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  • Are We Alone?

    Martin Seligman offers up one answer to that question.

    I now take the null hypothesis very seriously: that Sagan and Shklovskii were wrong: that the number of advanced technical civilizations in our galaxy is exactly one, that the number of advanced technical civilizations in the universe is exactly one.What is the implication of the possibility, mounting a bit every day, that we are alone in the universe?
    A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

    "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."

  • #2
    Re: Are We Alone?

    The world's only 6000 years old and flat too I imagine.

    I'm sure its nice to think that we are "special" and "unique", God's favoured children, etc, but thats just human arrogance. This universe is far to vast to accept that this planet is the only one out of statistically trillions of worlds that harbors life.
    I am the one, I am the zero, I am your low resolution hero.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Are We Alone?

      Evolution is a fact. I don't know how you can doubt this planet is the only one that has life on it, even if another planet has microscopic life, that means's we are not alone.
      Last edited by Extinct; 01-05-2008, 02:37 PM.



      When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. ~ Jimi Hendrix

      And isn't it a bad thing to be deceived about the truth, and a good thing to know what the truth is? For I assume that by knowing the truth you mean knowing things as they really are. ~ Plato

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      • #4
        Re: Are We Alone?

        I believe I read somewhere that with the estimated number of solar systems in all of the known galaxies in the universe, that the odds of earth harboring the only sentient life in the universe is approximately the same as one person winning every lottery in the united states with the exact same numbers every time it's played per week for the next 15,000 years. So assuming that is true, lets do a little math and see what the approximate number is:
        Using general odds from two lottery sources: Florida Lottery and Powerball (national)
        Both sources use 6 numbers, drawn at random, so the odds of getting an exact match are the same: 1 in 82,598,880
        There are currently 43 state lotteries, 3 national drawings and one in puerto rico, for a toal of 47 lotteries.
        Assuming one drawing per week per lottery, in 15000 years (780,000 weeks) there are a total of 36,660,000 drawings.
        Doing the simple math of 1: (82,598,880 x 36,660,000) (general odds over calculated time utilizing "gamblers fallacy"), we arrive at the probability of:
        1 in 3,028,074,940,800,000.

        HOWEVER, those odds are incorrect, as the chance of the same exact number duplicating each time are compounded, meaning that the actual calculation negating "gamblers fallacy" is single odds^time, or 82,598,880^36,660,000, making our odds:
        1 in 810,397,375,749,538,028,702,904,438,606,405,600,82 1,890,507,479,323,
        486,625,533,233,560,681,833,824,064,055,846,868,06 4,303,040,459,095,
        016,112,343,557,073,372,008,249,594,585,160,944,03 8,042,797,373,886,
        474,061,755,065,316,708,053,782,706,155,735,297,44 7,764,054,615,683,
        308,439,652,386,043,215,676,640,469,605,100,753,12 7,420,500,299,811,
        803,792,052,384,416,417,376,701,304,936,692,107,03 4,195,642,713,749,
        589,721,314,492,416,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 0,000,000,000,000
        (calculated by Andrew Fergus's Huge Number Calculator, which can be found here)
        In essence, the probability is a number so large that it is completely out of the realm of human comprehension. There are approximately 10^26 grains of sand on earth, this number is infinitely larger than that.

        Also, evolution is NOT a fact. Thats a common misconception. While scientific data points to the fact that evolution is a reasonable certainty, there has never been any witness to or direct evidence of spontaneous evolution of a species (this is not to be confused with spontaneous mutation. evolution serves a specific purpose - i.e. the opposable thumb for gripping objects, whereas spontaneous mutation does not). Now, this isnt saying that evolution cannot be a fact, just that in strictly scientific terms it has not been conclusively proved to be fact.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Are We Alone?

          There are pleny of people with an audience of microscopic life who can be described as alone.

          The big problem is Earth has nothing to gain from extra terrestrial communication. Let's look at the scenarioes.

          • The Intergalactic Party Line. Assuming we could manage to communicate with an alien life form -- maybe we send them a beam of entangled photons that we have pinned in a condensate so we can take turns wiggling them to send information -- what is the point of chatting? Once a common language is formed our species have little to do but chat and unless that chat is very cheap for both sides, it won't be funded. Furthermore, if all we can do is talk, the conversation will run out and all that is left is an amusing footnote. Best case scenario: We find a way to transfer huge amounts of data with zero time differential, allowing us to play Team Fortress 3 with Clgalțex and Belđar of Omicron Persei VII.

          • Thinking with Portals. Assume living entities can move from one planet to another, be it by rocketships, Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, or transporter beam. Either our peoples will be socially compatible, and after the novelty wears off it'll be no different from seeing an asian tourist at Disney; or they won't be, and soon the curiosity is sated and both peoples quit caring about interacting.
          Unless of course, one side launches...

          • The Invasion Fleet. While it's a coin flip on which side is which, one side is sure to be hungrier than the other, or more pressed for environment, or more ambitious, or otherwise willing to say MINE and plot to plant a flag. And we've made plenty of films to explore the myriad ways that can shake out.


          In the end, the "is there life out there" question isn't much worth asking. Anyone out there to converse with would be just like us -- scratching "is there life out there" off a list of a thousand unanswered questions, and finding after comparing notes that neither of us have found much that the other hadn't. The question to ask isn't who's out there, or what's out there, but why it's out there.

          On that note, I suggest the following book for reading: Life and Energy by Isaac Asimov; and any good book you can find on space-time theory. It's amazing the great works you'll find in the local college library trash bin, ejected to make room for crap like books about flavor-of-the-month politicians and long-turned-to-hamburger race horses.


          Also, evolution is NOT a fact. Thats a common misconception.

          Evolution doesn't claim to be a fact. That'd be like saying that erosion is a fact -- which doesn't make any sense. Erosion is the observed phenomenon that occurs when a liquid or gas removes material from a solid the liquid or gas makes contact with. Evolution is the observed phenomemon that occurs when critters mutate randomly, the ones that suck get eaten by grues, and the ones that pwn spread their genes amongst their peers until said genes become ubiquitous and the base upon which new mutations stem.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Are We Alone?

            Originally posted by MagnaCentipede View Post
            Best case scenario: We find a way to transfer huge amounts of data with zero time differential, allowing us to play Team Fortress 3 with Clgalțex and Belđar of Omicron Persei VII.
            Great. We're gonna need more Admins for the smacktard influx.

            Also, my statement that evolution is not fact was directed toward the statement made by Extinct stating the exact opposite.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Are We Alone?

              I only hope to get off this planet before the Vogons destroy it for their hyperspace bypass. In the meantime, I have found Earth to be Mostly Harmless.

              Lucky Shot

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Are We Alone?

                Watch, TG will still be around and have a population of around 1 billion.
                |TG-6th|SirNerd

                My Resume includes Pirate, Mercenary, and a Devil Dog, what else do you want.

                Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional.

                When you can't run anymore, you crawl and when you can't do that, you find someone to carry you.

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                • #9
                  Re: Are We Alone?

                  Apophis is going to merge with an even larger computer than he already is (we know the truth boss...) and need to be planted on a world designated for use solely by tacticalgamer.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Are We Alone?

                    Originally posted by MagnaCentipede View Post
                    There are pleny of people with an audience of microscopic life who can be described as alone.

                    The big problem is Earth has nothing to gain from extra terrestrial communication. Let's look at the scenarioes.

                    • The Intergalactic Party Line. Assuming we could manage to communicate with an alien life form -- maybe we send them a beam of entangled photons that we have pinned in a condensate so we can take turns wiggling them to send information -- what is the point of chatting? Once a common language is formed our species have little to do but chat and unless that chat is very cheap for both sides, it won't be funded. Furthermore, if all we can do is talk, the conversation will run out and all that is left is an amusing footnote. Best case scenario: We find a way to transfer huge amounts of data with zero time differential, allowing us to play Team Fortress 3 with Clgalțex and Belđar of Omicron Persei VII.

                    • Thinking with Portals. Assume living entities can move from one planet to another, be it by rocketships, Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, or transporter beam. Either our peoples will be socially compatible, and after the novelty wears off it'll be no different from seeing an asian tourist at Disney; or they won't be, and soon the curiosity is sated and both peoples quit caring about interacting.
                    Unless of course, one side launches...

                    • The Invasion Fleet. While it's a coin flip on which side is which, one side is sure to be hungrier than the other, or more pressed for environment, or more ambitious, or otherwise willing to say MINE and plot to plant a flag. And we've made plenty of films to explore the myriad ways that can shake out.


                    In the end, the "is there life out there" question isn't much worth asking. Anyone out there to converse with would be just like us -- scratching "is there life out there" off a list of a thousand unanswered questions, and finding after comparing notes that neither of us have found much that the other hadn't. The question to ask isn't who's out there, or what's out there, but why it's out there.

                    On that note, I suggest the following book for reading: Life and Energy by Isaac Asimov; and any good book you can find on space-time theory. It's amazing the great works you'll find in the local college library trash bin, ejected to make room for crap like books about flavor-of-the-month politicians and long-turned-to-hamburger race horses.


                    Also, evolution is NOT a fact. Thats a common misconception.

                    Evolution doesn't claim to be a fact. That'd be like saying that erosion is a fact -- which doesn't make any sense. Erosion is the observed phenomenon that occurs when a liquid or gas removes material from a solid the liquid or gas makes contact with. Evolution is the observed phenomemon that occurs when critters mutate randomly, the ones that suck get eaten by grues, and the ones that pwn spread their genes amongst their peers until said genes become ubiquitous and the base upon which new mutations stem.
                    My friend, your post deserves a forum of its own. Awesome read! And many points, although satirical, I do indeed agree with.

                    I'm more inclined to believe communication with extra-terrestrials wont be via entangled photons or even wormholes though. It'll take place using some kind of manifold graviton communicator.

                    Alongside that, messages will probably just be couriered on ships with FTL drives. After initial contact then we can emplace quantum communication (entanglement).

                    As for evolution being a fact or not, I prefer to believe ENTROPY is fact. And to believe in entropy logically leads to a belief in evolution.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Are We Alone?

                      Well, those of you that insist that there are others similar enough to us to be able to communicate with us are ignoring the odds posted by Ferris. With odds that great, what are the chances of contact being made while both humans and the ETs exist? If we ever get to seriously explore our universe, how many planets will we pass by because their intelligent life hasn't yet evolved from primordial soup? How many aliens passed by Earth before Humans existed? Ferris was quick to include time in his consideration of winning the lottery, but it's been ignored in this thread. I think that unless we come across an unimaginably advanced and/or massive civilization, we're unlikely to discover anyone else out there...
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                      • #12
                        Re: Are We Alone?

                        The real question isnt if we're alone. The real question is: how do we communicate at FTL speeds?

                        Personally, I think not enough effort is put forth to figure out how to communicate effectively outside our own system. Quantum comms are the best we've come up with so far, but that still relies on slower-than-light travel to place a xceiver on both ends of the conversation. For now, that tech. is best reserved for instant comms with distant planets in our own SS -which in reality is still a huge achievement.

                        Looking through a wormhole is another option, but they exist only fleetingly unless artificially created and one would still need to be at the event horizon to negate the effects of Time.

                        I tend not to get caught up in the old "if a tree falls..." argument. Fact is, it's impossible for us to be the only intelligent life in the universe, let alone this quadrant of our own galaxy. Once we can learn to talk in sub-space, I guarantee you E.T. will be on all our Facebooks.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Are We Alone?

                          The Drake Equation was the "original" statistical model for estimating the frequency of advanced intelligent life in the galaxy. The author of the article I linked and quoted was a friend of Carl Sagan - one of the minds behind the Drake Equation - and was himself quite excited at the prospect of finding alien life.

                          The focus of the article isn't over what outcomes could potentially arise from interaction with alien life forms, but rather about the possibility that there simply are no other advanced intelligent life forms in the galaxy. The author, just like Ferris, once himself believed the Drake Equations' findings. But he has since had a change of mind: He now considers it quite possible that the Drake Equation is dead wrong.

                          The authors' reason for this change of mind has nothing to do with religion or "human exceptionalism." His belief is driven entirely by the fact that the same people who created the Drake Equation fully expected to find evidence of advanced alien life quickly: If the galaxy is so vast and alien life so common, then surely we should be able to detect some sign of their existence. But nothing has been found... nothing at all.

                          Further reading:

                          Fermi Paradox
                          Drake Equation
                          Rare Earth Hypothesis
                          A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

                          "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Are We Alone?

                            Wormholes exist fleetingly? What!? It doesn't follow from something's being consistent with certain mathematical models of the universe that it is physically possible (much less actual but fleeting).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Are We Alone?

                              Originally posted by xTYBALTx View Post
                              The Drake Equation was the "original" statistical model for estimating the frequency of advanced intelligent life in the galaxy. The author of the article I linked and quoted was a friend of Carl Sagan - one of the minds behind the Drake Equation - and was himself quite excited at the prospect of finding alien life.

                              The focus of the article isn't over what outcomes could potentially arise from interaction with alien life forms, but rather about the possibility that there simply are no other advanced intelligent life forms in the galaxy. The author, just like Ferris, once himself believed the Drake Equations' findings. But he has since had a change of mind: He now considers it quite possible that the Drake Equation is dead wrong.

                              The authors' reason for this change of mind has nothing to do with religion or "human exceptionalism." His belief is driven entirely by the fact that the same people who created the Drake Equation fully expected to find evidence of advanced alien life quickly: If the galaxy is so vast and alien life so common, then surely we should be able to detect some sign of their existence. But nothing has been found... nothing at all.

                              Further reading:

                              Fermi Paradox
                              Drake Equation
                              Rare Earth Hypothesis

                              Nothing has been found because our methods of searching are antiquated. We're currently looking at a tiny part of the spectrum for signs of life with old craptastic equipment, and odds are they're (ET) not even using that frequency. And STILL the majority of all viable contacts turn out to be interference or duds. We simply dont have the resolution necessary to do good science.

                              A lot of the problem still lies in software as well. Handling "chaos theory" is not an easy task, but in reality that's inevitably what they're gonna have to deal with. Somewhere in all the static IS a viable signal, but getting it out is extremely tough.

                              I'm still of the belief that we need a space-based multifrequency radio telescope of huge dimensions to really get the job done. Combined with quantum computing we'll have a good shot at it.

                              Lastly, remember, the Drake equation doesnt take Space-Time into account. If you were to assume advanced civs. could exist only within a particular timeframe in our galaxy, then you're effectively removing a large swath of civs. whos comm traffic hasnt even reached us yet. Remember the milky way is 100,000 light years across. You also must remember that there's a good chance many civs. have simply come and went and their comm. traffic has already passed us by forever. We ourselves have only been transmitting for about 100 years. Our species in its modern form has only really even existed from about 60,000 years ago. And chances are we'll die out (from various means) or destroy ourselves relatively soon.

                              Again though, just because u didnt hear the tree doesnt mean it didnt fall. What my above point illustrates is there's a WHOLE lot more involved in detecting ET as opposed to calculating the probabilities they exist.

                              What we need is a Drake Equation that take detection probabilities into account as well. Along with the probabilities of a civ. even existing long enough to send such information.

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