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Are we alone in the universe?


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1 hour ago, kirkster501 said:

We haven't so they probably do not exist or do not exist in the timeframes of speed of light versus their distance from us for us to hear them now.

It’s one of the key points I think. 

I’m sure many have watched the recent BBC programme First Contact - designed to be light entertainment but blending science fact (using interview and archive footage of astrobiologists, astronomers and others) with fiction. Touched on similar ideas - in particular the idea that  any “alien“ interstellar debris may well be from long since extinct civilisations - thus we’d perhaps need to be more archaeologists than astrobiologists.

It’s a fascinating area to ruminate on. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001ctnr/first-contact-an-alien-encounter

 

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6 hours ago, kirkster501 said:

The bottom line is we simply don't know.

I think if they were indeed out there we would have heard from them. We haven't so they probably do not exist or do not exist in the timeframes of speed of light versus their distance from us for us to hear them now.

When did you last hear from a chimpanzee?  They have a 99% DNA agreement with us and live on the same planet.

OK, this question is posed light-heartedly but, if we think about it seriously, it tells us an awful lot about why we might not have heard from aliens, even those within communicating distance. 

Olly

Edit: my question can be pushed even harder now that I think about it. When did you last hear from a person from one of the hundred or so remaining uncontacted tribes? You didn't of course, and neither did I, or they wouldn't be uncontacted. But you see my point, I'm sure.

Edited by ollypenrice
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7 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

But... since computer games are made by humans, for humans, are they not bound to recreate worlds which humans can understand? In which case our world is bound to resemble the computer game world. We wouldn't be able to play a computer game located in a world of physics entirely different from our own. It takes only a small step to move from the view that there is our world and the game world to our world is a game world. Small as it may be, I consider this a step too far.

Olly

I think one of the problems we face is that we use "human" math's and physics to describe the universe with our particular range of senses being a big influence, I imagine some alien species might have a completely different interpretation of the universe.

Regarding "computer" simulations etc they would work for any advanced civilization provided our view of physics is universal, however if you wanted to create a "game" for Dogs (most life in fact and probably some aliens too) to play then you would need to be able to understand and re create complex scents/taste as its probably there primary method for understanding the world.

Alan

Edited by Alien 13
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  • Mr Spock changed the title to Are WE ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE
6 hours ago, kirkster501 said:

The bottom line is we simply don't know.

I think if they were indeed out there we would have heard from them. We haven't so they probably do not exist or do not exist in the timeframes of speed of light versus their distance from us for us to hear them now.

Perhaps we are not looking for appropriately modulated neutrinos within a specific range of energies, or gravitational waves at a particular frequency or ...

Perhaps their communications are so well compressed and/or encrypted that they look like random noise. We certainly go to great lengths to ensure that much of ours look like noise.

Perhaps they live a million times slower than us (Black Clouds) or a million times faster (Cheela).

As you say, we don't know.

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On 29/09/2022 at 21:06, VNA said:

Hello, who ever they are, they must be much more intelligent in order to travel inter-stellar!
They must see us as primitive without any interest to them!

Although it begs the question: will it ever  be possible to achieve inter-stellar travel?

Interstellar travel is already possible with current human technology levels. It is entirely a matter of economics and politics.

We already know how to make generation ships and how to propel them. We can not yet afford to build them.

Interstellar probes (a sub-set of interstellar travel) I expect to be sent in this present century.

 

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On 29/09/2022 at 19:49, Alien 13 said:

, it can only be for colonization and/or resource gathering so they would see us as food

Do you really think that Jovian cloud dwellers or beings with bodies which use ammonia/water at -50C as a solvent will regard us as food?

Would we regard them as food?

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1 hour ago, ollypenrice said:

When did you last hear from a chimpanzee?  They have a 99% DNA agreement with us and live on the same planet.

OK, this question is posed light-heartedly but, if we think about it seriously, it tells us an awful lot about why we might not have heard from aliens, even those within communicating distance. 

Olly

Edit: my question can be pushed even harder now that I think about it. When did you last hear from a person from one of the hundred or so remaining uncontacted tribes? You didn't of course, and neither did I, or they wouldn't be uncontacted. But you see my point, I'm sure.

Just out of interest if Aliens were more technologically advanced. The chimpanzee question Would be a pointless comparison. Of course, there could be much life out there, that would be comparable to that analogy of course.

But conversely there could also be much life out there, that is technologically advanced.  (Just as equally likely there is some) so odds on a rather pointless analogy? (Even light heartedly)

To anything other than cave dwelling aliens? 

Also, if some species were more technologically advanced, we have no idea if we are interesting enough to them to want to bother to communicate. It's a unknown factor at this stage ?  But speaking from the point of view of believing it's impossible they might have already come.

But haven't decided to sit down for a chat. Michio Kaku's type 3 civilisation. Another possible impossibility. If the first analogy of never coming here is seen as impossible. But hey Kaku is likely far brighter than the majority of us pondering these questions. So maybe we shouldn't be so sure of our beliefs and or ideas of possible or impossible. Or even of Alien interest and or intentions. 

just my thoughts. History is filled with people who knew they knew. But turned out they knew nothing.

Edited by neil phillips
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11 minutes ago, neil phillips said:

Just out of interest if Aliens were more technologically advanced. The chimpanzee question Would be a pointless comparison. Of course, there could be much life out there, that would be comparable to that analogy of course.

But conversely there could also be much life out there, that is technologically advanced.  (Just as equally likely there is some) so odds on a rather pointless analogy? (Even light heartedly)

To anything other than cave dwelling aliens? 

Also, if some species were more technologically advanced, we have no idea if we are interesting enough to them to want to bother to communicate. It's a unknown factor at this stage ?  But speaking from the point of view of believing it's impossible they might have already come.

But haven't decided to sit down for a chat. Michio Kaku's type 3 civilisation. Another possible impossibility. If the first analogy of never coming here is seen as impossible. But hey Kaku is likely far brighter than the majority of us pondering these questions. So maybe we shouldn't be so sure of our beliefs and or ideas of possible or impossible. Or even of Alien interest and or intentions. 

just my thoughts. History is filled with people who knew they knew. But turned out they knew nothing.

Have you reflected upon how many anthropomorphic assumptions underlie these arguments?

The chimpanzee question Would be a pointless comparison.  Only if you consider humans to be more intelligent than chimpanzees. If you do consider this to be so, why do you do so? Beware, this may be a harder question than you suppose. Can you answer it without using an anthropomorphic definition of intelligence? 

if Aliens were more technologically advanced.  This carries assumptions that technology is an expression of intelligence. It is an expression of our kind of intelligence, perhaps, but it might also be considered an expression of our kind of stupidity, since we use our technology to destroy our own environment. Either way, can you provide a non-anthropomorphic argument to suggest that intelligence leads to technology?

Also, if some species were more technologically advanced, we have no idea if we are interesting enough to them to want to bother to communicate.  Can you define 'interesting' without any reference at all to the human notion of 'interesting?' It is an adjective which defines a human response to something. There might be other responses to stimuli which do not involve the human emotion of being 'interested.' 

History is filled with people who knew they knew.  It is indeed, but when we talk about alien intelligence, may we not be guilty of knowing that we know what intelligence is when, in reality, our only knowledge of intelligence is based on our intelligence? So do we not impose upon alien intelligence the need for that intelligence to resemble our own?

Olly

 

Edited by ollypenrice
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4 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

Have you reflected upon how many anthropomorphic assumptions underly these arguments?

The chimpanzee question Would be a pointless comparison.  Only if you consider hulm

if Aliens were more technologically advanced.  This implies that technology is an inevitable outcome of intelligence. It may also assume that technology is an advancement.

yes of course we all assume. Assumption may not always be a bad thing. It rather depends on if we are assuming correctly or not

Edited by neil phillips
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What amuses me is that SETI (et al.) is spending so much time monitoring radio wavelengths. Radio? For a civilisation that we hope can span interstellar distances? I doubt they'd be using anything so primitive.

I always think of Douglas Adams: "A species so amazingly primitive that they think digital watches are a really neat idea."

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17 minutes ago, cajen2 said:

What amuses me is that SETI (et al.) is spending so much time monitoring radio wavelengths. Radio? For a civilisation that we hope can span interstellar distances? I doubt they'd be using anything so primitive.

I always think of Douglas Adams: "A species so amazingly primitive that they think digital watches are a really neat idea."

What do you think they would be using, some sort of magic!  There is a reason why we use radio waves and it has to do with physics.  I suspect our aliens will be bound by the same  constraints. Unless of course they really are magicians. :) 

Jim 

Edited by saac
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22 minutes ago, neil phillips said:

yes of course we all assume. Assumption may not always be a bad thing. It rather depends on if we are assuming correctly or not

Do you regard assumption as a a valid component of critical thinking? Note your own (perfectly correct) statement, History is full of people who knew that they knew.   Wouldn't it be fair to say that 'knowing that you know' is a very good way to define assumption?

Olly

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13 minutes ago, saac said:

What do you think they would be using, some sort of magic!  There is a reason why we use radio waves and it has to do with physics.  I suspect our aliens will be bound by the same  constraints. Unless of course they really are magicians. :) 

Jim 

This is a easy one. those around our level of technology are likely still at the radio stage hence they have dishes too. Kaku's type 3 are probably the magicians here. In which case can probably pop in for a look. But may not see us intellectually interesting enough to converse with

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3 minutes ago, saac said:

What do you think they would be using, some sort of magic!  There is a reason why we use radio waves and it has to do with physics.  I suspect our aliens will be bound by the same  constraints. Unless of course they really are magicians. :) 

Jim 

Any technology which is sufficiently advanced will look like magic.

We humans currently use radio waves because we haven't yet come up with anything that propogates faster. Are we really so conceited as to think that there is no more advanced species than us in a vast cosmos?

I'm sorry, but I cannot agree that we are at the forefront of everything in the Universe. I would agree that over-unity machines and things of that ilk will never be possible, but I see nothing preventing FTL communications.

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24 minutes ago, cajen2 said:

What amuses me is that SETI (et al.) is spending so much time monitoring radio wavelengths. Radio? For a civilisation that we hope can span interstellar distances? I doubt they'd be using anything so primitive.

I always think of Douglas Adams: "A species so amazingly primitive that they think digital watches are a really neat idea."

Why is radio primitive? Because it came before television? :grin:

Radio is not primitive, it is fundamental.  There's a difference.

Olly

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4 minutes ago, Mandy D said:

Any technology which is sufficiently advanced will look like magic.

We humans currently use radio waves because we haven't yet come up with anything that propogates faster. Are we really so conceited as to think that there is no more advanced species than us in a vast cosmos?

I'm sorry, but I cannot agree that we are at the forefront of everything in the Universe. I would agree that over-unity machines and things of that ilk will never be possible, but I see nothing preventing FTL communications.

The universe hasn't came up with anything that propagates faster either so that kind of places a limit on both us and our magician aliens. 

As for the oft quoted Arthur C Clarke and his view on technology and magic; as a writer of fiction he may well have had a disposition to be susceptible to magic. A physicist on the other hand would not be so easily convinced I would suspect. 

Jim 

Jim 

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Just now, ollypenrice said:

Do you regard assumption as a a valid component of critical thinking? Note your own (perfectly correct) statement, History is full of people who knew that they knew.   Wouldn't it be fair to say that 'knowing that you know' is a very good way to define assumption?

Olly

Assumption is assumption. whichever way you analyse it.  We all do it. I repeat its only valid if we assume correctly. Unfortunately, who is assuming correctly is a unknown? Me, you, any of us. This whole conversation rests on assumptions 

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2 minutes ago, neil phillips said:

This is a easy one. those around our level of technology are likely still at the radio stage hence they have dishes too. Kakus type 3 are probably the magicians here. In which case can probably pop in for a look. But may not see us intellectually interesting enough to converse with

You're dong it again!  :grin: 'Our level of technology.'  Who is defining this scale of levels? You are!!!  And how are you defining it?  By going back over the evoloution of our technology.  

To reflect upon aliens we must stop reflecting upon ourselves.

Olly

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8 minutes ago, saac said:

The universe hasn't came up with anything that propagates faster either so that kind of places a limit on both us and our magician aliens. 

Jim 

The mathematics of relativity only prohibits non-massless objects frm travelling at the speed of light. You can solve those equations for any higher velocity as this does not lead to a division by zero error, hence relativity does not prohibit FTL. How you would get to those speeds without passing through the "light barrier" no-one yet knows.

There may be physics that we do not yet know. The victorians declared that the end of physics was in sight, yet here we are over 120 years later and still cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Edited by Mandy D
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12 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

You're dong it again!  :grin: 'Our level of technology.'  Who is defining this scale of levels? You are!!!  And how are you defining it?  By going back over the evoloution of our technology.  

To reflect upon aliens we must stop reflecting upon ourselves.

Olly

Perhaps? And I agree thinking out of the box. Out of our own constraints, could be a good thing. But you do realize to do so, may be based on more assumptions than basing on our own known selves. 

 

Edited by neil phillips
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2 minutes ago, neil phillips said:

Assumption is assumption. whichever way you analyse it.  We all do it. I repeat its only valid if we assume correctly. Unfortunately, who is assuming correctly is a unknown? Me, you, any of us. This whole conversation rests on assumptions 

The whole point of the scientific method (and many branches of philosophy) is to get some control over assumptions and be aware of when we are making them. The history of science is, in many ways, the history of the deconstruction of assumptions. If you give in to assumption you leave the world of science. However, if you imagine that entirely excluding assumption will ever be possible your science will probably be flawed.

Since assumptions of some kind are inevitable, the best we can do is be aware of them and declare them as premises of our argument. Do you want to declare that, for you, intelligence means human-like intelligence intimately interwoven with technology? I think it would be fine to state this but not fine to assume it.

Olly

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3 minutes ago, Mandy D said:

The mathematics of relativity only prohibits non-massless objects frm travelling at the speed of light. You can solve those equations for any higher velocity as this does not lead to a division by zero error, hence relativity does not prohibit FTL. How you would get to those speeds without passing through the "light barrier" no-one yet knows.

There may be physics that we do not yet know. The victorians declared that the end of physics was in sight, yet here we are over 120 years later and still cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Correct, there is undoubtedly physics as yet unknown to us . However we are not at liberty to engineer our present programs on "what dreams may come".  All very nice to sit and ponder communication by sub space temporal entangled gravitons but that will get us nowhere.  We are compelled to use the technology of which we have command. Radio communication is a relatively straightforward exploitation of a fundamental characteristic of our universe.  It's very properties serve well for interstellar communication . It is entirely reasonable that other civilisations, if they exist, would also have found it (radio) a fundamental characteristic of the universe and as readily exploitable as we have.  

Jim 

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1 minute ago, saac said:

Correct, there is undoubtedly physics as yet unknown to us . However we are not at liberty to engineer our present programs on "what dreams may come".  All very nice to sit and ponder communication by sub space temporal entangled gravitons but that will get us nowhere.  We are compelled to use the technology of which we have command. Radio communication is a relatively straightforward exploitation of a fundamental characteristic of our universe.  It's very properties serve well for interstellar communication . It is entirely reasonable that other civilisations, if they exist, would also have found it (radio) a fundamental characteristic of the universe and as readily exploitable as we have.  

Jim 

Dont talk to Olly about assumption 😬

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  • Mr Spock changed the title to Are we alone in the universe?

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