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View Poll Results: Are we alone in the Universe, based on the evidence at hand?
We are almost certainly alone. 1 7.14%
We are probably alone. 2 14.29%
We are probably not alone. 10 71.43%
We are definitely NOT alone. 2 14.29%
All the life is Planet X 3 21.43%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

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  #26  
Old 06-24-2019, 09:18 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

I think life may be very common, but intelligent life that wants, and is capable of, interstellar communication is exceedingly rare. That's the way Earth has been for 99.999...% of its existence, and based on what SETI has found so far (nothing) it's true of all the star systems in our section of the galaxy.

There remains the possibility that radio signals are only a primitive way of communicating - the technological equivalent of smoke signals - and that we've yet to discover/invent the system that all the smart aliens are using to communicate with each other.
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  #27  
Old 06-25-2019, 12:06 AM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

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But there's a lot of "ifs" on both sides. And there is only one side that has an irrefutable fact -- we only have a sample of one abiogenesis. Which for now makes the Rare Earth hypothesis the only argument that is backed by any evidence.

I don't think that makes any sense. That there isn't a reliable estimate how common life is isn't evidence for anything, least of all that life is rare.
Indeed. As the old saying goes, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
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  #28  
Old 06-25-2019, 06:33 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

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If a planet needs to sustain a climate where liquid water exists continuously for many hundreds of millions, or even billions of years in order for intelligent life to evolve, then current theories suggest that such planets may be vanishingly rare.

And yet the preponderance of the evidence tells us that there are three such bodies in our solar system alone: Earth, Europa and Enceladus. There is some circumstantial evidence that the latter two have hydrothermal vents like our Last universal common ancestor - Wikipedia probably lived around.


That kind of environment (frozen water at the top, boiling water at the bottom) under a kilometers thick ice shell may be a lot more stable and hospitable to life than the average planet with a thin atmosphere. I wouldn't be all that surprised if we melted through the ice on Europa and something bit the camera.
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  #29  
Old 06-27-2019, 07:10 AM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

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If a planet needs to sustain a climate where liquid water exists continuously for many hundreds of millions, or even billions of years in order for intelligent life to evolve, then current theories suggest that such planets may be vanishingly rare.

And yet the preponderance of the evidence tells us that there are three such bodies in our solar system alone: Earth, Europa and Enceladus. There is some circumstantial evidence that the latter two have hydrothermal vents like our Last universal common ancestor - Wikipedia probably lived around.

That kind of environment (frozen water at the top, boiling water at the bottom) under a kilometers thick ice shell may be a lot more stable and hospitable to life than the average planet with a thin atmosphere. I wouldn't be all that surprised if we melted through the ice on Europa and something bit the camera.
That would be awesome if something did swim by the camera, even if it were a microscopic something. But note the key conditional words in your second paragraph -- an "ice shell may be" more hospitable to life and "if" after we melted through the ice on Europa "something bit the camera." All circumstantial evidence and maybes aside, until we have that second data point for abiogenesis it is all speculation.

I am not denying the possibility of such life forms, but at the moment there is no actual evidence for them. So then, what is this? Wishful thinking? I am arguing that yes, it is. There is certainly no evidence of a second abiogenesis in the fossil record, in nature, in the lab, or in any of our observations and explorations of space.

If life really were easy peasy, this place would be swarming with Klingons, and its not. If SETI has proven anything, it is that we are definitely not sitting in the middle of an intergalactic empire. Not even the crickets are chirping.

What is backed by science is that an extraordinary set of circumstances, piled up over the course of billions(!) of years, preceded our appearance -- intelligent beings with a capacity for abstract reasoning, for self-awareness, and more recently a realization of just how fortuitous we are to be sitting here wondering about all this in the first place. These are the factors that the Drake Equation attempts to quantify. The constituent parts of the Drake Equation, like the "fraction of stars with planets," the "fraction of planets that are habitable" and the "fraction of existing life forms that develop intelligence" all make sense as part of a thought experiment. But with a data point of exactly one, we really have no idea what numbers to plug into the Drake Equation:

Quote:
N = R * fp * ne * fl * fi * fc * L

That's the entire Drake Equation. As far as formulae go, it's very simple. We want know N, the number of civilizations we might hope to detect by telescope. The problem is in the parameters all multiplied together -- all those f's and n's and so forth. Out of those seven variables, we know the exact value of none of them.

We have a very rough estimate of the first variable and a foothold on the second; the remaining five are posed in such a way that they are essentially impossible to measure...


The worst thing about the Drake equation is that it gives us a false idea of grasping the problem we are trying to solve. A mathematical equation connotes some scientific study or understanding of a subject. But this is misleading: SETI is simply NOT a scientific endeavor. It's entirely a leap of faith, albeit a leap that uses tools devised by science. It's like searching for paranormal activity with an electronic sound recorder. [all emphasis mine]
It is easy to point out the fallacies in other beliefs, like belief in an afterlife or in the miracles of Jesus or in the existence of Allah, or Zeus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I have a very healthy skepticism for pretty much everything that involves any "magical thinking" and "leaps of faith" with no scientific evidence to support the given conclusion, as I suspect does pretty much everyone that has commented in the thread. But until we have hard scientific evidence, isn't this argument that there just has to be life out there in the solar system, galaxy, or universe just that, a belief? A hope? A leap of faith?

Albeit the existence of life beyond the Earth has a much greater probability to be true than, let's say, the idea that Moses parted the Red Sea, it's a conclusion based on a belief nonetheless. And while the "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," that truism only points out there is a possibility of life out there; it does not provide proof of it.
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  #30  
Old 06-27-2019, 02:03 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

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If life really were easy peasy, this place would be swarming with Klingons, and its not. If SETI has proven anything, it is that we are definitely not sitting in the middle of an intergalactic empire. Not even the crickets are chirping.
This does not follow. Life might be very common, for all we know (I'm not saying it is, by the way), but even if life is relatively common, it does not then follow that intelligent life is common at all. The best evidence we have suggests that abiogenesis probably isn't difficult on a planet similar to Earth, and there are certainly a lot of those in the Universe. But intelligent life has evolved only once in Earth's history -- suggesting that even if the Universe is teeming with life, the evolution of intelligent life is anything but inevitable.


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And while the "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," that truism only points out there is a possibility of life out there; it does not provide proof of it.
Exactly no one here has suggested that we have proof of extraterrestrial life. What pretty-much everyone has gone out of their way to point out is that we simply don't have enough data to truly judge how common (or rare) extraterrestrial life might be -- and that even if life is relatively common, "intelligent" life probably isn't.

And more to the point, given the vast distances and the immense time scales involved, the probability that two or more civilizations could coexist and somehow encounter each other are exceedingly remote. So, for practical purposes, we almost-certainly are alone in the Universe.

In the sense that even if extraterrestrial civilizations do exist (or have existed in the past, or will exist in the future), we'll almost-certainly never know about it.



I would certainly agree that if anyone thinks there's anything other than the remotest of chances that S.E.T.I. will ever pick up an extraterrestrial transmission, they're dreaming. As such, it's probably a great big waste of time and money. On the other hand, I can certainly think of worse ways to spend time and money.
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  #31  
Old 06-27-2019, 06:03 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

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I would certainly agree that if anyone thinks there's anything other than the remotest of chances that S.E.T.I. will ever pick up an extraterrestrial transmission, they're dreaming. As such, it's probably a great big waste of time and money. On the other hand, I can certainly think of worse ways to spend time and money.

That. I just read a bit through one of the latest SETI papers and the numbers given in there. They looked at 1700 of the nearest stars I think, which is a microscopic fraction of the stars in our galaxy, and what they really learned was that near those stars, no one was either (for whatever reason) operating a transmitter with way more power than all electricity on Earth or blasting right at us with a smaller one. Well, one in the range between 1.1 and 3.45 GHz, to be more precise. With those methods, you couldn't detect our civilization even now.
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  #32  
Old 06-27-2019, 09:03 PM
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This does not follow. Life might be very common, for all we know (I'm not saying it is, by the way), but even if life is relatively common, it does not then follow that intelligent life is common at all. The best evidence we have suggests that abiogenesis probably isn't difficult on a planet similar to Earth, and there are certainly a lot of those in the Universe. But intelligent life has evolved only once in Earth's history -- suggesting that even if the Universe is teeming with life, the evolution of intelligent life is anything but inevitable.
It's certainly not common on earth. I'm not sure that there is any intelligent life on earth.

I mean, srsly, on a (very short) millennial scale, it's not looking all that likely that human 'intelligence' is all that adaptive. We're really bad at understanding long-term consequences and adapting our behaviour to long-term risks. All our intelligence might achieve is taking a lot of other species down with us.
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  #33  
Old 06-27-2019, 09:04 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

On the billion-year timescale, maybe our kind of intelligence is selected against. Maybe it's objectively non-adaptive, and nearly always results in annihilation.
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  #34  
Old 06-27-2019, 09:06 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

Plus, why have we not had this yet:

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  #35  
Old 06-27-2019, 10:04 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

Civilization is probably necessary for an intelligent species to be able to contact humanity or for us to be able to relatively easily find them. Dolphins are reasonably intelligent as far as things go, but they ain't about to send out any radio signals or space probes.

I already mentioned this, but there are two sides to the equation of how common civilizations are (one might call it a... two-sided equation). One is how likely civilizations are to arise. The other is how long civilizations tend to persist.

As I mentioned, if civilization intelligence tends to eventually result in overpopulation, exhaustion of resources or massive pollution/climate change and thus civilizational collapse, and/or catastrophic wars using technologies like nuclear bombs and/or biological agents that create massive pandemics, etc. then that's another reason why the types of intelligent life we would be interested in contacting would be rare. We don't know how much of a tendency this is, or how quickly civilization-building species tend to flame out, but even if the median civilization lasts a million years, that's a very short amount of time on galactic time scales, and so you'd expect nearly all civilizations that ever existed to have died out millions of years ago.

And I think civilizations lasting more than a million years is generous, given how things are going with humans a mere 12,000 years after the development of agriculture. It might be that most intelligent species are less shitty than humans, but I doubt we would be so exceptionally awful that a million years of civilization is typical yet we flame out after less than 20,000 years. Humans (probably) aren't that special.

So I think that even if SETI does discover an unambiguous message from alien intelligent life, the signal would likely be many thousands of years old and there would be a decent chance the civilization that sent it out is long dead. Unless they have figured out how to send faster-than-light communications that nonetheless we are still capable of receiving and decoding.
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  #36  
Old 06-27-2019, 10:04 PM
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On the billion-year timescale, maybe our kind of intelligence is selected against. Maybe it's objectively non-adaptive, and nearly always results in annihilation.
Actually, that thought has occurred to me on numerous occasions. Truthfully, as measured on an evolutionary timescale, we have no evidence that human-style intelligence is actually adaptive.
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  #37  
Old 06-27-2019, 10:09 PM
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I would certainly agree that if anyone thinks there's anything other than the remotest of chances that S.E.T.I. will ever pick up an extraterrestrial transmission, they're dreaming. As such, it's probably a great big waste of time and money. On the other hand, I can certainly think of worse ways to spend time and money.

That. I just read a bit through one of the latest SETI papers and the numbers given in there. They looked at 1700 of the nearest stars I think, which is a microscopic fraction of the stars in our galaxy, and what they really learned was that near those stars, no one was either (for whatever reason) operating a transmitter with way more power than all electricity on Earth or blasting right at us with a smaller one. Well, one in the range between 1.1 and 3.45 GHz, to be more precise. With those methods, you couldn't detect our civilization even now.
I tend to agree that passive SETI efforts are probably not likely to yield much in the way of direct results, but they are a pretty good tech. Applied distributed computing efforts like [email protected], and the exercise of developing the methods to analyze the signals are pretty cool technologies that can have other uses and benefits. If nothing else, it is a cool way to tackle a problem, like a lot of other pure science efforts. Active efforts (at least what I think of as active, like beaming radio transmissions or whatever) seem more likely to be pointless.
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  #38  
Old 06-28-2019, 03:51 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

If we are alone, then there's nothing to stop us sharing out the universe!

Astronomers think there are about two trillion galaxies in the universe, so if we share them out to all the people on Earth, we each get about 250 galaxies!
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  #39  
Old 06-28-2019, 05:49 PM
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And we'll still fight over the best ones.
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  #40  
Old 06-28-2019, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

Dibs on Andromeda!
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:49 PM
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SEE.
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Old 06-28-2019, 07:18 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

You're just jealous.
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  #43  
Old 06-30-2019, 11:13 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

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If we are alone, then there's nothing to stop us sharing out the universe!

Astronomers think there are about two trillion galaxies in the universe, so if we share them out to all the people on Earth, we each get about 250 galaxies!
And yet, even with that many galaxies no one ever links to us.:sadcheer:
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  #44  
Old 06-30-2019, 11:38 PM
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Technically, they might do, the links just haven't reached us yet.
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  #45  
Old 07-01-2019, 03:36 AM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

Maybe linking is an afferent process ...
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  #46  
Old 07-01-2019, 06:09 AM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

1. Def not alone- hubris to give ourselves that much credit
2. Timeline issue: sentience out there, before or after us on timeline of billions of years
3. Identification issue: what does a sentience not built from carbon and sea water look like?
4. Distance: no overlap
5. Post-trans species dissipation- if a species takes control of its genetic(?) code, transforms, no longer recognizable within own biases, let alone ours
6. The theory that we should not seek out other sentient life because of likelihood that if they can come here they are more advanced or more violent and we’re fucking locusts
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  #47  
Old 07-01-2019, 06:49 AM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

The singular or what appears to be singular happening of Abiogenesis does suggest that it’s rare in so much that it needs certain conditions and those conditions are clearly not the same as needed for oxygen breathing multicellular life. So along the way either because of life or through some other means we’ve moved out of abiogenesis conditions and while life thrives, abiogenesis is kaput. From my understanding as seen in some lab created ‘artificial life’, the base pairs of DNA don’t have to be GATC, other similar molecules will work just as well, so the universal code of DNA in earth life is one hint that if other abiogenesis events happened, only one made the leap.

It’s possible that out there are millions of planets with self assembling molecules assembling and then slowly falling apart only to assemble again in a constant cycle, needing some sort of push at the right time to get out of the rut.

If we look at cellular based life and intelligence, life or smarts that are built from smaller blocks that generally obey the whole, then an ant colony or similar hive is quite possibly what’s required for planet wide intelligence where the cell is at least one more stage advanced than in a human.

It’s possible individual human ‘cells’ are just too independent to form a society that can stretch the stars. Just look at us now, not only does ‘I got mine, fuck you’ seem to be the antithesis of society, but when the masses are asked, we also seem to put those types of people in power and control of society. A planet wide intelligence acting towards a singular goal may be needed to not have some random person fuck it all up. It’s like in Contact where they send us instructions to build a wormhole device and the fanatics blow it up, only in the real world the fanatic accidentally destabilizes the anti-matter tanks near the whitehole core and pop there goes the planet!

Hyper intelligent hives would probably look at Humans as a singular creature and wonder why we are giving the cancerous elements a say and we would reply, “no those are some of our most famous people!” Then someone would show them the horrible multi-tentacled monster that is anyone of the Kardashians and their small to medium sized town’s worth of people manipulating things behind the scenes to give the appearance of a singular being, and to the horror of nerds everywhere go “finally someone intelligent to talk to!”

——-

Now intergalactic is a trickier story, some of them are only ghosts that we can never actually reach. Which is something not really talked about in this whole equation (to be fair to Drake, I don’t think it was known at the time) that expansion appears to be driving galaxies away from us and it’s getting faster. While galactic clusters should stay around each other for quite some time, expansion doesn’t just put a limit on how far we can travel but also a limit on how old relative to the universe a civilization needs to be to have a chance of reaching beyond their local group out of shear physics. Physics in general seem to give a very much “you can look but don’t touch!” Type of universe. As galaxies move across our universe horizon and get pulled/pushed away from us faster than the speed of light, it becomes a real life zenos paradox to ever physically get to them no matter how old our civilization is.
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  #48  
Old 07-01-2019, 08:54 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

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Originally Posted by Ari View Post
The singular or what appears to be singular happening of Abiogenesis does suggest that it’s rare in so much that it needs certain conditions and those conditions are clearly not the same as needed for oxygen breathing multicellular life. So along the way either because of life or through some other means we’ve moved out of abiogenesis conditions and while life thrives, abiogenesis is kaput. From my understanding as seen in some lab created ‘artificial life’, the base pairs of DNA don’t have to be GATC, other similar molecules will work just as well, so the universal code of DNA in earth life is one hint that if other abiogenesis events happened, only one made the leap.

It's also conceivable that once something makes the leap, there won't be another one. If you make the transition from something like RNA World to the first successful replicating cell and you have a source of energy and nutrients, the whole world is your playground. The next candidate, a million years later, if it even gets that close, will just be eaten and never heard from again.
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Old 07-01-2019, 09:46 PM
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Default Re: A Sample of...One

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