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1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

but a lot of chemicals made by life on Earth are unlikely to occur without life.

The active words being 'made by life on Earth'.
We have no idea what chemical processes may have spawned intelligent life elsewhere, because we only have the one data point ( Earth ) to go by

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19 hours ago, MigL said:

The active words being 'made by life on Earth'.
We have no idea what chemical processes may have spawned intelligent life elsewhere, because we only have the one data point ( Earth ) to go by

One data point, yes. But it is 100% of all known data points. That sounds like a very good starting point. I think we (interested scientists) can generate a lot of ideas about what chemical processes can lead to life and will get better at modeling what is possible as well as what is likely.

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On 6/9/2022 at 8:45 PM, exchemist said:

It seems to me we have learnt enough to realise the futility of interstellar travel.

You sound a bit like Lord Kelvin, challenging the viability of Darwin's evolutionary theory on the basis that the Earth was not old enough. He was comfortable that it would take no more than a hundred million years or so to cool from a molten state to its present temperature. Ignorance of radioactivity led to a flawed conclusion, despite his genius.

Donald Rumsfeld was mocked for speaking of unknown unknowns, but I think he had a point.

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6 minutes ago, Area54 said:

You sound a bit like Lord Kelvin, challenging the viability of Darwin's evolutionary theory on the basis that the Earth was not old enough. He was comfortable that it would take no more than a hundred million years or so to cool from a molten state to its present temperature. Ignorance of radioactivity led to a flawed conclusion, despite his genius.

Donald Rumsfeld was mocked for speaking of unknown unknowns, but I think he had a point.

You are free to present an analysis showing the folly of the position. I have asked others to do so, and have found no takers.

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54 minutes ago, Area54 said:

You sound a bit like Lord Kelvin, challenging the viability of Darwin's evolutionary theory on the basis that the Earth was not old enough. He was comfortable that it would take no more than a hundred million years or so to cool from a molten state to its present temperature. Ignorance of radioactivity led to a flawed conclusion, despite his genius.

Donald Rumsfeld was mocked for speaking of unknown unknowns, but I think he had a point.

Rumsfeld was quite right, of course - though wrong about almost everything else. But interstellar travel seems to be pointless unless relativity is completely wrong, for which there is no evidence. So one would need more than just a new phenomenon to be discovered. And the absence of interstellar visitors to date is at least consistent with relativity being right.

Edited by exchemist
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2 hours ago, swansont said:

You are free to present an analysis showing the folly of the position. I have asked others to do so, and have found no takers.

I wait with interest your demonstration that I considered @exchemist's position foolish. I don't. I consider it ignorant, in the specific sense that it ignores certain possibilities, or the counterpart of that - it is based upon certain assumptions.  These include:

  • Hibernation of intelligent lifeforms for lengthy periods, of the order of centuries, or millenia, cannot be achieved.
  • Even if they could be achieved, no intelligent lifeform would willingly subject themselves to it.
  • No intelligent lifeforms exist, whose lifespan is such that a millenium would represent only a small portion if its potential.
  • No generation ship could possibly be constructed that would survive intact and functioning for millenia.
  • Even if such shiip could be constructed no intelligent lifeform would willingly subject themselves and their descendents to such a voyage.
  • No intelligent lifeform will ever develop the technology to freeze embryos for millenia, succesffuly stimulate then into growth, raise them via sophisticated robotics and educate them via advanced AIs.

No FTL drives, no warp space, no worm holes required.

If you feel you can justify those assumptions go for it. If not the position is refuted.

2 hours ago, exchemist said:

Rumsfeld was quite right, of course - though wrong about almost everything else.

On this we are in complete agreement. :)

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1 hour ago, Area54 said:

I wait with interest your demonstration that I considered @exchemist's position foolish. I don't. I consider it ignorant, in the specific sense that it ignores certain possibilities, or the counterpart of that - it is based upon certain assumptions. 

Potato, potahto. How can it be ignorant if you can’t/don’t point to any knowledge that would erase that ignorance? What is this missing information?

As exchemist has noted, it’s not there are unknowns, as with Lord Kelvin - you would directly contradict known physics, with no basis for doing so.

1 hour ago, Area54 said:

it ignores certain possibilities, or the counterpart of that - it is based upon certain assumptions.  These include:

  • Hibernation of intelligent lifeforms for lengthy periods, of the order of centuries, or millenia, cannot be achieved.
  • Even if they could be achieved, no intelligent lifeform would willingly subject themselves to it.
  • No intelligent lifeforms exist, whose lifespan is such that a millenium would represent only a small portion if its potential.
  • No generation ship could possibly be constructed that would survive intact and functioning for millenia.
  • Even if such shiip could be constructed no intelligent lifeform would willingly subject themselves and their descendents to such a voyage.
  • No intelligent lifeform will ever develop the technology to freeze embryos for millenia, succesffuly stimulate then into growth, raise them via sophisticated robotics and educate them via advanced AIs.

As with others, you point to “solutions” without any consideration of the details involved. Again, I invite you to do some analysis on the technical solutions you present. Absent that it’s just plots from sci-fi stories.

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1 hour ago, Area54 said:

I wait with interest your demonstration that I considered @exchemist's position foolish. I don't. I consider it ignorant, in the specific sense that it ignores certain possibilities, or the counterpart of that - it is based upon certain assumptions.  These include:

  • Hibernation of intelligent lifeforms for lengthy periods, of the order of centuries, or millenia, cannot be achieved.
  • Even if they could be achieved, no intelligent lifeform would willingly subject themselves to it.
  • No intelligent lifeforms exist, whose lifespan is such that a millenium would represent only a small portion if its potential.
  • No generation ship could possibly be constructed that would survive intact and functioning for millenia.
  • Even if such shiip could be constructed no intelligent lifeform would willingly subject themselves and their descendents to such a voyage.
  • No intelligent lifeform will ever develop the technology to freeze embryos for millenia, succesffuly stimulate then into growth, raise them via sophisticated robotics and educate them via advanced AIs.

No FTL drives, no warp space, no worm holes required.

If you feel you can justify those assumptions go for it. If not the position is refuted.

On this we are in complete agreement. :)

What would be the point of commissioning voyages lasting tens of thousands of years, without even knowing what you would find, and with no means of sharing the knowledge obtained?

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I liked Ken Fabian's mention of technology as perhaps following an S curve and not just rising exponentially.  And Michio Kaku has criticized some of the scenarios of massive energy economies (often associated with Kardashev and his three tiers of tech society) where they keep growing until they can harvest the energy output of a whole galaxy (Kardashev III) -- Kaku suggesting that technologies later turn more towards information, and less raw industrial power.

If there were some natural trajectory of intelligence that led to massive energy cultures (the kind that would likely find interstellar travel most feasible), I would speculate that we would be seeing more evidence of Dyson structures (Dyson swarms, Dyson bubbles, and the Larry Niven classic, the Dyson ring) or would do soon as our remote sensing infrastructure is refined.  The ring would be rare to spot, as it wouldn't likely have an orbit precisely aligned with our viewing angle, but the others could cause noticeable dimming and perhaps spectral alterations.  

But really, it comes down to what a society deems a worthwhile investment, in time, in energy, in allocation of labor and technology.  While the British might not have sent James Cook to the South Pacific if it had been a one hundred year voyage, another culture might have deemed the area inherently worth a multigenerational trek across land and sea, with the object of settling there.  And we are actually talking about alien beings whose values are so different that we literally cannot imagine their reasons for crossing the interstellar gulf.  

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6 hours ago, swansont said:

You are free to present an analysis showing the folly of the position. I have asked others to do so, and have found no takers.

That is because you set the bar too low, you seem to have to have the idea that our current technology is all we will ever have. 

I on the other hand, think that current technology can be extrapolated into the future as long as we stick to known physics. The only real barrier is power, unless we manage to get controlled fusion it's likely we will be stuck in the solar system for quite some time but Von Neumann machines might be our saving grace with a few advances in engineering. 

I would also like to address the OP, "no one out there cares about us" is like saying no one cares about the social structure of Amazon River Otters. In fact they are studied by several scientists and organizations for various reasons. Saying not one cares about us requires information no one has and suggests that aliens would not want to study us because we say they would not. Intelligence suggests curiosity, curiosity would suggest a pluralism of motivations by any intelligence ours or otherwise.   

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8 minutes ago, Moontanman said:

That is because you set the bar too low, you seem to have to have the idea that our current technology is all we will ever have. 

If I’ve set the bar low, that’s more of an indictment against those who haven’t responded to explore the new proposed technology

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Just now, swansont said:

If I’ve set the bar low, that’s more of an indictment against those who haven’t responded

I'll respond if you will suggest one thing at a time instead of all encompassing answers like physics. That is as bad as a wall of text that has to be dissected, I'll also admit I am wrong as demonstrated numerous times in other threads. 

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1 hour ago, exchemist said:

What would be the point of commissioning voyages lasting tens of thousands of years, without even knowing what you would find, and with no means of sharing the knowledge obtained?

I don't pretend to understand the motivations of an alien mind. Your statement suggests that you do. While you ask it as a question, the implication is that there would be no point in commisioning such voyages.

I've followed your posts for years. I have very little doubt that,if you think about it for a ew minutes, you can come up with at least three reasons why they might.

2 hours ago, swansont said:

Potato, potahto. How can it be ignorant if you can’t/don’t point to any knowledge that would erase that ignorance? What is this missing information?

We seem to be talking past each other. If any of the assumptions implicit in excehmist's position are invalid, his position is refuted.

 

2 hours ago, swansont said:

As with others, you point to “solutions” without any consideration of the details involved. Again, I invite you to do some analysis on the technical solutions you present. Absent that it’s just plots from sci-fi stories.

And I invite you to stop dodging the question and specify what you consider to be insurmountable or impossible in any of the handful of alternatives I have suggested.

More to the point, are you denying that the points I made have been assumed to be false by exchemist and by yourself. If so, what is your rationale for making the assumption that these are false. At present it looks like a casual, lazy rejection

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3 minutes ago, Area54 said:

We seem to be talking past each other. If any of the assumptions implicit in excehmist's position are invalid, his position is refuted.

What assumptions are invalid?

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26 minutes ago, Area54 said:

I don't pretend to understand the motivations of an alien mind. Your statement suggests that you do. While you ask it as a question, the implication is that there would be no point in commisioning such voyages.

I've followed your posts for years. I have very little doubt that,if you think about it for a ew minutes, you can come up with at least three reasons why they might.

We seem to be talking past each other. If any of the assumptions implicit in excehmist's position are invalid, his position is refuted.

 

And I invite you to stop dodging the question and specify what you consider to be insurmountable or impossible in any of the handful of alternatives I have suggested.

More to the point, are you denying that the points I made have been assumed to be false by exchemist and by yourself. If so, what is your rationale for making the assumption that these are false. At present it looks like a casual, lazy rejection

If you think I can come up with 3 reasons (I can’t, obviously, or I wouldn’t be saying what I’m saying), why don’t you propose some yourself?

Edited by exchemist
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8 minutes ago, exchemist said:

If you think I can come up with 3 reasons (I can’t, obviously, or I wouldn’t be saying what I’m saying), why don’t you propose some yourself?

The same reasons human scientists study things not interesting to the rest of us. In a large population of curious individuals there is bound to be someone who thinks studying human/alien civilizations is a worthy cause. 

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2 hours ago, exchemist said:

If you think I can come up with 3 reasons (I can’t, obviously, or I wouldn’t be saying what I’m saying), why don’t you propose some yourself?

Because the most effective way for me to convince you that your argument is flawed is for you to recognise it yourself. There are more than three plausible reasons. I have confidence you can do it. Are you saying you are absolutely unwilling to try? I hope not. That would be an unimaginative, self-defeating attitude and not one that tallies with the character that comes through in your posts.

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3 hours ago, Area54 said:

And I invite you to stop dodging the question and specify what you consider to be insurmountable or impossible in any of the handful of alternatives I have suggested.

You haven’t given sufficient detail for me to specify anything. I can’t critique a theory/conjecture/idea that has no detail.

You say “generation ship” and I’m asking “how does that work?”

You (and/or others) start filling in those details and then I’ll be specific. But asking me to specify when you haven’t is just not a fair bargain.

 

3 hours ago, Moontanman said:

I'll respond if you will suggest one thing at a time instead of all encompassing answers like physics. That is as bad as a wall of text that has to be dissected, I'll also admit I am wrong as demonstrated numerous times in other threads. 

I posted specifics in the other thread, so I’ll thank you to stop pretending I haven’t addressed this

 

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11 hours ago, Area54 said:

You sound a bit like Lord Kelvin, challenging the viability of Darwin's evolutionary theory on the basis that the Earth was not old enough. He was comfortable that it would take no more than a hundred million years or so to cool from a molten state to its present temperature. Ignorance of radioactivity led to a flawed conclusion, despite his genius.

Donald Rumsfeld was mocked for speaking of unknown unknowns, but I think he had a point.

There are getting to be less and less unknown unknowns; there was a lot of room for Lord Kelvin to get that wrong but a lot less room now given the progress in science up until now. Knowing more can open up more real opportunities for technology but will also close imaginary ones off.

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On 6/8/2022 at 6:33 PM, Airbrush said:

Do you agree with the physicist Brian Greene?  I also heard this reasoning from Michio Kaku.  I strongly disagree.  They reason that we would be no more interesting to an ETI than an ant hill is of interest to us.  There are lots of ant hills on Earth, but we don't know how many Earths there are in the galaxy, or more importantly within 1,000 light years of us.

Well I don't recall joining in with this thread before but having read the discussion so far I have a few observations.

 

1)  The title is interesting

"Nobody out there cares about us"

Yet there has been quite a bit of discussion along the lines of noting that our species has undertaken a great deal of exploration, not just at one point in time but for a long period of time.

Clearly we care, so why wouldn't at least some other species care as well ?

2)  The timescales discussed are interesting.

Interesting because there is a tacit assumption that the timescales are similar to our own.

After watching the BBC programme on the latest developments concerning Pluto it has occurred to me that because sunlight is so much weaker at plutonic distances life in general and intelligent life in particular will take longer to develop there so that development has yet to happen.
The reason that Pluto has the most astounding red colour is even more astounding than the colour.

 

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30 minutes ago, studiot said:

Clearly we care, so why wouldn't at least some other species care as well ?

Have we gone looking for a particular civilization despite not knowing, and having no evidence, that it’s there?

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11 hours ago, Area54 said:

Because the most effective way for me to convince you that your argument is flawed is for you to recognise it yourself. There are more than three plausible reasons. I have confidence you can do it. Are you saying you are absolutely unwilling to try? I hope not. That would be an unimaginative, self-defeating attitude and not one that tallies with the character that comes through in your posts.

If there more than three reasons, let’s hear them, so that we can pursue the discussion. I am willing to have my scepticism overturned if you have a persuasive argument. But I’m not interested in playing games. If you going to be coy and demand that I play cards I don’t have, while not playing the cards you claim to hold, I’m out of this. 

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10 hours ago, swansont said:

Have we gone looking for a particular civilization despite not knowing, and having no evidence, that it’s there?

Why do old farts like you and I try to communicate and pass on 3/4 of a lifetimes learning with other, younger people ?

There is much more to it than you seem to be making out, especially when you break it down.

Why for instance did the proto polynesians set out into the wide blue yonder of the Pacific ?

Columbus was looking for a civilisation when he stumbled over your own land.

Why have we been we searching Antarctica for more than a century, with no expectation of any civilisation ?

 

And why did you consider my other comments less worthy of comment, since they are totally scientific?

Edited by studiot
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5 minutes ago, studiot said:

Why do old farts like you and I try to communicate and pass on 3/4 of a lifetimes learning with other, younger people ?

There is much more to it than you seem to be making out, especially when you break it down.

Why for instance did the proto polynesians set out into the wide blue yonder of the Pacific ?

Columbus was looking for a civilisation when he stumbled over your own land.

Why have we been we searching Antarctica for more than a century, with no expectation of any civilisation ?

 

 

I would suggest it was because  we could get back, within our own lifetimes, to pass on what we had learnt and thereby advance the sum of human knowledge, and sometimes because we could bring back something to our societies of commercial value. 

The problem I see with interstellar travel is this is not possible, almost irrespective of the lifetime of the organism that travels, because, as Douglas Adams observed, in space travel the numbers are awful.

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55 minutes ago, exchemist said:

I would suggest it was because  we could get back, within our own lifetimes, to pass on what we had learnt and thereby advance the sum of human knowledge, and sometimes because we could bring back something to our societies of commercial value. 

The problem I see with interstellar travel is this is not possible, almost irrespective of the lifetime of the organism that travels, because, as Douglas Adams observed, in space travel the numbers are awful.

Yes but this thread is not about space travel alone.

Communication alone may be possible over some of the distances involved.

I wouldn't care if some useful new maths theorem or a proper cure for Covid, was bequeathed to me by some little green andromodean or my next door neighbour in Somerset.

Incidentally did you see that BBC program about Pluto ?

It has some amazing implications for Chemistry.

Edited by studiot
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