions on it and expect a money return of 50 Billions, then you are alright to bet. In this case Mr. Milkin should marry soon and leave the profits to his children so they can build an Empire, because waiting for other 100 years (most likely waiting time) would not be enough to realize his personal profits. And still there is such a thing llike IRS or other taxes…


      It kinda remembers me of Ridley Scott’s movie Prometheus, a pre-sequel of the Alien Series:

      Rich man wants to live longer – rich man sponsors spacecraft – rich man hides in the spacecraft – rich man meets Alien – Alien gets angry – end of the story.


      Humm…This story is so mundane, it is quite realistic.



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