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JohnF

communicating with an extraterrestrial civilisation

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Since meeting extraterrestrials is unlikely to happen I wonder if just communicating with them would be worthwhile.

 

What I'm trying to determine is if any useful information could be passed between the two civilisations and since all they know about each other is what they are told how much information would they share?

 

Is the search for extraterrestrial life of any value?

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I think ET's will communicate with us when they think we are ready. You only have to look at what happened when our "advanced" civilisation was forced onto red indians, aborigines, etc. We wrecked their socieites.

 

Imagine aliens landing tomorrow. They have the cure for every disease and help us feed everybody, so putting us nearer a population doomsday. They give us technology which will put over 95% of us out of work and those people will do what? They reveal certain truths to us which shows various religious and scientific beliefs to be totally wrong and so on. And of course, we fight people not just over colour, religion, and such but imagine if these ET's are not human in appearance. Imagine the religious establishment saying they are Satan's emmissaries as well as the political establishment denouncing them as they see power slipping away from them.

 

We are still far too warlike to be given bigger and better weapons. The technology may not start as weapons but mankind has a genius for converting even peaceful things into new methods of killing. If you were a peaceful alien race, would you trust mankind in your part of the galaxy?

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You may be interested in this paper that appeared yesterday on the ArXiv; SETI and muon collider.

 

Also have a look at other papers listed.

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Thanks for those links ajb.

 

What I'm more interested in though is the delay in any communication effectively rendering such communication to be of no value.

 

Of course if we are sent instructions to build something that is new to us then such communication would be of value, but I wonder why another civilisation would send such instructions. And if they did the possibility exists that whatever they are attempting to teach us, we would have already learned before the lesson arrived.

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What I'm more interested in though is the delay in any communication effectively rendering such communication to be of no value.

 

Not quite. Even though there will be delay (due to constraints imposed by the speed of light) you can always use it to stream in large amounts of information and data, scientific or otherwise. Such communication would definitely be invaluable, especially if this civilization happens to be more advanced then we are.

 

Of course if we are sent instructions to build something that is new to us then such communication would be of value, but I wonder why another civilisation would send such instructions. And if they did the possibility exists that whatever they are attempting to teach us, we would have already learned before the lesson arrived.

 

Maybe so that they could establish good relations with the human race (or to invade us, depending on the civilization....). And we don't know what exactly they may teach us, especially if it is more advanced, so it's hard to say if we would learn it or even comprehend it.

 

We are still far too warlike to be given bigger and better weapons. The technology may not start as weapons but mankind has a genius for converting even peaceful things into new methods of killing. If you were a peaceful alien race, would you trust mankind in your part of the galaxy?

 

Well, that assumes though that the aliens are peaceful in nature. There is also the possibility that the aliens out there can be extremely warlike (in which case we would be screwed if they decided to conquer Earth).

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Streaming large amounts of data is fine but it's the content that is important. I wonder if governments on this planet would allow their latest research to be streamed to another civilisation; and therefore wonder if the opposite would happen.

 

Regarding 'good relations with the human race' I have to ask "what would be the point of that?". The sharing of knowledge occurs for the benefit of both parties. Since one party is going to be more advanced, initially, than the other then there appears to be no incentive for the more advanced party to share knowledge.

 

I really don't see contact as a prelude to invasion being a factor due to the distance and economics involved. Migration would seem the only reasonable purpose of interstellar travel. Given that of course then sharing knowledge as a prelude to migration would perhaps be of value since the co-operation of the destination civilisation would be paramount for such an undertaking.

 

Thanks for your input Reaper and please continue to argue the point with me. I would like to think communication does have some value that I just can't see at the moment. I am very reluctant though to seriously consider intersteller travel being used for trade or invasion.

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Streaming large amounts of data is fine but it's the content that is important. I wonder if governments on this planet would allow their latest research to be streamed to another civilisation; and therefore wonder if the opposite would happen.

 

Well, I would say that it depends on the circumstances. I'm pretty sure that it is unlikely we would give away military secrets, but other information (such as astronomical ones, or information about homeworlds, histories, etc.) I could see happening.

 

And, messages exchanged between us and them doesn't necessarily have to have any real content in it. I can easily see companies forming and looking to make a profit out of just communicating with extraterrestrial civilizations (e.g. advertisements for the general public to send a message in a bottle through space, or extraterrestrial penpals, etc.). We already have services that would allow people to be cremated and launched into space when they die, so why not?

 

Regarding 'good relations with the human race' I have to ask "what would be the point of that?". The sharing of knowledge occurs for the benefit of both parties. Since one party is going to be more advanced, initially, than the other then there appears to be no incentive for the more advanced party to share knowledge.

 

Well, they might be more technologically advanced, but what about just scientific, philosophical, or other types of knowledge. If they are as curious as we are, I'm pretty sure that they would be interested in obtaining knowledge about our side the universe.

 

I really don't see contact as a prelude to invasion being a factor due to the distance and economics involved. Migration would seem the only reasonable purpose of interstellar travel.

 

Well, we don't know what the economics involved are. It may not be economical for us to travel those long distances at the moment, but we don't know what more advanced spacefaring extraterrestrials would be capable of. So, there is no reason as of yet to count the other things out as possibilities.

 

Given that of course then sharing knowledge as a prelude to migration would perhaps be of value since the co-operation of the destination civilisation would be paramount for such an undertaking.

 

Heh, heh.... what a scary thought, isn't it >:D;).

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And, messages exchanged between us and them doesn't necessarily have to have any real content in it. I can easily see companies forming and looking to make a profit out of just communicating with extraterrestrial civilizations (e.g. advertisements for the general public to send a message in a bottle through space, or extraterrestrial penpals, etc.). We already have services that would allow people to be cremated and launched into space when they die, so why not?

 

OK, you've convinced me there may, just may, be an entertainment value...

"Hello Alien PenPal, My name is John. I'll be dead 200 years before you read this so please don't reply" :D

 

Well, they might be more technologically advanced, but what about just scientific, philosophical, or other types of knowledge. If they are as curious as we are, I'm pretty sure that they would be interested in obtaining knowledge about our side the universe.

 

Scientific information may have value depending how far away they are...

Alien: "Here's how to make a bow and arrow"

Earth: "Well here's how to make a nuclear missile"

Alien: "We figured that one out. We can now tell you how to recover from a nuclear winter"

Earth: "How do you make a bow and arrow again?"

 

Philosphical ideas probably won't make much sense to us and don't really belong in the realm of knowledge.

 

Well, we don't know what the economics involved are. It may not be economical for us to travel those long distances at the moment, but we don't know what more advanced spacefaring extraterrestrials would be capable of. So, there is no reason as of yet to count the other things out as possibilities.

 

I was thinking of economic in terms of time aswell as cost. It's still going to take many years to traverse the distance.

 

I would think that if we found an alien civilisation within 20 or 30 light years then the possibilities would be great but if they were a thousand light years away then it would seem like an awful waste of time and money.

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Is the search for extraterrestrial life of any value?
I personally think it's just a waste of time and money. But while we're out there exploring and studying universe, then why not look for 'some life'!

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But while we're out there exploring and studying universe, then why not look for 'some life'!

 

I certainly agree with that; there's no point in closing our eyes to what may be out there.

 

My original question about the value of communication occurred to me after watching a programme about the discovery of a more Earth like planet being discovered. All the scientists involved seemed very enthusiastic about the discovery; with good reason I think since it advances our understanding of how planetary systems evolve.

 

What never seems to get addressed is the practicality of communication over a great distance. I sometimes wonder if the programme makers take a sci-fi approach to what may be possible.

 

I hope there are scientists that are seriously thinking about this problem and not just waiting for a solution to be sent to us from out there.

 

Perhaps, as an experiment, someone should set up a forum that a user can only post to once every 30 years. This would allow two or more teams to simulate communication over interstellar space. It would also highlight many of the inherent problems in such communication like equipment maintenance, continuous standards and the determination of the teams to undertake the exercise.

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This may or may not be a tad of topic, but I recently read a magazine article about how we could arrange the stars into constellations that give information about the human race, to sort of start off the communication.

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This may or may not be a tad of topic, but I recently read a magazine article about how we could arrange the stars into constellations that give information about the human race, to sort of start off the communication.

 

There is a terry pratchett book where that is done...

 

The energy involved is massive, but a fun idea....

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Either dark side of the sun or Strata, I forget which one it was :| I infact find it quite difficult to tell the difference between the two when I think back to them :(

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im not fully sure what the initial question it. i suppose that, at this point, Humans are merely interested in whether there is other life out there, and advanced life at that. the value of communication would simply knowing of their existance.

 

as far as interstellar war, it seems very unlikely. if there are other advanced life forms that are near enough to visit our solar system, then there must be many sutable planets around. in that case why bother destroying other life when you can simply move in to a vacant planet.

 

as other said, if we found out of other life and began communicating, we probably would not simply send one lined messages but rather would continuosly stream data. and they would probably do the same back. if they were less advanced then humans then i would think we would attempt to help them advance their civilization.

 

However there is the huge problem of language and technological barriers. perhaps there is data being streamed by the earth as we speak, but we dont yet have the technology to be aware of it and to access it.

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I feel like this is more pseudoscience than actualy science, because we're just speculating, there's no real evidence to any of this, but I feel that if extra-terrestrials did in fact exist, they would have visited Earth by now.

Language is definantly a huge barrier though, I still don't see how beaming "Across the Universe" could have done anything...

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im not fully sure what the initial question it. i suppose that, at this point, Humans are merely interested in whether there is other life out there, and advanced life at that. the value of communication would simply knowing of their existance.

Are you saying that you've never learnt something new from communicating with someone you've never previously encountered? :rolleyes:

 

 

 

I feel like this is more pseudoscience than actualy science, because we're just speculating, there's no real evidence to any of this, but I feel that if extra-terrestrials did in fact exist, they would have visited Earth by now.

 

I can answer this in two ways. 1) How do you know they haven't, or 2) Do you have any idea how vast this universe truly is? :)

 

 

 

We have a hard enough time communicating with the life on THIS planet, including members of our own species. We might start there instead. :D

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1. That's what I'm saying. It's all speculation, maybe they did, maybe they didn't, who knows?!

 

2. I know what you mean, but still...

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Are you saying that you've never learnt something new from communicating with someone you've never previously encountered? :rolleyes:

 

no that is not what i was saying. i was saying that we cannot communicate with someone, hence cannot learn from someone, if we dont yet know of their existance

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Are you saying that you've never learnt something new from communicating with someone you've never previously encountered? :rolleyes:

 

no that is not what i was saying. i was saying that we cannot communicate with someone, hence cannot learn from someone, if we dont yet know of their existance

 

Okay. I suppose I got hung up on your use of the word "value," as it sure seemed like you were suggesting that the only value in communicating with alien life would be that we know they exist. I challenged that point... which, it seems you weren't, in fact, making. I was subtley suggesting that there might be more value in comminuicating with aliens than simply knowing they exist, more specifically, learning.

 

Seems that point was not necessary based on your response to my post, so sorry 'bout dat.

 

 

Humans are merely interested in whether there is other life out there, and advanced life at that. the value of communication would simply knowing of their existance.

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just a thought, i believe that it is absolutely impossible that life does not exist on other planets throughout the universe, however we don't know how advanced they are. there is always the possibility that we might somehow mess up their evolutionary process if we interupted them, not only that, but there is always the possibility that they are barely more advanced then us, if they communicated with us tomorrow then they could be asking us for help, or even permission to colonize our planet, just think how this would affect exceptionally religous people, they might react the same way all humans have when we came into contact whith new ideas and new people. not only that, but what if they messed up our evolutionary process, what would become of us then? if anyone is interested, there is this really good series sci-fi books by Octavia E. Butler, called Lillith's Brood, or in the single books, the first one is called Dawn. check it out, i love them.

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In this kind of discussion, I keep coming back to the Fermi Paradox. The story is that a bunch of scientists were discussing the size of the galaxy and the subsequent probability that there are a number of civilisations out there. The great physicist Fermi heard them, and said : "Where are they?"

 

Think it through. Even at sub light speeds. Even with a species that reproduces slowly. Assuming a maximum speed between stars of 0.1C (which is theoretically possible according to Scientific American), such a species could colonise the galaxy - all E10 star systems - to overpopulation within 10 million years or less.

 

There are large numbers of star systems that are more than a billion years older than our own. If an alien species arose on one, and started to explore the galaxy, they would have colonised every colonisable planet before humans evolved above bacterial slime.

 

I have concluded that, regardless of how common life itself might be, the number of intelligent life forms in other star systems in our galaxy must be small. ET might exist, but they are few and far between.

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we are in agreement then that life has to exist elsewhere in the universe, what we don't know is how developed it is, they might be more developed and have colonized all the possible planets, but they might have colonized planets that are suitable to them.

while it is likely that alien life would have devoloped in silmilar conditions to us, it is always possible that they developed in conditions completely different then ours, say a gaseous planet for example, they might be giant fish things, or as we were once, bacterial slime.

the universe can't have an end, meaning that these aliens may have colonized the suitable planets in their star system, i think that there will always be planets to be colonized.

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To halogirl

 

Even though an intelligent species restricted to sub light speed travel could not colonise the entire universe, to colonise the entire galaxy is possible, and in some situations, inevitable.

 

To colonise outside the galaxy is much more difficult. Ignoring the small satellite galaxies, the nearest other galaxy to the Milky Way is Andromeda, at 2 million light years. To travel there at 0.1 C would take 20 million years. Not an easy colonisation!

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To colonise outside the galaxy is much more difficult. Ignoring the small satellite galaxies, the nearest other galaxy to the Milky Way is Andromeda, at 2 million light years. To travel there at 0.1 C would take 20 million years. Not an easy colonisation!
And as a conclusion we are safe:D

 

wouldn't it be wiser if we just sorted out things here on earth and not worry about intergalactic colonization?

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