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Space Sci-Fi

Study: Earthlings Not Ready For Alien Encounters, Yet 453

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-me-to-your-leader dept.
astroengine (1577233) writes "The people of planet Earth would be wise to raise their cosmic consciousness prior to contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, a new study shows. 'The scientific community now accepts to some degree that this contact may occur in the next 50 to 100 years,' said Gabriel De la Torre, a clinical neuropsychologist and human factors specialist at the University of Cádiz in Spain. 'Consequently, we are becoming more concerned about this possibility and its aftermath Certainly the topic of contact with extraterrestrial civilizations raises a number of questions that are not easy to answer. We estimate that this type of event will have not only a social effect, but also on both consciousness and biology as well.' Although we may not have the necessary social skill set to deal with an encounter of the third kind, scientists or astronauts might make the best candidates for the first alien conversation."
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Study: Earthlings Not Ready For Alien Encounters, Yet

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  • by rubycodez (864176) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:07PM (#46954945)

    based on scanning we are doing of star systems out to thousands of light years? even if we find a sign of ET intelligent life, we have light-centuries to light-millennia of speed-of-light buffer time to protect ourselves after "they" discover our presence, before "contact" of any kind could be made

    • Really. Do these guys know something the rest of us don't?
      • No, but they think they do.

      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:19PM (#46955429)

        Well, I'd argue it like this: The only means of interstellar communication we know of so far is Electromagnetic waves. With the number of stars in the sky, it's pretty clear that the number of intelligent civilizations out there has to be infinite. Yet the sky is not saturated with their communications. So therefor those civilizations must be using some other technology. Now if they are communicating with entangled particles, we're kind of screwed. You can't eves drop on that. But all the science has so far lead us to believe that you can't actually communicate this way.

        But now we're starting to find other fields we could use. Gravity wave detectors are getting better and better. There's the higgs field. Maybe we'll find some other new and interesting ways to relay information. But our tech is advancing at an almost exponential rate now, so I think it's entirely plausible that in the next 100 years we finally figure out how advanced life transmits information long distances. It's probably in some way encrypted so we may just hear noise, but at least we'll know it's there.

        • If their hypothetical communications are encrypted then it would look like random noise could that not then simply be interpreted as more noise in the cosmic microwave background radiation?

          • Yes, but it would behave in an unnatural way. The CMB agrees with our models of the universe. If there was something un-natural it would be screwing up our measurements. The only thing we have like that is Dark Matter/Energy and I doubt the aliens communication network is THAT powerful.

            • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Friday May 09, 2014 @02:46AM (#46956831)

              Communications are likely to be point-to-point, and we only get to catch the signal if it randomly points at us for a moment.

              We emit lots of radar, and we could be easily detected that way, but military radar is going spread-spectrum or passive and civilian radar is relying more and more on active transponders. If we fixed our light pollution as well, intelligent life on Earth would be quite well hidden.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Aphadon (3402087)
                There's a very interesting xkcd what-if [xkcd.com] on this. Turns out nowadays aliens would have a better chance at finding us based on the reflected light anomalies created by our atmosphere, rather than picking up radio transmissions.
          • by Mariner28 (814350)
            Encryption on a link, however good, looks not like white noise but like "pink" noise - as it isn't truly random. Just as we're getting better at detecting gravity waves, the Higgs field, we'll eventually be able to separate pseudo-random "pink" noise from the cosmic background radiation. Another problem will be the fact that for the galactic Internet, the current IPv8 standard is running out of addresses, so everyone's hiding private address behind NAT/PAT firewalls. The upside, though, is that even with I
        • by arth1 (260657)

          Well, I'd argue it like this: The only means of interstellar communication we know of so far is Electromagnetic waves.

          Well, no. We can fire off particles with mass (unlike the photons in electromagnetic waves), from a particle accelerator. Whether they can be "heard" over the cosmic ray noise is a different matter, but then again, EM suffers the same problem. That's a receptor problem, not a transmission problem.

          And interstellar vessels like the Voyager, Pioneer and New Horizons. They're a tad slow, but do qualify as interstellar communication. :)

        • by Doug Merritt (3550) <doug@rema[ ]e.org ['rqu' in gap]> on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:57PM (#46955963) Homepage Journal

          Yet the sky is not saturated with their communications. So therefor those civilizations must be using some other technology.

          That seems logical, but that turns out not to be the case. A SETI scientist said in a talk (and I've seen this in articles since) that our deployed SETI listening technology is still nowhere near sensitive enough to pick up signals even from as close as the nearest star (Proxima Centauri, 4 light years away), if a planet there was broadcasting RF at current Earth levels.

          (That doesn't mean SETI to date is pointless, because there's always a chance of a highly directional signal beamed our way, or of just something unexpected, like signals far far brighter than Earth's.)

          So no, we have no idea whether the sky is saturated with radio waves or not.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            SETI would not be able to pick up our communication from 1ly. so..

            http://www.satsig.net/seticalc... [satsig.net]

            http://stason.org/TULARC/scien... [stason.org]

            It should be apparent then from these results that the detection of AM
            radio, FM radio, or TV pictures much beyond the orbit of Pluto will be
            extremely difficult even for an Arecibo-like 305 meter diameter radio
            telescope! Even a 3000 meter diameter radio telescope could not
            detect the "I Love Lucy" TV show (re-runs) at a distance of 0.01
            Light-Years!

            It is only the narrowband high intensity emissions from Earth
            (narrowband radar generally) that will be detectable at significant
            ranges (greater than 1 LY). Perhaps they'll show up very much like
            the narrowband, short duration, and non-repeating, signals observed by
            our SETI telescopes. Perhaps we should document all these
            "non-repeating" detections very carefully to see if any long term
            spatial detection patterns show up.

            but who knows, maybe others are trying to send signals through their big horns too,

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W... [wikipedia.org]

          • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday May 09, 2014 @01:03AM (#46956459)

            A SETI scientist said in a talk (and I've seen this in articles since) that our deployed SETI listening technology is still nowhere near sensitive enough to pick up signals even from as close as the nearest star (Proxima Centauri, 4 light years away), if a planet there was broadcasting RF at current Earth levels.

            It isn't the technology, it's just the hardware. Not the same thing. Saying you don't have a big enough wrench is not the same as saying you don't know how to build a bridge.

            In theory, if we can capture coherent pictures in the visible spectrum from many billions of light years away, we should be able to do the same with RF. It's not exactly the same but the basic principles are. It's just that nobody wants to spend the money. That's why we have things like the Very Large Array: nobody has the money to build a telescope that big so we find a cheaper way. That's different from not knowing how.

            • In theory, if we can capture coherent pictures in the visible spectrum from many billions of light years away, we should be able to do the same with RF.

              It's actually very easy to see why the opposite is true: stars famously broadcast a truly vast amount of power in the visible spectrum, which is what makes solar energy and photosynthesis effective.

              Humans clearly do not have the power resources of the entire sun to use to power RF broadcasts. The total amount of power we have at our disposal from all sou

        • by Wycliffe (116160) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:47PM (#46956193) Homepage

          If FTL travel is possible then FTL communication is possible and they would presumably be using some
          form of FTL communication channel which we have no knowledge of and therefore can't detect.

          If FTL travel is not possible then we are stuck on this rock and they on theirs and it doesn't really matter
          much if we discover another civilization 1000 light years away as interaction will be minimal.

          Anyone sufficiently advanced to communicate in any meaningful way we should be very very scared of
          because that means they are far far more advanced than we are. They either have FTL travel or some
          means of traveling great distances while we have neither.

        • by evilviper (135110) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:59PM (#46956251) Journal

          With the number of stars in the sky, it's pretty clear that the number of intelligent civilizations out there has to be infinite.

          Nonsense. That's purely wishful thinking.

          We have precisely ONE example of abiogenesis. That's statistically insignificant, so we have NO POSSIBLE WAY to extrapolate out how likely or unlikely it is to happen anywhere else.

          We do not have any evidence that it happened a second time in the history of Earth, otherwise we'd see crazy branches in DNA trees. We have not made it happen in a lab, so that we'd have the faintest concept of how difficult it would be.

          We similarly have only one example of higher life-forms developing from the lower life-forms... Again, no sign in the DNA tree that it happened, independently, twice, so that might be a pretty rare and difficult thing, itself.

          And finally, we have just one example of those higher life-forms becoming sentient beings, in the form of humans. As smart as dolphins may be, they're not building radios or space ships. Same goes for millions of years of dinosaurs. Why don't we see left-over buildings constructed by smart, pre-human animals? Probably weren't any other sentiences on Earth.

          So there you've got 3-in-a-row long-shots... If each is a billion-to-one shot, the combined odds would be a stretch of happening more than once, even with trillions of planets out there. But that's just as much of a wild-assed guess as yours...

          It seems to be wishful thinking that people WANT to have, not just life, not just higher life-forms, and not just sentient life out there, but sentient life that's much more advanced than us. Creatures that are going to swoop in, give us advanced technology, and solve all our problems for us. No matter how little we know of the odds, many people will just keep assuming they're out there, because they WANT it to be true.

          Meanwhile, nobody has solved the Drake Equation, to actually give us the correct odds of either extreme.

          • by Zebai (979227) on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:40AM (#46956375)

            I think I have to comment on this one. Say your right, there is 1 in 1,000,000,000 chance of even micro organisms being on another planet, and another 1 in billion of it being intelligent. That would still leave chances of life to be in the BILLIONS and we can't even see all of it because the light takes so long to travel the birth of distant stars from billions of years ago hasn't even reached us yet. As long as the chance is not 0% which it is not because we are here then some where in the universe there are other intelligent life forms however our chance of ever being able find them are equally infinitesimal.

            • FUTHERMORE. The size of the universe is unknown. Furthermore: By present estimates, the universe is near uniformly "flat." That means, you go to the edge of the visible universe on one side, and you do *not* wrap around "the other side." Rather, there's more universe past what we can see. If the universe were infinite in all directions, it'd be completely consistent with known measurements. If the universe is infinite in all directions, we can absolutely count on there being intelligent life way, way

            • by evilviper (135110)

              Except you missed a whole other billion in there, leaving the odds of it EVER happening (in this universe) just in the single-digits or perhaps the teens.

              Besides, my whole point was that 1 example can't be used to extrapolate ANY odds, big or small. The odds could be 1 in 500 trillion, or one in 10. We don't have a clue, and making a guess either way is a utterly baseless, bald-assed assumption.

          • by dryeo (100693)

            If it happened once, and us being here is pretty good evidence that abiogenesis did happen, then in an infinite universe it must have happened infinite times. Of course those other times may not have been in the finite visible universe.
            As for sentience, I think what you actually mean is technological life. Life could be sentient and never interested in technology or only minimally interested in technology. Has to be capable too, an octopus might be sentient but living under water is limiting and not having

            • by evilviper (135110) on Friday May 09, 2014 @02:54AM (#46956857) Journal

              The Universe is NOT infinite. It is unimaginably, astronomically ginormous, but decidedly finite. If it was infinite, the Big Bang theory couldn't work.

              And since the Universe is finite, it's absolutely possible for odds to be so long, that something (or a series of interdependant somethings) is unlikely to have happened more than once. Whether that's true of advanced life remains to be seen, but is entirely possible.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by dogvomit (979755)

                The Universe is NOT infinite. It is unimaginably, astronomically ginormous, but decidedly finite. If it was infinite, the Big Bang theory couldn't work.

                That is not correct. The preponderance of data are consistent with an infinite flat universe and there is nothing about an infinite flat universe that is inconsistent with big bang cosmology.

                See, for example:
                http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/unive... [nasa.gov]
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U... [wikipedia.org]

              • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Friday May 09, 2014 @07:58AM (#46957791) Homepage

                ... in a multiverse to generate one Earth?

                Just to add to the possibility of unlikelihood of other space civilizations, with quadrillions of totally empty universes...

                Great analysis.

                All that said, we just don't know the odds of alternatives within out universe. And we may be living in a computer simulation (like Minecraft?) with parameters set to generate either one or trillions of different space civilizations.

                Although given how hardy bacteria are, it would not surprise me if our solar system had been inoculated by bacteria from far away.

                A big irony of all this SETI stuff is that so many people act like finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe with a different culture or technology elsewhere would be a big deal, whereas we in the USA and also globally are so busy killing off whales, elephants, octopods, and people of different countries and religions for various short-term economic or xenophobic reasons... And our culture also have a history of ignoring great technologies like Smalltalk or QNX. Comments on SETI are often just some weird mix of irony, hypocrisy, and blindness... Not to say I have not been guilty of such myself sometimes...

                Someone in another post talked about a popular fantasy that some alien technology would solve all our problems, but is that true? As Bucky Fuller said in the 1960s, and is only more true now, we have more than enough resources and technology to make life pleasant for everyone on Earth (well, except haters and greeders maybe). Eat more vegetables and fruits, get out in the sunshine and walk in nature, hang out with other people locally, sleep well, do good work, and so on are the basics for a healthy happy life (see "BlueZones"). People in the USA can see much happier and healthier people in Europe or Canada if they bothered to look, but US politics in general can't admit that. Can you imagine what the US political parties (either left or right) would say about some happier healthier more prosperous space civilization that was more communal? Or that had different sex roles? Or had different religious rituals? Or whatever?

                Example of the kind of nonsense people in the USA would start spouting in talk-radio: "Yeah, those red-skinned aliens live 100,000 years each in perfect health traveling the universe if they want in FTL ships that can print anything they want in 3D, but it's an unhappy 10,000 years because they have high taxes and have a different notion of God/Universe and different rituals. We need to help these backward aliens come to know our loving God (by torture if need be) and how to vote correctly to give all their money to wealthy Earthlings who will create good jobs for all of them. Their medical care system sucks because they don't have private sick care insurance to deliver medicine by board-certified entrepreneurial MDs and the health care facilities and testing labs the MDs own and so the alien's million-year old political obviously will surely be insolvent soon. Anyone who explores or advocates their ways is an alien-sympathizer traitor, guilty of treason, and needs to be imprisoned or re-educated. Anyone who harbors an alien is guilty of aiding terrorists because these aliens want to destroy our way of life. For our citizens' own protection, we will not issue passports to anyone dumb enough to want to go visit them and anyone attempting to board an alien vessel will be shot out of our boundless compassion. The aliens are obviously here to corrupt our morality and sap the ardor of the hard-working minimum-wage-paid American to cause the USA to collapse. These aliens in their crappy ZPE-powered FTL ships obviously want to steal our fossil fuel coal, oil, and natural gas. We need to increase out military spending to counter this alien threat, and it is sensible to take simple precautions like a first-strike with nukes and plagues on the alien homeworld using stolen alien spaceships to keep this alien menace at bay. Better dead than Red."

                For this playing out historically in North America centuries ago to "R

          • Meanwhile, nobody has solved the Drake Equation, to actually give us the correct odds of either extreme.

            No, but one term in it, the probability of a star having planets, has recently been determined to be pretty close to 1.0.

            Doesn't tell us anything about abiogenesis, etc., of course.

        • Nothing is infinite. There could be billions of intelligent species but that's still a finite number, and it the vastness of the observable Universe they could still be scattered so far and wide that we'll never contact or detect them. The simplest answer to the observation of no intelligent communications going on is there is nobody intelligent anywhere near close to us for us to detect their transmissions. It's certainly not that they are all using some magical form of communication that may or may not

    • by TheNarrator (200498) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:24PM (#46955063)

      That assumes that we know as much physics as they do. They might be using some medium to communicate that we haven't even discovered yet.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        That assumes that we know as much physics as they do. They might be using some medium to communicate that we haven't even discovered yet.

        Certainly possible. But then, who of us could receive it?

        • by icebike (68054)

          That assumes that we know as much physics as they do. They might be using some medium to communicate that we haven't even discovered yet.

          Certainly possible. But then, who of us could receive it?

          Probably all of us would receive it.

          After all, they would understand our limitations, by virtue of examining our transmissions, and adjust their
          transmissions accordingly.

          • by Immerman (2627577)

            Doesn't matter how many smoke signals you see from the natives, thy still won't be able to receive your radio transmissions. Unless they can send a physical receiver for their tachyon communicator they'll be stuck talking to us the only way we can hear them: via EM emissions.

            Of course their first transmission could potentially be instructions on how to build a tachyon transceiver, but there would still be that initial round-trip lightspeed delay. unless of course they have physical FTL as well, or are alrea

            • by icebike (68054)

              If you knew the natives only spoke smoke signals you would have to be even less educated than the natives to respond with radio.

              The more capable civilization adjusts communication means to fit the capabilities of less capable.

              • by DarwinSurvivor (1752106) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:17PM (#46955771)
                Who says the other communication method can't be detected in other ways? A very simple example is using focused EM (or otherwise) radiation to cause a bush to catch fire (and thus produce smoke). Perhaps they have a technology that could disrupt EM radiation, alter the colour spectrum in select areas, vibrate objects to produce sound. Those would definitely be detectable by us. Even if we would have no way to respond along their medium, they could potentially instruct us how to build a transmitter.
          • That assumes that we know as much physics as they do. They might be using some medium to communicate that we haven't even discovered yet.

            Certainly possible. But then, who of us could receive it?

            Probably all of us would receive it.

            After all, they would understand our limitations, by virtue of examining our transmissions, and adjust their transmissions accordingly.

            You're assuming they would want to talk to us at all. Perhaps we are too backward to even bother saying hello to. Or perhaps they are preparing a sneak attack. Granted, we have little that could harm an advanced race, but why give us a couple of decades to prepare. If they've been watching us, they would certainly have figured out that humans are pretty good at finding creative ways of killing things when threatened.

            • by NotSanguine (1917456) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:00PM (#46955661) Journal

              That assumes that we know as much physics as they do. They might be using some medium to communicate that we haven't even discovered yet.

              Certainly possible. But then, who of us could receive it?

              Probably all of us would receive it.

              After all, they would understand our limitations, by virtue of examining our transmissions, and adjust their transmissions accordingly.

              You're assuming they would want to talk to us at all. Perhaps we are too backward to even bother saying hello to. Or perhaps they are preparing a sneak attack. Granted, we have little that could harm an advanced race, but why give us a couple of decades to prepare. If they've been watching us, they would certainly have figured out that humans are pretty good at finding creative ways of killing things when threatened.

              Actually, they wouldn't need to be all that much more advanced than we are militarily. We sit at the bottom of a gravity well. As Heinlein suggested in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress [wikipedia.org], they could just "throw rocks" at us.

              Not very high tech, is it?

              Getting here is a completely different story, but the thought that extraterrestrial intelligence would need to be enormously more technologically advanced than we are is just not true. We (in cosmological terms) aren't so far off from creating devices that can autonomously manufacture machines to mine the moon or asteroids for rocks that can be set on intersecting trajectories with the Earth. Presumably, any intelligence that can build an autonomous probe capable of reaching us, could include that sort of technology in the probe. Berserkers [wikipedia.org] are an (albeit fictional) example.

              • by Jason Levine (196982) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:54PM (#46955949)

                They don't even have to reveal themselves to us (and thus risk some sort of counterattack). If they are patient enough, they could park a ship in the asteroid belt and fire a few asteroids in our direction. A few years later, the asteroids would come crashing down on Earth. To us, it would look like a completely natural event, albeit one with disastrous consequences for our civilization. The last human alive could die without ever having known that alien life not only exists, but killed off humanity.

    • by rmdingler (1955220) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:28PM (#46955087)
      Remotely near, harmless advanced alien life capable of interstellar travel would leave us alone for a few more centuries whilst we iron out this leftover primal aggression and god fallacy..

      Remotely near, exploitative advanced alien life would have already arrived and , well, exploited us and our resources.

      Depending on how far down along the great filter we find ourselves, we are quite plausibly the Universe's best hope for intergalactic explorer, settler, and exploiter. Deal with that.

      • Alternatively we could just have won the race to sentients within this galaxy and others just haven't evolved there yet or are less advanced then us, who says other extra planetary lifeforms have to have evolved first.

        • by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:35PM (#46956131)

          The main problem is we know other lifeforms evolved on this planet before us, and we're not the oldest planetary system out there. Unless there is an absurd statistical imbalance in the formation of actual Earth-like planets - which survey data suggests is very unlikely - then the conditions were ripe for complex multi-cellular life to arise for billions of years prior to humans coming on the scene.

          • The main problem is we know other lifeforms evolved on this planet before us, and we're not the oldest planetary system out there.

            Anecdote is not data.

            Unless there is an absurd statistical imbalance in the formation of actual Earth-like planets - which survey data suggests is very unlikely - then the conditions were ripe for complex multi-cellular life to arise

            Yeah, here's the problem: what, precisely, is "Earth-like"? Or, specifically, what is "Earth-like" enough that life is statistically likely (or even possible) to arise?

            If you made your argument 50 or 60 years ago to most scientists, you'd be laughed out of the room. The idea that the universe was teeming with life just seemed a bit absurd, and not only because of religious views. Even if there were other stars and other galaxies, speculating about what was there just seemed like sc

    • Our own planet has shown signs of life for ~a billion years or more -- the same features we ourselves are only now learning to detect in other star systems have long been apparent to all who know what to look for. Who's to say how long ago some other civilisation might have spotted us? It's not like WE are going to ignore other life-providing planets simply because there are no radio signals emanating from it. If we can conclude that another planet, however far away, harbours some kind of life that alone wi
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:52PM (#46955261)

      Stephen Hawking once said that if aliens visit us they will most likely not be friendly. Whether or not he is right is irrelevant because the aliens aren't coming. Ever.

      The idea of aliens coming to earth has been the subject of countless novels, movies and televison shows, and even though those stories are entirely fictional, they have greatly influenced the way we think about the idea of encountering beings from other worlds. Unfortunately, our thinking on this subject is very small and limited. If we step back and think a little bigger, we will realize that any aliens with the ability to come visit us almost certainly would not care to.

      Sci-fi stories can ignore the bits that aren't very interesting. Movie aliens rarely get sick or worry about eating. Sci-fi stories rarely mention gravity because, given our limited view, we expect gravity to just work and shooting a movie without it would be a pain. So, screw it, all movie aliens have invented artificial gravity. After all, warp-drive engines and pew-pew energy-blasters are much more fun to think about.

      In the real world, however, science tends to advance in all directions, because advances in one field almost always results in advances in many others. For example, the invention of the computer accelerated all other fields of human science.

      A race of aliens capable of reaching earth has, at a minimum, perfected faster-than-light travel (or perfected a way to travel for thousands of years at sub-light), conquered the long term biological effects of space radiation, and mastered extreme long distance space navigation, just so they can come to earth and . . . . . what? Steal our water? Study us?

      So why *WOULD* aliens come to earth?

      Do they really want our water (or minerals or whatever)? That implies an economic model in their decision. By definition, they need and value those resources and coming here to get them is their most economical choice. Getting them somewhere closer to home or manufacturing them must be more "expensive" (in some sense of the word) than the cost of traveling all the way here, gathering our resources and flying them home.

      While not impossible, that seems unlikely - both technologically and economically. Even we have (expensively) already mastered alchemy. We have the tech to create matter from energy. Imagine that tech in a few hundred years, or whenever it is you think we'll be able to travel several light years for a mining expedition. What would be cheaper and better, making stuff at home or building a fleet of galactic warships and sending them (along with thousands of soldiers and miners) to some far off planet?

      Currently, getting to Proxima Centauri (the closest star outside our solar system) in less than a few hundred years would require technolgy that is several orders of magnitude beyond what we have now. If getting humans to another star system is a 100 on some "technology ability scale", then we're currently at about 2, which is not far ahead of poodles who are probably at 1.

      What about the idea that aliens might come to Earth to colonize the planet (and maybe vaporize us in the process)? You could argue that terraforming (or maybe aliens would call it xenoforming) could be a technology more advanced than FTL travel. With that assumption, you could imagine an alien race that can travel across the galaxy but not alter planets to suit their biological needs. Coming to colonize Earth could make sense. But this ignores the fact that several other requisite technologies would probably make their need to colonize obsolete.

      Before they had FTL travel, they likely spent many decades traveling at less that light speed and so chances are their ships are quite comfortable. In fact probably more like sailing biodomes than ships - someplace they could live indefinitely. Assuming their other scientists were hard at work while their engineers were busy perfecting FTL, stuff like air and food have long been technologied away.

      The only thing something like Ear

      • by rogoshen1 (2922505) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:14PM (#46955399)

        suppose for a second that 'greed' is an evolutionary construct -- which i think is plausible (IE, organisms acting in their own self interest, possibly with some altruistic tendencies towards members of it's own species in higher order critters).

        Is it unreasonable to assume that the evolutionary pressures that led to humans with our 'greed' and desire to dominate would also come into play on another planet with a different set of starting conditions? IE, they might not look like us, or share the same chemical building blocks, but they'd certainly act like us.

        The idea that we as a species are some kind of petulant greedy child just needing to grow up a bit might not be accurate -- it might be baked into our DNA, and by extension other alien life would have the same tendencies: Overuse and over extension of resources, a desire to explore and 'conquer'.. climbing the galactic Mount Everest because it's 'there'.

        • by Camel Pilot (78781) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:27PM (#46955469) Homepage Journal

          I agree ET would have similar behavior... if they are technically advanced they would most certainly be social, curious and have empathy.

          • I agree ET would have similar behavior... if they are technically advanced they would most certainly be social, curious and have empathy.

            And if they evolved from something analogous to ants, how much empathy do you think they will have?

          • by asifyoucare (302582) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:51PM (#46956207)
            But if they are to us as we are to slugs, how much empathy would they have then? I don't go out of my way to kill lower life forms, but I don't particularly care when I do. Probably an advanced life-form would be scientifically curious about life on earth, but if we were their hundredth similar planet and they wanted something from the planet, they'd just take it.
        • by RubberDogBone (851604) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:09PM (#46956017)

          Greed about what? What would we, either as a race of creatures, or as a populated biosphere, or even as the raw planet itself, what would we have that an advanced race could not find somewhere else for less hassle?

          This assumes advanced races couldn't just do "magic" with materials sciences and simply make whatever they needed. If they still need raw material, why come here?

          Water? We know there's a LOT of it out there. Our own Oort cloud could be mined for water for close to forever and we wouldn't know about it or be able to do anything. They won't need our oceans.

          Gold? Metals? Asteroids. Free. Nobody with spears guarding them. They don't need your dental fillings.

          Food? Oh come on, advanced races surely have sorted out getting rid of biological needs like food and waste processing. So they won't need to eat us.

          Reproduction? Laughable. Our reproductive process is ridiculous. And probably not compatible. We don't have horse-humans running around and our DNA is already close to the horse DNA. Alien DNA won't be that similar. It would have to be modified, tested, modified more, tested more, to get to a viable hybrid. Hmmm....

          Toys? Now this is really the only reason for them to come here. A set of living toys. If all we are to aliens is a set of toys, then we have no hope. This is worse than if they wanted to come here to eat us and take our water. Being a toy means we're only here until somebody decides they want new toys.

      • I think they would want to come here for the same reasons that we would want to investigate some other planet which shows strong signs of harbouring life. However, having seen how we have developed, it might not be too unlikely that they would at least consider destroying us before we've reached the point where we can leave our own solar system. Note: I've never even seen Independence Day. The notion that aliens would want to come all the way here just to destroy us had always seemed pretty silly to me. Bu
        • Crush us before we leave the nest!??

          Isn't that what the Borg tried to do? You see how well that worked out for them...
        • by evilviper (135110)

          The notion that aliens would want to come all the way here just to destroy us had always seemed pretty silly to me. But upon further reflection i don't think it's at all silly now.

          Do you feel an uncontrollable desire to nuke the African continent? If not, I can't see why a superior alien species would want to destroy our planet.

          If they're more advanced than us, they'll have cheap and easy defenses against anything we could do to them. And why wouldn't their technology continue to develop just as quickly a

          • by Raenex (947668)

            Do you feel an uncontrollable desire to nuke the African continent? If not, I can't see why a superior alien species would want to destroy our planet.

            At one point the US had a significant lead on the USSR in nuclear warfare. There were arguments that the US should preemptively strike, most famously by Von Neumann. This was a very real debate that took place in policy circles. An alternative history where the United States did so is quite plausible.

            And why wouldn't their technology continue to develop just as quickly as ours, so that they continue to maintain their vast superiority?

            That assumes you can keep a constant rate going. Despite Ray Kurzweil's "Rapture of the Nerds" (Singularity) ideas, it doesn't hold up. Just look at processor speeds. For decades they were exponentially improvi

      • OK first, you have to make one assumption. The so called other species is curious. Only a curious species would acquire the technologies necessary to make a trip to earth.

        With just this one assumption, studying us is definitely on the table for a good reason to come here. Studying ALL life on earth is a good reason. We're curious too and we love studying all the life around us. I think a curious species would be all over the place studying.

        As a consequence of this, we as a curious species have develope

    • by mark-t (151149)
      assuming, of course, that said ET's don't have any kind of technology which can effectively fold space, making faster than light transportation possible.
  • Study? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Irate Engineer (2814313) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:08PM (#46954949)
    What was this based on? Did the PI rent Independence Day from Redbox last week and suddenly get an idea to spin a humanities degree into notoriety?

    Stuff that *might* happen *might* lead to other stuff that *might* happen.

    Slashdot makes me want to throw my laptop against the wall and punch people. Gahhh....
    • Psychology: never put your trust in a field where people can make stuff up and have it accepted as canon by everyone else: http://www.arachnoid.com/psych... [arachnoid.com]

      So what would happen if aliens made an appearance?

      That very much depends on the aliens.

      Nice friendly Vulcan types with an interest in the betterment of intelligences in general would have a very different effect on global civilisation and this yahoo's "consciousness" than Battle for LA type aliens, or even random leviathan seeder drones sent out to terra

    • My sentiments exactly. When did conjecture constitute a study? I've read sci-fi that made more plausible predictions than this 'study.' Someone give Ray Bradbury a posthumous Ph.D in Extraterrestrial Studies!

    • What was this based on? Did the PI rent Independence Day from Redbox last week...

      Yes, and they determined based on some convoluted elitist bullshit that people are just too stupid to have a clue.

      I know hearing this from "pencil necked neck-beards" is harsh, but believe me, if you haven't spent your life isolated from reality on some college campus, you are simply not qualified to speak on the issue.

      Ack Ack Ack .... I want to thank my Grandma for always being so good to me, and, and for helping save the world and everything.

    • by Ironlenny (1181971) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:09PM (#46955717)
      How can “The scientific community now accepts to some degree that this contact may occur in the next 50 to 100 years.” be true if we haven't even established that there is life outside of Earth!

      Then you have this tripe: "'Further, by means of self-consciousness, man becomes capable of treating his own mental states as objects of consciousness. The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is, as its name implies, a consciousness of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe,' De la Torre writes in a study published in the journal Acta Astronautica."

      I am very disappointed in you Slashdot.

  • First Contact will happen by 2024.

    Enough people are ready to handle the truth: The human body is a arch-type.

    • Ah that explains all those people they need to hold up the roofs of cathedrals.

    • by Grog6 (85859)

      2024; That's the year the Pak show up to seed the planet with thallium and tree-of-life.

      I, for one welcome our new Pak Overlords. What's that smell, dammit...

      Of course, it could be Kzin... :)

  • It doesn't matter (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sunking2 (521698)
    If we can't find an airliner somewhere on this planet what the odds of us or anyone else finding us in the universe.
  • by Rinikusu (28164) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:15PM (#46955013)

    And where are they getting their data?

  • the other white meat.

    Ideal for a quick layover when exploring the back waters of the Milky Way.

    The probability of it being a friendly encounter has got to be pretty low. I am not sure we will ever be ready.

    • The one point in our favor, would be that a species capable of bridging the vast distances between the stars would presumably have vast technology and sufficiently advanced materials engineering and biological manipulation techniques that they would pretty much just need various useful atoms and lots and lots of energy. Our planet isn't worthless, in terms of material; but it's a hell of a lot less interesting than the solar system's larger objects in terms of volume, and it has a much more annoying escape
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:44PM (#46955213)

    'The scientific community now accepts to some degree that this contact may occur in the next 50 to 100 years,'

    Based on .... what, exactly? The complete, utter, absolute, comprehensive lack of any previous contact?

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Brett Buck (811747) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:13PM (#46955747)

      Given that there is absolutely no evidence for aliens over last 4.8 billion years, I think we are due.

           

    • by Grog6 (85859)

      FTA: apparently, If you pull enough shit out of your ass, you eventually get Aliens, lol.

      Nevermind the whole "Space is huge" thing, the no radio thing, and the lack of confirmed-non-whacko-sightings, Aliens it must be... :)

    • note the "may".
      I completely agree, we may contact aliens in the next 50-100 years. The probability isn't zero.

  • by swell (195815) <jabberwock@p[ ]ic.com ['oet' in gap]> on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:50PM (#46955245)

    - The scientific community now accepts to some degree -
    - a clinical neuropsychologist and human factors specialist -

    While some may prefer citations
    and some may prefer credentials that include some basic science skills,
    others will be happy to forge ahead with imaginative fantasies.

  • We have a lot of time to find plausible explanation for various stupid things we invented, such as HFT or austerity policies.
  • Probably a 'teaser": Teasers are usually rich kids with nothing to do. They cruise around looking for planets that haven't made interstellar contact yet and buzz them, meaning that they find some isolated spot with very few people around, then land right by some poor unsuspecting soul whom no one's going to believe and then strut up and down in front of him wearing silly antennas on their head and making beep beep noises.


    TFA is junk, of course. But hey, it's Friday down here in Middle Earth. I don't
  • by thatkid_2002 (1529917) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:31PM (#46955505)
    A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow. -- Agent Kay
  • by MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:35PM (#46955521)

    If the aliens trurn out to be like Kzinti?

  • The main reason we are not ready to meet aliens is that a large proportion of our population would shoot them, just to see how many points they got.
  • Too many people believe the Earth was created 6000 years ago, among other things.

    Conquer scientific illiteracy, and we'll go to the stars.

  • by sinij (911942) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:06PM (#46955703) Journal

    We are not going to encounter any aliens until we are ourselves are past great filter. If we make it past great filtering, than social, evolutionary, and environmental factors imposing change on humanity over time-frames involved in below-speed-of-light space travel will produce plenty of "aliens". They will be our descendants but they will be nothing like us.

  • by MadMaverick9 (1470565) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:07PM (#46955707)

    Bozeman, Montana on 5 April 2063.

    49 years from now.

  • PSHHHH. Obviously the first question we should ask them is if they've met our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Scientists need not apply.
  • by macbeth66 (204889) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:15PM (#46956049)

    I've often wondered how stupid would an extraterrestrial civilization be to want to come to this planet?

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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