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Thread: Astronomers: Please stop shouting out to the universe.

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthrage View Post
    This is certainly true as regards radio emissions, but we betray ourselves in many other ways as well....The composition of our atmosphere for example gives us away.
    Yes true enough... but its not quite the same as shouting out 'hey we are here'... One is passive the other active.

    I suspect (with few facts available as yet) that life signatures will turn out to be common... (ish). It still, to me, seems to be a simple matter of risk mitigation... if you can avoid a risk (especially a potentially disastrous one) at no, or relatively low, cost, then do so.

    I also have no doubt that private projects can and will exist and that these would be uneffected. The desire for 'contact' is very very strong, for some people.
    Yes.... to me its a shame that they don't step back and ask..., 'But have I the right to speak for all of earth?' Or try imagining the consequences if it all goes pear shaped.

    I feel things can't possibly get much worse, so the risk is favorable in my eyes. I am also not too concerned about the chance that any intelligence that bothers to seek us out would be hostile. There are some rather good arguements that could be made against such a thing.
    I've never really worked out if I am a pessimist or an optimist.... perhaps a realist. Things _could_ be worse. Lets not go out of our way to make it so.

    One thing I can agree on, we definitely need to begin thinking as a species. ...
    Who knows if that will ever happen however.
    Agreed... again an unlikely event... but worth trying for.

    So my summary: The risk is low. There is at least a fifty-fifty that we would benefit from contact. Consequences could take a few hundred years to materialise. Is is very simple to avoid the risk.... just don't shout. No one person can decide to place a bet with the future of all humanity.

    I think all of that is self-evident and leads to only one conclusion...
    don't shout out till you know who is there. And a corollary: Look as hard as you can... the benefits could be enormous.

  2. #32
    In a sense, grousing at astronomers on this issue is going after the wrong people. People involved with SETI seriously have evolved a set of protocols for dealing with candidate signals. As summarized by the International Academy of Astronautics, two of them read,

    "No response to a signal or other evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence should be sent until appropriate international consultations have taken place. The procedures for such consultations will be the subject of a separate agreement, declaration or arrangement."

    and

    "The SETI Committee of the International Academy of Astronautics, in coordination with Commission 51 of the International Astronomical Union, will conduct a continuing review of procedures for the detection of extraterrestrial intelligence and the subsequent handling of the data. Should credible evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence be discovered, an international committee of scientists and other experts should be established to serve as a focal point for continuing analysis of all observational evidence collected in the aftermath of the discovery, and also to provide advice on the release of information to the public. This committee should be constituted from representatives of each of the international institutions listed above and such other members as the committee may deem necessary. To facilitate the convocation of such a committee at some unknown time in the future, the SETI Committee of the International Academy of Astronautics should initiate and maintain a current list of willing representatives from each of the international institutions listed above, as well as other individuals with relevant skills, and should make that list continuously available through the Secretariat of the International Academy of Astronautics. The International Academy of Astronautics will act as the Depository for this declaration and will annually provide a current list of parties to all the parties to this declaration."


    The IAA site also links to a position paper on how to handle such international consultations. As far as I can tell, the deliberate signals either predate these protocols (the Arecibo M13 transmission) or are done by groups outside the mainstream of SETI research. Within that mainstream, as quoted above, there is agreement that only a broadly representative group of humans can speak for humanity on this issue.

  3. #33
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    While not conclusive, this may prove useful:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communi...l_Intelligence

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314 View Post
    ... grousing at astronomers on this issue is going after the wrong people...
    ... the deliberate signals... ... are done by groups outside the mainstream... ... there is agreement that only a broadly representative group... can speak for humanity...
    Fair enough point... and I will have to do a bit more research.... (I had heard of these protocols previously).

    But the general tide of outgoing messages seems, to my layman's view, to be swelling... perhaps its just an artefact of more reportage... but it seems I hear about it more and more frequently these days.

    I would like to see a general recognition of the fact that no-one has the right at this point in time to risk all of us here in the boat...

    Its hard to say that without sounding like a panic merchant... but I am, I believe, rationally and calmly saying that there is a chance its not a good idea... and we don't _have_ to do it... so lets not.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthrage View Post
    While not conclusive, this may prove useful:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communi...l_Intelligence
    Yes... a fair few sent already eh? I notice that those ones are primarily Russian (with a bit of MIT assistance thrown in). I don't think that is an exhaustive list... I could be wrong...

    Perhaps I should not bother.... I seriously doubt that there is any chance that the course of Russian science and behaviour can be affected by American or Australian (or any other countries) astronomers. Maybe in a few years... but not at this point.

    In any case lets all agree that _we_ should not take matters into our own hands and ever send one out until much more is known.

  6. #36
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    I'm building a radio transmitter right now!!!!!!




    well, actually I'm going to sleep right now. Someone remind me to start building one in the morning.
    My travel blog Currently about living in Europe with many older blog posts about riding a motorcycle across the US and Europe.

  7. #37
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    Hey, crosscountry... 14hrs later and you're here, not building your transmitter?

    Hell, I would, even if, according to some, I don't have that right.
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

  8. #38
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    darn, I had forgotten. I'll get right on in. Don't want the space aliens to wonder where I am.
    My travel blog Currently about living in Europe with many older blog posts about riding a motorcycle across the US and Europe.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    70's. The Arecibo Message. Which I would get as a tattoo if I had more nerve.
    Please don't

  10. #40
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    Haven't we been sending messages out since we first began television broadcasts? It seems a little foolish to blame astronomers at this late date. Haven't we already told everyone we're here with all the television we have broadcast from "I Love Lucy" to "Seinfeld".

    Actually, "Seinfeld" may be seen by ET's as conclusive proof that there is no intelligent life here. So it may really be all for the best.

  11. #41
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    Right.

    Finding Them, Finding Us.

    If we took this cosmic paranoia to its extreme we'd forever turn off all radio and television signals...
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    darn, I had forgotten. I'll get right on in. Don't want the space aliens to wonder where I am.
    Oh, no worries, they know where you are.

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

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves
    70's. The Arecibo Message. Which I would get as a tattoo if I had more nerve.
    Please don't
    Aww, come one. If it was small it might be cute in a dorky kinda way, maybe on the back of the neck, and inch and a half long. But make it big and take up the entire back and it'd be a bit much.

    Kai, try it with henna and see how it looks.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

  14. #44
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    Kai, try it with henna and see how it looks.
    Maybe on my arm, in the summer, about an inch and a half. Henna's all I really would do, as I said, I don't really have the nerve to get a real tattoo.

  15. #45
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    Maybe you could hold out for something like this?
    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater view?

  16. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Maybe on my arm, in the summer, about an inch and a half. Henna's all I really would do, as I said, I don't really have the nerve to get a real tattoo.
    Arm's good... just don't put it on your bottom. You're a very humorours person but the "SETI" pun would just not be worth it.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

  17. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by TheHalcyonYear View Post
    Haven't we been sending messages out since we first began television broadcasts? It seems a little foolish to blame astronomers at this late date. Haven't we already told everyone we're here with all the television we have broadcast from "I Love Lucy" to "Seinfeld".
    Yep. The barn door blew open more than 50 years ago. Longer if you count radio transmissions. Kinda late to tell people to not send messages into space.

    And even if an alien civilization receives our signal, so what? They'll have to study it and try to determine if it is natural of artificial. Figure out the signal's origin. Then they'll have to calculate the energy and effort required to send a return signal versus building an interstellar craft to visit a civilization that may or may not exist by the time the ship gets there.

    Worrying that sending "hello" signals into space might unleash an advanced civilization upon us is pure paranoia.

  18. #48
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    Anyone who's agresssive enough to send a starship just to attack a distant anomalous radio source dozens to hundreds of light-years away will be too busy fighting each other (nations or hives, makes no difference) to come here. Their efforts would all be focussed closer to home. I'd waste zero effort worrying about this.
    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

  19. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHalcyonYear View Post
    Haven't we been sending messages out since we first began television broadcasts?
    Yes... and no... there is a world of difference between sending stray (and remember that the broadcasters try to broadcast along the surface... not out to space) signals that have lowish power and in the other case... a high power, highly redundant and noise efficient signal to targeted stellar systems. One can be detected with difficulty by nearby folk... the other with much less effort at much further distances.

    Remember that there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy. Every increase in distance the signal propagates before falling into the noise bucket means a cubic increase in possible stars that can notice it. It is a game of chance... and you massively increase the odds of detection when you deliberately send rather than just 'leak'.

    Also... our civilisation may be entering a period of decreased leakage... more and more signals are sent with higher frequency... less power, and along closed channels... like optical cable, laser links etc. The net effect could turn out to be a decrease in our delectability. [LOL! EDIT: I meant detectability... )

    But none of that is to the point... I am not saying 'lets rig for silent running'... I am asking that we don't deliberately shout out. That we don't let a few decide for the many.

    It seems a little foolish to blame astronomers at this late date.
    I am not blaming... I am asking for a policy of not shouting.

    Actually, "Seinfeld" may be seen by ET's as conclusive proof that there is no intelligent life here. So it may really be all for the best.
    Yes... I agree that we don't seem all that intelligent....

    Folks... we are talking on an astronomy forum.... There are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy... they have been there for billions of years...

    Do you really think its all empty of life? That we are the only intelligence? That we have ANY chance of guessing motives, capabilities and behaviours?

    Look up HUBRIS.

  20. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalrusLike View Post
    Folks... we are talking on an astronomy forum.... There are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy... they have been there for billions of years...

    Do you really think its all empty of life? That we are the only intelligence? That we have ANY chance of guessing motives, capabilities and behaviours?

    Look up HUBRIS.



    It seems you're the one assigning motives to aliens here.

    As far as astronomy goes, think about how far away all those billions of stars are, and what massive efforts it would take to cross between even the closest ones, or even the massive amount of signal strength it would take to send a clearly artificial message to them. We're not likely to reach anyone, even if they're listening.
    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

  21. #51
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    Interstellar travell is hard. Detecting technological civilizations is comparatively easy.

    In the end if you want to convince people to stop broadcasting you should give a plausible scenario where it might be harmful. Actually, it would have been nice if you did it in your opening post, but better late than never.

  22. #52
    Sometimes, I like to think to myself that some of them are listening.

    And agreeing with what many of you have said before now, they aren't the slightest bit interested.

    I mean, chances most probably have it, a few alliances out there in the Universe, scoffing at our unintelligent (as a vague adjective) and mixed-up signals.

    Heck, we could be the babbling babies we 'aww' at, the gurgling babies who try and speak and only come out with splutters.
    To them out there.
    We normally wait until the babies bust-out a 'Dada', or a 'Mummy'.
    Maybe they're doing the same?

    Not literally

  23. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eckelston View Post
    Detecting technological civilizations is comparatively easy.
    It is?? Tell that to SETI!
    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

  24. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    It is?? Tell that to SETI!
    Well I meant compared to interstellar travell. And yes compared to interstellar travell it is very easy. It may be hard for us, but for anyone who is capable of harming us from interstellar distances it is trivial.

  25. #55
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    If there was a technologically advanced species that decided that other technological species shouldn't be allowed to exist, there is no reason for them to wait until now to attack us. Rather, I would expect that they would monitor other systems with telescopes or probes (possibly self replicating probes) for indications of developing life. Then they would have plenty of time to send follow up missions to go to the system in question and bombard planets with locally found asteroids or comets. Rinse and repeat whenever anything more complex than bacteria develops.

    In short, if there was a star faring species that didn't want us around, we probably wouldn't be here now.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." Abraham Lincoln

    I say there is an invisible elf in my backyard. How do you prove that I am wrong?

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  26. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eckelston View Post
    Well I meant compared to interstellar travell. And yes compared to interstellar travell it is very easy. It may be hard for us, but for anyone who is capable of harming us from interstellar distances it is trivial.
    We don't know that. I agree it seems likely, but it's not an absolute, as it's based on the assumption that their technological development, curiousity, and scientific methods parallel ours. It's entirely possible that they could have more advanced propulsion but less advanced radiotelescopy.
    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

  27. #57
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    Arm's good... just don't put it on your bottom.
    I would never get a tattoo on my bottom. Ever. Having the Arecibo Message in henna on my arm might get me some cred at Space Academy this summer, though.

  28. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    It's entirely possible that they could have more advanced propulsion but less advanced radiotelescopy.
    Possible in the sense that Van Rijn's invisible elf is possible.

  29. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHalcyonYear View Post
    Haven't we been sending messages out since we first began television broadcasts?
    Here is a copy of a formula I quoted some time ago in another forum:

    In the Usenet FAQ I found this.. It contains the formula:

    R = sqrt[ EIRP * Aer * twc / (4 * pi * snr * Br * k * Tsys) ] / Rl

    R = detection range in light years
    EIRP = Effective isotropic radiated power = Pt * Gt
    Pt = transmitter power in watts
    Gt = gain of transmitter antenna (dimensionless)
    Aer = effective area of receiving antenna in meters
    twc = sqrt (twp)
    twp = time bandwidth product = Br * t = 1 for a modulated signal
    Br = receiver bandwidth in Hz
    snr = signal to noise ratio = Pr/Pn
    Pr = power received in watts
    Pn = Nyquist noise = k * Tsys * Br
    k = Boltzman's constant = 1.38^-23 joule/deg K
    Tsys = system temperature of receiver in deg K
    Rl = meters in a light year = 9.46E15

    Examples are presented. Using a receiving antenna the size of Arecibo, the signals from our AM radio stations would be detectable at only .007 AU or 650,000 miles! FM would go out to 5.4 AU, NEXRAD weather radar at .01 LY, Arecibo S band CW at 1 gigawatt EIRP would go to 5 light years (22 TW out to 750 LY).

  30. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    the Arecibo Message in henna on my arm might get me some cred at Space Academy this summer, though.
    No Kai. I understand that the kids at Space Academy have become quite jaded. Only a full body tattoo of the complete engineering drawings of the Pioneer probe will do these days.

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