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Thread: Evidence for ET is mounting daily, but not proven.

  1. #1
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    Evidence for ET is mounting daily, but not proven.

    According to this article from PhysOrg.

    (AP) -- Lately, a handful of new discoveries make it seem more likely that we are not alone - that there is life somewhere else in the universe.

    This optimism, it's infectious!


    Shostak bets by 2026 we'll discover ET life.
    I'm willing to bet it's sooner than that, perhaps by a decade.
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

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    From the PhysOrg article...

    Since much of this research is new, scientists are still debating how solid the conclusions are. Some scientists this week have publicly criticized how NASA's arsenic-using microbe study was conducted, questioning its validity.
    Apparently the optimism hasn't infected everyone in the scientific community.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A.DIM View Post
    Shostak bets by 2026 we'll discover ET life.
    I'm willing to bet it's sooner than that, perhaps by a decade.
    2016 is just 5+ years away. I don't think the verification process will work that quickly.

    It's more likely that we'll find something by 2016 that we *think* might be ET life, but it won't be confirmed to some reasonable degree until much later.

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    Itīs 2026

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    Baric was referring to A.DIM's "guess" as to when life would be discovered.

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    The evidence cited in that article is not really that impressive. Firstly the arsenic-eating bugs are disputed, as RAF points out, (and as they admit in the article itself). Secondly the fact that there are three times as many stars as previously though doesn't affect how rare life is in our local region of space. These extra stars are all red dwarfs in distant galaxies, and the jury's still out as to whether red dwarfs could support life, anyway.

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    Speculative guess work is not good science is it... ?

    Yes the facts would seem to indicate a abundance of long life brown dwarf type stars.
    That some of the calculated mass known is hiding there, and possibly in this galaxy as well...
    That they might support planetary systems containing life supportive environments is still unknown.

    Like looking for coral reefs. Its not so simple when you can not even see the planet.
    Our science is getting better and microbic life does leave clues...
    It is only a matter of time to that discovery.
    Personally I would be looking for ways of getting robotic space probes out there looking, listening, but where do I send them ?

    Probability might look like good science. Its not. Guess work built on largely unknown speculation is still not supported by facts.
    What we need is information.

  8. 2010-Dec-10, 01:30 AM

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    Quote Originally Posted by A.DIM View Post
    Evidence for ET is mounting daily, but not proven.
    Evidence for the potential for ET life is mounting. We have zero confirmed evidence of actual ET life. That "E" word always seems to cause so much trouble!
    I'm a cynical optimist. I think the only way out is through, but once we get through it'll be better. Very different, but better. Howard Tayler

    It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

    "It is the duty of the writers to seduce me into suspending my disbelief!" Paul Beardsley

    Power, Lord Acton says, corrupts. Not always. What power always does is reveal. Robert A. Caro

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    NB... ( please note ) I would like to be sure that it is not a coincidental fluke that this subject and a preview trailer for
    The Transformers' movie, 'The dark of the moon'. Are unrelated... I smell a rat. The hype may be engineered from 'Hollywood.'
    Build a little public interest by drip feeding a little knowledge and 'News' While filming a science fiction epic... scurrilous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    2016 is just 5+ years away. I don't think the verification process will work that quickly.
    It's more likely that we'll find something by 2016 that we *think* might be ET life, but it won't be confirmed to some reasonable degree until much later.
    Yeah, a decade sooner than Shostak's prediction is pushing it, I agree, even while I'm willing to "bet" on it.
    You're right though, the verification process could well take up to 20yrs (just look at ALH840001 ).
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    The evidence cited in that article is not really that impressive. Firstly the arsenic-eating bugs are disputed, as RAF points out, (and as they admit in the article itself). Secondly the fact that there are three times as many stars as previously though doesn't affect how rare life is in our local region of space. These extra stars are all red dwarfs in distant galaxies, and the jury's still out as to whether red dwarfs could support life, anyway.
    Indeed, it seems any "habitable zone" in red dwarf systems must be extremely narrow, even while we have Gliese to consider (as well NASA experts crunching the numbers). But if only a fraction of such systems possess habitable planets the overall number increases exponentially, affecting how plentiful life may be in the universe. We already know life exists in our local region of space.
    I think the arsenic eating microbes discovery, contested or not, is rather important as it shows life can either alter its chemistry to adapt or simply evolve by utilizing alternate chemistry. Either way it expands our notion of habitabilty and will no doubt spur more research / experiment.
    Exciting!
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

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    Quote Originally Posted by astromark View Post
    Speculative guess work is not good science is it... ?
    ...
    Our science is getting better and microbic life does leave clues...
    It is only a matter of time to that discovery.
    What do you mean by this?

    Probability might look like good science. Its not. Guess work built on largely unknown speculation is still not supported by facts.
    What we need is information.
    Well, we certainly need more information but some facts are that life adapts to and thrives in extreme environments previously thought uninhabitable, that the habitable zone in our own solar system has expanded to include previously dismissed locales (Mars, outer system moons, comets?), that red dwarfs systems are far more numerous while hosting potentially habitable planets (eg. Gliese).
    Of course a single example of life tells us exactly nothing about probabilities, but these evidences, astromark, certainly contribute to plausibility, which is growing.
    I disagree it's "guess work built on ... unknown speculation ... not supported by facts."
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Evidence for the potential for ET life is mounting. We have zero confirmed evidence of actual ET life. That "E" word always seems to cause so much trouble!
    Ha, you could be writing science news headlines!
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

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    Quote Originally Posted by A.DIM View Post
    Yeah, a decade sooner than Shostak's prediction is pushing it, I agree, even while I'm willing to "bet" on it.
    You're right though, the verification process could well take up to 20yrs (just look at ALH840001 ).
    Keep in mind that history will record the discovery date, not the verification date.

    If *something* is discovered in 2016 and we confirm that it is indeed ET life in 2036, the psi-books of 2100 will most likely record 2016 as the discovery date. So, in that sense, your prediction would be correct. :P

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    @ A.Dim... I share your optimistic view. What did I mean ?... Um... try this; We have zero information of any life form off this planet.
    I expect to find life is in abundance but have no proof of that... Its highly probable but as yet unsupported by information.
    Our equipment is getting better. The clues of life are not invisible. Yet we wait still for just one example.
    Not that I want to be a damp sponge... but zero information is nothing to write home about...
    and then what do I expect ? " A Vulcan Ambassador wants to meet with World leaders." would be good. but, that's a different story.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A.DIM View Post
    Of course a single example of life tells us exactly nothing about probabilities, but these evidences, astromark, certainly contribute to plausibility, which is growing.
    Plausible?, not without "better" evidence...but possible...yes.

    I disagree it's "guess work built on ... unknown speculation ... not supported by facts."
    At this point, all we can say for certain is that life exists here...any other SPECULATION is just that. There is no evidence life exists elsewhere, so "unknown speculation...not supported by facts" sounds just about right.

    Of course you can disagree with that...but you have no evidence to support that "opinion".

  18. #17
    I think the title of this thread is misleading. There is, to date, no evidence for ET whatsoever. None. Zero. There are various areas of study that might give us cause to suspect that we can extrapolate certain variables across the known universe and infer that there might or indeed should be life elsewhere - but that's not evidence, that's conjecture.

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    I am as "anxious" as the next person to "know" the answer to the "ET question"...but the "answer" will not arrive until it arrives.

    Be patient...and try not to be to TOO speculative...that is my "advice"...

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    Quote Originally Posted by R.A.F. View Post
    I am as "anxious" as the next person to "know" the answer to the "ET question"...but the "answer" will not arrive until it arrives.

    Be patient...and try not to be to TOO speculative...that is my "advice"...
    We have an answer, we just don't have anyway to verify that it is "the" answer. "No," is always conditional to the state of our exploration and understanding of the universe at that particular time. If we ever have a "Yes," answer that will present "the" answer, but we may be eternally stuck with the conditional response.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trakar View Post
    We have an answer...
    We do??...and what is that answer???

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    As was said, but you missed... NO. is the answer we have.

    The fact that none of us like that answer does not change it...

    Probability is not proof. We have not a single case of life having shown to be any place but here on planet Earth.

    Yet still we speculate... and look even harder. No. is just not acceptable is it ?

  23. #22
    Actually - the only correct answer to ' Is there life elsewhere' is simply

    'I don't know'

    Yes is a wrong answer until we have found it
    No is a wrong answer until we have studied every rock, cloud, puddle and grain of dirt on every moon and every planet around every star in every galaxy in the entire universe and come up blank.

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    That I am being pedantic is true... but 'I do not know' does not answer this question. ( What question..)
    The OP makes a statement that 'Evidence for ET is mounting'. I would say its not.
    What is happening is that the equipment we are using and the methods used is all coming to a point where our ability to know will surpass our seemingly stalemated position... 'I do not know' is as unsatisfactory as no... and that being correct is not enough sometimes...
    So... I will concede and use your statement... and add 'YET.' We do not know yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    Keep in mind that history will record the discovery date, not the verification date.
    If *something* is discovered in 2016 and we confirm that it is indeed ET life in 2036, the psi-books of 2100 will most likely record 2016 as the discovery date. So, in that sense, your prediction would be correct. :P
    Only time will tell ...

    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

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    Quote Originally Posted by astromark View Post
    @ A.Dim... I share your optimistic view. What did I mean ?... Um... try this; We have zero information of any life form off this planet. I expect to find life is in abundance but have no proof of that... Its highly probable but as yet unsupported by information.
    Applying probability to a sample of one is nonstarter. As to the plausibility for life existing elsewhere, information is certainly mounting, everything from extremophiles to habitable conditions elsewhere in our solar system, from complex organics and life's ingredients discovered off planet to "earthlike" exo planets, among others. Yes, we share an optimism but I find plentiful info supportive of my views.

    Our equipment is getting better. The clues of life are not invisible. Yet we wait still for just one example.
    Not that I want to be a damp sponge... but zero information is nothing to write home about...
    and then what do I expect ? " A Vulcan Ambassador wants to meet with World leaders." would be good. but, that's a different story.
    Certainly the tech is getting better but as importantly the perspective is shifting. Things once thought near impossible for life to survive have been overturned. The more we've learned about how adaptable and hardy life on Earth is the more likely it seems it could survive myriad extreme conditions, off planet. Of course, in my view it is microscopic life which is likely ubiquitous elsewhere in the solar system, galaxy, universe(s).
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

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    Quote Originally Posted by djellison View Post
    I think the title of this thread is misleading. There is, to date, no evidence for ET whatsoever. None. Zero. There are various areas of study that might give us cause to suspect that we can extrapolate certain variables across the known universe and infer that there might or indeed should be life elsewhere - but that's not evidence, that's conjecture.
    As much could be said for astronomy and cosmology as well, no?
    But I undertand where you're coming from; perhaps a complaint to the AP writer for misleading you is in order?
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

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    Quote Originally Posted by djellison View Post
    Actually - the only correct answer to ' Is there life elsewhere' is simply

    'I don't know'

    Yes is a wrong answer until we have found it
    No is a wrong answer until we have studied every rock, cloud, puddle and grain of dirt on every moon and every planet around every star in every galaxy in the entire universe and come up blank.
    Indeed we do not know, but a working assumption for much of space science is that it should or must exist elsewhere, being more a matter of our inadequate tech and methods (previous assumptions too!) for finding it.
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

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    Quote Originally Posted by A.DIM View Post
    Indeed we do not know, but a working assumption for much of space science is that it should or must exist elsewhere, being more a matter of our inadequate tech and methods (previous assumptions too!) for finding it.
    It may be a working assumption for some people, but is not implicit in the science, at least not in the "must" or even "should" realms of consideration. "May" is about as far as one could technically extend the likelihood condition, based upon what we currently know,...or rather, "don't know." The primary problem is in nailing down the precise conditions needed to produce life from non-life. Once that issue is resolved, we'll be able to more properly evaluate likelihoods and probabilities for other life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    "Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph" -- Conan
    Dude, you gotta say which Conan you mean. I at first thought you meant Conan O'Brien. :-)


    The woodsman sighed and stared at his calloused hand, worn from contact with ax-haft and sword-hilt. Conan reached his long arm for the wine-jug. The forester stared at him, comparing him with the men about them, the men who had died along the lost river, comparing him with those other wild men over that river. Conan did not seem aware of his gaze.
    “Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,” the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. “Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.”
    - Beyond the Black River, by Robert E. Howard (stories of Conan of Cimmeria)


    Bob Clark
    Last edited by RGClark; 2010-Dec-15 at 05:01 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by djellison View Post
    I think the title of this thread is misleading. There is, to date, no evidence for ET whatsoever. None. Zero. There are various areas of study that might give us cause to suspect that we can extrapolate certain variables across the known universe and infer that there might or indeed should be life elsewhere - but that's not evidence, that's conjecture.
    I think the word "evidence" is being used as in a legal investigation. It doesn't necessarily prove a case, but just lead one to believe in its validity.

    Bob Clark

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