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Space Science

SETI@Home 2nd Look at Possible Hits 438

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wouldn't-that-be-spiffy dept.
cpk0 writes "This article from MSNBC discusses how data returned from SETI@Home users is beign retested by the Institue for a possibility of alien radio signals being included. At just over 4 years old, I think this would be the first big break for SETI@home." This is a followup to a December Slashdot story. Apparently this is getting some major attention in the mainstream media lately.
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SETI@Home 2nd Look at Possible Hits

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  • by mike77 (519751) <mraley77@y3.14ahoo.com minus pi> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:17PM (#5485398)
    Maybe I'm being too poetic, but with a world on the brink of war, a confirmation of an alien civilization would be an amazing thing right now. Maybe give our leaders a kick in the ass that their petty squabbles are not the end all be all of our existence.
    • by unicron (20286) <{ten.tencht} {ta} {norcinu}> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:25PM (#5485465) Homepage
      I can imagine a beautiful, peaceful alien race. Free of crime, war, and violence.

      Then I can see us taking over that race, cuz those fuckers would NEVER see that shit coming.
      • I always liked that Jack Handy
      • by DonkeyJimmy (599788) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:47PM (#5485694)
        "Higher beings from outer space may not want to tell us the secrets of life, because we're not ready. But maybe they'll change their tune after a little torture." -Jack Handey
        • The best Jack Handey I ever heard went like this:

          One day my son asked me "why does it rain?" I told him it rained when God was crying. Then he said "why would God cry?" and I told him "Oh, probably because of something you did."

        • "It's hard to believe that entire families can be torn apart by something as simple as wild dogs."
      • LOL. That is just flat out WRONG! Oh man I haven't laughed that hard and that loud in a long time. Thank you.
      • I can imagine a beautiful, peaceful alien race. Free of crime, war, and violence.

        Actually, THEY would probably be able to kick OUR collective asses since what they would need to gain the security of being able to have a society free of crime, war, and violence is the ability to kick anybody's ass.
      • by uptownguy (215934) <UptownGuyEmail@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:28PM (#5486009)
        I can imagine a beautiful, peaceful alien race. Free of crime, war, and violence

        I wrote a short story on this subject. When they step foot off of their ship, just like any other visitors to a foreign shore we greet them with open arms. They come in peace... they don't want our oil... They don't want our water...

        They want to convert us...

        Makes sense if you think about it. Missionaries would be on that first ship, my friends. And if you think the whole Arab vs. Jewish vs. Christian thing that's playing itself out right now looks bad, just imagine an alien religion gaining mass numbers of converts (free technology, free alien schools, nice little carrot there)and the opposition to it...

        Summary: Just because they are free of crime, war and violence doesn't mean that those buggers won't spell trouble!

        • No alien technology, discipline, or dedication can even BEGIN to compete with the unfathomable power of the lawyers of the scientologist. Those 2 butt heads, you'll be buying siezed alien spacecraft at insurance auctions for low low prices.
        • by fobbman (131816) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:59PM (#5486306) Homepage
          They'd better not stop at my house first, cuz I'll blow smokerings in their bug-eyed grey faces, too. Hell, I don't even smoke. But I keep a pack of cigs right next to the door for just that type of emergency.

          The Mormon's have already condemned me to Hell, so I might as well take the planet with me for company.

      • >>but with a world on the brink of war, a confirmation of an alien civilization would be an amazing thing right now. Maybe give our leaders a kick in the ass
        >I can imagine a beautiful, peaceful alien race. Free of crime, war, and violence.


        The aliens land. They want peaceful relations with us.

        I can then imagine some insane nutcase attacking the aliens using chemical weapons. Probably for religious reasons (they don't worship Ala or somesuch, even though the political leadership may not actually be "believers" themselves). Or perhaps for political reasons, they aren't picking sides in <favorite conflict>. Or the aliens pick the wrong side by siding against the blowing up of civilian busses, pizza parlors, etc. Or the aliens interfere with soverign powers because the aliens are against the poverty and oppression of the mass population by a few nutcase greedy dictators.

        But hey, I'm being too pessimistic. I should trust in the goodwill of insane madmen not to do stupid things. The discovery of aliens would completely invalidate any possible motive (right or wrong, regardless of disagreements with other nations) for being on the brink of war.
      • espically cince the first transmission from them is more than likely the following ....

        A/S/L Wanna?

    • by wiggys (621350) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:25PM (#5485466)
      http://www.seds.org/billa/psc/pbd.html [seds.org]

      We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

      The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

      Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

    • by ip_vjl (410654) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:27PM (#5485481) Homepage
      Reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode (from the version that ran in the 80's)

      Aliens come to Earth and tell us that they seeded our planet years ago ... but are disappointed in us because we have this "small talent for war with all our petty border skirmishes and such" and will wipe us out in a few days.

      World leaders feverishly work to hammer out their differences in the days before the aliens return.

      When they return, they are handed a huge treaty as we stand back and proudly proclaim "Peace in our time."

      The alien laughs.

      "No, you misunderstood. We breed warriors."

    • or they are running out of money, and need some more.

      "Hey...that data sounds just like a....Higgs Boson!"
    • by Anonymous Coward
      First Contact will go something like this:

      "This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council. As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system, and regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less that two of your Earth minutes. Thank you."
    • Since they plan on starting the analysis on March 18th, they will be one day too late to stop the war.
    • by Masem (1171) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:01PM (#5485800)
      A recent seminar from a scientist that worked on SETI pointed out one of the key benefits for discovering an alien civilization.

      In general, there's two ideas of how a civilization will growth over time. One is that civilization may rise, but at some point in their technological advancement, events occur as to bring the fall of the civilization, thus the civilization's time in the universe is a mere blip relative to the time scale. The other idea is that a civilization can continue to expand technologically to some nth degree, but they will continue to remain in the universe indefinitely, thus meaning that they're civilization time is long on the order of the universe time.

      Now, if civilizations were stricts of the first type, then the chances of two civilizations ever finding each other would be extremely, extremely low, while in the latter case, chances will continually improve with time. Thus, if SETI works and finds some alien signal, then there's a reasonable chance that our civilization will follow the latter model, which is a good thing. Of course, it's impossible to proof the difference between the two models until it's too late, but it's a starting point...

    • by paiute (550198) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @02:02PM (#5486341)
      >>Maybe I'm being too poetic, but with a world on the brink of war, a confirmation of an alien civilization would be an amazing thing right now. Maybe give our leaders a kick in the ass that their petty squabbles are not the end all be all of our existence.>>

      Jesus H. The world is not on the "brink of war". We are on the brink of some minor-league military action jammed down our throats by an obsessive man whose own mistakes in life were always covered up by lawyers, influence, and money and who "missed" his own chance to kill commies when the NVA refused to attack Texas by air at the same time that uberliberal Kerry was taking automatic fire from VC hidden along the Mekong and pinko Kerrey was getting his SEAL leg blown off by a Charlie grenade.

      Oh, by the way, read the Constitution. We have not been at war since 1945.

  • What a waste (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:19PM (#5485413) Journal
    The probability of catching radio waves from intelligent life forms in a 4 year window is crazy. The distances they'd have to travel are enormous, and that civilization is probably long extinct, and the spectrum we are looking at is very narrow, and our definition of intelligence is also very narrow... what if what we think of cosmic background noise is in actuality encrypted data transmissions, meant to be indistinguishable from background noise? Too many assumptions are taking place, it's really a waste of resources.
    • Re:What a waste (Score:3, Interesting)

      Too many assumptions are taking place, it's really a waste of resources.
      A waste of resources? If the idle cpu cycles are being used to perform calculations, what resources are being wasted?
      • Re:What a waste (Score:3, Informative)

        by adpowers (153922)
        Idle cycles that could go to other better projects [mersenne.org].
    • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpamJunkie (557825) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:25PM (#5485460)
      that civilization is probably long extinct

      You're assuming they also have Bushes as leaders. That's unlikely.

      what if what we think of cosmic background noise is in actuality encrypted data transmissions, meant to be indistinguishable from background noise?

      Then it wasn't meant for us. We're not trying for a man-in-the-middle attack, we're looking for life explicitly trying to contact another civilization.
    • what if what we think of cosmic background noise is in actuality encrypted data transmissions, meant to be indistinguishable from background noise?

      Kinda like alien steganography? I hope the NSA knows about this!

    • Re:What a waste (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sethaw (598206)
      The probability of catching radio waves from intelligent life forms in a 4 year window is crazy

      You have to start somewhere. Its not really just a 4 year window, since all searches for other civilizations occur one after the other building upon each other and using previous discoveries. This is just the way science works.

      The distances they'd have to travel are enormous, and that civilization is probably long extinct

      This is irrelevant.

      definition of intelligence is also very narrow

      And what is our definition?

      what if what we think of cosmic background noise is in actuality encrypted data transmissions, meant to be indistinguishable from background noise?

      Yes some data may be encrypted, however it is a reasonable assumption that some of it is not. In general most data that we send is not encrypted. If also including data that has been compressed (which would seem like encryption to us) we would just need to find something about it that is not a natural pattern, we wouldnt have to be able to read it.
    • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Skyshadow (508) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:31PM (#5485531) Homepage
      I'm not sure I agree with you 100% on your police work there, Lou.

      Firstly, the distance that signals from another potential civilization *could* be enormous, but then again they could be reasonably small. There are a pretty fair number of stars within, oh, 100 light years or so of our own primary. The real question there is what sort of values to plug into the Drake equation, and we won't have a good idea there until we collect some data points.

      Secondly, why would you assume that an alien civilization would carefully hide their transmissions? We don't, even though we understand that we're basically advertising the location of our planet with TV and radio and radar. Besides, if you really wanted to mask your location, you'd stick to cable. Sure, we wouldn't pick them up, but for each ultraparanoid civilization (and I'll grant you that they very well may exist), there are probably others less cautious.

      Sure, we could be all the life that's out there -- in the absense of any concrete proof, there's always that chance. That said, I personally have a hard time believing that in a universe as big as ours the there's a unique instance of anything. Anyhow, putting in a minimum of effort seems pretty reasonable when you're talking about making the greatest discovery in the history of history, doesn't it?

    • Four year window (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's not really a 4 year window. You can sample 10 seconds of data and the time origin of the information that reaches you in that period can range from a year to many billions of years.

    • Re:What a waste (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekoid (135745)
      Much of the data is data that they have had for a long time, just didn't have the resources to process. So yes, seti@home is 4 years old, but the data is not.
    • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LMCBoy (185365) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:32PM (#5485545) Homepage Journal
      Well, you will be glad to hear that no tax money goes to support SETI. Zero public resources are spent on it.

      Everyone that contributes to SETI, from Paul Allen [seti.org] to Team Lambchop [teamlambchop.com], is spending their own resources of their own free will. They obviously think it's not a waste.

      So, what exactly are you complaining about?
      • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ianscot (591483) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @02:01PM (#5486328)
        So, what exactly are you complaining about?

        This is slashdot. S/he needs a reason? From SETI@home's donations page:

        Almost none of our budget is spent on hardware (desktop and server computers, disks, tapes, telescope electronics etc.); these items have been generously donated by corporate sponsors.

        Yeah, it does sound like a real sinkhole for money, doesn't it?

        Why is it that people whining about waste always pick on the government and nonprofit tries like SETI@home? Could their objection be to the ends, and not the means they claim to be ridiculing? Gillette's initials plans, at least, were to spend $300 million on marketing the Mach 3 razor. Their previous model, the Sensor, cost nearly $200 million to develop [skillnet.ca]. If you want to complain about waste, why is it you're choosing the idealistic scientific endeavor?

    • > Too many assumptions are taking place, it's really
      > a waste of resources.

      but it's still fun to try.

      for those of us humans (ie, nearly all) who will never be granted the privilege of escaping earth's orbit, or even less taking a picture of something new, or even more remotely cruising through the cosmos, taking part in silly projects like seti@home is about the closest we'll ever get to helping accomplish something in space.

      for those of us who still want to take part in space exploration, seti@home is the easiest, most reachable, way for joe schmoe to join in on it. Just because it's probably futile doesn't mean it's a "waste".

      It's still fun, like playing a cosmic lottery. ;)
    • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

      by quantaman (517394) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:43PM (#5485657)
      The probability of catching radio waves from intelligent life forms in a 4 year window is crazy.

      I don't know we've been sending signals pretty much continuously for over 50 years. They could be sending something but we just haven't got it yet.

      The distances they'd have to travel are enormous, and that civilization is probably long extinct, and the spectrum we are looking at is very narrow, and our definition of intelligence is also very narrow...

      I'll give you the first point, the second is doubtfull since they could only be a few hundred away, they've probably changes but extinct? doubtfull. Even if they are extinct does it really matter? We kind of got a speed limit already so chances are we wouldn't have much meaningful communication anyways. The fact is that all we need is a confirmation of their existence, and if we were able to distinguish their signals we might get some interesting TV programs. Which brings we to you narrow spectrum comment. The fact is that we've pretty much saturated the spectrum for quite a region. If the aliens did used radio waves for their communication as well they would be likely to use up a fair region also meaning all we need is one hit from that portion. And I'm not sure what you're getting at with def'n of intelligence. Either thier sending signlas or their not. Maybe that they've found a better means of communication?

      what if what we think of cosmic background noise is in actuality encrypted data transmissions, meant to be indistinguishable from background noise? Too many assumptions are taking place, it's really a waste of resources.

      Well hopefully they didn't feel the need to encrypt everything. So what if they did maybe someone else didn't. I really don't see anything here to convince me that your assumptions that we won't find anything are any more convincing than the assumptions that could lead us to something. As to a waste of resources perhaps if you consider the cycles that people actually do donate to be a small resource that could better go to curing cancer than perhaps. On the other hand in real economic costs it's almost trivial! Really when it comes down to it we're drilling for oil. We probably won't find anything and it costs a bit to do it but if we ever find something...
  • Hack (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Deton8 (522248) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:19PM (#5485417)
    There were so many well-publicized hacks to SETI@home that I'll bet that there will be a lot of skepticism about any results even if we discover a jpeg file of an Arcturian time machine in there.
    • Re:Hack (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Directrix1 (157787) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:23PM (#5485449)
      I'm sure they have the original data. The only thing they have to do to settle a claim like this is to reprocess the data in question.
    • Seti@Home scientists are still having a tough time with this one:

      People of earth, this is Bartron, commander of the Martian invasion force. Your planet is in our hands. Resistance is useless. Your President was delicious.
    • So you mean to tell me that the Aliens didn't really get first post?
    • Re:Hack (Score:4, Informative)

      by sethaw (598206) <sethaw@yahoo.com> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:35PM (#5485574)
      Thats why they send every packet to multiple people to verify the results. Conflicting results should appear and the scientists can execute tests on that data. However, even if there are positive results this doesn't mean anything is found. This is why we have to go back and look for signals where they were found in the past, because there is justified skepticism in any result that says "we found aliens."
  • sei@home (Score:3, Funny)

    by wiggys (621350) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:20PM (#5485421)
    I always thought that "settee at home" was a reference to armchair astronomers.
  • Issue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BenV666 (620052) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:21PM (#5485435) Homepage
    The only problem they have with Seti@home these days is the statistics.
    I know a few people who actually compete over who has computed the most packets. People also try to cheat to get high stats, that is where it goes wrong...
    Therefore it might be better to ditch those stats all together, or at least make them less informative...
  • by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:26PM (#5485474) Homepage Journal
    Alien message decrypted: "Greetings. I am the Democratic, peaceloving, and openminded President Eroeg W. Hsub, from the plant Htrae. We will allow your planet to continue to produce weapons of Galatic Destruction, instead of wiping your puny solar system off the map.
  • by DonkeyJimmy (599788) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:26PM (#5485475)
    (from the article) "Our chances right now [of finding something] are small," SETI@home chief scientist Dan Werthimer said in a telephone interview. "But you have to plan for success"

    He continued: "and in this case, success would mean an intergalactic war that would result in the destruction of entire galaxies. We have already begun training our astrosoldiers in the art of zero-G warfare, but chances of defeating the alien menace is slim. I for one welcome our new alien overlords... Hail ants."
  • The message (Score:5, Funny)

    by soundofthemoon (623369) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:28PM (#5485493)
    Someone in the Pleiades needs help moving 50 billion quatloos out of a forgotten government bank account, and they want Earth to help.
  • lost my interest (Score:2, Interesting)

    by milktoastman (572643)
    I don't know, I used to be so interested in SETI, but in the last few years I've lost all enthusiasm for it. I guess because, ultimately, I don't think its likely that intelligent civilizations are very dense out there, and if they did, we'd probably never recognize the signal...and if we did, I'd say, 'okay, now what? We still have to go on living alone because we can't talk back and forth, so it's even more disappointing to know they exist but are unreachable.' We'll probably destroy ourselves before that's an issue, anyway.
  • Besides MSNBC, other medias are *revisiting* the SETI@home project. Read for instance this Space.com [space.com] article, published yesterday (March 10, 2003). Tariq Malik wrote: "Researchers spearheading a worldwide effort to find ET, or anyone else out in space besides us humans, plan to revisit a group of their most likely candidate radio signals using the world's largest radio telescope." He added that "the Arecibo Observatory will work for three and a half days, starting March 18, to revisit the candidate signals identified by SETI@home users."
  • by rde (17364) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:29PM (#5485515)
    As someone who scanned that part of the sky for seti@athome (so to speak), I got a mail from our berkelean chums, suggesting that a lot of media interest might be forthcoming. I mentally scoffed at the possibility, but here I am talking about it on a *cough* reputable site like slashdot!

    seti - acting under the auspices of the planetary society - were kind enough to ask whether I'd like my fifteen minutes now, and make my name available for interview to those legions of reporters who'd be after a human interest angle.

    Of course, 'human interest' is exactly not the reason I signed up for seti@home, but there you go. Nonetheless, I volunteered, just in case they want a European perspective. However, I really, really doubt that anything will come of it. Just like a seti user should.
  • by supergiovane (606385) <arturo@digioia.ing@unitn@it> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:31PM (#5485532)
    Dear Mr Seti@home project leader,
    we can tell for sure that your software needs some serious revision because as it is it doesn't work well in finding alien lifeforms.

    Respectfully yours,

    Alf
    Mork
    E.T.
    Chewbecca
    Yoda
    Spock
  • by Shadow Wrought (586631) <shadow.wroughtNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:33PM (#5485559) Homepage Journal
    Assume for a moment that this second pass finds a signal that is not random and is coming from a Sun like star 3,000 light years away. We watch it with more and more telescopes and damn if it doesn't send a big old red flag of intelligence.

    Now what?

    Any transmission there and back will have a 6k year life span. That's far to great of a distance for us to explore yet, and far to much of a time to comprehend between signals. So how will we deal with another society 17,597,088,000,000,000 miles away?

    My pessimism says we let it divide us even more. Some will claim it as Atlantis, others will see it as home of the Aliens that have abducting them. The religious zealots will condemn, and our government will try and ignore it.

    My optimism hopes that it will inspire us to space. Give us a goal worthy of sending Humans to, and something that will also inspire kids to get more involved in Science.

    I know that there has been much written about what a positive result in this search would mean to society, but I'm wondering if anyone else has their own thoughts?

    • by Skyshadow (508) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:49PM (#5485710) Homepage
      So how will we deal with another society 17,597,088,000,000,000 miles away?

      That's a plausable scenario and a good point. A signal lag time which represents most of the whole of human history is obviously not workable, and given the size of the universe (big), it's not hard to see it happening.

      But that hardly means such contact could in any way be considered a failure. As I see it, we as a species stand to gain a lot from it:

      A data point for the Drake equation. Hey, if *somebody* else is out there and within 3000 light years, there are quite probably a lot of other somebodys out there.

      Potential research value. Their science may be more advanced and would certainly be different from our own. We could almost certainly pick up insights into our universe just by interpreting and communications (or, at least, Fox could steal their reality shows and produce them on earth).

      Mindset. A lot of the conflict of the last 50 years or so has been centered around the fact that our technology is making the earth "smaller" far faster than our various cultures are able to compensate for. This sort of discovery could give some perspective as to what "us" means, or at the very least drive some competetive juices that drive humans (gotta get to Mars, gotta colonize the Oort belt, gotta get good at this whole space thing...)

      Sure, some people'd react badly to it. We'd probably see some mass suicides, maybe a couple of new religious cults, but that'd all encompass people who'd go for that shit anyhow (Tom Cruise, etc). Seems like a fair trade-off to me.

      • by Lumpy (12016)
        Potential research value. Their science may be more advanced and would certainly be different from our own. We could almost certainly pick up insights into our universe just by interpreting and communications (or, at least, Fox could steal their reality shows and produce them on earth).

        I highly doubt we'll be able to recieve the equivalent of "Mr Wizard" or "Bill Nye the Science Guy" (Morbo the Xenogeneticist would be quite entertaining tv though)

        we might get a glimpse of what they have, that is considering we can even decide what is in the carrier and subcarriers, the modulation type, are they even 10 based? they might be a race based on 9 or 11 for their "decimal system" the periodic table may be listed backwards or sideways from their point of view.

        remember EVERYTHING we have as a "standard" is only a decision made by a person or group of people for no real concrete reason other than perspective.
    • by Tailhook (98486)
      "Now what?"

      Good question. Whatever the consequences, bring it on. Yeah, we'll probably see new religions appear. They'll be radical cult like messes that contribute nothing. Our existing religions will adapt, because they're good at it, or they wouldn't still exist.

      Bring it on. I've got about 30 worthwhile years left in me. I have no intention of allowing the fools of this planet to keep me ignorant. Lets have at it.
    • by PygmyTrojan (605138) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:14PM (#5485904)
      So how will we deal with another society 17,597,088,000,000,000 miles away?

      Eh, more like 17,636,358,300,000,000, but who's counting.

    • by TheHawke (237817) <rchapin@nOSpam.pelicancoast.net> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:18PM (#5485940)
      This finding might inspire NASA to move up their next generation of deep space telescopes and infereometers, like the OWL project that uses adaptive optics in a array that spans 300 square meters.
      Of course, we do need to get improved reuseable launching systems in place first...
  • Space.com article (Score:2, Informative)

    by lucretio (651058)
    There is also an article here [space.com].
  • by papadiablo (609676) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:37PM (#5485602)
    "No! All your base are belong to us!"
  • No big deal... It's probably just Zaphod asking if anyone has any mixers.

  • by scotay (195240) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:47PM (#5485690)
    The fact that we're still using screen savers on non-monochrome monitors is proof we're not advanced enough for first contact.
  • More details (Score:4, Informative)

    by Drog (114101) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:55PM (#5485742) Homepage
    Just posted the same story [scifitoday.com] at SFT, with more details and different links.
  • by orthogonal (588627) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:01PM (#5485808) Journal
    Even if they are successful, the aliens will sue them for decrypting their signals under the DMCA.
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  • Too bad... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:24PM (#5485985)
    data returned from SETI@Home users is beign retested

    Too bad that those CPU cycles can't be used for spellchecking Slashdot submissions.
  • by saddino (183491) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:27PM (#5486000)
    the signals will be calls to American Idol.

    Advance note to comic book guy:
    Yeah, yeah, I do know they couldn't have received those TV signals from Earth yet.
  • by mech_attack (658285) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @01:33PM (#5486040)
    What about sending out our own space signals??

    We have been sending out weak radio and TV signals into the universe for over 50 years now ( and more...) However, I doubt that any of these same signals coming from other solar systems would be detectable by us.

    Instead of listening in to E.T. - Why don`t we go ahead and beam out stronger signals to `local` planets that would seem like likely candidates to harbor civilizations. For instance, http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~mwm/planet.html, these seem like they could be potentially good targets.

    It could be, like SETI, a joint effort too. In order to sustain the signal on a certain timeframe, specific dishes around the planet set up by amateurs and universities could be responsible for targetting specific planets for a number of days(hard due to earth's rotation). A central team would be responsible for targets and messages sent while others executed.

    I have sent this to the SETI institute as an idea, but never received a reply. If you agree that this is an interesting idea, maybe you could interest them in it too.
    http://www.seti-inst.edu/email.html

    Thanks.

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