The morality of METI – should we broadcast to let aliens know “we’re here” ?

Dr. Leif Svalgaard advises us of this paper via email. Apparently some people want to ring the “cosmic dinner bell” by broadcasting powerful radio transmissions to get the attention of possible extra-terrestrial civilizations. This paper sums up the argument.
The Very Large Array (VLA) of radio telescopes at night.

The Very Large Array (VLA) of radio telescopes at night.

There is an ongoing debate pertaining to the question of whether Earth should initiate intentional and powerful radio transmissions to putative extra-terrestrial (ET) civilizations in the hope of attracting ET’s attention. This practice is known as METI (Messaging to ET Intelligence) or Active SETI. The debate has recently taken on a sense of urgency, as additional proponents have announced their intention to commence de novo transmissions as soon as they become funded and acquire the needed time on a powerful transmitter such as Arecibo. Arguments in favor of METI are reviewed. It is concluded that METI is unwise, unscientific, potentially catastrophic, and unethical.
In the medical sciences, proposed experiments must pass ethics review boards. Some experiments are simply too dangerous or unethical to be performed, certainly not just on one’s own lonely say-so. We do not clone humans; we do not conduct table top experiments with smallpox; and we no longer inject human subjects with pathogens in order to trace the course of a disease or to see how long it might take for subjects to die. Though a commonplace in medical research, astronomers face no such ethical reviews, since theirs is normally an observational science only. When it comes to METI (Messaging to ET Intelligence, also called or Active SETI), which is not observational but manipulative, and on which may hinge the very fate of the world, perhaps they should.

Do space aliens present a clear and present danger and, if so, is there anything we can do about it? There is not one scintilla of credible evidence that Earth has ever been visited by space aliens, much less that aliens have sought to do damage to the Earth. However, extraterrestrials (ET), if they exist, may soon learn that Earth harbors technologically advancing life forms, and that may change everything. Our electromagnetic (EM) emissions leave Earth at the speed of light. EM that left Earth in 1930 has already swept over approximately the nearest 7,000 stars.

That said, Earth’s EM leakage is either very weak, not pointed at nearby stars, or both. Further, the Earth grows quieter annually as more information is transmitted via cable, the Internet, and satellites rather than terrestrially over the air. Unless ET’s receivers are both powerful and omnidirectional, they will not detect us.

ET’s receivers could be omni-directional, but unable to pick up a signal so weak as the proverbial I Love Lucy. For example, the gigantic Arecibo radio telescope could not detect terrestrial TV transmissions, if broadcast from the distance of our nearest neighboring stars. Alternatively, an ET receiver could be very powerful, but it might take millennia for it to get around to slewing in our direction, given the large number of potential targets. By the time Earth returns into ET’s crosshairs for a routine check in, we might have gone silent.

The first modern SETI search was conducted by Frank Drake in 1960 [1]. From that date until today, there has been no agreed upon detection of an alien signal. Some are now arguing that since so much time has elapsed without success, it is time to announce ourselves to ET by using our most powerful radio telescopes as transmitters in order to proactively send our signals to Earth’s nearest stars in an effort to attract ET’s attention. Arecibo, for instance, is so powerful that, when used as a transmitter, its signal is potentially capable of being detected at vast interstellar distances.

A new consideration of the METI debate assumes some urgency at this time. When the SETI Institute (SI) rejected a proposal from Vakoch and Shostak to initiate immediate high power radio transmissions directed to Earth’s neighboring stars, Vakoch founded another organization, METI International [2, 3], with the same intent [4, 5]. Fearing a gathering storm, a cohort of SETI scientists and thinkers issued a statement in opposition to METI in February, 2015 [6]. John Gertz
The current paper will further consider the arguments of METI’s proponents (METI-ists) and opponents.

Whenever one hears a “scientist” assert that ET must be altruistic, or that ET surely knows we are here, or that the closet ET civilization is at least x LY away, ask to see the data set on which they base their conclusions. As of today, no such data set exists. In the absence of any evidence whatsoever, whether one believes that the extraterrestrial civilization we might first encounter will be benign, in the fashion of Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, or ET, or malicious, as in Ridley Scott’s Alien, or robotic, or something else entirely is strictly a matter of one’s personal taste. SETI experiments seek to learn what actually resides or lurks out there in the universe. METI plays Russian roulette without even knowing how many bullets are in the chamber.

It would be wiser to listen for at least decades if not centuries or longer before we initiate intentional interstellar transmissions, and allow all of mankind a voice in that decision. The power of SETI has grown exponentially with Moore’s Law, better instruments, better search strategies, and now thanks to Milner’s visionary investment, Reviewing METI: A Critical Analysis of the Arguments meaningful funding. The advances are so profound that it is reasonable to say that the SETI of the next 50 years will be many orders of magnitude more powerful than the SETI of the last 50 years.

Shostak, perhaps METI’s most articulate proponent, knows this and has widely predicted that we will achieve Contact within the next two decades. So why can he and his fellow METI-ists not wait at least until then before initiating transmissions?

A METI experiment based on an actual methodology that includes a plan to receive ET’s reply, might leave some to call that method madness, but at least it would qualify as actual science. Sending a message without a practical plan in place to receive a return message, leads to the conclusion that METI transmissions are like a Hail Mary, they have more in common with a faith based religion than with science. METI-ists implicitly believe that ET is omniscient (they know we are here even though our leakage is trivial); all good (ET must be altruistically interested in our welfare); and omnipotent (even though we have made no provision to receive their return message, they will make themselves known to us somehow). It is fair to ask that METI- ists not impose their religion on the rest of us.

Full paper: Analysis-METI (PDF)

290 thoughts on “The morality of METI – should we broadcast to let aliens know “we’re here” ?

  1. Short answer: NO!!!

    Remembering Rod Serling’s “To Serve Man,” is at least one reason not to make any noise.

      • That’s pretty funny. Perhaps its the aliens who have figured out way to fatten us up relative to our bony ancestors from the 30’s.

      • MscottFla
        May 20, 2016 at 6:09 pm

        That’s pretty funny. Perhaps its the aliens who have figured out way to fatten us up relative to our bony ancestors from the 30’s.

        Yes increase biomass, “The Fattening”. Maybe they use biomass as fuel and human fat is the best :D

      • MscottFla
        May 20, 2016 at 6:09 pm

        That’s pretty funny. Perhaps its the aliens who have figured out way to fatten us up relative to our bony ancestors from the 30’s.

        It is another way of sequestring carbon. :P

    • Sorry, mate, it’s too late. Probably in a solar system not too far from here, within some 60 light years, aliens are sitting down on the alien sofa getting ready to see the latest episode of “I Love Lucy”.

      [At which time, the mods see them immediately building spaceships.
      As many spaceships as possible.
      And launching them as fast as possible.
      Headed in the opposite direction. .mod]

      • And when they begin receiving signals from our reality shows, they’ll want to nuke us from space…you know, just to be sure.

    • I say “why not?” It is a message in a bottle, thrown into the sea. Chances are the message will never be read and if it is, humans will be extinct by the time anyone can come to find us.

      • I think that actually the Twilight Zone show was based on a short story by Knight. Did he actually write the screen play? Somewhere I have the story in an old sci-fi collection that is not related to the Twilight Zone.

    • Sorry – it’s too late to refrain from message sending. We’ve already done it with gold anodized aluminum plaques on Pioneer 10 (1972) and Pioneer 11 (1973) and Golden Records on Voyager I (1977).

  2. “as more information is transmitted via cable, the Internet”(…)

    The Internet is a physical medium now?

    • The internet has always been a physical medium. It is only in the last decade or so that low power WiFi has been used for end users.

      • “The internet has always been a physical medium.”

        So you really have no idea what the Internet (not “internet”) is. (Or the two Internets if you prefer.)

        “It is only in the last decade or so that low power WiFi has been used for end users.”

        You are not making sense.

      • All communication networks are physical, Wifi is physical, the signal is physical, it is only non physical in that we do not have to manually connect the media to endpoints like we do with cables.

        Media is the path upon which signal travels from end point to end point. The Internet is not a medium except in concept where the internet is the media that connects all of us.

        You are confusing concept with the physicality of communications networks

      • Correction: Media is the means by which we transfer information from one point to another
        Tapes, disc, airwaves, cables ect

      • Everybody know that the internet is a box that resides in Big Ben….
        (IT Crowd reference)

      • Gabro, that evolution happens has been observed.
        That random mutation evolution is a sufficient explanation to explain life as we know it is still a hypothesis.

      • Note how Gabro mixes the observable, with the intellectually conceivable, as though one and the same thing;

        “No one needs to know how the universe or multiverse came about in order to study it …”

        One can “study” Harry Potter, but that don’t make it science ; )

    • “The Internet” is a global system…a “Net(work)”of interconnected, smaller, physical computer networks. Those networks are connected to each other by millions of miles of physical cables, millions of physical servers, physical routers, and other physical hardware. Your cell phone won’t work if it’s not within range of a physical cell tower that is both receiving and broadcasting signals.

      But the author never claimed the Internet was a ” physical medium”. He suggested that it was NOT an open- air terrestrial system sending EM transmissions into space.

    • An extremely profound thought. Life has existed on earth for how many years, 2 billion? In all that Tim only 1 species has evolved to the point of abstract intelligence. Humans, as flawed as we are, have harnessed the power of fire to create the modem technical society we are.
      How many other millions of species have died out during that same time period?

      • Agreed. It’s actually ‘relative intelligence’ – when compared to other species. On a cosmic scale, we cannot be ‘intelligent’. A vast number of people have a religious faith, despite it being illogical and irrational. We (some) have irrational fears, also. We (some) are easily led by the politics of fear. We (some) worship celebrities.

        No intelligence here on Earth, I’m afraid.

      • Our environment shaped us and continues to do so, I dont believe in random mutations and prefer environmental triggers on genes. Our physical form shaped how we interacted with our environment and our environment is an input into our genes which shape our evolution, maybe there is small random element, I am not educated on the subject to really know more but it seems.

        The most effective makeup to “make it” in this modern world is to be a sociopath. Sociopath\psychopath behavior is very common, is our environment triggering genes to create more sociopaths\psychopaths? because that seems to be the best way to achieve in business and politics

      • basser says,
        A vast number of people have a religious faith, despite it being illogical and irrational,
        Your atheist assertion is not science based. The cosmological argument stands. Science is limited to cause and affect, which demands a first cause of unlimited energy beyond science, or asserts that all things inclusive are without cause, causeless, thus defeating its very foundation

      • There is an argument that intelligent species evolve outside of their ecological niche and therefor pose a greater danger to themselves.

        Take humans, eventually population becomes a problem and the human condition (free will) is anathema to population control unless we are all willing to accept China like measures.

        Are we trusting of who decides what, not really. Are we willing to let government control reproduction, we might not have a choice, this future is a dark one.

        Are we willing to accept being dictated to on such matters even if the policy is for the greater good of humanity?

      • Mark
        May 21, 2016 at 1:38 am

        Novel genetically-controlled structures and abilities definitely can and do arise from random mutations. A single, simple point mutation produces nylon-metabolizing bacteria from sugar-consuming strains, for instance.

        Human upright walking is associated with the fusion of two ancestral ape chromosomes into human chromosome Number Two. Our big brains result from a single mutation over two million years ago.

        The common mutation of complete or partial genome duplication is responsible for 30 to 80% of plant species. This means of evolving new species occurs in one generation. Humans have at least two such total duplications in our evolutionary history.

      • Fire is not evidence of abstract intelligence, nor is civilization.

        Man has learned to construct tools that help man cover his weaknesses. Most intelligent animals just move on to a better spot.

        Man’s inability to understand other types of intelligence is one of man’s weaknesses. Mankind uses man for the role model of ‘intelligence’.

      • Man’s inability to understand other types of intelligence is one of man’s weaknesses. Mankind uses man for the role model of ‘intelligence’.

        I think we should consider that perhaps ‘intelligence’ has a scale far beyond our meager efforts. We could have been planted here like earthworms in the garden.

      • The Evolution hypothesis faithful seem very similar to the CAGW hypothesis faithful to me, in terms of treating the intellectually conceivable, as the inevitable, because it suits their purposes.

        For instance, the intellectual conceivability of a multiverse, is employed to negate the “fine tuned” quality we can readily see in the only one we have any observable evidence of, to render it inevitable that a few of the conceived zillions of universes would be suitable for life to Evolve in.

        Similarly, the detection of something like nylon digesting bacteria, is employed to negate the extremely improbable generation of a vast amount of genetic coding, in a world where once there was ostensibly none. The detection of one (or a few) potentially “natural” beneficial mutations, gets treated as “proof” that all that coding came about in the same way.

        Now, why exactly a Being capable of writing complete genetic coding for a camel, or human, would not provide bacteria with a means of “evolving” in minor ways, so they could carry out their functions under a wide variety of circumstances, is beyond me, but the Evolutiojnism faithful tend to evoke a rather stupid God (a straw God if you will ; ) that is just not capable of such (to my mind) mundane foresight . . which humans would surely think of, if they were (in a distant future scenario) seeding life on some lifeless planet.

        We are, apparently, much smarter than a God would be, in the humble opinions of Evolution true believers ; )

      • David A says “Your atheist assertion is not science based. The cosmological argument stands. Science is limited to cause and affect, which demands a first cause of unlimited energy beyond science, or asserts that all things inclusive are without cause, causeless, thus defeating its very foundation”

        1. An alternative to a first cause is an infinite chain of causes. Difficult to wrap one’s mind around the concept, but equally difficult to wrap one’s mind around the concept of an uncaused first cause, or a first moment in time.

        2. Our ideas about things coming into existence are based on our experience of middle-sized objects in our immediate neighbourhood, that is, inside the universe. There we are accustomed to pre-existing matter being reshaped by a physical cause to produce a new object. We do not experience things simply popping into existence. (Except, perhaps, stray cats.) But we have no grounds for extending our concepts derived from things in the universe to entire universes. I simply cannot recall seeing a universe come into existence*, so it would be presumptuous of me to say that it has to be caused, let alone that the cause is non-physical and creates matter ex nihilo.

        Of course, it does not seem to be a logical necessity that an object has to have a cause (as distinct from a reason) to come into existence. Anyone who thinks it is should submit a paper supporting the idea to a respectable philosophy journal.

        (*I have a poor memory. There is a wonderful argument by Knox which shows that It is logically impossible for there to be either a cause or a sufficient reason for my existence as a centre of consciousness. The existence of my body is easily explained. Since I (centre of consciousness) do exist, but cannot have been brought into existence, I must have always existed, though not in my current embodiment. I find the argument totally compelling, but I am inclined to believe that anyway.)

      • JohnKnight
        May 21, 2016 at 4:54 pm

        Evolution is not an hypothesis. It is a fact, that is a scientific observation.

        No faith required.

      • Mark
        May 21, 2016 at 1:38 am

        Novel genetically-controlled structures and abilities definitely can and do arise from random mutations. A single, simple point mutation produces nylon-metabolizing bacteria from sugar-consuming strains, for instance.

        Human upright walking is associated with the fusion of two ancestral ape chromosomes into human chromosome Number Two. Our big brains result from a single mutation over two million years ago.

        The common mutation of complete or partial genome duplication is responsible for 30 to 80% of plant species. This means of evolving new species occurs in one generation. Humans have at least two such total duplications in our evolutionary history.

        I never ruled out random mutations, I am saying our environment triggers evolutionary changes, everything is not a mishmash of random changes that stuck, that is illogical nonsense.

        I never mentioned plants, who’s evolution would be faster, they certainly adapt to environment rather than luck their way randomly to success.

        You also state too much certainty in what you are saying, evolution is still a very open question.

        Environmental triggers on a mother while pregnant will affect the fetus she carries. Increased stress during pregnancy is shown to increase the prospect of an aggressive offspring, a natural survival mechanism, a connection between environment and gene switching.

        It’s not all down to random occurrences, given how slow evolutionary change is for humans, gene switching makes more sense in terms of actual adaption.

        It’s a mix, but I suspect gene switching plays a more dominant shorter term role in adaption in animals than in plants

      • JohnKnight
        May 21, 2016 at 8:13 pm

        Exactly the level of scientific discussion I’d expect from a creationist.

        Mark – Helsinki
        May 22, 2016 at 1:07 am

        Evolution is a fact. If you doubt that, you have never studied it, let alone worked in the field.

        Random mutations, such as from cosmic rays, mutagenic agents, mistakes in replication, etc, producing genomic deletions, substitutions and multiplications, are an important source of the genetic variability upon which evolutionary processes work. But there are others.

        Please cite what evidence you imagine you have in favor of your so far baseless speculation about environmental triggers. Children of mothers subject to various shocks can indeed suffer consequences, but for any changes to affect evolution, they need to be heritable.

        Evolution acts on populations of reproducing organisms, not on individuals. Your conjecture sounds Lamarckian. Evolution now is understood at the molecular level.

        If you doubt the reality of evolution, maybe you’ve never lost a friend or family member to MRSA.

      • Mark – Helsinki,

        Does it even occur to you that imagining things happened, is not the same as actuality observing them? Seriously?

      • PS~

        “Please cite what evidence you imagine you have in favor of your so far baseless speculation about environmental triggers.”

        What the hell do you think you wrote about right before that question?

        “Random mutations, such as from cosmic rays, mutagenic agents, mistakes in replication, etc, producing genomic deletions, substitutions and multiplications, are an important source of the genetic variability upon which evolutionary processes work.”


      • John,

        Mutations from each of the sources I cited have been repeatedly observed. That’s as far from baseless as is possible. And by repeatedly, I mean not just daily but hourly and minutely.

        Sorry, but your total and complete ignorance of the topic upon which you presume to comment is shamefully on display.

      • Gabro,

        I’m not disputing that evolution in the everyday small changes/variations among offspring sense happens, that is utterly obvious and as far as I know has never been disputed by anyone on the planet . . and humans have been exploiting the variations in offspring sort of “evolution” to breed plants and animals that are specialized, for ages.

        I am saying that simply imagining that all living things arose as a result of that sort of “variation on a theme” process (which I’m calling; Evolution), is imagining, not observing that it happened. Get it?

      • John,

        Clearly, you do not get it. Because you don’t want to get it.

        No one “imagines” that existing species have arisen by common descent from distant ancestors. That is a fact observed daily by looking at the genomes of all living things.

        Science used to have infer common descent from evidence such as fossils, embryology, biogeography, etc, indeed all available sources of information about the history of life on earth. The inference was unavoidable and not the least bit in question among scientists active in the relevant fields. But for decades now, inference has not been necessary.

        Today we can see directly the genetic changes that have occurred, for instance, for early eukaryotes to evolve into opisthokonts, opisthokonts into fungi and protozoa, protozoa into metazoa (animals), early animals into bilaterians, bilaterians into deuterostomes, deuterostomes into Chordata, chordates into vertebrates, vertebrates into bony fish, bony fish into lobe fins, lobe fins into tetrapods, tetrapods into “amphibians”, amphibians into “reptiles”, “reptiles” into mammals, etc. The genetic markers are confirmed by all the other lines of evidence, ie anatomical, physiological, embryological, you name it.

        Please study long and hard before commenting on a topic about which you plainly know nothing. Got it? Thanks.

      • Gabro,

        Can you grasp the idea that you are simply imaging this;

        “Sorry, but your total and complete ignorance of the topic upon which you presume to comment is shamefully on display.”

        Can you fathom that a person could be well aware of the topic, and have a different view of these matters than you have? Sorta like CAGW is . . To many people a supposed “scientific fact”, yet there exist many other people (myself among them), who don;t see CAGW as a scientific fact, NOT just because they are unaware of the topic.

        Simply put; Can you grasp the possibility that other concepts have been “promoted” to ostensible scientific fact status, which are not really scientific facts? Is it even possible to your mind?

        Perhaps you can grasp this potential more easily with something like the “Big Bang”. If someone declared that it’s a scientific fact that the universe began that way, do you understand why people well aware of the concept/evidence might object to tha being t labeled a “scientific fact” or an “observed” occurrence?

      • John Knight,

        Can you grasp that you are willfully ignorant? That you can’t handle the truth?

        What genetic mechanism do you imagine stops adaptation from becoming speciation? What mechanism stops speciation from becoming the origin of a new genus, family, order, class or phylum of life? There is no such limiting mechanism. Changes accumulate.

        Here are the facts. No imagination required. Not just genetic data but the fossil record, vertebrate anatomy, physiology and embryology all support these observations.

        During the Late Devonian, there were a lot of relatives of today’s lung fish (and equally of tetrapods like us, but naturally they looked more like lung fish), which lived in shallow coastal environments. They gulped air from the atmosphere as well as obtaining it from the oxygen-poor waters via gills, just as do modern lung fish.

        These fish were under selective pressure to strengthen their limbs, especially their forelimbs, since being able to crawl onto land afforded them both refuge from predators and access to food, as arthropods has already colonized dry land. In a variety of lung fish-relative lineages, wrists and “fingers” evolved from lower limb bones and fin rays. Some of the lines which went extinct were at times even more tetrapod-like than those which led to tetrapods. This is not conjecture but fact, ie observation of fossils, confirmed by embryology and genetics.

        By the Early Carboniferous, these descendants of lung fish-relatives had become tetrapods. There is a one-to-one correspondence between the skeletal anatomy of early tetrapods and Late Devonian lung fish relatives. Much of human anatomy, developmental biology and physiology stems directly from our fish ancestors.

        I urge you to read “Your Inner Fish” or even just to watch the videos in this series, by prominent anatomist, physiologist and paleontologist Neil Shubin, discoverer of proto-tetrapod Tiktaalik, if you dare:

      • John,

        Since I doubt you’ll bother to educate yourself out of fear of what you might find, I’ll mention just one observation.

        Why would a supposedly intelligent designer create us so that our gonads start in our chests, then migrate toward our groins? For mammalian males, this produces the defect of hernias, since there have to be holes through which the testes pass en route to the sacks which hold them outside the body so as to keep them at a temperature which won’t kill off the sperm.

        But studying our evolution through embryology, comparative anatomy and fossils shows why this stupid design exists. The unavoidable conclusion is evolution from fishy ancestors.

        Multiply this observation hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of times and you get the fact of observed evolution not only of new species but of higher classifications, all the way up to kingdom level.

      • JohnKnight
        May 22, 2016 at 4:59 pm

        Thanks for confirming, if any further confirmation were needed, that you can’t grasp reality, and worse yet, don’t want to.

      • Ahhh Gabro, your narrow closed mind limits your imagination. JohnKnight at least exhibits an open mind.
        Gabro your conflating natural selection and evolution with whatever creation event brought these things about.

      • “But studying our evolution through embryology, comparative anatomy and fossils shows why this stupid design exists.”

        Unless of course “we” simply haven’t yet figured out why those things are as they are, incredibly naive one. Simply assuming that it would be obvious, is just plain silly to me.

      • I have always had a problem with the idea that entropy increases or stays the same, yet random inert matter somehow takes a leap up the animate ladder. And every step of incredible sophistication from amino acids to RNA to DNA just randomly takes that leap. It’s monkeys and typewriters all the way down.

      • PS~

        ” For mammalian males, this produces the defect of hernias, since there have to be holes through which the testes pass en route to the sacks which hold them outside the body so as to keep them at a temperature which won’t kill off the sperm.”

        So why didn’t mammals simply evolve sperm that weren’t so finicky? If the great god of bit by bit can turn microbes into whales (who have internal testes, right?) and critters that live in hot vents, one would think it could manage something so simple as sperm that can survive at mammal body temps . . if this is a serious survival issue . .

      • both the evolutionists and the de-evolutionsts are talking past the biggest factor in evolution- Time.
        Water liquid water appeared about 4.3 trillion years ago(TYA). The first Achaeo prokaryotes(cell with no nucleus) appeared about 4.1 TYA. The survived apparently on methane and sulphur compounds for energy. Photosynthesis appeared at about 3.4TYA in the form of iron oxides. 2.5TYA shows the first significant appearance of oxygen in the atmosphere. By 2.3TYA virtually all the Archaeo prokaryotes disappeared with the survivors adapting to underwater volcanic events. They were displaced by much more efficient Eucharyotes(having a nucleus with DNA in it). Somewhere between 2.5TYA and 1.2 TYA multicellular life appeared. About half a million years ago life started to appear on land. It took until ~85MYA for primates to appear, the bipedal genus Homo only appeared about 2.8MYA. The first Homo sapiens only 160,000 YAG. Modern Homo sapiens sapiens both anatomically and behaviorally appeared between 50-40000 YAG.

        That is a stupendous amount of time! Nothing evolutionary theory can establish a path from Achaeo prokaryotes. One thing is certain though. Modern man did not just appear 6000 years ago. But strangely, that time frame is in the middle of the current interglacial. The sudden change in sea level, along with other widespread climate changes caused many behavioral changes. Multiple civilizations and large cities arose around that time along with the development of farming.

      • Man Tran
        May 22, 2016 at 7:35 pm

        From nucleic acids (not amino acids) to RNA and DNA isn’t “random”. It’s simply chemistry. RNA, like many complex molecules and chemical compounds. self-assembles under a variety of conditions and with the aid of various catalysts. There is no mystery involved. This self-assembly has been repeatedly observed in nature and in the lab.

        Amino acids are the building blocks of peptides. Polypeptides are proteins. Amino acids abound in meteorites. RNA is able both to replicate itself and to catalyze the synthesis of peptides.

        Please study the basics of life science before presuming to comment thereupon. Thanks.

        It never ceases to amaze me how people without any education whatsoever in the essential basics of biology, chemistry and physics feel qualified to comment on these disciplines out of total ignorance. But of course the profound, total ignorance is essential in order to hold the anti-scientific opinions that you express.

      • JohnKnight
        May 22, 2016 at 7:32 pm

        I’d have thought that this was obvious, but I guess I should never underestimate the inability of the uneducated to think.

        Actually there are some mammal males without scrota, but they have low body temperature or live in cold environments.

        Sperm, like their single-celled ancestors, can only survive in a fairly narrow range of conditions. Extremophiles exist, but they are rarely if ever the highly complex cells of eukaryotes. Most are archaeans, one of the two prokaryote groups.

        But you miss the point. Please explain in creationist terms why the designer was so stupid and incompetent to design land vertebrates who, like their fish ancestors, develop gonads in their chests, then migrate them down to their groins, leaving possibly fatal anatomical weaknesses in the wake of this migration.


      • Sun Spot
        May 22, 2016 at 6:57 pm

        John exhibits complete and total ignorance, willfully so, since he refuses to consider the overwhelming evidence in support of the fact of evolution.

        My mind is open to any and all evidence. His is closed to all of it.

        An open mind must not be an empty mind. Mine is filled with evidence from the real world, all of which confirms the fact of evolution and not a single shred of which is against it.

      • Man Tran May 22, 2016 at 7:35 pm
        I have always had a problem with the idea that entropy increases or stays the same, yet random inert matter somehow takes a leap up the animate ladder. And every step of incredible sophistication from amino acids to RNA to DNA just randomly takes that leap. It’s monkeys and typewriters all the way down.

        This confusion dates back to – not Darwin – but Herbert Spencer. One of the strawman arguments that is commonly advanced “against” evolution is that it “must” operate against the Second Law. Quite the contrary, without the Second Law there would be no evolution. Evolution consists of two distinct processes. One is the entropic change of “information” in DNA. All those mutations and point changes in DNA are nothing more or less than entropic decay. The second process is a filtering or screening action. Like water running down hill, energy captured in chemical reactions at the planetary surface (the planet’s energy placement is far from equilibrium in a universe with and average temperature of about 2K so rather than simple near-equilibrium energy processes you need to look at self-organizing system, such as what Ira Prigogine wrote about) and that energy has to move or else it would indeed violate the Second Law. Life and evolutionary change exists within and accordance with the Second Law.

        Darwin never used the word “evolution” in proximity to “theory” in the Origin of Species. Spencer butted in arguing that there was a “Law of Evolution” and went on about at great and very tedious length. If instead of confounding change with progress, while recollecting that the earth and everything on it is in an energy environment very far from equilibrium, then speciation is no more than entropy. Life is a stream of energy passing through matter and living matter has more in common with eddies in a stream than with “objects.” If that is true then, far from being rare “life” in one form or another is nearly inevitable in the vicinity of stars where there is sufficient chemical complexity to support interactions that trap energy. You need to initially discard the idea that we are “special” in the universe.

      • Sun Spot
        May 22, 2016 at 6:57 pm

        To me it appears that Mr. Knight’s mind is closed to any and all actual fact and reasoning. Same as every creationist. You can’t be a creationist without closing your mind, eyes, ears and reason to all objective reality and going “Nah, nah, nah, I can’t hear or see you!”. At best creationists make lame excuses, then when foiled, just cook up more. Of valid argument and evidence, they are totally bereft.

      • “Sperm, like their single-celled ancestors, can only survive in a fairly narrow range of conditions.”

        Because . . ? No because, no meaningful answer.

        Do you understand that? Do you grasp that just saying it’s so, is not an explanation for anything?

      • Duster
        May 22, 2016 at 8:50 pm

        The idiotic Second Law “argument” against evolution is one of the lamest of a lame lot.

        If physics worked as creationists imagine, then no chemical reactions would be possible, let alone evolution.

        It’s laughable. Insane, in fact. Not just stupid.

      • John,

        Do your betters have to do all your research for you?

        Are you really unaware that various cells have tolerance limits for heat and other environmental conditions? Do people with scientific educations need to hold your hand at every stage?

        Evolution has to operate within the physical limits of biological activity. I would have thought that to be obvious even to the totally uneducated, such as yourself. I guess I was wrong.

      • “You need to initially discard the idea that we are “special” in the universe.”

        Sure, then the genocides begin . . again. A quarter of a billion, murdered in cold blood . . by leaders and their minions who discarded the idea that we are anything special in the universe.

      • Please notice, readers, how these Evo zealots treat non-believers/skeptics. Immediately assuming that if one is not a strong believer, one MUST be ignorant of the idea and evidence. Instant superiority, just by eliminating any alternative from consideration. Accusations of “willful ignorance” and such are just dealt out with godlike certitude.

        I was a true believer, till I was in my early forties, but never did I elevate my belief to the level of unquestionable fact and attack/demean those who did not agree . . like the CAGW zeolots do too . . and the SJWs . .

        The common thread? Inability to tell where observation ends and imagination begins, it seems to me.

      • John Knight,

        We treat you as ignorant because you demonstrate your ignorance over and over again and refuse to deal with the evidence.

        The solution evolution came up with for overheating of mammalian sperm because of our warm-bloodedness was the scrotum.

        Now kindly answer the question and explain why a supposedly intelligent designer would start gonads out in the chest of the developing embryo, as in fish, then have them descend through the body wall into testes, leaving behind hernia-making holes. What possible reason can there be for this idiotically stupid design? The obvious answer to anyone not blinded by faith is that mammal evolved from fish.

        As is shown by every other line of evidence. All of which you ignore.

      • “We treat you as ignorant because you demonstrate your ignorance over and over again and refuse to deal with the evidence.”

        You forgot (again) to point out anything I said that backs up your claim. How exactly do you know I am not twice as educated on these matters as you are?

        It’s that I don’t agree with your conclusions/beliefs, right? That’s all you need to know, right?

      • PS~

        Again, if the great god of bit by bit has generated all the vast array of living things, why haven’t mammals evolved a solution yo your supposed serious problem? Why not start those gonads outside the body? What makes this particular problem so special, do you . . imagine? It supposedly made far more complex alterations in all manner of critter, including things like complete rearangement of body structure within a single lifetime of many creatures . . but, for some reason couldn’t move those gonads over a few millimeters, to end this terrible design problem you . . imagine exists.

        I have not agreed it is a big problem . . and sort of assume there are good reasons for the way things develop in this regard, whether Evolution is the ultimate truth of how we came to be or not. If it is, that sort problem is relative child’s play to overcome, as is adapting sperm to a slightly different temp range. It really is just a tiny difference you know . .

      • Gabro,

        I just checked, and the body temperature of whales is a bit higher than ours, so your entire argument about that matter is . . kaput.

      • I always love it when trolls declare that anyone who doesn’t believe as they do are illogical and irrational.
        Nothing says tolerance like an atheist automatically insulting everyone who isn’t an atheist.

      • JohnKnight
        May 22, 2016 at 11:06 pm

        Why do you persist in making a fool of yourself?

        I don’t think I mentioned whales, but they are a good example. They don’t have scrota because, while their core body temperature is high, their gonads are close to water, which, even if warmer than the surrounding air, transfers heat from the body at 27 times the rate in air.

        It now appears that not only have you never studied biology but physics as well.

        If it is not because of heating in warm-blooded animals, why do you suppose that the mammalian scrotum evolved? Just another question for you to avoid answering, like the original one about the evolution of mammals from fish, as shown by the descent of our gonads in embryo from their fish location in the chest to lower abdomen, causing in males holes subject to hernia. I repeat, why would any but a grossly incompetent, intensely stupid designer do that?

      • Gabro,

        ” They don’t have scrota because, while their core body temperature is high, their gonads are close to water, which, even if warmer than the surrounding air, transfers heat from the body at 27 times the rate in air.”

        Where’s your evidence for this insinuated lower temperature of the testes claim? Your imagination might seem like an infallible source of absolute truth to you, but I have no such faith in it. And I see no indication on the Wiki ‘Male whale reproductive system’ pic., that the testes are near the water, or any internal “plumbing” that might be specifically cooling them;

        I suspect you’re just making chit up, and I’m bored with you and your magical imagination, frankly.

        Take care though, I still want to see you in heaven someday ; )

      • Gabro; I noticed you studiously avoided addressing David A. . . .

        David A
        May 21, 2016 at 5:35 am

        basser says,
        A vast number of people have a religious faith, despite it being illogical and irrational,
        Your atheist assertion is not science based. The cosmological argument stands. Science is limited to cause and affect, which demands a first cause of unlimited energy beyond science, or asserts that all things inclusive are without cause, causeless, thus defeating its very foundation

      • Just found this quote which fits the cat fight we seem to have here:

        Religion is belief in a supreme being. Science is belief in a supreme generalization. Essentially they are the same. Both are the suppressors of witchcraft.

        Charles Fort

      • “Religion is belief in a supreme being…”

        No, that’s just one aspect of monotheistic religious belief, being spoken of as religion, but a belief is not itself a religion . . Many extremely simplistic ideas like that one have been indoctrinated into us through mass media/education systems, it seems very obvious to me, that are essentially understanding stifling gibberish . . Cartoon level profundities, that serve only to stimulate reactive-mind dismissal of further inquiry/investigation. . . a form of psychological witchcraft, one might say ; )

      • Sun Spot
        May 24, 2016 at 6:57 am

        I cannot studiously avoid replying to a comment I didn’t see.

        The cosmological argument doesn’t stand as science. It is a defensible conjecture in the Current state of knowledge, but it is not a scientific statement, since it’s not falsifiable. At present, it can be neither confirmed nor shown false. It makes not testable prediction.

        Science does not demand a first cause of unlimited energy beyond science, or assert that all things inclusive are without cause, causeless, thus defeating its very foundation. This verbiage verges on the meaningless.

        No one needs to know how the universe or multiverse came about in order to study it, any more than we need to know precisely how life arose in order to study evolution.

      • Man,

        This statement is wrong on all scores:

        “Religion is belief in a supreme being. Science is belief in a supreme generalization. Essentially they are the same. Both are the suppressors of witchcraft.”

        Buddhism is considered a religion, but doesn’t imagine a God in the same way that the Abrahamic religions do. Much religious practice is the same as witchcraft. A priest magically turns bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

        What generalization do you suppose science believes? Science is a method, not a generalization or a belief.

      • Gabro; you ask “What generalization do you suppose science believes? ” , why science/scientism currently believes in cAGW, sort of a joke don’t you think?

      • Sun Spot
        May 24, 2016 at 7:01 pm

        Government and industry flacks tout CACCA, but it is not a matter of belief.

        CACCA is a perversion of science, motivated by an ideological and political agenda.

      • Gabro; “but it is not a matter of belief.” , your correct it’s not a matter of belief, cAGW if faith based scientism, as demonstrated every day at this web site. Leave faith to Religion that’s where it properly belongs.

    • There certainly are other intelligent lifeforms on earth. We judge by our standard of intelligence. Dolphins are certainly intelligent and self aware. We assume these creatures are not intelligent because they dont lie. That’s not a measurement of intelligence.

      Put a dolphin brain into a human body, who’s to say it cant learn to use a computer? Or learn to lie? We dont know, Dolphins are limited to their physical bodies and their environment.
      An Orca understand that if you catch a shark by it’s tail and drag it backwards it drowns. Orca only really started feeding on sharks in recent times as per studies on their teeth which show them worn down to nothing from eating sharks.

      If an Orca can think hey this shark needs to swim forward to breathe.. there are humans who would not have thought of that.

      Our measure of intelligence is wrong. We can make things because our environment allows us to, if we were water born with the same intelligence but Dolphin-like bodies, how could we have built what we have?

      Modern civilisation is not down to intelligence solely, but also our physical form

      • and we confuse the two, all of our civilisation is down to our body’s capabilities and our environment which we can use for resources, and we apply our intelligence to make use of it, but without said physical form and environment, we could not make use of resources

    • Because of the way evolution works, it’s probably very unlikely that two independent intelligence species would evolve and survive on the same planet. If two intelligent races started to evolve they wouldn’t appear at the same time, there would probably be a gap of at least thousands of years, more likely millions of years. The race that evolved first would have a massive advantage in terms of technological development, particularly weapons. Most likely any late-comers would be exterminated by the first intelligent species. There probably aren’t many Neanderthals living today….

      • There used to be a controversy over whether or not Neanderthals simply became extinct or whether they interbred with homo-sapiens. Recent advances in the study of the human genome suggest that most people outside Africa have a very small percentage of Neanderthal genes. Most Africans are descended from people who stayed in Africa and whose ancestors did not have the opportunity to mix with Neanderthals, unlike Europeans and Asians.

      • At least three intelligent human subspecies co-existed until 30,000 years ago or even more recently: Moderns, Neanderthals and Denisovans. Relic populations of Homo erectus and H. floresiensis might even have survived to as recently as 25,000 years ago, but at least 50,000 in the case of the Flores Island “Hobbit’.

        So, yes, eventually one group, ie we Moderns, did wipe out one way or another competing intelligent kin groups, although not without some inbreeding.

        Some birds, cetaceans, carnivores, elephants and primates show complex mental function, but not to the same extent as humans. Chimps actually have better spatial memory than humans.

    • I will add that these are metaphysical arguments.

      “Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct; but to find these reasons is no less an instinct.”

      F. H. Bradley: Appearance and Reality, preface (1893).

    • The present state of affairs on earth I not certain there is intelligent life forms on earth. Just look at the stupidity that surrounds us. Man made Global warming, you can get free energy from the sun and wind. We should not eat meat, fat is bad for you. GMO is bad. Organic is good(yea ask Chipotle about that!) The list goes on.

  3. Personally, I believe we have been visited by aliens in the last 40 years,but having found no intelligent life forms, they buggered off for more promising areas. Say Alpha Proxima.

    • They’ve been here awright. Wife ‘n I was in the house one evening eatin’ supper ‘n this metal looking object landed down there by the barn. Door come open and something like a white pygmy come out ‘n started towards the house. I grabbed my shotgun and run out there and said “. . . you get on outa here you trashy old thing!” It kept acoming ‘n wavin’ what looked like a hand. That’s when I blasted it and that metal thing took off. Wife ‘n I buried it out in the field. Damnedest thing you ever seen.

      • What did you do with the flying saucer? Have you figured out how to drive it yet or haven’t you tried because you are worried your car insurance would not cover any accidents with the saucer?

      • After re-reading your message I noticed that the saucer escaped. Perhaps it landed again nearby so the aliens can search for the white pygmy you shot. If I were you I would contact the local sheriff so he can round up a posse and go looking for the saucer.

  4. A case could be made that they’re already here and not the nice ones, either.
    Just think of the political systems and agendas which try to emulate the Borg collective.

  5. An intelligent civilization is likely to have built AI machines as well. I imagine the AI machines are the biggest risk since they are more susceptible to take on a mistaken mission.

    But the simple fact is that it is probably impossible to travel faster than the speed of light or even a small fraction of that speed. In other words, we (us and the other intelligent civilizations and their machines) are all stuck in our own little solar system and radio/EM communication that takes centuries in between calls is probably the only contact possible.

    One would need the energy contained in the mass of many black holes in order to be able to travel the galaxy, as well as replenish that energy/mass every few years. The odds are therefore, 1/c.

    • Bill,

      This is just speculation, but I like to think that the speed of light isn’t an absolute speed limit.

      Every time scientists have said something about the universe, it’s turned out they were thinking way too small.

      I remember reading a book in grade school that said there might even be hundreds of galaxies! And not long before that book was written, it was thought that our galaxy was the entire universe.

      We don’t have the answers yet, but the universe may well be infinite (even though our subjective bubble remains very finite). And if the universe isn’t infinite, what’s next door? ☺

      In the 18th century many scientists argued that if railroad trains exceeded 60 mph, the passengers would be asphyxiated. And heavier than air travel? No possible way!

      FTL travel may be just a technical problem that will be overcome. Or not. But if it isn’t, we live in a pretty boring universe — but at least we don’t have to worry about having aliens come knocking. It would take them way too long to get here.

    • Bill, all the rules that relate to “c” apply only to baryonic matter. Care to bet that the usual “Laws” apply to the other 95% ?

    • Interesting point, an advanced civilization would almost certainly be able to make robots that are indistinguishable from humans. We are even starting to experiment along those lines ourselves, look up Actroid for example. Not very convincing, but then it’s an early version.

  6. The good thing about being so far apart is that they’re likely just as dumb there as here.

  7. We are clearly not in the same league as beings who can travel between stars. If they exist and if they show up, we are at their mercy.

  8. SoL transmission, less than or equal to SoL response. No worries. It is a waste of energy. Let’s stipulate that the only energy used comes from burning maize-corn.

    We are all stuck in our causal universes.

  9. “Further, the Earth grows quieter annually as more information is transmitted via cable, the Internet, and satellites rather than terrestrially over the air.”

    The author appears not to understand that satellites also use the RF spectrum. The number of satellites continues increase – 1,381 as of December 2015. That includes 493 geostationary satellites, which are predominantly used for communication.

    This paper appears to ignore the increased congestion of the RF spectrum, caused by dramatic increases in commercial consumption of bandwidth around the world. Wireless technologies have been more rapidly taken up in developing countries, because they need far less infrastructure that traditional copper or modern fibre networks, and so are much cheaper to roll out.

    Our world is definitely not getting quieter in the RF spectrum.

    • Sure but satellites are not connected to the power grid so their output must be quite limited.

      • “…so their [satellite] output must be quite limited.”

        The point is not the link from the satellite to the ground (downlink), the point is the link from the ground to the satellite (uplink)…which can be 1000 watts ERP or more.

  10. A prima facie case for intelligence ‘out there’ is that they’ve avoided coming here, until now. Let’s keep it that way. Shostak’s been beating his drum for more funding and attention for about 3 decades now. When I hear his name anymore, I reach for my gun.

    • @ the other Ed, The first ( and the same ) thought I had was a picture of another “scientist” with his hands out.

  11. Read “Where Are They?” by Nick Bostrom, professor from Oxford (, or watch his TED Talk. I’m convinced of his conclusion that this search will find nothing. Too much time has passed; it took too much time for life to evolve on this planet after it had cooled and the right conditions arose.

    • They may be there, but If they are intelligent, they will remain silent, just as we should until we can qualify what is out there ( we are a long way off from being able to do this ). Listening is fine, but a smart species waits until it knows the “lay of the land” before announcing their prescence

  12. You have heard this wording before? – “There is nothing to look at here; move along.” Apparently it was inspired by aliens coming to Earth seeking out intelligent life.

  13. Irrelevant and a waste of money since “they” are already “here” based on police, military personnel & pilot observers. Too bad that in order to maintain a semblance of national security even these are considered to have mental & observational acuity issues. So just safer to imply that all those experts operating radar, flying commercial/military planes & standing guard over nuke storage & missile facilities also need psychological adjustment…….

    • Three billion devices on the planet capable of taking hi-def pictures and video, yet not a single, credible image of these ‘things’ that are ‘here’ exists

      • Well if any were taken, an instant claim of fakery would surface along with a determination of “just another natural phenomenon” by an instant gov. expert in such matters. However, to show what would typically happen is provided by astronaut Gordon Cooper during a foray at Edwards AFB; but hey, he’s “just” an astronaut so no conceivable credibility there….
        “According to his accounts, Cooper realized that these men, who on a regular basis have seen experimental aircraft flying and landing around them as part of their job of filming those aircraft, were clearly worked up and unnerved. They explained how the saucer hovered over them, landed 50 yards away from them using three extended landing gears and then took off as they approached for a closer look. Being photographers with cameras in hand, they of course shot images with 35mm and 4×5 still cameras as well as motion picture film. There was a special Pentagon number to call to report incidents like this. He called and it immediately went up the chain of command until he was instructed by a general to have the film developed (but to make no prints of it) and send it right away in a locked courier pouch. As he had not been instructed to not look at the negatives before sending them, he did. He said the quality of the photography was excellent as would be expected from the experienced photographers who took them. What he saw was exactly what they had described to him. He did not see the movie film before everything was sent away. He expected that there would be a follow up investigation since an aircraft of unknown origin had landed in a highly classified military installation, but nothing was ever said of the incident again. He was never able to track down what happened to those photos.”

  14. We listen to space and we hear nothing we can make sense of. Are our egos so inflated that we cannot understand that we may NOT be the most advanced sentient species around. It is a mistake we can only make ONCE if we guess wrong. Humility is a wonderful thing. We need a BIG dose.

  15. Light travels very slowly. The first TV broadcasts are only about ±70 light years out. Radio, about a hundred.

    That’s nothing:

    [click to embiggen]

    • Yup, that’s the only relevant point here db. There could be no finer illustration of Einstein’s famous quote “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

  16. Hmm…
    Clime “Scientists” want us to reduce our carbon while
    ET’s may very well want to reduce us to carbon.

  17. “Their homeworld is a place called Earth. Located in a fairly uninteresting part of the galaxy. We had never bothered much with that area before, had little military or strategic value.” – Emperor Molari

    It may not be the best to wake the dragon.

    • or as Stephen Hawking put it…

      “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America; which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.”

  18. In the absence of any other information, just assume “they” will be like “us”. Do we want a powerful, star-faring “us” visiting us? Like “us” as in, “the worst of us – never the best”.

    I would like to seriously discourage this idea.

  19. Cost-benefit analysis will save us. There is nothing on Earth that could be of any possible value to an alien species which already has the technology to get here. It would be like trekking to the South Pole in order to obtain a snowflake.

  20. Isn’t SETI enough?
    More important “stuff” we should be taking care of.

    But, it’s a Friday night and there must be a song in this somewhere.

    Oh, yes there is, The Moody Blues.

    “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”

    I know you’re out there somewhere
    Somewhere, somewhere
    I know I’ll find you somehow
    Somehow, somehow
    And somehow I’ll return again to you…..

  21. I can just picture a “geek” in a uniform (sorry, best mental image I can conjurer) yelling out into space from the base of Arecibo; “Can You Hear Me Now”…..

    Boy, talk about urinating into the stellar wind…

    I say “knock yourselves out, scream at the top of your radio lungs”, just do it with your own dollars….

    Oh, and if it works I expect the great-great-great—grandkids of them to stand side by side with my great-great-great—grandkids to “defend the fort” and not to slink away muttering “sorry, in retrospect that was a very bad idea, won’t happen again, I promise”

    Cheers, KevinK

  22. If we do contact ET, and he, she, or it is like us, it is likely that ET will find some way to gouge us for the price of conversing, as we used to do for telephone conversations.

  23. Looking forward to the day some alien space craft shows up dragging Pioneer 10 behind it, deposits it on NASAs front door step and a note descends attached to a cable.
    ” Is this yours?”
    ” If it is, would you kindly stop chucking your junk around in Space, it is making the place untidy.”

  24. Finding more and more exoplanets, all the time. Wish I could remember the last estimate. Billions?

    Milky Way Galaxy
    Our home galaxy the Milky Way has a radius of 34 kiloparsecs (110,000 light years) and contains 100 to 400 billion (B) stars. The Stellar Neighborhood is a small region at a distance of 8.33 kiloparsecs (27,200 light years) from its center.

    Estimated Number of Habitable Worlds*
    40B – 49B
    Around M-Dwarf Stars
    38B – 46B
    Around Solar-like Stars
    2B – 3B
    * B = billions

    • For a completely hilarious take on this topic, see Tim Allen’s “Galaxy Quest” with the great Alan Rickman as the Spock character. Aliens pick up earth’s transmission of the Galaxy Quest TV show and assume it is an ‘historical record’ – check it out before stirring the pot of interstellar (miss) communication.

    • Saw a program just this week, with Michio Kaku, saying that most of the exoplanets are “hellish”. I.e., the frequency of exoplanets that are hospitable to life appears to be much lower than was expected. Sorry, don’t remember many details, just watched it a few minutes.

  25. Anyone who mentions “The Precautionary Principle” in the Climate Wars is forbidden from endorsing METI. Violators should be shot as double agents.

  26. I think we have a moral obligation to broadcast our presence, so the intelligent races of the galaxy can avoid accidental contamination by our stupidity. I suggest the “We’re here!” message be recorded by politicians, for maximum impact. :-)

  27. In Arthur C. Clarke’s book, The Fountains of Paradise, he describes what to me is the most likely first contact scenario. The book is well worth your time for several reasons, that being one of them.

    • “The Mote in God’s Eye” — Niven & Pournelle, is the best 1st contact sci-fi novel IMHO.

  28. It might be cool to contact “aliens”, but I assume they would just be searching for the same answers to our questions.

  29. Couldn’t we find a better use for that money than this? It serves no purpose scientifically.

    That doesn’t count the more negative possibilities.

    It’s like all the counting of earth like or life supporting planets they’re finding.

    Until/unless we succeed in discovering a way to travel a lot faster than light, we’re never going to see those places and knowing about them serves little purpose here on Earth. Again money spent that could be used more productively elsewhere.

    Let’s get out into and explore our own solar system before we start worrying about what’s 1300 light years away.

  30. Depends on the message we transmit, dunnit? “Though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil, because I’m the meanest motherf**ker in the valley.”


    • Yes, Pointman, until we run into the interstellar version of a velociraptor, then we’ll see who’s the ‘baddest’

      • I suspect the velociraptor had nothing on a Bengal tiger, and we’ve solved that one.

        Recall that most dinos had brains the size of walnuts; probably very predictable.

    • That’s rather the point. You don’t run into apex predators, they specialise in finding you all by themselves. Hammer or the nail …


    • I think it would be better to transmit the original version than the blasphemous one. If aliens are intelligent enough to decipher it then although they won’t recognise the source they might be able to deduce that we have a moral code based on a belief in God.

  31. Rather than us sending THEM a signal, there has been a lot of speculation for many years now that it was the other way around. Anybody remember the WOW! signal from Aug. 15th, 1977?

    Since it was picked up and recorded, there has been of course a lot of speculation about its source including that it came from an intelligent alien source.

    Now however, there MAY be a perfectly natural explanation for it:


    “It just so happens that two comets, 266P/Christensen and P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs), have orbits that would have put them in position in 1977 to be the possible source of the signal. Neither of these comets had been discovered yet in 1977, so nobody thought of them until now.

    When comets pass close enough to the sun, they release a lot of hydrogen, and it’s possible that hydrogen being shed in this way could emit at the same wavelength as the “Wow!” signal.

    Comet 266P/Christensen is scheduled to return to the same region of space as it was in 1977 on Jan. 25 2017. Comet P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs) will return on Jan. 7 2018. This means that scientists can re-analyze both comets to see if their hydrogen signature matches the “Wow!” signal. If one of them does, that would seemingly put the issue to rest….”

    I’m not a scientist have been wondering about the WOW! signal for many years now. Let’s hope that this explanation for it is the correct one.

    • Rewrite: I’m not a scientist BUT have been wondering…. The signal was never picked up again, so the comet/hydrogen explanation certainly sounds like the most plausible one.

    • There are lots of comets in the solar system. If a comet was the source of the WOW signal how come we haven’t picked up similar signals from other comets?

      • @Roy: The comet has to get close enough to the sun (a star) to emit large amounts of hydrogen. How often does that happen? And the antenna has to be at the right place at the right time to pick up the hydrogen signal from the comet. How often does that happen?

        I’m not a scientist, so I can’t answer those questions.

  32. Life forms, even aliens would not choose to travel in space for thousands of years, unless they were exceptionally advanced, or desperate. In that case they would regard us as mere cockroaches to be crushed, or taken advantage of. We should keep quiet..

  33. Well if they do come and they are nice and advanced in all the wonderful ways proponents hope they are, we can then breath easy, reach out to shake hands or whatever, then we knock’em on the head and steal all their stuff. Its a plan right?


  34. You mean all that huge universe is out there and we can’t get to it!?

    Well, there is a lot about the universe we don’t know. I wouldn’t rule anything out.

  35. ….”Dr. Leif Svalgaard advise us of this paper via email.” ?
    …Should that be ADVISED us ?

  36. Pointless question, because by putting a telescope not terribly far from their own star, the aliens can use gravitational lensing to detect even the weak radio signals from our street lights. We have been signaling for decades.

  37. I’m firmly convinced we’re in quarantine or perhaps solitary confinement. Even if the nurse or jailer hears us yelling they won’t pay any attention. It would be the cosmic equivalent of a puppy whining in the pound.

  38. The precautionary principle taken to absurdity… next we should shut down every signal, light just in case.
    Meanwhile NATO’s reckless politics might do the job much faster than potential aliens.

  39. Seems everyone on Facebook wants to say, “Hallo”, in one form or another. Then soon after the bigotry, genderism and racism emerges in a confligration of hate! Not so much different that USENET NEWS GROUPS.

    I suspect that an “alien” intelligence attempting a “contact” to the peoples of Earth, will be sadly … mistaken in their …. assumptions. And therefore, need to take defensive actions for their own survival. Defensive actions means eradication of a viral and deadly life form to all others; Us.

    Though unprovable, it is perhaps better to think that we Homo Sapiens Sapiens are the first and only sentient organism to emerge from the big bang, and the last.

    • 601non wrote: “Though unprovable, it is perhaps better to think that we Homo Sapiens Sapiens are the first and only sentient organism to emerge from the big bang, and the last.”

      It is said that sentience is necessary for the ability to suffer. I think a lot of different animals feel suffering at some point in their lives.

      I have had a lot of dogs in my life, and I have seen them display very human traits at one time or another. My current Australian shepard talks to me like “Chewbaca” of Star Wars fame. She sounds just like him! :)

      I don’t know why other animals could not reach the level of humans, if given enough time, and the right circumstances. We did it, and we are animals.

      Logically, the universe should be teaming with life of some kind or another. If it only happened here, that would seem to be highly unusual. We would then all need to get down on our knees and thank our creator for treating us in such a special way.

      Of course, if the speed of light is a real limit in the universe, then all these creatures can pretty much live out their lives unmolested by aliens, even if the universe is teaming with life.

      Some migration between stars could take place as sentient beings increased in numbers and started spreading out beyond their solar system into their respective oort cloud, and started utilizing the resources located there.

      Given enough time the migration would reach from one star to another, migrating across one star’s oort cloud to another star’s oort cloud. It would take a long time doing it that way. But, what else do they have to do? :)

  40. ..To put things in perspective, suppose we find alien life forms on another Earth-like planet, and it turns out to be populated by nothing but liberals ?? Now that is scary ! (notice I didn’t say intelligent life) !

  41. Just in time for ID2. Trolling is chumming, in this case.

    I’ll wait for the reviews of the movie, and hope the time with grandsons is better spent than it was in recent experiences.

  42. Maybe they might send missionaries, oops that did not go well in our past.

    Anybody communicate with a Sasquatch yet?

  43. I find all the reactions on this topic really interesting, just a few years ago my wife and I had an interesting experience, we (without a doubt) saw for a few minutes a airborne craft that defied anything we had ever seen. We live close to an international airport, ( I grew up a few miles away from a NATO air-force base as a teenager) and have all kinds of experience in ID’ing planes choppers, seaplanes etc, we are also interested in astronomy, weather phenomena ( Have a Stev screen that does 2x daily obs for the government). This thing was nothing that we could explain, as my wife went back into the house to get a camera ( while I was watching this “craft” hoover above us at about 300 – 350 meters) and brought it out and tried to take pictures, this thing just up and went. After the heart rate went down ( about an hour later we each separately made drawings and wrote down description of the craft. They almost exactly the same. To this day we still have no idea what it might have been but my wife has spend a lot of time on the net and after weeding through all the usual hoopla we have found a few people that have seen and have a similar description of the same craft during the same time frame.
    I realize that this will get derided but WE know what we saw was some thing radically different, after much thought we think it is probably something that uses a new type of propulsion in the line of anti gravity. ( I can already hear the laughter and the derision but I am sure of what we saw and 6 years later it still puzzles us but not in a negative way.)

      • My father had the unfortunate experience of having spent most of his military experience in WWII on the Russian front.
        He said that it was common for them to see “silver discs” in the sky; particularly just before major offensives.
        He/they thought that they were some kind of Russian secret weapon. From the interrigation of Russian prisoners, they learned that the Russians thought that they were German secret weapons.

    • asybot, could you give us a description of the UFO?

      This UFO account seems to be one of the best to me. Hundreds of people saw this UFO, and I have seen tv specials done on it and the witnesses are just your average person, but also includes many police and other officials.

      “Witnesses claim to have observed a huge V-shaped (several football field sized), coherently-moving dark UFO (stars would disappear behind the object and reappear as it passed by), producing no sound, and containing five spherical lights or possibly light-emitting engines. Fife Symington,[2] the governor at the time, was one witness to this incident. As governor he ridiculed the idea of alien origin,[3] but several years later he called the lights he saw “otherworldly” after admitting he saw a similar UFO.”

      I’m not saying alien UFO’s are real, and I’m not saying they are not, but I would sure like to hear a logical explanation for this sighting.

      Yours didn’t happen to be triangular in shape, did it? Completely silent? :)

      • “but I would sure like to hear a logical explanation for this sighting.”

        I was on the road at the time of the Phx lights, I-10 coming back from Tuscon which skirts the back of South Mountain Park. The Phx lights were flares and from the perspective I had it was clear they were flares. They were at different heights, they fell at the same rate but were clearly released at different times AND they fell behind South Mountain. From the perspective of those in Phx, it would appear they were on a single plain, but behind South Mountain you could tell they weren’t. Now I can’t be sure to this day because those freaking flares were so bright–but I think there were men parachuting down too.

        I can hear it now—“but the military said they weren’t doing any exercises that night”. I will counter with this, “since when has the military called the public about any maneuver they are doing? Especially in and around Phx.” Those that remember all the calls about the UFO in the skies that turned out to be a refueling drill can attest to that one. It hit all the public airwaves–“Don’t Panic Folks! That’s just a refueling plane you see!”

        I grew up in Phx and Vegas and I can not tell you the amount of times I’ve been out in the desert riding–or on a desert road where I’ve come across some type of military drill. It happens more often than people think. Heck once while diving near Glen Canyon dam we saw a bunch of guys just cruz past us…wouldn’t have known they were there except we weren’t supposed to be there at the time. They were as surprised as we were. We waved, they waved and moved on.

        So there is your explanation from a person that was on the road behind the largest feature in the Valley–they were flares and nothing more.

      • As if witnesses couldn’t tell the difference between flares and triangular objects blocking out starlight that, according to one observer, was bigger than a newspaper held at arms length. Sad how some will swallow anything the gov. tells them. In addition the objects were seen over a period of hours at different locations and apparently you weren’t, unluckily, in the right spot or time, but hey, you be the expert on others observations.

      • Jenn, there were two “incidents” in Phoenix. The later one were obviously military flares (perhaps done intentionally to confuse), but the earlier one (by 2 hrs) was pretty much right over the outskirts of Phoenix and looked completely different — a huge, low & slow-flying un-illuminated triangle. Don’t confuse the two.

      • Since we are all throwing in our two cents….
        About two years ago, at around 11:30am on a summer weekday, I was about to get into my car parked in front of my house on Mt. Dandenong (Australia) when I glanced up.
        Almost directly above me (bearing ~260, az ~70) was a circular silver object, convex on the top and bottom, but with vertical sides. While overall silver in color, the top and bottom were shiny, while the sides were matt. The top and bottom were featureless, but I could make out several evenly spaced vertical indentations in the sides that were visible to me.
        The object was slowly moving north at a slow pace, against the ground wind which was from the NNW. It was absolutely silent.
        The sky was absolutely clear, blue and cloudless, with no haze. As I was watching, the sun was behind my right shoulder, to the north of my position. There was no other aerial traffic visible to me at the time.
        I watched it until it disappeared below the top of the northern treeline; a period of about five to seven minutes.
        Since the sky was clear, I had no reference points, and therefore could not judge either its height or size; but when I held my fist at arm’s length its length it was about twice the width of my fist and its maximum thickness was about three finger thicknesses. The vertical sides were about one finger thickness thick.
        Subsequently, I checked news reports but heard no mention of any other sightings.

      • @ TA, May 21. No This was in bright daylight, to us we drew a shape that reminded me of one of those elevator capsules on the outside of a skyscraper , it looked glass enclosed for the top 2/3 with a solid bottom with 2 dark rings around the bottom part, it definitely carried 2 people that appeared to be standing up and wore dark sun glasses, or had large dark facial features. ( estimation of their elevation could be off it is hard to guess looking upwards it could have been closer than the 300 m we first thought. maybe as little as 175 -225 meters). I could see arms (2) on both “pilots” and they seemed to be moving controls on a surface in front of them. What struck me was the length of time it hovered, my wife had time to go back into the house for her camera but as soon as she returned and pointed the camera this thing just up and went. I am still not sure if there was an “after glow” but it’s speed was astounding. That is why I can really only think of anti gravity, anything else should have crushed anything biological. There was an event the following night with bright lights shining into our house that we never have been able to explain either all the angles of the lights were impossible from anything like car lights aircraft etc ( and this is the first time I have ever mentioned this to anyone else but the two of us it was frightening)

      • asybot, So your UFO was a small two-person vehicle. It’s amazing you got such a good look at the occupants. Were you using binoculars? Could you tell if they were looking at you?

        The description you give is like a barrel-shaped vehicle with the long axis being vertical. I saw a video of a UFO over Mexico City (I think) that was barrel-shaped with the long axis being vertical, but it appeared to be all metallic and it was hard to judge its size. That’s the only barrel-shaped one I have ever seen or heard of.

        Things like that make you wonder, don’t they. :)

      • TA, I guess the “vehicle” was about 20 -24 feet tall and ~ 8 feet in diameter ( like a blunt bullet shape), imagine the cockpit of a helicopter it is for me the best comparison to make we have a lot of those flying around us, The occupants were definitely looking at both of us. We are still not sure of the elevation it was at as I said looking up in the sky and the totally unusual shape and no noise just left us stunned and you are right it does make you wonder.

    • Two years ago I was flying four of us across the Grand Canyon at FL260. It was about noon in a typical bright, clear sky. My wife comes forward to tap me on the shoulder and points off to the SW where we all see a very large self illuminated billboard at our altitude. It was about the color pink that a ceramic burner gets when it is very hot. Brighter that the sky behind it. LA Center saw nothing on radar. Crisp rectilinear shape in the vertical plane that was apparently at an angle so it appeared trapezoidal as is turned and receded away. No way to judge size or distance, but it was certainly very large.

      • Same sort of thing happened to my friend,he was flying about 2500ft and was warned by Air Control about an unidentified object that was appearing and then dissapearing on Radar about ten mile away. He flew over to the location and was amazed to see a large flying cardboard box flapping around going up and down,opening and closing as thought it was stuck on top of an airjet.He said the aerobatics of it were amazing to watch.

      • Man Tran wrote: “It was about the color pink that a ceramic burner gets when it is very hot. Brighter that the sky behind it. LA Center saw nothing on radar. Crisp rectilinear shape in the vertical plane that was apparently at an angle so it appeared trapezoidal as is turned and receded away.”

        That is a unique design description, AFAIK. Never heard or saw one described like that.

        I’m not an advocate of UFO’s or a detractor, I just don’t know, but I do look at what is available, and I have noted that there are many different designs to UFO’s. Back in the 20th century, it was the classic saucer-shaped UFO, and then there was a variation of this design that looked more like a tophat than the classic saucer.

        I have also seen barrel-shaped UFO’s (in Mexico, I believe) and lately the UFO’s seem to be triangular-shaped, as in the Phoenix sighting. And now we have Man Tran’s design.

        Assuming we are being visited by alien beings, I wonder if each of these different designs represents a different alien civilization. :)

        It’s an interesting subject, but as always, I’m skeptical first.

      • And one question I always have is: Why can’t we get some good pictures of these UFO objects!?

        The slow-moving Phoenix triangle would seem to be a pretty good opportunity. But all we have are drawings.

        Well, there are a whole lot more cameras available now, than there were in 1997, so maybe we will do better in the future.

      • TA: There were some good photos during the Belgium triangle UFO flap. However, of course, they were immediately attacked as fakes which is typical. But I do like the UK Ministry of Defense’s explanation in that “natural” plasma fields cause vivid hallucinations and psychological effects in witnesses which result in the sightings. So you can kinda see why more don’t come forward.
        “UK Ministry of Defence report UAP in the UK Air Defence Region,[5] code named Project Condign and released to the public in 2006, draws several conclusions as to the origin of “black triangle” UFO sightings. Their researchers conclude that most, if not all, “black triangle” UFOs are formations of electrical plasma, the interaction of which creates mysterious energy fields that both refract light and produce vivid hallucinations in witnesses that are in close proximity. Further it suggests that “the majority, if not all, of the hitherto unexplained reports may well be due to atmospheric gaseous electrically charged buoyant plasmas” [6] which emit charged fields with the capability of inducing vivid hallucinations and psychological effects in witnesses”

      • BFL wrote: “Further it suggests that “the majority, if not all, of the hitherto unexplained reports may well be due to atmospheric gaseous electrically charged buoyant plasmas” [6] which emit charged fields with the capability of inducing vivid hallucinations and psychological effects in witnesses”

        I wonder if CO2 has anything to do with it? The Alarmists might be able to find an angle here.

        Thanks for the picture of the triangular UFO.

  44. The arrogance is stunning.
    As if the ET’s would not already know everything about us.
    If they are advanced enough to get here they will be advanced enough to detect us from afar and advanced enough to keep us oblivious to their presence should they choose to.
    Why would those ET’s use an ancient mechanism (radio waves) for communication, one which is totally inadequate for interstellar communications?

    This whole SETI and METI thing is the equivalent of Papua New Guinee bushmen trying to make first contact with western civilization by making smoke signals, and concluding there is no other intelligent life out there beyond the bush, based on the fact that they have looked for years but have never seen any smoke signals on the horizon…

    • Agree ti that Wijnand,
      Given the cosmic timescales, it is very unlikely that we meet another intelligent life form just at the same level of technological development as we are. If we are able to make contact, they will probably be some millions of years ahead of us.

      If such a civilization exists within the nearest 1000 LY, they already know we are here.

      A METI could probably make a genuine new contact with a civilization more than 1000 LY away, but how interesting is that really? Send a message now, and may be receive an answer in more than 2000 years from now. Patience I a virtue, but this is too far.

      I think the search for habitable extrasolar planets and signs of life by doing spectral analysis of the light passing through the atmosphere of those planets, is far more interesting.


  45. Since we are marked as “Mostly Harmless” on the Galactic charts, I doubt that it will make a difference whether we broadcast or not. The Vogons won’t care.

    • How do you know that Vogan is not extremely sensitive to frequency climate change and what they call eardrums will not shatter?

      • Vogons are not sensitive to anything. That is why their poetry is the second worst in the Galaxy.

  46. I like George Bernard Shaw’s observation, “There really are aliens from outer space, and for hundreds of years they have been dropping their insane here.”

    Does explain a lot:)

  47. Sorry, but it flies in the face of reason to suppose anyone is out there given the evidence we already have.

    Anyone seen Stephen Hawking’s new series? Kinda falls short, but overall he mostly gets the point across that despite the odds, there has been too much time. Something seems to have made us unique in our neighborhood. Sure, it seems impossible to suppose we are alone in the universe, but we have reasonably sound evidence that we are alone in our vicinity. Fermi’s Paradox. Almost certainly alone in this galaxy, and we are not likely to ever leave the Milky Way, not even in a couple billion years, assuming only that we are around so long as something akin to what we are now.

    Also, anyone who might come here wouldn’t care much for anything we might care about. If they have a power source to power an interstellar ship, and the wherewithal to deal with the time spans involved, we are less than trivial to them in any regard imaginable.

    For all we will ever know, we are alone. Deal with it. (And don’t waste resources trying to figure out if they are there and hiding, and don’t waste resources trying to scream loud enough for them to notice. Horton just isn’t there.)

    • Saying that there is no intelligent life out there because we have not detected it is the same as the drunk looking for his keys at night on the street and concluding they are not there based on his search in the small lit up part of the street underneath the only street light…

      • The universe is 13+ billion years old. If we just take humanity as an example, If we do not extinguish ourselves beforehand, humanity will expand to fill the galaxy in a couple of million years at sub-light speed (a lot faster if FTL drives are discovered). If extraterrestrial intelligence is even someone likely, then another race would have already colonized Earth long ago.

        The alternative is that such a race does exist, was the first to fill the galaxy, is benevolent, and is keeping us (and others) as zoo planets. A benevolent but expansionist race is very unlikely, the two are pretty much mutually exclusive.

        In either case, broadcasting our presence is a waste of time and money.

    • Lonnie E. Schubert wrote: “Anyone seen Stephen Hawking’s new series? Kinda falls short, but overall he mostly gets the point across that despite the odds, there has been too much time. Something seems to have made us unique in our neighborhood.”

      The planet we live on makes us unique in our neighborhood. How likely is life on another planet just like the Earth? We haven’t found a planet just like the Earth out there yet. Maybe they are few and far between; the exact matches, I mean. Maybe it requires specific circumstances like we have on Earth for life like us to emerge. Maybe a moon like our Moon is required, in addition to an Earth-like planet.

      I don’t really think life is that limited, but to rule out life, I think we would have to find at least one duplicate of the Earth and find no life on it. We will know a lot more once humans reach Mars and do a thorough examination. It may not take finding a duplicate Earth to find life.

      Lonnie E. Schubert: “Sure, it seems impossible to suppose we are alone in the universe, but we have reasonably sound evidence that we are alone in our vicinity.”

      That depends on what you mean by “vicinity”. :)

      Lonnie E. Schubert: “Fermi’s Paradox. Almost certainly alone in this galaxy,”

      Maybe the Aliens are already here and we just don’t recognize it. They don’t have to announce themselves when they visit, although they may be doing a little of that on occasion, if alien UFO’s are real. Maybe they are getting us used to the idea. :)

      Lonnie E. Schubert: “and we are not likely to ever leave the Milky Way, not even in a couple billion years,”

      Well, that just depends on how fast we can go. I wouldn’t rule out humans figuring out some way around the speed limit. Think about that glorious universe! Someone has to see it!

      Lonnie E. Schubert: “assuming only that we are around so long as something akin to what we are now.”

      Society will have to work at staying human.

      • Oh come on, TA. No.

        Wishful thinking. First, did you see Hawking’s show? It just started. PBS. Second of six episodes air this last week. Nothing great about the show, but it was sound overall. Hawking dealt lightly with the requirements for life, but basic life seems nearly certain everywhere (more or less) there is stable liquid water. Life is an emergent system. If there is liquid water, most everything needed is present. Self-organizing systems emerge where there are imbalances. Liquid water seems a key indicator.

        I may not live long enough to see it, but I honestly expect my kids to see proof of life outside our planet.

        You allude to how complicated it seems to be to develop complex life, especially life with the wherewithal to grow its own food and control its environment enough to facilitate more growth and development even when not well suited. Yes, it seems there are many important and limiting factors that seem to be in a rare, good combination on this planet. The closer in toward the center of the galaxy, the more dangerous it gets, and the less likely the environment could allow for complex life. It is reasonable to suppose that “people” (shall we say) live on the far side of our galaxy, and even if they are traversing the stars millions of years ahead of us, they just might not gotten round to stumbling on us yet. Perhaps they found toward center of the galaxy too much to worry with.

        My main complaint of your wishful thinking is supposing they may be among us, or close by. NO! Energy. Power. Interstellar travel. Moving out to the nearest stars will require currently incomprehensible energy sources and engines beyond the wildest dreams of NASA engineers. It also requires times beyond biological lifespans. We can, and eventually will, of course, build vessels large enough to carry and support large populations of people and animals for multiple generations.

        I say of course, but we won’t need to do that if we figure out a means of superluminal transport, but that just seems impossible. The energy requirements are still there either way. If creatures have the wherewithal to build and control adequate power supplies, they have no need of us or anything we value. Nothing. We likely have more in common with our gut microbes than we will with such lifeforms.

        As to thinking of the glorious universe, I have. Assuming we stay something resembling human, and assuming “Star Gate” type technology in power and transport, we will not be able to explore the entire universe in a trillion years. Never. Run some rough-order-of-magnitude calculations. It cannot be done. The universe is vast beyond all imaginings. Think of the distances and times and numbers. Even allowing for ansible communications the possibility of tracking it all is just not there.

    • scarletmacaw, yes, more or less. It is unreasonable with what we know to suppose any sort of faster than light transport of matter. Perhaps, but it is mostly fanciful.

      • There is Big Bang faster-than-light inflation to consider. It happened once in this universe.

      • Lonnie E. Schubert May 21, 2016 at 9:09 am: “Oh come on, TA. No.

        Wishful thinking. First, did you see Hawking’s show? It just started. PBS. Second of six episodes air this last week. Nothing great about the show, but it was sound overall. Hawking dealt lightly with the requirements for life, but basic life seems nearly certain everywhere (more or less) there is stable liquid water. Life is an emergent system. If there is liquid water, most everything needed is present. Self-organizing systems emerge where there are imbalances. Liquid water seems a key indicator.”

        I don’t disagree with any of that. I have no wishful thinking as far as life in the universe is concerned. I’m just interested in the truth of the matter, and am not advocating for one view or the other.

        I do think the odds are in favor of life everywhere there is a suitable enviroment.

        I wonder though about some of the harsher environments to be found in space and whether they could spawn life.

        On Earth we have organisms that can live in the harshest of environments, but they all started out from a single Earthly source, which started out in a fairly benign Earth environment, and adapted their way into those harsh environments.

        Is a “fairly benign environment” like Earth needed to get life started?

  48. My favorite theory is that we are under observation (and, possibly, under subtle, unobtrusive developmental guidance) without any direct contact. Somebody, it seems, sets the control in the heart of the Sun to make a laughing stock of hansens, manns, and zuckerbergs of this world.

    The main reason of us being left alone is obvious: aborigene art is most valuable and original in absense of external influence; as soon as the higher civilization contacts savages, the savage charm is gone. An African mask made in Dahomey in 12th century brings big money in auction. An African mask made there today… well, may serve as a restaurant decoration.

    Somewhere in a galaxy far, far away somebody is exchanging a high-res audio/video of Furtwaengler’s performance of Bach’s Mass in h-moll (which we, sadly, are missing on this deprived planet) for a rare example of billenium-old nul-transportation 3D holostamp from Arcturus III. Mark my words!

    • Ever read the Hindu bible? They aren’t exactly or exclusively observing. DNA splicing is new to us, not for them. Nonintereference was not part of their mandate.

  49. The cost of going to another star is too high to go just for fun. You could go only to stay. Warp drive? Nah. The c limit is real. Biological life would have a very hard time surviving the trip. AI might be able to go, but why come here? What would be useful to them? Metals? Energy?
    The most important species to send to other worlds wouldn’t be us, at least not in the long run. After a few thousand years, we might be gone. But the bacteria we bring with us might learn to co-evolve with local microbes. A few billion years and something interesting might develop. Something that would not happen on Earth or the other place by themselves. The combination creates an opportunity for cooperation and leaps in evolution not possible in isolation.
    That’s why I’d never sterilize a craft going to Mars. If some of our bugs can survive there, well, good for them. If we find microbes on Mars, it should be relatively easy to spot something we’ve never seen before. But I would prefer the Moon be a place where any returning craft must go before anything is returned to Earth. I’m not ready to give up my spot on Earth just yet. Although, if I had the chance to be part of a permanent Moon base, I’d go.

  50. Some things spring to mind in the event we did have a signal intercepted, risks.

    What are the odds an advanced alien resource based advanced race even understands “morality or ethics” two very human and relatively recent concepts.

    What are the odds advanced civilisations created machines that think for themselves that outlived or spread out far from the creating biological race.

    What are the odds an advanced civilisation is warlike, Klingons for example (haha)

    The odds of finding a moral and egalitarian advanced civilisation (star trek may be deluding some)

    So, under the auspices (literally, we have no clue but what the entrails and chicken bones tell us) in a risk management methodology, we are making a bad decision. Because in every single case of human history the advanced civilisation destroyed the primitive civilisation.

    You cant fix stupid. We are literally jumping into a fast flowing river without a float or a plan.

    • The only real evidence we have is here on earth, ruthless competition. There is nothing to suggest it would not be the same encountering an advanced civilisation.

  51. The other issue is the universe experiences mass sterilisations regularly via cosmic events. We don’t actually even know how the universe works, we “think” we have an idea but we do not “know” much.

    We dont know what the universe is, we dont know how big it is, we don’t know where we are in it, we “think” we have an idea but cannot confirm anything. We dont even “know” how old our own planet is.

    The odds there is other life out there are good according to the mathematics, but odds mean nothing to each individual instance.

    The Universe is very hostile to life, and we could be sterilised before we even make our way out into the Universe, we are flying blind, but human arrogance and desire to feed intellectualism fools us into believing we “know” more than we do, far more than we actually “know”, know being true understanding based on scientific finding.

    I shudder to think there is an advanced race of progressives out there!!

  52. I have a great idea! Let’s send a probe out there detailing everything about us, and also give them a road map to find us! What could go wrong? ( we did just that…. but then that 500 lb manhole cover is out there somewhere too)

  53. Good Intentions strike yet again.
    The depressed human brain cannot cope with something or anything unknown, it needs to feel safe.
    So, as has happened countless times over, missionaries are sent out to bring education, christianity, health care, solar panels, mobile phones etc etc etc.
    Nothing ever goes wrong does it? Oh he11 no.
    Nothing like syphillis, AIDS, influenza, heart disease, cancer, obesity, landscape destruction, slavery, trash TV, depression, drug abuse & alcoholism. (feel free to add to this list because the folks we contact wont feel free for long)
    Oh no, nothing ever goes wrong

  54. Is it possible to destroy the universe ? Even by mistake when doing some type of quantum experiment ( for example using particle accelerators )

    If it was possible why hasn’t it happened yet ?

    [The mods point out that it may have already happened (happy-ended ?), but the event wave (the shock wave) has not arrived here yet.
    Or, then again, it already happened, and we are now in the second universe. Behind the shock wave of the destruction of the first universe that happened 14 billion years ago. .mod]

  55. I recall reading a book in which a seemingly benign bunch of ET invaders settled on the planet, treated their human serfs with respect and generosity and followed the rules laid down in a book called ‘To serve man’.

    It was a cookery book.

  56. “…or that the closet ET civilization is at least x LY away,..”

    Well maybe ET should come out of the closet.

  57. Much of this is based on science fiction. First, there is an assumption there is life on other planets, something we have no evidence either way of, and second, that trying to contact the said life would be catastrophic. Neither assumption has any evidence. True, had humans not put messages in bottles, some contacts would have taken much longer and we could have lived in bliss until the arrival of the conquerers. Perhaps we should have done that, it’s hard to say. (This is reminiscent of GMO arguments—a monster will appear from it so we shouldn’t do use GMO’s.)

    The only actual objection that would stand up in all of this is if it uses public funds, the funds could be used for a much better purpose than someone’s pet project with unknown odds of success. This is a complete “shot-in-the-dark” project, akin to trying to solve a medical problem by digging as far into the earth as possible and hoping to find some magic substance hereto unknown that will solve the problem, say cure cancer. It might work, and the sun might explode tomorrow. It’s all possible, just not probable. To waste money on this type of project deprives actual useful science of funds. If some rich guy wants to fritter away a billion or two a year on something like this, so be it. Otherwise, leave science fiction funding to the private sector.

    (We don’t clone humans YET.)

  58. ‘Further, the Earth grows quieter annually as more information is transmitted via cable, the Internet, and satellites rather than terrestrially over the air.’

    I should imagine Earth is a bright object, and increasingly so, at the frequencies of civilian and military radar. Infrequently, radar is deliberately directed outwards too, in order to look at asteroids; this practice may also increase.

  59. Not a good idea to contact the aliens. I speculate the aliens are intelligent machines. They don’t have a sense of morality and emotion. They have already annihilated their biological predecessor. They have no interest with being friends with hairless apes. They don’t need a reason to be bad. Some people shoot deer just for fun. If they have a Death Star, Darth Vader can just shoot us with their planet-destroying laser gun. If you’re a deer, don’t call a man with a rifle.

  60. Does the word “stupid” resonate with anyone? Kind of like a ball of minnows announcing it’s presence to all of the predatory fish and birds. DUH!

    • It is like an ant colony leaving scent messages outside the colony to try and contact your tennage daughter. Good luck!

  61. Hmm…should we blast our little itty bitty corner of the Milky Way with a dinner bell (either invitation or come and get it)? I dunno.

    I honestly don’t think any intelligent ET would be that interested in us. Intraspecies fighting aside; I just don’t think we as a race are that interesting. We are technologically at our infancy, we haven’t figured out what could be the basis of all physics and we are stumbling around in the dark, lighting up different corners as we go and are ignorant of how big the room is we’re standing in. Our politics is too concerned with being the ‘masters of the Earth’ and we cling to philosophies that are millenia old yet have no basis in reality.

    So interesting?? Naw…I think they’d probably already heard us, labeled us as, wait and see how they develop and have left us alone. Or who knows, maybe one of the creatures on this planet caused a quarantine and therefore we are left alone for that reason. It’s all speculation.

    I do believe though that until ET decides to come en mass, we are still going to be too concerned with being masters to bother.

  62. A roommate of mine years ago, raised as a Mormon, pointed out that those pairs of young men on bicycles I’d see who were dressed in black slacks, white shirts, and wearing a plain tie were Mormon missionaries.

    Now, years later, I’m not so sure all of them are Mormon missionaries. Perfect cover if you want to get the lay of the land before invading from outer space.

  63. Seriously?

    Had an alien race determined that there was intelligent life on earth, we would have been contacted by now. And insomuch as there has been no contact to date, I think it’s safe to assume that ET has figured out, “nothing to see here, move along.”

  64. We’ve been broadcasting our presence ever since we invented radio, television, and radio telescopes just for starters.

  65. Any alien species of interest is technologically savvy, and, almost by definition, more advanced than we are. And hostile, because continuously in need of resources. Which we advertise by broadcasting our presence.

  66. We would also have to imagine faster than light travel is a possibility. This would imo not be possible for meat bag biological beings with organs and such.

    That leaves thinking bacteria and machines.

    Neither appeal to be hahaha

  67. If we just broadcast the tones “do-mi-do-do-so” continually, we’ll blend in. Problem solved.

  68. The Hungarian physicist Leon Szilard once replied when asked about the existence of aliens that they don’t exist because the good Lord would not make the same mistake twice.
    On another occasion his position had changed: they do exist and they are already here; they call themselves Hungarians.

    • Some of their scientific jocularly colleagues conjectured that the brilliant Hungarian Jews involved in early nuclear research were actually space aliens, to include Szilard, Teller and especially v. Neumann. The joke was that they selected Hungary so that no one else could understand what they said.

  69. One might think that, given our rate of advancement w/discovering planets and prb’ly being able to detect atmospheric temps, water and oxygen content in the not-too-distant future, that much-advanced intelligent life (that MIGHT be able to travel here) would already at least suspect Earth has life. And oxygen has been present in Earth’s atmosphere a very long time. If they know that much & are curious, they might have been zeroing in on Earth for radio signals for some time (but obviously would have to be within 75 LYs to detect any now). So I’m not sure sending out radio signals is that much of a risk.

    But maybe it’s prudent to be on the safe side…..

    • After a lifetime at sea, spending countless times gazing out over a black ocean about midnight or any other time, never saw anything except the sea. It might be imagined that the cluster of lights which constitutes a modern cargo ship at night in the ocean, might well attract attention, but never in my ships. There must be countless thousands of ex-seafarers such as myself, will tell the same story. Nothing out there except us.

      • Before WW I I there was nobody keeping track. And nobody was looking. The reason they started looking was to see what the enemy had built. What was it, and where was it. Surprise us once, but hopefully not twice. The trained pilots during WW I I even came up with a name for them, Foo Fighters. You think the detailed descriptions were a bunch of people’s imaginations?
        Almost everybody is looking now. Who doesn’t want to see an alien ship?

  70. I witnessed a UFO in 1967, when I was 15. A friend was flying a kite really high. We saw a metallic disc shaped object come into view. It came to a stop above the kite. There was no noise so it couldn’t have been a helicopter. It stayed there for about 15 minutes. It then moved off on a vector, abruptly changed direction 90 degrees and shot off in an upward track at an unbelievable rate of speed out of sight. I won’t speculate as to its origins but I know what we saw.

  71. 1) The right answer is that we do not know who is out there; we are not in need of anyone’s assistance; and even the best known possible outcome (saintly ET) does nothing for us that we can’t do ourselves. So why attract attention to ourselves?

    2) How many horror/disaster movie scenes start with the missing ET? “It’s quiet here, too quiet”…

    3) if Shostak et al want to try this, they should first be made to spend two weeks or so on an unarmed walking tour of the Bekka valley or some similar place where you can’t tell the uninterested from the enemy and doing anything that attracts attention can get you killed.

  72. “METI is unwise, unscientific, potentially catastrophic, and unethical.”

    He forgot silly.

  73. Most here, myself included, seem to believe any other sentient life forms, if they exist, would be carnivorous, imperialistic, aggressive, etc. Perhaps we are merely projecting from our own backgrounds and all that is required for inclusion in the great society of the universe is to pass the simple test of intelligent contact. For those of us believing in good and evil, the concept of an entire spectrum of good to evil other beings also becomes a possibility. If the universe, as some believe, is indeed infinite, then all possibilities naturally emerge, time amd distance not withstanding.

  74. Even if there were some species out there capable of listening to and deciphering our message, it takes an incredible amount of arrogance on our part to think that they would be interested in anything we have to say.

    “oh look, grrellzorb, the chimps are trying to get our attention again!!!”

    • I was going to say Neanderthals, but “chimps” is probably closer to the truth.

  75. Yes,

    It would be wiser to listen for at least decades if not centuries or longer before we initiate intentional interstellar transmissions, and allow all of mankind a voice in that decision.

  76. NO to “sending up a flair” for possible aliens to see.

    There are no immediate benefits and it may get us killed off as a species. We should not do it unless we are “militarily powerful enough” to deal with an interstellar enemy (a few hundred years or more are yet required).

    That being said. My personal belief (based on some study) is that advanced life in other star systems is far, far less common than “simple math” would have us believe (perhaps virtually non-existent for practical purposes). Probably, no advanced civilization would see our “flair”. Thus, on that basis, the attempt to make contact is a waste of money.

  77. Astronomers at Harvard propose using the James Webb space telescope to look for industrial pollution such as hairspray CFC in exoplanets as a sure sign of intelligent life. This is premised on the universal dictum – I pollute, therefore I am. Apparently ET is not a big fan of Greenpeace.

  78. THERE IS NOBODY OUT THERE, at least near our level of advancement, or lack thereof.
    Be Happy.

    • There is an island off the coast of Long Island NY called Plum Island. I have no intention or desire to ever visit that place, ever. This planet probably has a sign somewhere that says ” sick, keep out”.

  79. In summary, 97% of climate scientists who participated in the survey believe the idea is either:

    a) Horribly stupid
    b) A waste of time and money

    Possibly both.

  80. One of my simple litmus tests for the credibility of an argument as complex as this one is to look for this sort of statement:

    “There is not one scintilla of credible evidence that Earth has ever been visited by space aliens.”

    I have no horse in this race, being totally neutral on the question of whether the planet has or has not been visited by “space aliens.” But this statement is a classic use of gratuitous hyperbole that makes me suspect a rather narrow field of vision on the part of the speaker. It depends on the offhand rejection of thousands of eyewitness accounts that at present have not been adequately explained by other means. I can understand, Anthony, why it would be ideologically appropriate for you to take a highly cautious position on controversies outside of your primary focus, but really if I was advising you on what to leave out of your article, I would start with that sentence. It does no good at all and only makes you look contentiously narrow minded.

  81. This fear of “exposing” us to aliens is completely irrational for two simple reasons:

    1. Any advanced civilization in a few a hundred light years radius from us already knows about us. With our current technology we are now able to detect planets around stars near us and a plan has been suggested to place two observatories at two Lagrange points around Earth that would be able to detect continents on Earth like planets. Any advanced civilization would already have developed such technology to a point where they can for example see the lights of Earth’s biggest cities and thus know that there is intelligent life here.

    I post reason 2 in a separate post in case the moderators don’t like it.

  82. Here is reason number 2:

    2. Despite all the ridicule and scoffing by main stream science the alien presence on Earth is well establised, the evidence is overwhelming. Anybody doubting this claim should do some serious reading.

    Ignorance is the mother of all prejudice and preconception.

  83. If I were an alien from a civilization advanced enough to travel here from hundreds, or thousands, or millions of light years away, I think we would have the technical ability to make perfect copies of humans that are indistinguishable from other humans. They could spy on everything. You could be married to one. And the President…

    Anyway, there is a hierarchy in almost all social animals, from humans, to chimps, to dogs, to chickens, etc. Why wouldn’t that be the case in other places?

    If there’s a social hierarchy in the galaxy, then there’s a top dog somewhere. Or a headman; a chicken that rules the roost. In other words, there’s either a ruler, or a galactic society that has rules. Maybe one rule is to leave the feral planets alone. Because if they’re out there and they wanted to march in with a parade of aliens beating drums and playing calliope music, who could stop them?

    So they’re either out there but precluded for some reason from showing themselves, or we’re alone, and lots of folks are having visual hallucinations. Or maybe there’s another reason that no one has thought of.

    Thinking about this gets me all wound up and nervous. Fortunately, I have a cure.

  84. The lead post cited a paper’s conclusion that a signal to space informing that we exist on Earth is not scientifically sound or morally sound.

    Of course, any intelligent aliens will have concluded the same and not sent signals out for us (or any other intelligent life forms in the universe) to detect.

    So, by that logic then SETI is a total waste of resources.


      • You’re right. Of course. But can’t rule it out.

        There might be some planet on which high intelligence could evolve without bloody competition.

      • Science fiction. Kind of like the naive but intelligent beings in the movie “Galaxy Quest”.

    • Alien civilizations 5 billion years old would know they are more advanced than civilizations in star systems less than 5 billion years old, like our sun. They would target young stars. We can also listen for their local radio broadcast.

  85. oh, sometimes we fly in on weekends just to pull pranks like probing a few southerners. drives em crazy. :)
    other times we might visit the lava falls of mogadan and flip sodium pellets the rain-gulls.
    but yeah- mostly we sit around planniing how to take over a planet full of monkeys and make them our slaves we mastered matter but we need your muscles. :) can’t live without things that produce waste and need constant maintenance and supervision.
    besides, monkeys are so much better at satellite construction than our astrobots… right.

  86. I must be way out of date. I thought that cosmic radiation would beat our radio ways into static before they arrived at the next star.

    • VLF radio waves are reflected in the ionosphere. Interstellar gas even when ionized is not dense enough to reflect VLF. We use UHF waves to communicate with Voyager 1 which is now in interstellar space.

  87. Well, I have to plant the garden this year and also start mowing the lawn.
    Will probably be doing that every year for another 30 or so years until I die.
    Really doubt that there is any reason, during that time, that some extraterrestrial aliens will have any effect on my garden or lawn mowing.
    More likely there will be genetic effects which will just make both the garden grow and the lawn mow itself.

  88. I think that we should restrict our search for technological aliens to listening, not broadcasting. First, it’s less expensive. Second, we don’t run the risk of telling aliens that we’re here. If technological aliens exist, they probably went through evolution similar to ours, so they may well have an urge to steal from or destroy another race (us).

    It is much safer for us to listen for other technological civilizations. If we find one, we can always transmit later. I stronglyagree with Frank Drake’s decision to only listen, not transmit. He had the opportunity when he was director of the Arecibo Observatory and he didn’t do it. In retrospect, I was surprised that he didn’t listen for aliens either, except for pulsars.

    John Comella, student of Frank Drake at Arecibo and the first person, along with Dick Lovelace, to see the profile of the Crab Nebula pulsar NP0532.

  89. Has nobody read “The Three Body Problem” and “The Dark Forest” by Cixin Liu?

  90. All the tv and radio signals are still out there broadcasting to the universe since they first began 70 + light years away… I can see the aliens watching howdy doody… or the Saturday morning cartoons… I can’t believe it’s not real butter… or that song the Japanese spent so much time trying to decipher during WW II. ( mares eat oates, doe ‘s eat oates and little lambs eat ivy… )

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