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Hunt Intensifies For Aliens On Kepler's Planets

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the there-you-are dept.

Space 93

astroengine (1577233) writes "Could ET be chatting with colleagues or robots on sister planets in its solar system? Maybe so, say scientists who last year launched a new type of Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, project to eavesdrop on aliens. Using data collected by NASA's Kepler space telescope, a team of scientists spent 36 hours listening in when planets in targeted solar systems lined up, relative to Earth's perspective, in hopes of detecting alien interplanetary radio signals. "We think the right strategy in SETI is a variety of strategies. It's really hard to predict what other civilizations might be doing," Dan Werthimer, director of SETI research at the University of California Berkeley, told Discovery News. So far the search hasn't turned up any artificial signals yet, but this marks a change in strategy for radio searches for ETI with Kepler data taking a focused lead."

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Does this even make sense.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47114993)

It says they listen when they are lined up relative to earth's perspective, but it doesn't seem very likely that the proper time to send a signal from point A to point B once the speed of light and distance are taken into account is going to be when ABC are all in a line by point C's perspective...or am I just misunderstanding the article?

Re:Does this even make sense.... (4, Informative)

PPH (736903) | about 5 months ago | (#47115415)

When we (at C) see A,B and C line up, what we are seeing is a long past event. The property of alignment, determined by optical means, is exactly the time at which we would look for a signal traveling at the speed of light (electromgnetic).

Re:Does this even make sense.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115473)

So if I'm understanding you right:

Point A and B are 3 Light Years a part, and for simplicity we'll say earth at point C is 1.5 from both.

You're saying that when we at earth see A & B in a straight line, that a signal that departed point A 1.5 years ago will also arrive at point B in 1.5 years when it is lined up.

I'm not saying your wrong, but it doesn't seem correct.

It seems like that an observer from the radio waves point of view would constantly see its departure point (A) as lined up, but that it's destination (B) would constantly be moving at roughly twice "normal" speed as they get closer and closer to where C is in reality vs. where it appeared to be when they departed.

Re:Does this even make sense.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115555)

Actually just realized that we don't disagree, we just aren't assuming the same reference bodies for ABC.

I was assuming ABC = planets not stars.

Naturally they are just concerned with the stellar alignment and not the planet's position in it's orbit - which is most likely reasonable anyways given that any civilization advanced enough to need to send radio waves between stars would of setup a basic communications network around those stars to eliminate line of sight issues.

Re:Does this even make sense.... (2)

PPH (736903) | about 5 months ago | (#47115685)

A and B are planets in one solar system or two different solar systems. We can assume that any civilization intelligent enough to engage in interplanetary radio (or laser) communications will have figured out how to aim their transmitter and how far to 'lead' their target to compensate for the finite signal speed.

Since the A to B alignment is determined optically (automatically including a factor for how far apart A and B are), we (at C) just have to be in that same line to intercept any signals.

Now, if we want to reply to A or B, we would have to figure out the aiming and lead problem.

Re:Does this even make sense.... (2)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 5 months ago | (#47115443)

Yes, you want to listen when then are lined up, because you are effectively looking back in time. It's not like you are seeing them "now", but have to somehow look ahead the amount of time it takes to receive any signal. The light and the signal arrive at the same time.

Extra-terrestrial intelligence? (3, Funny)

reboot246 (623534) | about 5 months ago | (#47114997)

I'm still looking for terrestrial intelligence!

Re:Extra-terrestrial intelligence? (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 5 months ago | (#47115929)

You should try under a rock. after all we solve most of our problems by picking up a rock ash smashing the opposing viewpoint in the head with it.

Re:Extra-terrestrial intelligence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47116733)

It does tend to settle the argument, crude but effective.

What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#47115017)

Some might question why we're working so hard to advertise our existence when we still have exploitable mineral wealth and liquid water.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (5, Insightful)

beheaderaswp (549877) | about 5 months ago | (#47115071)

That's kind of an ignorant view. Considering the amount of resources in the uninhabited parts of the universe (which is beyond a staggering amount) why would any one enter conflict over a small planet (us).

Any species capable of interstellar travel is going to be able to pull resources out of pure energy. They don't mine, or need our water. They don't care what we do, except maybe they observe us and snicker.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 5 months ago | (#47115189)

Well, we have spent several centuries mining and purifying elements. I can think of some examples in our own world where invasions have happened to exploit technologically backward societies possession of mineral wealth.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115559)

Only because we couldn't get to easier resources.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (4, Interesting)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 5 months ago | (#47115971)

Well, we have spent several centuries mining and purifying elements. I can think of some examples in our own world where invasions have happened to exploit technologically backward societies possession of mineral wealth.

Okay, let's assume that a space-faring civilization needed resources and had so exhausted the resources of their home solar system that they needed to exploit the resources of another solar system, then further assuming that our solar system was convenient to them, and further assuming that they had the capacity to exploit the resources in our solar system.

Given all of that, why would they come into a gravity well like the Earth's when they could get enormously more water and organic molecules from Kuiper Belt [wikipedia.org] objects and enormously more metals/silicon/rocky elements from the asteroid belt [wikipedia.org] than from here, without ever entering a gravity well of any consequence?

That would be like mining salt in the Mariana Trench [wikipedia.org] .

Re: What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47117673)

Because they want out human bodies as an energy source ofcourse!

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 5 months ago | (#47117799)

Because humans have a delicious savoury taste.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

aix tom (902140) | about 5 months ago | (#47118371)

But then they surely would start some elaborate plot to fatten us up [bbc.com] in some sneaky way before they invade.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

painandgreed (692585) | about 5 months ago | (#47123331)

Okay, let's assume that a space-faring civilization needed resources and had so exhausted the resources of their home solar system that they needed to exploit the resources of another solar system, then further assuming that our solar system was convenient to them, and further assuming that they had the capacity to exploit the resources in our solar system.

Given all of that, why would they come into a gravity well like the Earth's when they could get enormously more water and organic molecules from Kuiper Belt [wikipedia.org] objects and enormously more metals/silicon/rocky elements from the asteroid belt [wikipedia.org] than from here, without ever entering a gravity well of any consequence?

That would be like mining salt in the Mariana Trench [wikipedia.org] .

The gravity well itself could be a resource. A nice place to have an atmosphere that doesn't leak away like a space habitat's would with a magnetic shield to protect both the atmosphere and the population from the sun's rays in a nice reasonably energy rich part of the solar system. It could be more like why somebody would want to take over somebody else's house rather than wandering into the woods and building their own out of trees and rocks. The energy requirements for terraforming Mars or Venus are huge (in units of days of total energy output of the sun). If coming in on a Civ game style generation ship from a distance away, they might not be expecting inhabitants and might not have any other options due to lack of tech, resources, or time.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

tyen (17399) | about 5 months ago | (#47123685)

The numbers work out for habitat-stealing if interstellar travel involved some quirk of technology that made dropping back into a gravity well somehow attractive at the end of the trip.

From what we can extrapolate given our current rudimentary state of technology, we think that if you can work out interstellar travel, then Iain Banks' popularized Culture series take on the matter is probably correct: that is, interstellar travel necessarily solves space habitat issues as a precondition. And once you have an interstellar-travel-grade space habitat, it is only the eccentrics who want to drop back down a gravity well.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

painandgreed (692585) | about 5 months ago | (#47124451)

The numbers work out for habitat-stealing if interstellar travel involved some quirk of technology that made dropping back into a gravity well somehow attractive at the end of the trip.

From what we can extrapolate given our current rudimentary state of technology, we think that if you can work out interstellar travel, then Iain Banks' popularized Culture series take on the matter is probably correct: that is, interstellar travel necessarily solves space habitat issues as a precondition. And once you have an interstellar-travel-grade space habitat, it is only the eccentrics who want to drop back down a gravity well.

I tend to think that assuming post singularity level tech like the Culture novels is a much greater jump than assuming otherwise. There, the assumption is that those things are possible and preferable. Using the culture series as an excuse why aliens wouldn't need our resources or a gravity well pretty much is a proper use of "begging the question".

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47115193)

why would any one enter conflict over a small planet

Maybe it's a convenient atmosphere for them. Maybe a large ocean can be converted into hydrogen quickly and you burn up the planet in the process. Maybe it's fun.

Any species capable of interstellar travel is going to be able to pull resources out of pure energy.

Well, that's what we mostly assume. Maybe they just scavenge stuff as they go.

They don't mine, or need our water. They don't care what we do, except maybe they observe us and snicker.

In all honesty, if we ever met truly alien life ... we have no idea of what we would find, and what they would think of us.

They may look at us as a slave race, food source, a place to lay their eggs or any of a zillion things.

We can make educated guesses by making assumptions about them. But given the sheer number of unknowns, they may or may not have any meaning should it ever happen.

I think it's great to do thought experiments and play what if. But the reality is, at the end of the day, we can't definitely say any of that is actually fact.

So, when you say "don't", "won't", "can't" or "do", "will" and "can" -- you pretty much have to subsitute that for "well, maybe, hopefully at least, that's what my best guess tells me, and it sounds good, so I'm going with it".

Hell, for all you know our kind of planet is needed for the equivalent of the "three seashells" for wiping the arse of some interstellar slug, and it'll just eradicate us while taking a dump without even knowing (or caring) we're here. ;-)

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 5 months ago | (#47115383)

What you're missing is a sense of scale. There are likely hundreds of billions of planets in the galaxy. If you want to make the parallel to human history, the land mass of a single planet would be about equivalent to the area of 1/10 of a soccer field in comparison to the entire landmass of the Earth.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1, Flamebait)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 5 months ago | (#47116665)

why would any one enter conflict over a small planet

Maybe it's a convenient atmosphere for them. Maybe a large ocean can be converted into hydrogen quickly and you burn up the planet in the process. Maybe it's fun.

Any species capable of interstellar travel is going to be able to pull resources out of pure energy.

Well, that's what we mostly assume. Maybe they just scavenge stuff as they go.

They don't mine, or need our water. They don't care what we do, except maybe they observe us and snicker.

In all honesty, if we ever met truly alien life ... we have no idea of what we would find, and what they would think of us.

They may look at us as a slave race, food source, a place to lay their eggs or any of a zillion things.

We can make educated guesses by making assumptions about them. But given the sheer number of unknowns, they may or may not have any meaning should it ever happen.

I think it's great to do thought experiments and play what if. But the reality is, at the end of the day, we can't definitely say any of that is actually fact.

So, when you say "don't", "won't", "can't" or "do", "will" and "can" -- you pretty much have to subsitute that for "well, maybe, hopefully at least, that's what my best guess tells me, and it sounds good, so I'm going with it".

Hell, for all you know our kind of planet is needed for the equivalent of the "three seashells" for wiping the arse of some interstellar slug, and it'll just eradicate us while taking a dump without even knowing (or caring) we're here. ;-)

I invite you to apply Ockham's Razor [wikipedia.org] in this instance.

Yes, it is possible that several species of brain-sucking, evil aliens are even now battling it out beyond the orbit of Jupiter over who has the right to eat our sweet, tasty gray matter.

Yes, it is possible that the decadent Galactic Empire has completely run through the entire galaxy's supply of tater tots, except for the massive reserves here on Earth, so they're coming to enslave us so we can make tater tots for them for the next 10,000 years.

Yes, it's possible that beautiful female aliens need our men to propagate their species, having murdered all of their men after mating with them and we're next.

Yes, it's possible that aliens with gigantic penises are on their way to have non-consensual butt sex with every male on the planet.

Are these scenarios very likely? Not really. Are yours? No.

I'll explain and I'll use small words so you'll be sure to understand: Given the distances involved and the relative abundance of raw materials in our galaxy, it's hugely unlikely that any extra-solar intelligence would have the need, means or desire to come here and wreak havoc upon us.

I suggest you do the math (in your case, I imagine you'll need to learn the math first) as to the probabilities to see how ridiculous you sound. Have a nice day!

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47120261)

I invite you to apply Ockham's Razor [wikipedia.org] in this instance.

Just because you watched Contact on Netflix doesn't mean you have to invoke that.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 5 months ago | (#47121975)

I invite you to apply Ockham's Razor [wikipedia.org] in this instance.

Just because you watched Contact on Netflix doesn't mean you have to invoke that.

Huh? I don't even use Netflix. Although I think it's sad that you, apparently, found out about such an important concept from a movie. I suggest paying attention in class, boy -- and I do emphasize the word 'boy'.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115227)

...why would any one enter conflict over a small planet...

You're rather naive. Perhaps they would view us as a potential competitor, threat, or even delicacy?

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (3, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47115703)

To Serve Mankind

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

Camel Pilot (78781) | about 5 months ago | (#47115755)

on a platter?

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47120147)

...why would any one enter conflict over a small planet...

You're rather naive. Perhaps they would view us as a potential competitor, threat, or even delicacy?

At which point it would make more sense to just annihilate us with an anti-biosphear kinetic kill weapon (they have interstellar travel so the can presumably recreate the KT impact if they really want), and continue harvesting resources from elsewhere in the system.

But there's not really much point in worrying about that as it would be somewhat equivalent to a human deploying nuclear weapons to eradicate an anthill (we can technically do it but there's nothing ants can do to us that makes it worth the effort).

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

the grace of R'hllor (530051) | about 5 months ago | (#47117295)

If the system you're going to harvest has a usable, replenishable worker pool you only need to send a small colony ship.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47118173)

Even if they mined which am guessing they would to get energy when away from a star.There is no shortage of available resources in space. Which are relatively easy to extract compared to coming all the way to earth. Now, there are two resources the earth has that might be of interest and rare enough to justify the trip over here. Relatively smart potential slaves. They might have religious, ethical reasons for not breeding their own slaves. Another resource might be an easily xenoformable planet. Which they might value highly due to a distaste of continue space travel. Like how people who want to start families leave NY and go to New Jersey.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

JerryLove (1158461) | about 5 months ago | (#47118821)

That's kind of an ignorant view. Considering the amount of resources in the uninhabited parts of the universe (which is beyond a staggering amount) why would any one enter conflict over a small planet (us).

Any species capable of interstellar travel is going to be able to pull resources out of pure energy. They don't mine, or need our water. They don't care what we do, except maybe they observe us and snicker.

From "The Killing Star"

When we put our heads together and tried to list everything we could say with certainty about other civilizations, without having actually met them, all that we knew boiled down to three simple laws of alien behavior:

THEIR SURVIVAL WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR SURVIVAL.
If an alien species has to choose between them and us, they won't choose us. It is difficult to imagine a contrary case; species don't survive by being self-sacrificing.

WIMPS DON'T BECOME TOP DOGS.
No species makes it to the top by being passive. The species in charge of any given planet will be highly intelligent, alert, aggressive, and ruthless when necessary.

THEY WILL ASSUME THAT THE FIRST TWO LAWS APPLY TO US.

That's just why they would be willing... but it gets worse: There's an imperative.

Once a certain amount of technology and capacity and know-how has fled the homeworld: we, as a species, become capable of attacking another species even if our homeworld is wiped out. In short: there's a limited window during which species A could reliably exterminate species B without worrying that some missed portion of species B could retaliate.

So imagine some alien sees us right now. If they killed everyone on Earth (perhaps bombarded us with relativistic weapons), we could neither mount a defense nor seek retribution. 200 years from now: perhaps there would be enough off-planet resources that, after the destruction of Earth we could secretly build relativistic weapons of our own and retaliate.

So the only way for that species to guarantee its own survival is to wipe out potential rivals early.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47120309)

That's kind of an ignorant view. Considering the amount of resources in the uninhabited parts of the universe (which is beyond a staggering amount) why would any one enter conflict over a small planet (us).

Any species capable of interstellar travel is going to be able to pull resources out of pure energy. They don't mine, or need our water. They don't care what we do, except maybe they observe us and snicker.

From "The Killing Star"

When we put our heads together and tried to list everything we could say with certainty about other civilizations, without having actually met them, all that we knew boiled down to three simple laws of alien behavior:

THEIR SURVIVAL WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR SURVIVAL.
If an alien species has to choose between them and us, they won't choose us. It is difficult to imagine a contrary case; species don't survive by being self-sacrificing.

WIMPS DON'T BECOME TOP DOGS.
No species makes it to the top by being passive. The species in charge of any given planet will be highly intelligent, alert, aggressive, and ruthless when necessary.

THEY WILL ASSUME THAT THE FIRST TWO LAWS APPLY TO US.

That's just why they would be willing... but it gets worse: There's an imperative.

Once a certain amount of technology and capacity and know-how has fled the homeworld: we, as a species, become capable of attacking another species even if our homeworld is wiped out. In short: there's a limited window during which species A could reliably exterminate species B without worrying that some missed portion of species B could retaliate.

So imagine some alien sees us right now. If they killed everyone on Earth (perhaps bombarded us with relativistic weapons), we could neither mount a defense nor seek retribution. 200 years from now: perhaps there would be enough off-planet resources that, after the destruction of Earth we could secretly build relativistic weapons of our own and retaliate.

So the only way for that species to guarantee its own survival is to wipe out potential rivals early.

That's complete nonsense:

1. Cooperation and specialization are a superior survival strategy to competition. This is basic economics, part of the basic definition of "civilization", and interspecies examples can be seen on Earth (agriculture). In fact it's believed that figuring this out is part of how Homosapians became the dominate species on Earth.

2. Having to be "top dog" doesn't work as a survival strategy. Note that you live in a civilization where you are not statistically likely to be the absolute dictator, and yet you don't spend a lot of effort trying to overthrow the existing government and become top dog.

3. Destroying the civilizations you know about before then can threaten you doesn't guarantee that a civilization you don't know about won't destroy you as a preemptive strike. In fact having a history of being uncooperative can increase the probability that contact with civilizations that are at equal or superior development to yourself will be hostile rather than friendly (They know you'd destroy them given the chance why should they let you live?)

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (2)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 5 months ago | (#47115089)

Some might question why we're working so hard to advertise our existence when we still have exploitable mineral wealth and liquid water.

Because anyone capable of travelling a few hundred light years has also developed other technologies and doesn't need our mineral and water.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47115269)

Because anyone capable of travelling a few hundred light years has also developed other technologies and doesn't need our mineral and water.

Prove that.

If you can't, it's speculative fiction.

What if burning the hydrogen from a vast quantity of water from, say, an ocean, was how you propelled yourself?

We don't know a damned thing about who, what, and how would be travelling a few hundred light years. Not their biology. Not their technology. Not their intent.

I'm sorry, but your emphatic statement is not an actual fact. Unless, of course, you know something the rest of us don't. :-P

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115315)

They don't need it because they've got gobs of it closer to them and not at the bottom of a gravity well.

So yes, unless the aliens are about as dumb as you are, their statement is an actual fact.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47115369)

They don't need it because they've got gobs of it closer to them and not at the bottom of a gravity well.

You have no idea of what they need and what they need it for.

their statement is an actual fact

You keep using that word. I am not sure it means what you think it means.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (2)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 5 months ago | (#47115477)

So your thinking is they couldn't find us on their own, but once they know we're here they hold a meeting and say "Fuck all those planets without intelligent life. Let's go clean out those Earthing chumps."

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115567)

No. I know exactly what the need. they need matter and energy. There is matter and energy everywhere in the universe. Why the hell would they go light years away from home to come and take matter and energy from earth, when there perfectly good matter in their neighborhood. There is no material known to modern science that is easier to obtain by going light years away than synthesizing at home with chemistry.

You've been reading too much science fiction.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

LesFerg (452838) | about 5 months ago | (#47115805)

... Why the hell would they go light years away from home to come and take matter and energy from earth...

Unless after they achieved interplanetary travel, but before they achieved interstellar travel, they moved onto zero-g space stations and evolved into a form that cannot come down our gravity well and dig for minerals themselves. Hence the need for a planet with it's own stock of slaves waiting to be taken over, like what happened the last time they came, according to some of the web sites I have been reading recently.... maybe I should google something different next time...

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47120381)

In this scenario they would simply mine the orders of magnitude more material that is in the Asteroid belt, Kuiper belt, and Ort Cloud than bother trying to fuss about with anything at the bottom of Earth's gravity well.

Think about it like this. You need limestone. There's plenty of limestone at the bottom of the ocean (coral reefs), so obviously since you can't breath water you should come up with an elaborate plan to enslave/uplift fish to mine limestone for you right?

Well historically no one has ever done that. Instead they just mine limestone from deposits on dry land.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

painandgreed (692585) | about 5 months ago | (#47123393)

No. I know exactly what the need. they need matter and energy. There is matter and energy everywhere in the universe. Why the hell would they go light years away from home to come and take matter and energy from earth, when there perfectly good matter in their neighborhood. There is no material known to modern science that is easier to obtain by going light years away than synthesizing at home with chemistry.

Could be they aren't coming here to take the matter and energy away. They are coming to Earth for lebensraum. A nice gravity well with a nice atmosphere and little to no terraforming needed. Space habitats require steady and costly upkeep like any ship as they leak and break, only a gravity well with a nice magnetic fiedl offers long term, cheap, steady state environment.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 5 months ago | (#47117181)

They don't need it because they've got gobs of it closer to them and not at the bottom of a gravity well.

You have no idea of what they need and what they need it for.

their statement is an actual fact

You keep using that word. I am not sure it means what you think it means.

I bet you are the life of the party and everyone loves you when you argue with them.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115405)

What the hell are you even typing?
Entire stars are made of the damn stuff. They could devour a star for their damn space wozzit.

And if they have the capability to WARP SPACE, they very likely have fusion capability, which means they can LITERALLY MAKE ELEMENTS from hydrogen.
They do not need to come here for resources. Ever. There is literally nothing here they couldn't make if they had the ability to come here.
If they DID come here for resources, there'd be a massive empty gap on the way to our section of the galaxy that would show the devouring nature of their species.
Earth is nothing compared to a whole star. Less than nothing.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 5 months ago | (#47117075)

I'm sorry, but your emphatic statement is not an actual fact. Unless, of course, you know something the rest of us don't. :-P

GP is using stuff called logic and reasoning. Things you are apparently unfamiliar with, friend.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#47117871)

GP is using stuff called logic and reasoning.

Logic allows you to reach an incorrect answer with authority....

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 months ago | (#47115497)

Maybe they just want our planet. period. Maybe they need a new vacation spot. Maybe they just like salty oceans and sandy beaches. Those darn apes are in the way, so they'll have to remove them first. They're funny. The apes think they're intelligent (they have built a few small structures); so, we'll have some fun with them first.....

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115631)

No, because it'd be cheaper to build their own sandy beaches and salty oceans than to travel light years to get to ours.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 months ago | (#47116427)

Sure, it would be cheaper to build a new planet than to travel 100 light years. Only take a couple million years for it to cool down and become stable. But why go to all the trouble? There's a perfectly good one right here they can have for a slight premium, right now.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115243)

Yeah, nobody is going to come for our resources. What do we have that an interstellar-traveling civilization can't get closer to home? My only worry is that technological civilizations that break radio silence might become the targets of an exterminator civilization, who makes sure to kill us before we start spreading like weeds through the galaxy and encroach on their turf. They could do this on the cheap, by sending a tiny drone that will replicate itself from material in our asteroid belt, or by hurling a tiny black hole at our sun. Of course we don't know about them, because they make an effort to not be found by other potentially trigger-happy civilizations.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 months ago | (#47115649)

No... If they come, it won't be for resources, unless that resource is slaves. Really, if they come, it will be for the planet itself -- because it's here and they want it.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115299)

Because they're very far away and you are dumb.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 5 months ago | (#47116991)

Advanced civilizations coming to Earth for scarce resources is a great sci-fi plot device. That's about as far as it goes. Any civilization that could send ships the size of cities could almost certainly harvest any resource it wants without attacking an inhabited world.

Liquid water is plentiful in comets. Minerals are in asteroids. Of course I suppose the aliens could waste energy pulling that stuff out of Earth's gravity well out of spite so... yeah. Let's hide.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

invid (163714) | about 5 months ago | (#47118531)

I'm going to assume that intelligent civilizations are much more rare than natural resources in the galaxy. Since intelligent civilizations probably develop in radically different ways, we would be far more valuable as objects of study than as a source of minerals. It would enhance the survival of a star spanning civilization to understand how other intelligent civilizations evolve.

Re:What if there isn't any truth out there? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#47125035)

I'm going to assume that intelligent civilizations are much more rare than natural resources in the galaxy.

Yes.

Since intelligent civilizations probably develop in radically different ways, we would be far more valuable as objects of study than as a source of minerals.

If there are indeed other civilizations with life forms approaching (or surpassing) our combination of brain and clever hands, they are not close enough to us to worry with. We are viewing the universe through the Hubble telescope a dozen billion light years away.

It would enhance the survival of a star spanning civilization to understand how other intelligent civilizations evolve.

Or we are the only life form in the universe to have made it this far through the Great Filter.

Fucking Washington (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 5 months ago | (#47115067)

If we could get some meaningful immigration reform, we wouldn't have to spend so much time hunting for them.

Intellligence (2)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 5 months ago | (#47115097)

If the Extraterrestrials have some, intelligence that is, they'd go through great pains to leave us rot.

Since there seems to be some confusion, (5, Interesting)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 5 months ago | (#47115105)

the idea is that if there's a solar system out there where a civilization exists which is sending signals between planets (kind of like we're doing on a limited scale with the Mars orbiters and rovers), it's likely that the signals between the planets are highly focused in a single direction, and so the ideal time to listen would be when the planets are lined up with respect to Earth.

Since we have no idea what kind of signals they are using (radio is the most popular method for our civilization but lasers are also good communications devices) the search would sweep over as much EM spectrum as it could. It's a really clever idea that would definitely pick up interplanetary communications, IF we can recognize the signals as such. As it stands, noise - and the fact that sufficiently advanced communications could be indistinguishable from white noise - limit our ability to do that.

But anyway, I like the idea because it doesn't presume that they are sending interstellar communications (which requires a high level of advancement), sending incredibly powerful bursts of omnidirectional signals (which requires some unknown reason since it's a pointless thing to do) or specifically aiming their signals at us (which requires a high level of self-importance on our part). If there are civilizations with the same level of advancement as us, we'll find them.

Re:Since there seems to be some confusion, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115491)

If the Drake equation is to be believed, shouldn't there also be an extremely large number of planets that have become uninhabitable due to nuclear war? Why aren't we looking for signs of nuclear wars on distant planets?

Re:Since there seems to be some confusion, (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47115731)

the Drake "equation" doesn't show anything to be believed, it's a bunch of unknowns chained together that posit exactly nothing. It predicts the number of ET to be 0 or greater.

Re:Since there seems to be some confusion, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47120509)

Really it more a demonstration of the concept of "the law of big numbers".

It's the same argument I have every so often with marketing where I tell them I can't automatically classify a set of records based on a single vale because that value does not imply what classification the record belongs in, and the say "well 90% of the time it'll correlate like this." and I have to say "that means if I apply that rule 10% of the time I'll get the answer wrong which on a modest data set of thousands is hundreds of failures".

The point of the Drake equation was that even if we assign low individual probabilities to the unknowns (chances of a planet being habitable, chances of a habitable planet developing life, chances of a planet with live developing intelligent life, chances of intelligent live not eradicating itself via war, etc.), that starting input is such a large number that there would still be expected to exist a large number of acceptable outputs at the end (technologically advanced civilizations).

Re:Since there seems to be some confusion, (1)

Graymalkin (13732) | about 5 months ago | (#47115765)

For starters the Drake Equation is not something to really be "believed". It's just a way to form a guess. It doesn't tell anyone anything useful.

As for nuclear wars on extrasolar planets, we're just at the edge of being able to detect terrestrial extrasolar planets. We do not currently have the ability to gather the sort of data that might suggest an extrasolar planet had been the site of a nuclear war.

Re:Since there seems to be some confusion, (1)

msmonroe (2511262) | about 5 months ago | (#47116729)

E.T. is out in void.

So is all of our nightmares and dreams, fear the day when they become one in the same....

Re:Since there seems to be some confusion, (2)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 5 months ago | (#47116723)

If the Drake equation is to be believed, shouldn't there also be an extremely large number of planets that have become uninhabitable due to nuclear war? Why aren't we looking for signs of nuclear wars on distant planets?

Given all the unknowns in the Drake Equation [wikipedia.org] , it's more a mechanism for categorizing our ignorance than anything else.

Re:Since there seems to be some confusion, (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 5 months ago | (#47117929)

IF we can recognize the signals as such.

Picking up an unnatural, focused emission of energy from another planet would already be pretty good, even if we cannot decode the signal or even recognize it as such.

If there are civilizations with the same level of advancement as us, we'll find them.

I've always wondered about that, and about the idea that we're "carelessly advertising our presence" as some put it. How would another civilisation detect us? Radio is often mentioned, but our own transmissions are decidedly low power (on an interstellar scale). Would even our stronger transmissions aimed at our spacecraft or planets be detectable from a couple of light years away, and are we able to pick up signals sent between planets in another solar system?

Re:Since there seems to be some confusion, (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 5 months ago | (#47118133)

Picking up an unnatural, focused emission of energy from another planet would already be pretty good, even if we cannot decode the signal or even recognize it as such.

How do you determine what is unnatural? Over the years astronomers have picked up *lots* of signals that had no natural explanation at the time but do now...

Personally I think the whole thing is likely a waste of time - we've only been using radio for interplanetary communications for a few decades and things are now rapidly moving towards laser communications. Assuming another civilisation follows a similar path, the time between "not advanced enough to detect" and "too advanced to detect" seems pretty short.

Re:Since there seems to be some confusion, (1)

hey0you0guy (1003040) | about 5 months ago | (#47119645)

Would these signals degrade over distance anyway?

Re:Since there seems to be some confusion, (1)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 5 months ago | (#47126309)

All signals degrade over distance. Not sure exactly what you're asking?

Eavesdrop on aliens (4, Funny)

rossdee (243626) | about 5 months ago | (#47115125)

Surely this is the job of NSA not NASA

Re:Eavesdrop on aliens (0)

confused one (671304) | about 5 months ago | (#47115505)

Neither. NSA and NASA, as U.S. government agencies, do not fund SETI research.

Re:Eavesdrop on aliens (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 5 months ago | (#47115607)

Don't worry, the NSA is already monitoring their communications, and getting a headstart on foreign-foreign intelligence gathering.

Have you NOT seen Mars Attacks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115203)

If the late and great Hawking says to shut the fuck up then shut the fuck up!

Re:Have you NOT seen Mars Attacks? (3, Funny)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 5 months ago | (#47115499)

If the late and great Hawking says to shut the fuck up then shut the fuck up!

He also said "Hey, I'm not dead yet, ya prick."

Optical SETI (2)

TheSync (5291) | about 5 months ago | (#47115295)

Optical SETI is the way to go. A 10-meter diameter visible telescope has a gain 80 dB greater [coseti.org] than that of the 300-meter Arecibo dish.

Current NIF lasers can deliver petawatts for nanoseconds, and could easily outshine the sun during their pulse if provided with a reasonably large telescope.

Re:Optical SETI (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 months ago | (#47115547)

"Sir, we have incoming fire."

"Shield Up!"

"???"

"Ensign, what are they firing at us?"

"Lasers sir"

"Lasers? But that won't even penetrate our navigation shields."

"No sir."

"Looks like they're hailing us sir"

"OK, let's humor them and see what they want..."

Re:Optical SETI (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47115803)

I'm surprised by the lack of attention paid to optical seti, it is far more logical than radio wave use. I have seen proposals that the raw kepler data might be mined for optical seti signatures

Re:Optical SETI (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#47118367)

Does it actually make any more sense than SETI? Is there actually any evidence that we will abandon radio for long-range communications? Is there any evidence that the phase of using lasers for long-range communications won't be incredibly short, perhaps because cultures at that level of development tend to find a superior alternative shortly after wide adoption of laser communications?

Waste of Resourcs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47115337)

It has been shown frequently in the past that if alien life did actually develop on those, or any other, planets, the probability of actually detecting it would be near enough to zero as to be ignored - for numerous reasons.

But even so, given the imagined size and age of the universe, the probability of life forming even once is so remote as to be ridiculous. And in fact the only reason we have for believing it happend at all is because we are here, and we don't like the alternative explanation.

Generic Negative Obama Subject Line (0, Offtopic)

msmonroe (2511262) | about 5 months ago | (#47115375)

Negative Comment directed toward Obama.
Generic troll comment directed toward money spent on this project.
Anti-Obama comment blaming Obama for something that Bush did.
Negative rants that I just made up on the spot but have no support and are entirely off of subject.

Re:Generic Negative Obama Subject Line (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47116075)

Why would they be looking for Obama on Kepler planets? He might be an alien from US citizenship perspective, but I'm reasonably sure he is an Earth-based life form. Well, except those ears do raise some questions.

Re:Generic Negative Obama Subject Line (1)

msmonroe (2511262) | about 5 months ago | (#47116579)

Generic words of agreement with some humor interjected. Comments directed toward Obama's ears; then some more humorous comments; Actually surprisingly non-offensive.
False anger expressed at being moderated down when I was actually expecting to be moderated down.

Laser (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 5 months ago | (#47115709)

If they use laser for communications, we will have a hard time seeing them.

Re:Laser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47116217)

Supposing we wanted to use a laser for communications in our own solar system...lets say at a reasonable distance just from the earth to Jupiter, would we be able to pull it off or would the light scatter too much to be detectable at the end point?

Would it be possible to eavesdrop on that signal without being in a direct line of sight with it?

Would being in position to eavesdrop effectively block the signal?

Re:Laser (1)

msmonroe (2511262) | about 5 months ago | (#47116607)

Humorous comment involving several elements including your mother, the laser and the aliens attempting to make contact to arrange for a conjugal visit, then money being exchanged afterwards.

Oh, Oh, OH! (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 5 months ago | (#47115813)

Looks like someone's been watching Ancient Aliens on the History Channel!

The problem is time (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about 5 months ago | (#47117523)

The problem is the time window. We use radio waves a bit longer than 100 years and I'd be surprised if we didn't switch to something else within another hundred years. In fact, we have already switch a lot to optical fiber, and who knows what advances in science will bring? Who still uses smoke signals? Combine the probability that some planetary system is inhabited by intelligent aliens right now, which is probably very low, with the time window for radio waves and the probability of stumbling upon aliens will be extremely low.

The good news is that if FTL travel is possible and if we ever invent it, extraterrestrial archaeology will boom like no other science - there may be hundreds of thousands extinct species out there!

Re:The problem is time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47118099)

Time isn't the only problem. Distance is another - the energy of radio transmissions reduce at an exponential rate. If it hadn't been for the research of pulsars, SETI would have been a huge waste of money

Please remind the defenders (1)

PsyMan (2702529) | about 5 months ago | (#47117527)

That we will no longer be using MacOS 7 to defeat them, it will be Mavericks on a macbook air and that whoever is sent to defend please make sure you "allow applications from anywhere" prior to taking off else you will be sat at the upload port for ages trying to figure out why the defence program won't run. (its in the security section of the system prefs Will)

Re:Please remind the defenders (1)

PsyMan (2702529) | about 5 months ago | (#47117593)

or Randy ... (before that mistake causes /. to collapse with laughter at such a huge error)

The Big Filter (1)

Nehmo (757404) | about 5 months ago | (#47117893)

The big filter (I don't like the term "great filter" but I'll include it to make search easier) is the point at which software programs itself (I don't like the term "singularity") - and so on. This point will soon arrive for our civilization, and it has already passed for the civilizations we are looking for. SETI is futile.

We must admit something is wrong after the current statistical failure to find detectable electromagnetic radiation (DEMR) from others. The best suggested answer is that civilizations hit the big filter at a point before having centuries of producing DEMR. So what comes early in DEMR production? Software intelligence. Right now, it's not a species killer, but tomorrow, when it can evolve itself, it will write our epitaph.

Regarding the article, it won't work. Civilizations will reach the big filter before they reach other planets.

Getting a signal, can't talk (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 5 months ago | (#47117939)

"D...R...I...N...K..."

Tin Hat Thought of The Day (1)

docwatson223 (986360) | about 5 months ago | (#47118835)

This could be a great way to prep the public for a reveal; it's boiling the frog slowly.

Finding aliens on Keplars Planets? Tricky (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 5 months ago | (#47129125)

Isn't it going to be difficult trying to find the non-indigenous inhabitants of those planets amongst all of the domestic inhabitants? Why not just look for any inhabitants at all?
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