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Space Communications Science

Detection of Earth-like Civilizations in Space Now Possible 345

Posted by Zonk
from the in-spaaaaaaace dept.
Mr. McGibby writes "Astronomers have come up with an improved method of looking for extraterrestrial life with an Earth-like civilization. Theorist Avi Loeb proposes to use instruments like the Low Frequency Demonstrator (LFD) of the Mileura Wide-Field Array (MWA), an Australian facility for radio astronomy currently under construction. The array could (theoretically) detect civilizations broadcasting in the same frequencies as our own society. From the article: 'Loeb and Zaldarriaga calculate that by staring at the sky for a month, the MWA-LFD could detect Earth-like radio signals from a distance of up to 30 light-years, which would encompass approximately 1,000 stars. More powerful broadcasts could be detected to even greater distances. Future observatories like the Square Kilometer Array could detect Earth-like broadcasts from 10 times farther away, which would encompass 100 million stars. ' The original paper describes the details."
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Detection of Earth-like Civilizations in Space Now Possible

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  • by Renegade Lisp (315687) * on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:21PM (#17523410)

    I think this is a great project. But step back for a moment and think what it means: If there was an earth-like civilization even very close to us, say, at Alpha Centauri, we've had no chance of detecting their stray radiation up until now. And with this new program, it's only within 30 light years that we might be successful. That's really our very, very close vicinity.

    This, I think, puts the fact in perspective that SETI@home hasn't found any signal yet, even after years of listening. They would only be able to detect very powerful transmissions, much more powerful than anything our own civilization could produce.

    The fact that we haven't found any artificial signals from space yet doesn't mean there's nobody out there.

    • by metlin (258108) * on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:29PM (#17523526) Journal
      The fact that we haven't found any artificial signals from space yet doesn't mean there's nobody out there.

      And to quote Carl Sagan, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by oliverthered (187439)
        But that still means that there could be nothing out there
        And he stretched out his noodly appendage [venganza.org]
      • by zippthorne (748122) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:55PM (#17523908) Journal
        Ridiculous. It depends on just how much evidence you don't have. For instance, there's very little evidence of the existence of Yeti despite some rather concerted efforts to find anything at all. In fact, there is no evidence at all. Yet mountain lions are easy to find evidence of. Therefore yeti are far less likely to exist than mountain lions.

        Absence of evidence is prima facie evidence of absence.

        The question is, does your lack of evidence result from failing to look or from nothing turning up despite exhaustive searching?
        • by Gulthek (12570) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:14PM (#17524188) Homepage Journal
          That depends on how you are searching. Searching for your keys in a cluttered room with the lights off is going to be difficult, and you may look for quite some time without being able to conclude that the absence of evidence is evidence of the keys' absence.
          • by mysticgoat (582871) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @02:38PM (#17525392) Homepage Journal

            "What are you doing?"

            "Looking for my keys. I dropped them somewhere between the house and the car."

            "But then why are you looking here? This isn't between the house and your car."

            "Well, because its too dark to see them over there. I'm under the street light here. So if they somehow bounced this way, I just might be able to find them."

            And so goes the SETI research, up until now at least.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by div_2n (525075)
          Your assertion is just wrong. Human beings are indirect proof of the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere. The fact that we haven't found/been given/detected evidence is immaterial.

          Regardless, you are attempting a negative proof or proof of impossibility. This is a logical fallacy. Interestingly, it works both ways. You can't prove a Yeti doesn't exist or that life (intelligent or otherwise) exists on other planets because you don't have evidence and vice versa. People can't prove either exist for lack
          • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:52PM (#17524794) Journal
            You are confused about the meaning of the word 'evidence'. When you obtain evidence of X you shift your estimate of the probability of X upwards. That's what 'evidence' means. You need to get this distinction.

            You say "you are attempting a negative proof or proof of impossibility" which demonstrates you didn't actually read or understand the parent post which stated, quite clearly, "Absence of evidence is prima facie evidence of absence.", not "Absence of evidence is prima facie proof of absence". Until you sort out the difference between proof and evidence the rest of what you say is moot.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          For a slightly more formal treatment see here [blogspot.com]. Sagan was talking out of his ass when he said that and there's nothing more annoying than people who keep quoting it.
        • by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:47PM (#17524726)
          I forgot the name of the species of fish but scientists thought it to be extinct. For years the evidence pointed to the fact that the particular fish no longer existed, yet one day a fisherman caught one.

          A lack of evidence either way doesn't mean it doesn't exist. There are numerous example of animals that hide first. The possum "plays" dead. An animal intelligent enough to hide from other species isn't unheard of. Given the right locations on earth, two mountainous and relatively uninhabited area's. It is possible a yeti, and big foot exist.

          of course that being said I won't believe it until I see it, but that doesn't mean it's impossible, just improbable. That's a huge difference.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Reducer2001 (197985)
            Coelacanth [wikipedia.org]
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by cnettel (836611)
            Coelacanths. A specific species within a large group was found in 1938. Established science had assumed them to be extinct, simply because the last fossil records were 70 million years old or so. No European had gone out of their way to really look for it, and when a reward was announced and the news of it trickled out, it was discovered that it was known to exist in the seas around the Comoros.

      • by rleibman (622895) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:48PM (#17524742) Homepage
        And to quote Carl Sagan, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

        I'll take your quote and raise: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"
    • by Minimum_Wage (1003821) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:33PM (#17523600)
      The flaw with all these searches is that it assumes that any nearby civilizations are exactly at the same level of development as humanity. Isn't high-power broadcast radio actually declining on Earth right now in favor of cable, fiber, and low power systems like the small satellite DBS dishes? If an alien civilization isn't in the same +/- 50 year technological window as we are, we'll probably never hear them even if they are next door. Still, if you don't look you'll never be sure...
      • by silentounce (1004459) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:16PM (#17524220) Homepage
        This argument has come up several times. If you RTFA then you will see this: "On Earth, military radars are the most powerful broadcast sources, followed by television and FM radio. If similar broadcast sources exist on other planets, facilities like MWA-LFD might detect them."

        TV and communication media are not the only sources of radio waves. It would stand to reason that most civilizations that develop flight will eventually develop radar. Radar is very simple and reliable. Yeah, I know that there are stealth technologies, but commercial jetliners aren't using them. We'll probably be using radar for a very long time. Plus, radio is our current means of communicating with our spacecraft(isn't it? I may be wrong). If the society is space faring, and they have a well-developed space program, that may be a large source of radio waves that won't even have to escape an atmosphere.
      • by ArcherB (796902) *
        The flaw with all these searches is that it assumes that any nearby civilizations are exactly at the same level of development as humanity

        Actually, they would have to have been as advanced as we some time ago, depending on how far they are away. For example, if they are 500 light years away, then they would have to have been at our level 500 years ago, or at least be using radio 500 years ago.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        The flaw with all these searches is that it assumes that any nearby civilizations are exactly at the same level of development as humanity. Isn't high-power broadcast radio actually declining on Earth right now in favor of cable, fiber, and low power systems like the small satellite DBS dishes?

        TFA mentions not just communications radiation, but things like radar. It's hard to imagine radar not being used for a long time into the future. Though as a general rule, as any technology develops, it should becom

      • by carn1fex (613593)
        Yea although we can all think of a 100 reasons why the possibility of detection is pushed down to 0.00000000001%, if the hardware is already in place to give a look, then hey, why not.
    • by soft_guy (534437) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:35PM (#17523632)
      Would this method have detected our civilization in the 1800s? 1910? 1930? 1950?

      What exactly is it detecting? FM radio? Television? Radar? Emissions from cars? Would it detect a working telegraph?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sentientbeing (688713)
        On Earth, its more likely the lower frequency fields radiated by all the mains cabling and power sources that would be easier to detect.
      • If you read the article, the authors show that signals from our current Anti-ballistic missile radar could be detected within a 30 pc radius of the earth using existing and proposed instruments that are designed to probe the epoch of reionization. That's one example they give, but they analyze the chances of detecting any generalized signal based on typical bandwidths and powers we use on earth.

        The authors talk about the large number of instruments that are proposed or being built in the 50-300MHz band.
    • by VJ42 (860241)

      This, I think, puts the fact in perspective that SETI@home hasn'tfound any signal yet, even after years of listening. They would onlybe able to detect very powerful transmissions, much more powerful thananything our own civilization could produce.
      Never mind what SETI are doing, the STI [totl.net](Search for terrestrial intelligence) project havn't found much here on earth yet! ;)
  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:26PM (#17523474)
    Great...

    So we're going to pick up an alien version of "The View"?
  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:27PM (#17523486) Homepage
    Could you list any of the current areas of research which may some day allow for information transmission faster than c? Let's keep in reasonable: only mention theories we may be able to explore within the next 1000 years.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Isn't there something to do with the spin of an electron, which when you reverse the spin, immediately reverses the spin of some other electron, with no delay? Couldn't you reverse the spin of a bunch of electrons on earth, and have their counterparts match the reversal, 30 light years away. It could be used for exchanging information at faster than light speeds.
      • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasmat[ ].org ['ter' in gap]> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:44PM (#17523752) Journal
        Isn't there something to do with the spin of an electron, which when you reverse the spin, immediately reverses the spin of some other electron, with no delay? Couldn't you reverse the spin of a bunch of electrons on earth, and have their counterparts match the reversal, 30 light years away. It could be used for exchanging information at faster than light speeds.

        You are thinking of quantum entanglement, aka "spooky action at a distance".

        It cannot be used to transmit information. Think of it this way:

        1. You take two slips of paper, one black and one white, and put them in envelopes.
        2. You randomly select an envelope and mail it to your brother in Poughkeepsie. You keep the other envelope for yourself.
        3. While the envelopes are in transit, nobody has yet observed their contents (i.e. their spins). Yet you know that their contents (their spins) must be opposite because they are an entangled pair.
        4. The envelope travels to Poughkeepsie at the speed of light, or significantly slower in the case of the US Postal Service.
        5. Your brother receives and opens his envelope. He observes that his slip of paper is black. The uncertainty collapses: he now instantly knows that your slip of paper is white.

        Notice that you cannot send actual information by this route. The uncertainty of "which slip of paper is in my envelope?" collapses instantaneously, but it collapses into a random choice. Neither of you could know in advance which color you would find in your envelope.

        This illustration changes slightly when executed at the quantum level: while the envelopes were in transit, both slips of paper were actually grey... though some might insist that they were both all possible colors, until they were finally observed.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by infinityxi (266865)
        I believe you are talking about Quantum Physics but the problem with that would be that you couldn't really send coherent information out. You have 2 particles and once you "know" the spin of one particle you "know" the spin of the other. To alter the spin of a particle would contaminate it, because you would have known what the spin was to reverse it. I could be wrong, and I think actually there is some method using 2 pairs of particles to transmit information but I'd have to look it up it was all theory i
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MindStalker (22827)
      Only if you redefine c. Theoretically c can be increased in some special situations such as extremely high gravity fields and other things. But in general traveling faster than c reverses cause and effect, which can't happen. Though one may eventually figure out how to jump from one side of the universe it wouldn't be traveling per say.
    • This would be a good opportunity for someone to explain why it's impossible to fabricate a material with a high enough incompressibility that its local speed of sound exceeds that of light. That is, specifically what fundamental principle would you have to violate in the process.
      • by Nasarius (593729)
        Sounds are transmitted by the vibration of particles. Any particle with mass moves at less than c, so it's impossible for the "speed of sound" to be greater than c.
        • The question is about the transmission of information, not particles. And "speed of sound" is not an expression I just made up.
          • by Nasarius (593729)
            Well, you asked a specific question. And I'm not sure why I put the speed of sound in quotes, though it does seem like an arbitrary concept if you look at it from the atomic level.
            • "Speed of sound" simply refers to the speed of propagation of compression waves. The point was this: if I had a completely "incompressible" row of particles, and I push on one end, I could (again, in theory) cause them all to move as a mass. So even though each particle moved at the speed of the push, the information that it was pushed, traveled instantly. The fact that the particles moved slowly doesn't have anything to do with the information transmission.
    • Could you list any of the current areas of research which may some day allow for information transmission faster than c?

      Prayer?

  • How can we be sure that extraterrestrials (if there are any) are broadcasting radio waves? What makes us think they would be communicating in an 'Earth-like' way?
  • Impossible! (Score:5, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:28PM (#17523504) Homepage Journal
    The Recording Industry Galactic Alliance (RIGA) mandated that no radio signals shall leave the atmosphere of any planet.

    The respective governments all attempted to stop this legistation getting in but the RIGA had bigger guns!
  • by JavaLord (680960)
    30 light-years, which would encompass approximately 1,000 stars.

    I guess it depends on how abundant life is, but this doesn't seem like it is very far/much in the grand scheme of things.

    Even if an advanced civilization is out there, what makes us think they would be using radio? It's possible, but I could see FM radio being obsolete 100 years from now. I know the article mentions radar too, but it seems like a lot to assume...that advance life evolved, and is around the same time in techonological p
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by cmdr_beeftaco (562067)
      How will i listen to my ipod in my car if FM transmissions are obsolete?
    • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by silentounce (1004459) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:39PM (#17523670) Homepage
      "Given the massive distances between stars, astronomical mass extinction theories, and the time evolution takes, aren't the odds of two technically advanced civilizations being around at the same time...umm astronomical? :)"
       
      The true probabilities are not known. We don't know how common life is. We don't know how often a mass extinction of life occurs. We don't know how long evolution takes except for on our one world. We don't have enough data to accurately predict whether or not life is rare or common in the universe. Another perspective could be that it is in fact more likely that advanced civilizations would be around at the same time if the universe has a consistant timeline. If the way that life-harboring star systems form, the way that life itself forms, and the way that intelligent life evolves is analogous across the universe then this may be the Golden Age of intelligent life throughout our galaxy.
      • by homer_ca (144738)
        The real longshot is that artificial, high power radio transmissions have only existed on Earth for 70 years, and who knows for how much longer? Compare that to the 5000 years of civilization, 200,000 years of modern humans, and the 5 billion years that the solar system has existed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MindStalker (22827)
      Exactly, though its a given that if an alien civilization more advanced than use WANTED to be found they would use multiple technologies radio being one of those. Radio would most likely be a baseline technology that any advanced civilization capable of interstellar communication would have already reached.
    • A large number of countries have already been running digital broadcast radio services for a while now, the most popular being DAB. Here in the UK it covers (I believe) 90% of the population. Then of course you have satellite broadcasting not to mention all the internet based services.

      I suspect in 20 or 30 years the the FM waveband will contain only non broadcast services in most countries or maybe even nothing at all except hiss and static.
      • Dab isn't popular in the UK... Low bitrates gave it a bad reputation and Freeview stole its thunder by being much cheaper. The one place where it could be exceedingly useful is in cars and car DAB stereos are as rare as hen's teeth, wildly expensive and require special DAB aerials to be fitted.

        Anyway, back on topic... even a digital signal has structure. Once we can detect the broadcast we can tell it has structure by seeing things like regular repeating patterns (header blocks, etc.).

        Even if the hypothet
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JCOTTON (775912)
      "but I could see FM radio being obsolete 100 years from now...

      What the hey? I am still using spark gap and CW Morse Code. No, once a technology is in place, it rarely is completely eliminated. Some people still ride horses, ride bicycles, hike, etc, even though they have cars. I use CW even though I have SSB and digital modes available (and a lot of people do also). By the way, FM is already obsolete. Right now that is.

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasmat[ ].org ['ter' in gap]> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:29PM (#17523520) Journal

    And I, for one, welcome our new nearby, low-frequency-emitting overlords.

    And I would like to remind them that as a net.geek, I could be useful in rounding up others, to toil in their oneline goldfarms.

  • by orson_of_fort_worth (871181) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:29PM (#17523528)
    The signals we'd pick up from a civilization similar to ours would be viagra spam and Saved by the Bell reruns. So disappointing it might set back space exploration by centuries.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kfg (145172)
      The signals we'd pick up from a civilization similar to ours would be . . .

      . . ."Send more Chuck Berry."

      KFG
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:30PM (#17523536) Journal
    How long do "earth like" civilizations put out RF energy that is detectable from space?
    How long will we keep doing it?

    Searching for XYZ years worth of RF in a bubble 60 light years across doesn't strike me as very promising.
  • You can't detect "Earth-like radio signals from 30-light-years-away stars" anymore. Because of the 1979 song "Video Killed the Radio Star" from the Buggles (see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_Killed_the_Radi o_Star [wikipedia.org] for more information).
    So now we should check for video signals from these stars ! ;)
  • Not a big area (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Orange Crush (934731) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:35PM (#17523630)

    30 or even 300 LY is tiny on a galactic scale. Then again, anybody who's more than 30 ly away won't be able to have a meaningful conversation with us over the course of a single researcher's lifetime . . . unless of course they're kind enough to send instructions on how to communicate FTL.

    Speaking of FTL communications . . . maybe civilizations only use radio for a relatively short time in their development. Present understanding of physics pretty much rules out FTL communications, but there could always be some exotic aspect of our universe we haven't discovered yet that would allow it and we'll finally be able to log in to the giant IRC server of the universe.

    • by syrinx (106469)
      Present understanding of physics pretty much rules out FTL communications, but there could always be some exotic aspect of our universe we haven't discovered yet that would allow it and we'll finally be able to log in to the giant IRC server of the universe.

      Wasn't all that long ago that the scientific consensus was sure that light was a wave propagating through the luminiferous aether. I think it's pretty arrogant to think that the things we 'know' are even a small percentage of what there is out there to k
      • The real question is whether we're going to get kickbanned for being n00bs.

        Nah! We just won't be allowed into any of the interesting channels
    • Re:Not a big area (Score:5, Interesting)

      by David_Shultz (750615) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:17PM (#17524244)
      anybody who's more than 30 ly away won't be able to have a meaningful conversation with us over the course of a single researcher's lifetime

      Are you joking? Do you not think it would be meaningful just to receive the message "hello"? this would be one of the most important moments in the history of humankind (not to mention alienkind). A long conversation isn't needed for this to be meaningful. Heck, no conversation is required -we just want to find someone else out there.
    • Then again, anybody who's more than 30 ly away won't be able to have a meaningful conversation with us over the course of a single researcher's lifetime . . .

      Real-time conversation is unnecessary - and a bad idea with such a signal lag. Why fall silent while awaiting a reply? Build a massive signal laser. Put it on the roof of Google HQ. Send everything. Continuously.

    • by nido (102070)
      Present understanding of physics pretty much rules out FTL communications, but there could always be some exotic aspect of our universe we haven't discovered yet that would allow it and we'll finally be able to log in to the giant IRC server of the universe.

      I read something recently that pointed out that our universe is only "regular" around the edges of normal human experience, and turns "exotic" at the extremes. That is, the regular rules go away at sub-atomic scales (quantum mechanics), speeds approachin
    • by DarthVain (724186)
      Well if we do find the giant IRC server of the universe I think we should lurk for a long time. I don't want to be apart of the noob planet!
  • The flipside of this is that Earth-like civilizations within 30 light years are surely able to detect us now as well! Of course if they are like us, they don't have any way of getting here anytime soon, so we're safe for now. After all, if they could, they would try to invade and conquer us just like that, if not, then they aren't like us at all!
  • W-E-A-P-O-L-O-G-I-S...

    Man, it seems like gibberish. That doesn't really spell anything.
  • I wonder if we need a warrant or if we feel the new laws enable us to bypass this requirement?

    I can only imagine one pissed off alien civialization talking us to task for this and laying waste to our planet.

    RD
  • ..they probably know where we live by now :/
  • broadcasting in the same frequencies as our own society

    I think the real issue isn't frequency, but technology. Personally I believe there must be a practical way to transmit data at faster than light speeds. We've been using the EM spectrum for transmitting for just over 100 years. If there are better methods of transmitting data, not only will our search area be limited, but we'll be searching for is possibly a short lived technology.
    • Personally I believe there must be a practical way to transmit data at faster than light speeds.

      This implies that data can be transmitted backward in time; the two are equivalent. Are you prepared to accept the consequences of this possibility?

  • If the scientists turn this on and the first thing they see is an advertorial for buying planets with nothing down or growing extra tenacles while you sleep, I'm moving to a more quiet planet like Mars.
  • by jimstapleton (999106) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:47PM (#17523790) Journal
    Do we have the tech to set up a powerful and focused transmitter that would be recievable by standard radio devices on a planet (if we find one) that far away?

    I can see it now.

    "Citizens of Earth, the Xibian Communication Commision (XCC) is ordering a Cease and Desist of projection of signal on channel 88.6. Failure to follow this within the standard grace period of 1 Xibian day will result in fines of 100 Toriks per Xibian Day. Given that you are 50 Xibian years distant (as light travels), at 250 Xibian days per year... It really sucks to be you."
  • I've always considered these types of projects pointless. It's not because I think that we are necessarily alone but because the use of radio waves for communication seems like such a simple and quickly evolvable technology that we would never find them. Here's my reasoning.

    Let's assume that we are a 'typical' univeral life form. I'm haven't brushed up on my radio broadcasting history but I'll assume that we've been broadcasting information in some form since the 1910's. Let's now say that for the nex
  • Fiber to the Home. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:51PM (#17523834) Homepage Journal
    Unless alien civilizations are just as beholden to corporate interests and backward technology as we are (which I doubt, and if it is the case why should we bother communicating with their ignorant asses anyway?), I would assume their civilization has fiber to the home, and I doubt their wireless controllers, cell phones, and remote controls are going to have a signal that gets off the planet at all.

    If we were REALLY interested in contacting alien civilizations, we would make our own much more attractive first. I doubt any alien civilization is going to be interested in sharing technology with a planet of retarded monkeys that give morons like Bush who openly admit talking to invisible men in the sky nuclear weapons.

    As a matter of fact, I can't imagine any advanced civilization bothering with the kooks who live here and believe in such ludicrous stone age fantasies. Particularly kooks with nuclear weapons and who engage in water-boarding.

    I'm so ashamed of our whole species I can't even begin to imagine why *I* bother interacting with them, much less some aliens who weren't so unlucky as to be born in this idiotic power-structure of ignorance.

    rhY

  • by MetaPhyzx (212830) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:51PM (#17523840)
    Essentially, we're looking for someone "out there" that thinks/acts/interacts with their world the way we did with ours. It's almost identical to looking for carbon based life forms like us, on other worlds (Mars as an example). I understand that it's easier to start looking for what you already know, but with the variance of life and how we interact/communicate just on this planet, maybe we can think a bit more outside the box?
  • That means we should be picking up their "70s Show" right about now.
  • Aliens (Score:2, Interesting)

    by darknite1979 (917234)
    I think it would be foolish too assume that we are the only life in the universe. The problem with finding life is that we really dont know how common life is in the universe. I recently saw a website http://www.anzwers.org/free/universe/index.html [anzwers.org] that can give very good perspective on just how big the universe reaaly is. Either an alien species has already detected us and is waiting for the human race to cause its own extinction (which I am sad too say is likely at this point) or they are so advanced t
  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:03PM (#17524018)
    From the way be behave, I wonder.
    Remember Star Trek IV when the aliens though just the marine mammals were intelligent.
  • What if no other culture in the universe is full of "people" trying to force their opinion on all others. They, then, would have no need of radio.
    • by Thraxen (455388)
      Ummm... they likely wouldn't even have radio technology if they didn't share their opinions with each other.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:10PM (#17524118) Homepage Journal
    improved method of looking for extraterrestrial life with an Earth-like civilization
    Do we really want to find something Earth-like? I for one would rather find someone who's got it right. We need a wise older sibling, not an equally dysfunctional twin.

    I could just imagine the space phonecalls..

    EARTH: Hey, guys. How's it going?"
    ALIENS: Well, our environment is crapping itself, we're all trying to kill each other, and we still won't grant marriages to every couple who wants one.
    EARTH: Yeah, same here. Any, you know, wise alien tips for us?
    ALIENS: Well... have you invented Reality TV yet?
    EARTH: Yep, doesn't seem to have helped much.
    ALIENS: Have you, I dunno, tried invading someplace oil-rich?
    EARTH: Done that, lots of times.
    ALIENS: How about starting arguments about the origins of your own species?
    EARTH: Oh hell, don't get me started on that can of worms buddy.
    ALIENS: Well, try inventing a couple of new incompatible game consoles...
    • by DarthVain (724186)
      Total elasped time of conversation: Minimum of 300 years (assuming lightspeed communication).

      I think at the rate we are advancing one message will have little relavence to the next, assuming of course we don't at somepoint in the conversation master FTL.

      Even more annoying would be the disparegy of technology, just think if one civ had some level of FTL and one didn't or at a much lower level. How annoying would that be. They could respond say near instantanous, and ours takes like 30 years to travel! I see
  • Hi,

    I tried to leave you a voicemail a couple of light years ago, but haven't heard back so I'm taking the liberty to approach you out-of-the-blue.

    The President of Earth is planning a road trip in your region over the next few eons and we're looking to set up strategic meetings with partners and potential reference enterprise star systems to grow our activity in your area. As we grow our unique blend of factional religious wars, fossil-fueled planetary suicide, coca-colonial capitalism, short sighted foreign
  • At last ! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Salsaman (141471) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:13PM (#17524180) Homepage
    At last we will be able to receive "Single Female Lawyer" !
  • What we should be doing is beaming radio signals at distant protoplanets, hoping that by the time the signals get their, intelligent life has formed. Those life forms, inspired by our signals, could then devise a way to travel faster than the speed of light and get here at the exact moment we sent the signals in the first place.
    Instant gratification!
  • by east coast (590680) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:22PM (#17524344)
    More powerful broadcasts could be detected to even greater distances [over 30 LYs].

    Maybe I'm wrong but I would think that as a civilization becomes more advanced that the power of their broadcasts would decrees and the signals would become more focused. Would it be easier to detect a signal from 20 years ago from a few light years away than what it would be to detect today's signals? If so I think we'd be looking at a small window of opportunity to detect another civilization.

    This isn't to say that widening the spectrum of the search is a bad thing but I'm just trying to get my head around how useful this might really be.
  • All we have to do is just wait for the alien civilization to send their Overlords.
  • The universe would be symmetrical and when we make first contact it's from earth's mirror planet.
  • by TheSync (5291) * on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @02:05PM (#17525012) Journal
    Optical SETI with intense nanosecond light pulses is the way to go, forget radio!

    1. Visible light-emitting and detecting devices are smaller and lighter than microwave or radio-emitting devices.

    2. Visible light-emitting devices produce higher bandwidths and can consequently send information much faster.

    3. Interference from natural sources of microwaves is more common than from visible sources.

    4. Naturally occurring nanosecond pulses of light are mostly likely nonexistent.

    5. Existing lasers can produce nanosecond pulses that can outshine a star by 30 times.

    http://observatory.princeton.edu/oseti/oseti.html [princeton.edu]

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