SETI To Make Contact Within 25 Years

J_Frank_Parnell

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#1
This is from sky news (http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,3 ... 19,00.html). Tried uploading it to the breaking news jobbie yesterday but it never appeared.
anyway, here's the story:

Talking To The Alien
Updated: 12:50, Thursday March 30, 2006

Aliens will be talking to us within the next 20 years, according to space boffins.

Dr Seth Shostak of the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence group said they may have even already landed.

"We'll know we are not alone between the years 2020 and 2025," he told The Sun.

"This will be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, story of all time."

His group, which is linked to the University of California, is building 350 telescopes to listen for aliens.

Dr Shostak believes ETs could already be listening to Earth.

And he thinks alien life may have landed in clumps of bacteria cells.

so wot u reckon?
 

crunchy5

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#2
COOL if it pans out. I'd like to know how come the precise window of contact 8)
 

Heckler

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#3
Re: seti to make contavt within 25 years

J_Frank_Parnell said:
so wot u reckon?
I reckon if it had been printed a couple of days later it'd be an April fool gag.

As it wasn't I'd have to ask how exactly this 'scientist' knows the exact date for alien contact?
 

Mythopoeika

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#4
Re: seti to make contavt within 25 years

Heckler20 said:
J_Frank_Parnell said:
so wot u reckon?
I reckon if it had been printed a couple of days later it'd be an April fool gag.

As it wasn't I'd have to ask how exactly this 'scientist' knows the exact date for alien contact?
Yes, I'd like to know how they predicted a date. Suppose the aliens don't want to work to our schedule?
 

Heckler

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#5
Re: seti to make contavt within 25 years

Mythopoeika said:
Yes, I'd like to know how they predicted a date. Suppose the aliens don't want to work to our schedule?
Well weren't they supposed to turn up before the end of January?

Talk about left standing at the altar (or the Altair I suppose?)
 

graylien

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#6
I suspect that whoever wrote that article either completely made it up or else quoted Mr Shostak out of context. He's always been extremely sceptical of UFO sightings and his latest piece on the SETI website merely suggests that there just might be some kind of very primitive life elsewhere in the Solar System.

He does mention a 20 year time-frame in this entry from his old blog, but he's hardly making any definite promises:

How Soon Will We Find Extraterrestrial Life?

There’s kind of an unintended race underway in the search for life beyond our world. On the one hand, we have NASA and the Europeans busily launching small bundles of intricate machinery to Mars, looking for signs of water, organic chemistry, and, eventually, life. Beyond the Red Planet, there are at least four moons (Europa, Callisto, Ganymede, and Titan) that are dark-horse candidates for hosting biology, so we’re sending robots to some of these worlds, too. It’s possible, then, that within a decade or two, one of our sheet-metal scientists will find the proof that microbes (or maybe something a bit larger) exist on one or more of these worlds.

However, and somewhat coincidentally, within that same time frame, two other kinds of searches for extraterrestrial life will also shift into a higher gear. Within a decade, NASA will launch its orbiting Terrestrial Planet Finder (the Europeans will launch a similar telescope, called Darwin). This scope will be able to capture the light from planets the size of Earth, unknown worlds orbiting stars many dozens of light-years away. The TPF and Darwin will not only be capable of seeing these planets, but will make a crude spectral analysis of the light reflected back from their atmospheres. If they find gasses such as methane, oxygen, or water vapor in the right quantities, that will provide some fairly convincing evidence that these planets are veneered with life.

The third salient in the multifaceted attempt to discover living things elsewhere is the improved technology that will be deployed for SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. As a prime example, the
Allen Telescope Array, being constructed in northern California, will be able to check out a million star systems or more in the coming two decades, listening for the type of radio signals that only transmitters can make. That’s a thousand times as many stellar targets as have been carefully examined so far.

So the race is on. It could be that all contenders will be scratched, and we will fail to find life of any kind with these efforts. On the other hand, I’m betting that at least one of the horses will cross the finish line in the next 20 years. Which one? Wait and see.

source
Shostak is also involved in raising funds for Space World (which boasts a website described by The Register as "the worst implementation of Flash known to earthlings" ;) ) so I imagine he's doing the rounds trying to whip up press interest in extraterrestrial life - a subject most people are probably heartily bored of by now.
 

rynner2

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#8
Well, who'd believe anything about someone called Dr Seth Shostak!

Clearly a name from a pulp SF story!

(Almost as good as Dr. Strangelove! ;) )
 

eburacum

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#9
This is politics, not prophecy. The Nasa budget cuts are falling most heavily on the Astrobiology program, and threaten to delay the launch of the Terrestrial Planet Finder indefinitely.
See
http://www.space.com/searchforlife/0603 ... rsday.html
Astrobiology is the core science of space exploration, and it's proposed for a 50 percent cut. The 2005 budget was approximately $65 million. For 2006 and forward, Cleave cut the program to $32.5 million.
Shostak is trying to foster enthusiasm for an astrobiological program which might bear fruit within 20 years; the discovery of life elsewhere could turn out to be the most important information humanity ever acquires, depending on the circumstances.
But he has got a difficult task ahead.
 

graylien

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#11
But would the discovery of some kind of primitive bacteria floating around on the moons of Jupiter really be that important after all?
 

Traprain

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#12
graylien said:
But would the discovery of some kind of primitive bacteria floating around on the moons of Jupiter really be that important after all?
Surely it would tremendously important? If "life" is found on two separate environments within the same solar system then the prospects for life (and intelligent life) existing elsewhere must be huge.
 

graylien

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#13
Yes, but why is that so important? It's no more than the cosmic equivalent of finding some new kind of beetle in the rainforest. It's not going to cure cancer, or end war, or significantly improve the day-to-day life of the man in the street.

I'm not saying that it's not interesting. But that's not the same thing.

I find it fascinating that even though the likes of SETI take great pains to distance themselve from Ufology, they have swallowed the Ufologists' central conceit - namely, that the discovery of life elsewhere in the Universe will be the most important event in the history of mankind.
 

eburacum

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#14
Finding primitive life in Jupiter or Europa or on Mars might not change human history very much; but the situation could be very different.

Detection of a nearby civilisation could eventually lead to contact, and most probably contact with a civilisation older and more advanced in some, or many ways, than our own. We can hope to benefit from such contact. And of course if we make contact with an aggressive species who decide to attack or subjugate us in some way, the impact of such a discovery will obviously still be great.

Detection of an advanced civilisation anywhere in our galaxy would be extremely important, as it would indicate that our own civilisation is not necessarily doomed to regress into medievalism, but has the potential to become something greater. Even if we do not make contact with such an advanced but distant civilisation it will demonstrate that humanity could aspire to such levels on our own.
 

Traprain

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#15
graylien said:
Yes, but why is that so important? It's no more than the cosmic equivalent of finding some new kind of beetle in the rainforest. It's not going to cure cancer, or end war, or significantly improve the day-to-day life of the man in the street.

I'm not saying that it's not interesting. But that's not the same thing.

I find it fascinating that even though the likes of SETI take great pains to distance themselve from Ufology, they have swallowed the Ufologists' central conceit - namely, that the discovery of life elsewhere in the Universe will be the most important event in the history of mankind.
I certainly agree that it wouldn't be the most important thing ever, just pretty important confirmation of a theory that is already generally accepted.

i.e. to take your beetle analogy, it's not just equivalent to just finding a new beetle. It's proving that other "forests" other than our own can harbour life.

On it's own, any discovery of life existing outside the earth wouldn't materially improve anything I agree but that doesn't mean it is not important. Was Galileo’s discovery about the earth revolving around the Sun unimportant?
 

Kondoru

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#16
Try telling that to the astrologers....

and I bet 99% of life out there is bugs, same as here.

But two lots of bugs in one solar system would be interesting.

Besides, what do we know about life untill we have compared it to something else?
 

graylien

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#17
Traprain said:
Was Galileo’s discovery about the earth revolving around the Sun unimportant?
It's interesting you use that as an example, since according to a recent well-publicised study "One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth".

Although I'd take that figure with a pinch of salt, the question of which revolves around which only really becomes important should you wish to map the universe or to travel through space. So although it is important, it's perhaps not as important as the invention of the wheel or the discovery that disease is caused by bacteria - scientific advances which have literally changed the world we live in.

(Incidentally, wasn't it actually Copernicus rather than Galileo?)

eburacum said:
Detection of a nearby civilisation could eventually lead to contact, and most probably contact with a civilisation older and more advanced in some, or many ways, than our own. We can hope to benefit from such contact.
This is a fairly common view, but again (no disrespect intended) one which has more in common with Ufological utopianism than with science. There are species right here on Earth - elephants, dolphins, octopuses - which are probably just as intelligent as us, yet we've never been able to establish true communication with them. Sure, we can make them do tricks and maybe figure out what kind of mood they're in, but we can't sit down and discuss the meaning of life or the mysteries of quantum physics with them. So what hope have we of communicating with intelligent life from another world entirely?

Consider, for that matter, even the problems in communicating with the Piraha who - much to the bafflement of well-meaning Western anthropologists - apparently have no interest in learning about mathematics or written language.

He once attempted to teach the Piraha to count, but after several months, gave up. No-one learned to count to ten or add one plus one.

They tried reading, but found the idea amusing and eventually stopped the lessons, saying they went along simply because it was "fun to be together and I made popcorn", Prof Everett said.

However, anyone thinking they are stupid should think again. An anthropologist, who refused to believe they did not have a creation myth, tried to quiz them on it. Unable to speak their language, he spoke through a translator and came back with what he thought was their story on tape.

He presented the tape to Prof Everett. The recording was of a stilted exchange, with the Piraha answering the anthropologist's questions with replies such as "the world is created" and "all things are made".

Then one Piraha realised that the tape would be taken to Prof Everett to be translated. The excited banter that followed, which the anthropologist took for the creation myth, was actually a group of Piraha saying: "Hi Dan", "How are you?", "When will we see you?", "When you come, bring us some matches", "And bananas", "And whisky".

source
 

Kondoru

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#18
This is a prime example of people who are not interested in possible intelegent life on other planets.

(except as a potential purveyor of candy...)

Another example is the Senitelese.
 

amester

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#19
Sometimes I have difficulty understanding my fellow human beings, let alone extraterrestrials! :shock:
 

eburacum

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#20
The fact that we have not detected any transmissions from a radio-using civilisation is disappointing, but perhaps not surprising. Most sophisticated species out there might well have cultures which resemble the social groupings of elephants and cetaceans, intelligent creatures with no apparent interest in technology or in talking to us.

But the ones that we would be likely to detect by radio are likely to be the ones which have some use for technology, so are likely to develop in some way over time. They would be a self-selecting sample (if only we ever found any, that is.)
I think that communication with a species which has had technology for an indefinite period of time (rather than having recently developed such technology, like us) would be interesting and hopefully rewarding. However we might be out of luck; there could be more dolphins than humans up there.
 

Heckler

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#21
eburacum said:
However we might be out of luck; there could be more dolphins than humans up there.
'Whats that flipper, you've detected a sub-space frequency message from Alpha Centuri from a parallel evolution species? You know I think I prefered it when you just saved people who are drowning.'
 

nohopesnodreams

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#22
I kinda go with the idea that any superior technological culture would treat us like rats in a lab.

I cant see that we as humans would treat anything we felt as inferior culture nicely.
 

graylien

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#23
Rats in a lab, of course, don't actually realise that they're rats in a lab. To them, it's just normality. Maybe we ourselves could be 'rats in a lab' without ever knowing it.
 
A

Anonymous

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#24
Also, as many have pointed out, what is to say that even if there are other civilisations out there, that 'us and them' overlap within the same time frame? Further, I find the whole dolphin, octopus elephant argument most amusing. Dolphins may have a more 'folded' cortex that humans but in no way does that denote intelligence of an equal or superior nature (indeed,extending this argument, many are now questioning the old hoary 'axioms' of whale intelligence - in actuality, they seem quite 'thick' if you will). As Asimov pointed out, dolphins cannot manipulate their environment and further, live in an environment where it is hard (ahem) to utilise energy sources and thus gain technology (you try lighting a fire underwater?). Elephants...ermm...nope. Octopi? No memory to speak of. However, I suspect life is abundant in the universe (go bugs) and that intelligent life has probably evolved elsewhere. However, the galaxy is a big place and power (mining resources etc) don't come cheap. Great argument though! :D
 

graylien

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#25
I had what can only be described as a begging letter from [email protected] in my email tonight - purportedly co- written by Arthur C Clark, no less! After some opening pleasantries it continues:

Following the "dot com" bust, the commercial support that kept [email protected] running has largely disappeared. Because of this loss of support, we can no longer count on matching funds from the University of California. We are rapidly approaching the end of what funds we do have. We we will need to raise about $750,000 to pay for these new capabilities and to keep [email protected] operating for the next year. Without this support [email protected] may be forced to shut down.
 

rynner2

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#26
Telescope bid to spot alien beams

A new optical telescope designed solely to detect light signals from alien civilisations has opened for work at an observatory in Harvard, US.
It will conduct a year-round survey, scanning all of the Milky Way galaxy visible in the Northern Hemisphere.

Seti is an exploratory science to scour the cosmos for signatures of technology built by alien beings.

Some experts believe alien societies are at least as likely to use light for communicating as radio transmissions.

The new telescope, which has a 1.8m (72-inch) primary mirror, is the first dedicated optical Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) telescope in the world.

It has been installed at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics at Oak Ridge Observatory.

"The opening of this telescope represents one of those rare moments in a field of scientific endeavour when a great leap forward is enabled," said Bruce Betts, director of projects at the Planetary Society, which funded the telescope.

"Sending laser signals across the cosmos would be a very logical way for ET to reach out; but until now, we have been ill-equipped to receive any such signal."

Bright flashes

Astronomers have been using radio telescopes to look for transmissions from an extraterrestrial intelligence since the 1960s.

But some scientists believe that alien civilisations might opt for visible light to communicate.

Visible light can form tight beams, be incredibly intense, and its high frequencies allow it to carry enormous amounts of information.

Using only present-day terrestrial technology, a bright, tightly focused light beam, such as a laser, can be 10,000 times as bright as its parent star for a brief instant. Such a beam could be easily observed from enormous distances.

"This new search apparatus performs one trillion measurements per second and expands 100,000-fold the sky coverage of our previous optical search," said the optical telescope's project director, Paul Horowitz of Harvard University, Massachusetts.

The telescope's custom processors will process the equivalent of all books in print every second. As the telescope scans strips of sky, it employs a custom-built "camera" containing an array of detectors that can detect a billionth-of-a-second flash of light.

It has been funded by the Planetary Society with support from the Bosack/Kruger Foundation.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4907308.stm
I've been suggesting that lasers comms are more likely than radio for years now! 8)
 

TinFinger

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#28
i disagre with the whole we havent been able to comunicate with elephants,monkeys etc
this whole group on animals havent been able to exploit there surounding in the same way we have
case in point we are able to vistit or even stay in the dolphins enviroment indefinatly am pritty certain they cant replicate this
that and monkeys are obviously a close relative but..if monkets decided to try and capture/train us etc they wouldnt survive very long would they
we would be able through our inventiveness and complex society/writing/comunications to completly wipe them out for ever

the main thrust is these species dont have the ability to invent and then exploit the same way we do and am pritty certain if we ever find intelegent life would think it would be at a basic level simiar to our selves

unless we can find a way to travel at revalistic speeds,as in that case im pritty sure we would find a mulititued of dolphin/elephant etc like creatures
but again it would be us finding them and that would be it nothing
to truely find et we would have to hope we find a species something like ourselves(ok in the loses of terms but..)
 

James_H

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#29
Yep, I also got a begging letter from Arthur C. Clarke. 8)

Surely discovery of, say, bacteria on Jupiter would radically influence the intellectual and scientific way of looking at the universe, and change our lives radically?
 

TinFinger

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#30
yes agreed bateria would shatter the biblistic view of the universe

the main point is that dolphins etc cant help us understand them can they?
 
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