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Mr Bill
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SETI gets 100 million grant & Stephen Hawking's support

Wed Jul 22, 2015 5:57 pm

This is a repost because it probably deserves a new SETI thread; originally posted 07/21/15.
Mr Bill wrote:
I just heard on NPR today that a billionaire has given 100 million over 10 years to revitalize the SETI project. And the project is suported by Stephen Hawking. Here is also a link to a write up at Ars Technica...
http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/07/ ... -galaxies/
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Re: SETI gets 100 million grant & Stephen Hawking's support

Thu Jul 23, 2015 1:27 pm

As I said in the other thread I do find it interesting to read, even if I still prefer to support F@H over SETI I originally did some crunching for SETI way back when.

The problem for me, is the sheer amount of time it would take a radio or EM signal to reach us from any nearby celestial body. Now add that insane figure to the amount of time it would take an alien civilization to develop just to reach that point of technology. I feel the timing windows are too far off to happen, and that scientists might have better luck figuring out how to detect faster than light transmissions if such a thing exists. Odds are a FTL transmission will reach us long before any sublight signal would unless an alien civilization was truly, truly ancient.

No matter how small the odds, when multiplied against 400 billion universes times 400 billion stars per universe times multiple planets and moons in the average star system, there's going to be something. It's either all or nothing. So I can easily see Hawking's and others interest in this. :)
 
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Re: SETI gets 100 million grant & Stephen Hawking's support

Thu Jul 23, 2015 2:14 pm

Kougar wrote:
As I said in the other thread I do find it interesting to read, even if I still prefer to support F@H over SETI I originally did some crunching for SETI way back when.

The problem for me, is the sheer amount of time it would take a radio or EM signal to reach us from any nearby celestial body. Now add that insane figure to the amount of time it would take an alien civilization to develop just to reach that point of technology. I feel the timing windows are too far off to happen, and that scientists might have better luck figuring out how to detect faster than light transmissions if such a thing exists. Odds are a FTL transmission will reach us long before any sublight signal would unless an alien civilization was truly, truly ancient.

No matter how small the odds, when multiplied against 400 billion universes times 400 billion stars per universe times multiple planets and moons in the average star system, there's going to be something. It's either all or nothing. So I can easily see Hawking's and others interest in this. :)


Well not all galaxies, solar systems, planets are the same age. Given that our solar system is 5 or 6 billion years old and our universe (at least from the singularity) is about 13 billion, it should be possible that there is another life-sustaining planet somewhere that got a considerable head start on Earth. And that isn't factoring the huge potential variability in the time it takes to evolve intelligent life on said planet.

Only considering the first part, any indication of intelligent communication would probably be from a species that ceased to exist millions of years ago. However, when you add in the second.. Who knows?
 
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Re: SETI gets 100 million grant & Stephen Hawking's support

Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:27 pm

The book 'Five Billion Years of Solitude'
http://www.amazon.com/Five-Billion-Year ... 1617230162
talks about this problem and discusses life on earth and the serindipitous tightness of our habitable orbital zone and the Drake Equation and the light cones of what civilizations we could reasonably expect to detect given the nature of our universe.

I was listening to a SciFi writer being interviewed on NPR just the other day; mmm Dan Simmons, perhaps? He said he got permission to use the Drake equation in a book or a talk but that he was advised to always leave out at least one term so that nobody could check the figures and argue with him. I thought that was pretty funny. :D

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation
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Re: SETI gets 100 million grant & Stephen Hawking's support

Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:34 pm

Whether or not SETI is the answer, I think we definitely need to be looking for a second planet. Two major issues are overhanging our future.

1. We are using fossil fuels faster than Earth produces them. I have no idea when "peak oil" has passed or will pass, but I don't have to be precisely correct anyway. It's not arguable; the mathematics just don't support endless supplies of fossil fuel (of any kind). Even if we stop burning it, we'll still use petroleum for everything else. So eventually we will run out anyway, or it will be so hard to extract that it might as well be gone. Our population is several orders of magnitude too large to be fed, clothed, and medicined by non-petroleum sources. I think even in the worst (best?) case scenarios, we'll run out of fuel long before we pollute the place bad enough to make life impossible here.

2. Eventually, we will have a major calamitous event that will cause pollution millions of times worse than we're even capable of imagining. Could be one or more major earthquakes (there are several pressure-points that are currently overdue), a meteor of major proportions (has happened at least twice before), or a supervolcano such as the devil's own caldera currently underneath Yellowstone. Vesuvius, Pele, and St. Helens were peacefully-sleeping babies compared to Yellowstone's past history. The next time that one pops, nothing else will matter. The pyroclastic flows and ash fallout will probably destroy large swaths of arable land from Canada and the US. Year-round winter will make it hard to grow anything in many other places on the planet, for at least several years, so crops and then livestock could die off, followed by a major percentage of the population which depends on the food that the land can support. Survival could become a full-time job for anybody still alive after the first couple years, and "Global Warming" will be nothing more than a wet dream at that point.

Even though it could be hundreds of years for either of those things to happen, I think we need to be looking for a second planet. It could take a hundred years just to develop FTL travel (if it's even possible), and then several hundred/thousand more to just find someplace where stuff grows. Although we are industrious, we silly humans are also notorious for our procrastination.
Last edited by BIF on Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: SETI gets 100 million grant & Stephen Hawking's support

Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:49 pm

Yellowstone, not Yosemite.
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Re: SETI gets 100 million grant & Stephen Hawking's support

Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:30 pm

Ouch, you got me on that one. Corrected. :oops:

Thanks!

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