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Space Technology

Why We'll Never Meet Aliens 629

iggychaos writes "The idea that aliens will come visit us is fundamentally flawed. Paul Tyma ponders the technology that would be required for such an event and examines how evolution of that technology would preclude any reason to actually make the trip. He writes, 'Twenty years ago if I asked you how many feet were in a mile (and you didn't know) you could go to a library and look it up. Ten years ago, you could go to a computer and google it. Today, you can literally ask your phone. It's not a stretch at all with the advent of wearable computing that coming soon - I can ask you that question and you'll instantly answer. ... How would you change if you had instant brain-level access to all information. How would you change if you were twice as smart as you are now. How about ten times as smart? (Don't answer, truth is, you're not smart enough to know). Now, let's leap ahead and think about what that looks like in 100 years. Or 1000. Or whenever it is you'll think we'd have the technology to travel to another solar system. We'd be a scant remnant of what a human looks like today. ... The question of why aliens might 'want to come here' is probably fundamentally flawed because we are forming that question from our current (tiny) viewpoint. The word 'want' might not apply at all to someone 1000 times smarter than us."
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Why We'll Never Meet Aliens

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  • Re:No (Score:2, Informative)

    by Giant Electronic Bra ( 1229876 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @06:17PM (#43562319)

    No, actually they don't. Not on any scale larger than that which can be undertaken by a few individuals. Beyond that our activities, on a 'society scale' are quite practical. The exceptions are quite informative. The ancient Egyptians employed 1000s of people to build giant pyramids, for less than one century before their society collapsed. When it recovered they built much smaller underground tombs for the next 2000 or so years, never again building a large pyramid. Other 'whimsical' projects were on much smaller scales. In fact no building exceeded the size of the Great Pyramid of Cheops until the 20th Century (the Eiffel Tower was the first to equal it in height). Considering the crude technology at hand we could safely hypothesize that the Great Pyramid is pretty much unique in history. Certainly interstellar travel would necessarily entail a vast and prolonged effort by an entire society on a huge scale. History isn't especially sanguine about the likelihood of that happening.

  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by joe_frisch ( 1366229 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @07:56PM (#43563071)

    You don't need FTL. Its easy to imagine a fission or fusion powered rocket that could reach 0.1C - this is not far from what we can imagine now. That leaves you with a trip of centuries to millenia. That might be completely reasonable to an advanced race that either has a naturally long lifespan, or which has solved the problem of ageing. Depending on their technology they might be able to bring enough of their information technology with them to stay interested for the trip.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine