Tag Archives | SETI

The Great Filter to the Fermi Paradox

Environmental space robot

Why have humans not been contacted by aliens (at least officially)? Drake’s Equation states that humans are almost certainly not the only intelligent species in the galaxy (estimates of existing alien civilizations currently range from 2 to 280,000,000 for the Milky Way galaxy). Thus there should be a preponderance of alien races zooming around and colonizing throughout space. Yet neither Bill Clinton, nor George W Bush ever got a photo op with sapient extraterrestrials.

This led Enrico Fermi to coin his famous Fermi Paradox, which observes the discrepancy between the theoretically high number of existing alien civilizations and the curious lack in any observed evidence of their existence.

There are a number of theories which attempt to reconcile this paradox, not the least of which is the theory of the Great Filter. The Great Filter postulates that a harrowing bottleneck of life causes very few civilizations to come into existence, thus we have not seen any evidence of them.… Read the rest

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PayPal And SETI Are Working On An Off-Planet Currency

off-planet currencyEarthly problems are being spread to outer space. The International Business Times reports:

On Thursday, the online payment giant PayPal announced PayPal Galactic, a collaboration with the SETI Institute aimed at developing new payment systems for the final frontier. The frontier is here: Virgin Galactic is launching its first public flight this Christmas, and space hotels could be in orbit around Earth as early as 2016.

“As space tourism programs are opening space travel to ‘the rest of us,’ this drives questions about the commercialization of space,” PayPal President David Marcus said. “One thing is clear: We won’t be using cash in space.”

There are lots of questions about what form a space-friendly money system might take. Will spaceships and habitats have the communications technology needed to transfer money? How will banks manage accounts for people living off-planet? How will government financial regulations pertain to people in space (perhaps to curtail a new kind of “offshore banking”)?

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Is SETI Science?

Picture: SETI (C)

Picture: SETI (C)

Steven Novella of the Neurologica blog tackles an interesting question: Is the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) scientific?

Via Neurologica:

With regard to SETI the hypothesis is this – life arose spontaneously on Earth, there is nothing special about the Earth and therefore it is possible for life to arise elsewhere in the universe. It is possible that some of that life evolved intelligence, and some of that intelligence developed technology. One method for a technological civilization to communicate across stellar distances is through radio signals. Therefore, perhaps the Earth is being bathed at this moment with intelligent radio signals from other worlds.

Every link in that logical change is perfectly reasonable. The best way to test that hypothesis is to simply look. Looking is part of science. It is a valid way to test many hypotheses. It is not necessary to be able to prove that there are no intelligent radio sources anywhere in the universe in order for this endeavor to be properly scientific.

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Could An Extraterrestrial Message Be Encoded In Our DNA?

Could a message have been inserted into our genetics billions of years ago, as the most durable method of communicating with intelligent life eons later? Discovery News ponders:

Could our genes have an intelligently designed “manufacturer’s stamp” inside them, written eons ago elsewhere in our galaxy?

Vladimir I. shCherbak of al-Farabi Kazakh National University of Kazakhstan, and Maxim A. Makukov of the Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute, hypothesize that an intelligent signal embedded in our genetic code would what they call “biological SETI.”

In the journal Icarus, they assert: “Once fixed, the code might stay unchanged over cosmological timescales. Therefore it represents an exceptionally reliable storage for an intelligent signature.” To pass the designer label test, any patterns in the genetic code must be highly statistically significant and possess intelligent-like features that are inconsistent with any natural know process.

They go on to argue that their detailed analysis of the human genome displays a thorough precision-type orderliness in the mapping between DNA’s nucleotides and amino acids.

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Sirius: It Is Time For You To Know

Dr. Steven Greer, founder of the worldwide Disclosure Movement and the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence is working with Emmy award winning filmmaker Amardeep Kaleka to expose what they call "the greatest story never told":
  • The Earth has been visited by people from other worlds who are not malicious, but in fact concerned for the future of humanity.
  • A cabal of military, industrial and financial interests have kept this contact and what we have learned from it secret for over 60 years.
  • Their secrecy is meant to suppress the knowledge that can liberate the world from the yoke of oil, gas, coal and nuclear power and replace the current world order with one of New Energy and true Freedom.
Here's a teaser for the film. If you're interested, they are still raising finishing funds.
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Are Aliens Communicating With Us Via The Stars?

TIME on the possibility that we are oblivious to extraterrestrial messages shining right down onto us:

Lucianne Walkowicz wants to conduct a search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), not by doing anything so conventional as listening for radio transmissions or watching for flashes of laser light. Instead, she wants to see if ET’s are somehow manipulating the light coming from their stars so that they wink at us.

“Our premise,” she says, “is that up until now, we’ve had a preconceived idea of what a SETI signal would look like.” It would basically be the sort of signal we know how to create, since searching for a signal from some entirely unknown technology would be difficult.

If aliens were so advanced that they could cause their star to appear to flicker, however, it wouldn’t matter how they did it, and it would be easy enough to see with existing technology. In fact, says Walkowicz, “our premise was, ‘what if we’ve already detected a signal but missed it because of our preconceptions.’”

So she and her co-investigators proposed to look through a potential trove of signals: the archives from the Kepler mission, which has been scanning space since 2009 for stars that are winking because of orbiting planets passing in front of them.

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No Intelligent Aliens Detected on the SETI-Targeted “Earth Condition” Gliese 581 System

Yet that is. As Ian O'Neill desribes on Discovery News:
SETI astronomers have eavesdropped on an alien star system thought to contain two "habitable" worlds in the hope of hearing a radio transmission from an extraterrestrial intelligence. Sadly, there appears to be no chatty aliens living around the red dwarf star Gliese 581. In results announced last week by Australian SETI astronomers, of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University in Perth, Gliese 581 was precisely targeted by Australian Long Baseline Array using three radio telescope facilities across Australia. This is the first time the technique of very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) has been used to target a specific star in the hunt for extraterrestrials, so although it didn't turn up any aliens, it is a proof of concept that may prove invaluable for future SETI projects...
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The Wow! Signal: SETI’s Most Tantalizing Recording

Wow! SignalGood article about the mysterious Wow! signal from Ross Andersen in the Atlantic:

Late one night in the summer of 1977, a large radio telescope outside Delaware, Ohio intercepted a radio signal that seemed for a brief time like it might change the course of human history. The telescope was searching the sky on behalf of SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and the signal, though it lasted only seventy-two seconds, fit the profile of a message beamed from another world. Despite its potential import, several days went by before Jerry Ehman, a project scientist for SETI, noticed the data.

He was flipping through the computer printouts generated by the telescope when he noticed a string of letters within a long sequence of low numbers — ones, twos, threes and fours. The low numbers represent background noise, the low hum of an ordinary signal. As the telescope swept across the sky, it momentarily landed on something quite extraordinary, causing the signal to surge and the computer to shift from numbers to letters and then keep climbing all the way up to “U,” which represented a signal thirty times higher than the background noise level.

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SETI Is Back!

300px-SETI@home_Multi-Beam_screensaverGood news for those hoping to find aliens, reported by Deborah Netburn for the LA Times:

Citizens of the world: You are awesome. This week the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute announced that it had raised more than $200,000 from a crowd-sourced fundraising effort that launched this spring. The money, which came from just over 2,000 people who want to keep the search for alien life alive, will help the institute put its Allen Telescope Array back online.

“We are so grateful to our donors,” said Tom Pierson, who co-founded the SETI Institute with Jill Tarter (the inspiration for Jodie Foster’s character in “Contact”). “We believe we will be back on the air in September.”

On the Setistars website, where the call for donations was originally placed, large red type proclaims: “Thank You for Your Support to Resume the Search!”

The Allen Telescope Array, or ATA, is a series of 42 linked radio-telescope dishes funded by a $30-million gift from Microsoft Corp.

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This is Planet Earth’s Impact So Far in the Universe

Radio BroadcastsLook for the tiny blue dot for our impact. Adam Grossman writes about "The Tiny Humanity Bubble" on jackadamblog:
Mankind has been broadcasting radio waves into deep space for about a hundred years now — since the days of Marconi. That, of course, means there is an ever-expanding bubble announcing Humanity’s presence to anyone listening in the Milky Way. This bubble is astronomically large (literally), and currently spans approximately 200 light years across. But how big is this, really, compared to the size of the Galaxy in which we live (which is, itself, just one of countless billions of galaxies in the observable universe)?
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