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The Fermi Paradox

Fermi Paradox Aliens Extraterrestrials Life

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#21
Ru1138

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The mystery deepens...

 

(If confirmed) Kepler candidate planet KOI-4878.01 is 98% similar to Earth (98% Earth Similarity Index)


What difference does it make?


#22
JCO

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I agree, it's a very interesting read. As I read the article, I was wondering if one of the enumerated reasons for the Fermi Paradox is actually the correct answer.

 

 

Also, the mention of "superpredator civilizations" reminds me of the Reapers from the Mass Effect saga. :)

 

I think the explanation is a combination of 2.2, 2.6, 2.9 and 2.10. This all boil down to ego bruising mundane explanations. We live in the boonies, we are looking for the wrong things, we are just too dumb, and we are not very interesting.  The fact is many living things on this planet never encountered a human. Less than 500 years ago that would have been most living things never encountered a human but we have expanded a bit.

 

I suspect that the real truth is a little bit of all those reasons.

 

My only other issue is the reliance on the Kardashev scale for measure of advancment. I think of it like judging civilisation vs barbarism based on how much food people consume. Especially when you consider it doesn't take into account population size. The sci-fi writer in me can imagine some sort of non sentient fungal mat growing in space that envelops a star at around the venusian orbit level and uses the entirety of the energy of a stars output. Meanwhile a single person could achieve immortality, have a matter replicator, and spend their eternity self contemplating, exploring via slow boat craft, and exploring the works of cultures encountered via vitual reality... and they'd use less energy than any nation on earth today.

 

The problem with your example is you are comparing apples and oranges. You are comparing an entire species to not a even a civilization but to a single individual. Also the scale I do not think is exactly intended to measure consumption as scale of resource control. The scale is only intended to suggest a comparison of space faring civilization.

 

I think it would be useful in understanding the scale by comparing the kind of resource control we have had through history. Currently we have the ability to exploit resources on almost the entire land area of Earth there are still large areas where it is not feasible to exploit the resources available. Though we are able to make use of the resources on the surface of the ocean most areas below the surface are still unusable to us. Just 200 years ago much of the land area of the Earth had never been visited by humans and many places were beyond our reach because of technological limitations. We only made any significant use of ocean resources near land and the deep ocean was almost a complete unknown.

 

One thing about the Kardashev scale that I think is misunderstood is that I it is likely intended to be talking about equivalent energy tapped. That means that you would not need to actually capture all the energy reaching the planet but just the energy equivalent. For a type I civilization this could easily be just building space based solar collectors that equal the cross section of their home planet. Once we become fully established as an interplanetary civilization this should be a fairly trivial goal to achieve. A type II civilization would simply be an interstellar civilization that had reached the point where the consumed a significant percentage of the energy of multiple stars.


Confirmed Agnostic - I know that I don't know for sure and I am almost certain no one else does either.


#23
JCO

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This sounds like an interesting read on how we might have lucked out on having a planet conducive to complex life.

 

Let’s face it. It’s likely that there are billions, perhaps trillions, of Earth-like stars in the cosmos. Can we plausibly argue that our Earth is somehow special, that it alone of all similar worlds possesses complex (which is to say multicellular) life?

 

Well, yes we can. With the limited data available to scientists we can’t say with any degree of certainty that Earth is the only planet that hosts complex life. But we can certainly make the argument that Earth is exceptional – and Waltham does so beautifully.

 

Lucky Planet gives the most accessible treatment I’ve yet read of the anthropic selection effect. Our planet has enjoyed four billion years of clement weather, and this climate stability has surely been key to life’s continued existence. Earth’s climate could easily have followed a trajectory towards ice or fire, turning the planet into a snowball or a boiling hell; the climate could have done rapid flip-flops between periods of frigidity and periods of heat. Instead, the average surface temperature of our planet has seen a gentle cooling trend on top of which are relatively minor fluctuations, measured in tens of degrees. With this climate life has been able to thrive.

 

 

The flaw in this theory is clearly stated in the review. It makes the assumption that anthropomorphic life is the only type of life that could achieve intelligence. This flaw is demonstrated by the fact that some of the other creatures that demonstrate high intelligence are not even mammals. What we do know is that our solar system provide only a few examples of what is likely a very large range of possible environments. At this point we stand at the edge of of a very big desert trying to guess how many oases there are and we have never set foot in a desert before in our lives. I believe that all of our guesses at this point will prove wildly incorrect unless the person making the guess turns out to be exceptionally lucky. 


Confirmed Agnostic - I know that I don't know for sure and I am almost certain no one else does either.


#24
Ru1138

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The flaw in this theory is clearly stated in the review. It makes the assumption that anthropomorphic life is the only type of life that could achieve intelligence. This flaw is demonstrated by the fact that some of the other creatures that demonstrate high intelligence are not even mammals. What we do know is that our solar system provide only a few examples of what is likely a very large range of possible environments. At this point we stand at the edge of of a very big desert trying to guess how many oases there are and we have never set foot in a desert before in our lives. I believe that all of our guesses at this point will prove wildly incorrect unless the person making the guess turns out to be exceptionally lucky.


You're right, but I think there may be a caveat; that is life may evolve into intelligence on a water world or gas giant, but can life develop advanced technologies in those places?


What difference does it make?


#25
JCO

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The flaw in this theory is clearly stated in the review. It makes the assumption that anthropomorphic life is the only type of life that could achieve intelligence. This flaw is demonstrated by the fact that some of the other creatures that demonstrate high intelligence are not even mammals. What we do know is that our solar system provide only a few examples of what is likely a very large range of possible environments. At this point we stand at the edge of of a very big desert trying to guess how many oases there are and we have never set foot in a desert before in our lives. I believe that all of our guesses at this point will prove wildly incorrect unless the person making the guess turns out to be exceptionally lucky.


You're right, but I think there may be a caveat; that is life may evolve into intelligence on a water world or gas giant, but can life develop advanced technologies in those places?

 

 

The examples you give are 2 very narrow ones. As counterexample to yours I offer this example: we know that around other stars there exist super jovian planets that are within the star's habitable zone. Every jovian planet in our solar system have multiple moons. Half of them have moon larger than Earth's Moon. The largest moon orbits the largest planet. A larger planet would likely have a larger moon so a super jovian planet could likely have a moon the size of Mars or larger. Several moon in the solar system are known to have their own magnetosphere something that is thought key in shielding a planet from radiation that could prevent the development of life. The jovian planet's own magnetosphere would likely further shield the moon from harmful solar radiation. The jovian planet would provide the moon with many of the same benefits that the Moon is believed to provide for Earth. Finally because confirmed planets suggest that super jovian planets are fairly common and that Jovian planets all seem to have significant satellites this may be a much more common environment for complex life to develop on than in a co-planet system like the Earth and Moon. 


Confirmed Agnostic - I know that I don't know for sure and I am almost certain no one else does either.


#26
hiraeth

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Here's the solution to the paradox:

 

The universe is gargantuan.

The are a series of Great Filters than a species has to go through to become space faring, and making it through them all is very unlikely.

Gamma ray bursts.

We're one of the first of many, but not THAT many, and we still have several more filters to go through before we reach a Type II civilization or greater.

There may be civilizations thousands, millions, or even billions of years older than us, but still too far away for us or them to notice the other exists. Notice I said "older", and not "ahead of" us. Their process of evolution may be wildly different from ours, and they may be stuck on one level for much longer than we were.

 

It's not like humans have outposts on every section of the Milky Way. We're confined to our planet, and currently, only the other closest object. There's just nothing close to here that's advanced enough to show itself. In 2015 it's difficult for us to know if Alpha Centauri has planets with life on them. And that's the closest star system. We have no idea what's out there, and we won't for quite awhile unless we're extremely lucky (or, depending on how you look at it, hideously unlucky...). 


I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God. Sufi Proverb

#27
JCO

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I look very sceptically at the concept of Great Filters. At this point we have no idea how difficult it is for life to develop and will have no better idea until we crawl out of the cradle of Earth and truly explore our home solar system. We may find that life is a fairly common chemical process and that even complex life develops fairly easily given a little time.

 

As for inability to detect other intelligent life it is likely that it would be difficult to detect a planet identical to Earth more than 100 light years away and the Milky Way is over 100,000 light years in diameter. Also most of our assumptions in looking for an alien civilization is that it be detected in the same way we might detect our current civilization. The problem with this is the methods would be useless for detecting or civilization less than 100 years ago and may very well be useless in detecting or civilization in as little as 100 years from now. It also assumes that our technology is the only possible way of becoming a spacefaring civilization only because we are unable to imagine any other way.

 

I think the Fermi Paradox in the end is no different than the myth that the Apollo program was a hoax. It assumes that because I can't see it, then it must not exist. This is the same reasoning used to rationalize that exo-solar planets were rare as little as 20 or 30 years ago. 


Confirmed Agnostic - I know that I don't know for sure and I am almost certain no one else does either.


#28
Ru1138

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Well, I got Lucky Planet from the library. I'll post any interesting stuff I find in it.


What difference does it make?


#29
Ru1138

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Again, mystery deepens...

 

http://phys.org/news...hought.html#jCp


What difference does it make?


#30
JCO

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One thing that article comments on is that planets the size of Earth or larger would be much more likely to retain their atmosphere. This might suggest that any star lacking terrestrial masses at least as large as Earth are unlikely to develop more than the most basic life forms. What is stated in the article is at the moment they do not have what most of the theories related to extraterrestrial life, direct evidence.

 

It is my opinion that there is currently technology we currently have available that could provide us with definitive proof of life beyond Earth. Conversely we are far from having the technology available to definitively disprove the existence of life beyond Earth. When lacking definite proof the inclination of many is disbelief. In truth it is often the case that most things that are possible do exist and our lack of the ability to observe them is no proof at all.


Confirmed Agnostic - I know that I don't know for sure and I am almost certain no one else does either.


#31
Ru1138

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I think the Fermi Paradox in the end is no different than the myth that the Apollo program was a hoax. It assumes that because I can't see it, then it must not exist.


You've said this before, I think you're thinking along the lines of "hyper-advanced technologies would be incomprehensible to us". Maybe, but there's a big difference between "incomprehensible" (not knowing how it works) and "apparent" (knowing that it's artificial). Technology tends to be quite obvious. The analogy of the ant and the freeway doesn't work too well when you realize that ants don't have technology and are probably unable to think of abstract concepts. While we may be more stupid than the aliens, we have those two attributes that ants don't; so even if we can't comprehend a technology, we could probably still recognize it as artificial.

So where is all this technology?

What difference does it make?


#32
JCO

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I think the Fermi Paradox in the end is no different than the myth that the Apollo program was a hoax. It assumes that because I can't see it, then it must not exist.


You've said this before, I think you're thinking along the lines of "hyper-advanced technologies would be incomprehensible to us". Maybe, but there's a big difference between "incomprehensible" (not knowing how it works) and "apparent" (knowing that it's artificial). Technology tends to be quite obvious. The analogy of the ant and the freeway doesn't work too well when you realize that ants don't have technology and are probably unable to think of abstract concepts. While we may be more stupid than the aliens, we have those two attributes that ants don't; so even if we can't comprehend a technology, we could probably still recognize it as artificial.

So where is all this technology?

 

 

We would not necessarily recognize something as artificial. In the example of the ants a road would be so different from any "technology" they use it may not be recognized as artificial. It would look more like a lava flow than anything else they would be familiar with.

 

In our case the main method we have been looking for extraterrestrial intelligence has been monitoring radio waves. I have made the point that at the moment that it would be challenging to detect the Earth today from a star in our local group using our current technology. So the search assumes that a more advanced alien civilization would be just like us only louder. The flaw in this is that if a civilization becomes an interplanetary or interstellar civilization they will likely not use broadcast radio wave technology much. http://scienceblogs....communications/

 

The fact is we are already developing this technology. http://en.wikipedia....y_Demonstration

This makes it very likely that Earth's own radio wave 'footprint' will diminish significantly. The method we are currently using may only have any chance of detecting a civilization during the brief period between industrialization and interplanetary colonization. 


Confirmed Agnostic - I know that I don't know for sure and I am almost certain no one else does either.


#33
Ru1138

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We would not necessarily recognize something as artificial. In the example of the ants a road would be so different from any "technology" they use it may not be recognized as artificial. It would look more like a lava flow than anything else they would be familiar with.
 
In our case the main method we have been looking for extraterrestrial intelligence has been monitoring radio waves. I have made the point that at the moment that it would be challenging to detect the Earth today from a star in our local group using our current technology. So the search assumes that a more advanced alien civilization would be just like us only louder. The flaw in this is that if a civilization becomes an interplanetary or interstellar civilization they will likely not use broadcast radio wave technology much. http://scienceblogs....communications/
 
The fact is we are already developing this technology. http://en.wikipedia....y_Demonstration
This makes it very likely that Earth's own radio wave 'footprint' will diminish significantly. The method we are currently using may only have any chance of detecting a civilization during the brief period between industrialization and interplanetary colonization.


Again, I have to disagree with you. The main reason for technology's existence is (as Peter Watts once said) "to force the universe into unnatural shapes". Even if the technology was radically different from ours, we should see something off somewhere but we just don't.

To return to the ant analogy, yes the road might appear to be a lava flow superficially, but if they observed it closely, took samples and tested hypotheses, they'd find that it was indeed artificial. Once a civilization has the scientific method, it can begin to figure out what is natural and what is artificial.

 

And I'm not just talking about communications technology. We've searched for Dyson spheres before and came up empty handed. Optical SETI? That failed too. Until we have evidence of extraterrestrials we have to remain skeptical.

 

Edit: if I'm being rude, let me know.


What difference does it make?


#34
JCO

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Again, I have to disagree with you. The main reason for technology's existence is (as Peter Watts once said) "to force the universe into unnatural shapes". Even if the technology was radically different from ours, we should see something off somewhere but we just don't.

To return to the ant analogy, yes the road might appear to be a lava flow superficially, but if they observed it closely, took samples and tested hypotheses, they'd find that it was indeed artificial. Once a civilization has the scientific method, it can begin to figure out what is natural and what is artificial.

 

And I'm not just talking about communications technology. We've searched for Dyson spheres before and came up empty handed. Optical SETI? That failed too. Until we have evidence of extraterrestrials we have to remain skeptical.

 

Edit: if I'm being rude, let me know.

 

 

The concept of natural and unnatural is the idea that humans are not part of nature. This is almost entirely caused by our enormous ego. The fact is that there are many natural processes that result in very unnatural looking objects. This is part of the reason it is so hard to design good test for life on other planets.

 

Your idea of the ants testing the road would likely give the result you suggest if they did not just assume it was a lava flow and spend their time searching for pheromone trails or large mounds of dirt or other signs of technology familiar to them. Your assumption is that what we have been looking at is in any way related to what we should be looking at.

 

For the other methods that have been used their use have been fairly limited and their failure is most likely due to a faulty hypothesis. For example the search for Dyson spheres made assumptions of what one would look like. Also the common concept of a Dyson sphere is almost surely unfeasible and a huge waste of resources. It is very likely that capturing more than a few percent of the overall output of a star is not worth the effort. It is likely we will be well established as an interstellar civilization before we build structures as large as the Moon and I think that is smaller than the smallest exosolar planet found so far. I may be wrong but I think my point is clear.

 

I am not suggesting we assume extraterrestrial life, I am sceptical in most things, I am just saying that lack of positive result does not suggest negative proof. I believe that at this point the only solid evidence we have concerning the existence comes from the 2 large masses to have study well enough to come to fairly solid conclusions (the Earth and the Moon). Given that evidence life beyond Earth is pretty much a coin toss. :)

 

BTW I do not find you rude. I like a spirited debate.


Confirmed Agnostic - I know that I don't know for sure and I am almost certain no one else does either.


#35
Ru1138

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BTW I do not find you rude. I like a spirited debate.


Okay. Sometimes I get a little heated in debates.


What difference does it make?


#36
JCO

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BTW I do not find you rude. I like a spirited debate.


Okay. Sometimes I get a little heated in debates.

 

 

No harm in that. You have only attacked my ideas not me. If my ideas can't take the heat then they deserve to die.


Confirmed Agnostic - I know that I don't know for sure and I am almost certain no one else does either.


#37
Ru1138

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I've found something odd with the idea of alien life and the singularity.

 

Assume intelligent life is common in the universe ("common" being >1 civilization per galaxy) and assume a well established civilization will have members that go through with the singularity.

 

Now, why is it that the universe is seemingly barren? Surely not every member of every civilization in the Universe decides to take part in the singularity. So where are the outliers? Many civilizations should have outliers, "odd ones out", who would rather explore/colonize the Universe than stay locked up in VR for eternity. So where are they?


What difference does it make?


#38
Ru1138

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I know JCO is skeptical of the great filter, there's an alternative (an "inverse" of the great filter if you will) called the Sieve of Eratosthenes. Let's assume that, instead of one very powerful filter, there are lots of weak filters. Some filters apply to the development of life, some to the development of intelligence, some to the development of technology necessary for space travel and some to the lifetime of said technological civilizations.

 

 

I don't have numbers to play around with right now, nor all the scenarios that could comprise an individual weak filter; suffice to say, this might be more appealing to critics of the great filter.


What difference does it make?


#39
JCO

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I know JCO is skeptical of the great filter, there's an alternative (an "inverse" of the great filter if you will) called the Sieve of Eratosthenes. Let's assume that, instead of one very powerful filter, there are lots of weak filters. Some filters apply to the development of life, some to the development of intelligence, some to the development of technology necessary for space travel and some to the lifetime of said technological civilizations.

 

 

I don't have numbers to play around with right now, nor all the scenarios that could comprise an individual weak filter; suffice to say, this might be more appealing to critics of the great filter.

 

Another way to look at what you are describing is to call them phase changes. The surroundings in a given area go through a series of changes that produce a specific result. That is basically what Drakes Equation is about, determining how common it is for a given phase change to occur. From what we have been able to learn so far everything up to planetary formation is very common. Even planets similar to Earth in their size and location do not seem to be uncommon. As we have yet to determine how life started on Earth we are still at a loss to how likely life may be elsewhere.

 

Which puts us back to my statement that at this point it is a coin toss. Any other opinions are pure hypothesis lacking any real proof. As for the Fermi Paradox, I file it under pure egocentrism. It makes me think of a scientist who tried to debunk crop circles. He was not a very good scientist so he was not able to do it very well. Since he could not disprove it he decided to become a major advocate for the idea that crop circles are evidence of aliens and published one or more books. More recently some college students created a film show how they created the crop circles. Absence of specific proof is not good proof of absence. 

 

Using SETI for an example a majority of the effort have been focused on the theory that an alien race would use radio wave in the same way we do. It has failed at this. Does this mean that there are no aliens? No, it means that there are no aliens that use radio waves like we do that are close enough for us to hear. This leaves the possibility of civilizations that do not yet use radio waves, civilizations that once used radio wave by now use more effective technologies and civilizations that have never, and will never use radio waves no matter how advanced they become. We have no idea how common the use of radio waves are as we know of only one civilization and it has used radio waves for less than 1% of its existence.


Confirmed Agnostic - I know that I don't know for sure and I am almost certain no one else does either.


#40
Ru1138

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Hmm... has anyone been following the news about fast radio bursts? An observatory captured it in real time recently. Some speculate it might originate from extraterrestrial intelligences (though we don't know about that for sure).

 

http://www.voicechro...radio-telescope

The unexplained phenomenon of Fast Radio Burst (FRB) has been recorded for the first time in history by the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia. Astronomers first observed this massive but rapidly dissipating burst of radio waves by looking through archival data from “The Dish” and their existence was first confirmed in 2013. To search for FRBs in real time researchers from Swinburne University have developed a new technique under the leadership of PhD student Emily Petroff. The finding has been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

 

Parkes’ real-time transient pipeline captured the event and the researchers mentioned “We record 8-bit full-polarization data from two orthogonal linear feeds per beam, with 1024 frequency channels over 400 MHz of bandwidth, from 1182 to 1582 MHz, and 64-μs time resolution.” An international team will be making follow-up observations. The FRB is at a distance of 5.5 billion light-years and is well outside the Milky Way.

 

 

I bolded the last sentence as it is relevant to our discussion. If these are alien transmissions, then it would seem that intelligent life would be pretty far apart in space and time.


What difference does it make?






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Fermi Paradox, Aliens, Extraterrestrials, Life

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