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Author Topic: Do you agree with Hawking (about Aliens)?  (Read 18682 times)

Offline graham.d

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Do you agree with Hawking (about Aliens)?
« Reply #25 on: 30/04/2010 13:08:18 »
I think the point is that any reasonably advanced civilisation would have nothing to gain from announcing themselves to us and they probably also realise that their presence, and the potential of their technology, could be severely destabilising to the cultures as they are on earth. That is why we are not going to find them via SETI. They won't be found unless they want to be found and, they won't want to be found.

As I see it, whilst it is possible that there is an alien guiding hand present on earth (though we have not a hope of seeing it), it is more likely that any aliens would just let us get on with it - they may have their own rules on this. The only way we would make contact is by developing interstellar travel and physically finding them so they can't deny their presence. That isn't going to happen any time soon.

All this presupposes that interstellar travel is even practically viable.
 

Offline doppler1

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« Reply #26 on: 30/04/2010 13:43:57 »
Well I can say that if they are out there, and it is pretty hard to imagine that they are not somewhere, I just hope that if they find us, they are nothing like us, otherwise we are completely screwed and I am with Geezer on that one. If they are peacefull and friendly then, if politicians have anything to do with it, they are screwed. Either way, somthing or someone is gettin it.....unless we dispose of the politicians. I recomend offering them up for experimentation to the alien scientists in exchange for technology that can really help us.
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #27 on: 30/04/2010 21:17:51 »
If it is supposed that there are many alien civilisations that would have developed in the galaxy and that many of these have interstellar travel, then it seems to me that the view that would logically follow from your ideas (Doppler1 and Geezer) is that they would already have had numerous interstellar wars and there may only be one race of beings left. Given that there could be a vast timespan in the development then it would be logical for the likely genocide to be carried out by the oldest and most advanced prior to many of the others having much ability to fight back. Indeed it would also be logical to assume that such aliens would have done for us long ago had they such a desire. Given that we are still here, I think it likely that the premise that leads to such a conclusion is, therefore, wrong.
 

Offline kckuhns

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« Reply #28 on: 01/05/2010 00:06:54 »
Somebody mentioned the Drake Equation and correctly noted that it is nearly useless due to the fact of a broad assumption that must be made for each variable.

There is also the Fermi Paradox that is sort of a response to the Drake Equation, high estimates.
Essentially, if there are so many advanced civilizations out there, why haven't we seen any of them?

I would posit yet another view, in contrast to Hawkin's pessimism. We know that, from our own planetary experience, that it takes the collective resources of many millions of our species, just to get a single individual to step foot on our own moon. And it takes even more collective work to maintain a permanent inhabited space station, and even more to get a few individuals to our nearest planet. So I suspect that in takes a fully unified, very technically advanced planet to come up with inter-stellar travel, be it probes or inhabited ships.

It is hard to imagine all this [inter-stellar travel] effort to just go get some fresh protein, or minerals, or for colonization. I mean, if star travel is that doable, and you come across an intelligent life-laden planet like ours, why not just jump to another star system? There are the implicit moral questions as well. For example, would aliens honor other intelligent life? Again, as we know from our own experience, civilizations that do not have a strong moral/intellectual foundation always collapse through misuse/overuse of resources, war for resources/expansion and ultimately, fragmentation to collapse. Please, show me one that hasn't followed this simple formula. So I contend that any alien civilization that has developed star travel, has gotten past their brutal periods of development, has unified their planet, and has a firm moral/intellectual base to their civilization that promotes planet-wide cooperation that, in turn, enables the development of star travel. Star Trek and Star Wars scenarios aside, I think a critical approach to this question shows that the aliens just can't get here if they are some sort of amoral brutes, just hankering for human meat or territory.

Kevin
« Last Edit: 01/05/2010 00:12:24 by kckuhns »
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #29 on: 01/05/2010 07:34:34 »
I think it is very dangerous for us to superimpose human perspectives on lifeforms that we cannot possibly comprehend. If they are so far ahead of us technologically (which they obviously are because they showed up here), how could we even begin to understand their motivation?


 
 

Offline latebind

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« Reply #30 on: 06/05/2010 10:50:10 »
UPDATE!

The Stephen Hawking documentary about his views on alien life will begin on the Discovery Channel, it is called "Stephen Hawking's Universe" and starts on 9 MAY at 9 PM.

I personally cannot wait to see it, and I hope it will spark some new idea's in this debate on TNS.....

You can PM me or reply to this if you have any question's about the documentary, IE : repeat times and other schedules for it, I'm keeping a close eye on it :):)



 

Offline norcalclimber

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« Reply #31 on: 06/05/2010 20:07:57 »
I have to agree with Hawking, Geezer, doppler1 et al.  It's not that I don't think that advanced extra terrestrial life would always seek to harm humans.  But I think that a technically advanced race which didn't have any designs on Earth would probably just leave us alone.  I do think land and overpopulation is still a problem on Earth, and I feel it will continue to be so.  Plus we have the problem that if we are going to survive, we will have to move.

What if life isn't rare in the Universe?  What if anywhere life can happen, it does?  If that is true, then with the age of the Universe there could be quite a few advanced civilizations who were already forced to move.  And it may be that every place they come across which would be a suitable new home already has life?  It could very well be that some life forms will not settle on a planet which has what we call intelligent life, so maybe they just ignore us.  But if they don't consider us intelligent?  What if they fear another advanced life form scouring the Universe for places to colonize? 

I think the basics of life in general lie in competition, after all, isn't that what drives evolution?  Presumably any life anywhere in the Universe would be a product of evolution, so it doesn't seem too far off to me when we presume competition might be an issue if we ever come in contact with alien life forms.
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #32 on: 06/05/2010 23:05:12 »
Well I'll say this again because nobody has challenged this argument but prefer the concept that aliens would be land grabbing, warlike and without concern for other life forms (perhaps based on recent history):-

The sun is about 4.5 billion years old. Most of the stars in the galaxy vary from 1 billion to 10 billion years old. Life on earth is thought to have started possibly as early as 3.5 billion years ago with early humans only about 200,000 years ago. It does not need a lot of maths to realise that if life is anything like common in the galaxy, then the likely range of development must be something like between 5.5 billion years in advance of earth's to 2.5 billion years behind. Given the tiny span of human existence, and assuming aliens developed along some similar path (on average) then there would be plenty of planets with much more primitive life that aliens could occupy should they wish to do so. In fact, had this been an aim, they would have long occupied earth and we would not have evolved.

Assuming that humans are not in any way special then we are faced with a huge range in the development of alien cultures (+/- billions of years). If interstellar travel is in any way practical it is unimaginable (at least to me) that such aliens would not know about earth already. If they wanted earth they would have taken it millions of years ago. And if, for any reason, they visit or monitor the earth we would not know about it; the technology difference would be too great. From a human perspective the worst situation is that they simply may not care - a position which may not matter except to human self esteem.
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #33 on: 07/05/2010 20:50:57 »
If they do show up, which is highly unlikely I admit, Graham gets my vote to lead the welcoming committee.  ;D
 

Offline latebind

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« Reply #34 on: 07/05/2010 22:55:28 »
If they do show up, which is highly unlikely I admit, Graham gets my vote to lead the welcoming committee.  ;D


The real scary, and serious thing is, that they might already be on their way, due to arrive in a few hundred years or so. We better be careful, because at the moment we can't even stop asteroids! :)

Our radio signals have been beeming out from earth for about the last 100 years or so, meaning that only aliens within a 100 light year radius would know about us by now, and it would take up to another 100 years to get here. Any aliens that are further than 100 light years away have absolutley no idea we exist, but they will when our radio signals reach them.





 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #35 on: 08/05/2010 00:28:52 »
Doesn't anyone want to address my argument as to why there should be no problem with nasty aliens? I feel ignored :-(
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #36 on: 08/05/2010 01:07:21 »
Doesn't anyone want to address my argument as to why there should be no problem with nasty aliens? I feel ignored :-(

It's a perfectly good argument and you could well be right, but this is not an argument that anyone can really win. I just think there might be some variables involved that we cannot anticipate.

For example, what if they were riff-raff that had been cast adrift in a "lifeboat"?

or,

What if they were on a hunting trip, as in Predator?

or,

What if their logic was utterly incomprehensible to us?

or,

What if they were missionaries who were here to show us the "true way"?

or,

What if they were machines that happened to radiate neutrons from their internal fusion reactors?

etc
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #37 on: 08/05/2010 10:17:04 »
That is an attempt to argue a point, Geezer, so thankyou. I agree that there is no clear way to resolve such a question, however you still don't address the issue of the vast timespan over which life could have developed. This would mean a vast range of technological abilities. As the human race occupies only a tiny fraction of this timespan and our technological advancement an even smaller fraction, any advanced civilisation capable of interstellar space travel would likely to be aware of us on earth for thousands (even many millions) of years. Any nasty things that they could do to us would have been done already - why wait. I don't buy the weird rogue aliens being out for a bit of fun either, as the same argument would mean that they would be not be permitted to act in such a way, though I always like the Douglas Adams idea of UFO sightings being down to rich kids flying down to the odd human in a deserted place, going beep beep at him, then flying off knowing nobody would believe him.

If interstellar travel is practically possible (and it may not be) then, given the timespan argument it would seem likely that a variety of intelligent alien cultures would know of earth and regard it (as Douglas Adams again said) as "mostly harmless". These aliens are either here already, maybe helping us to survive, observing from afar or just ignoring us as they have better things to do. We wouldn't know as our technology would not be adequate by a long way.

 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #38 on: 08/05/2010 18:36:06 »
Try this then  :D

You don't need to be all that advanced to achieve interstellar travel. You just need the motivation to build a large craft that you can use as a lifeboat to escape from a dying planet.

The crew may have been in suspended animation for a long time, or perhaps they are a much later generation of the original crew.

We are not very far from being able to do something along those lines. I think we would if it was our only way to avoid extinction.
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #39 on: 09/05/2010 00:12:35 »
They could find a much easier target than earth which may be tricky if they are not very advanced. It would not be a likely scenario. You are right that any threat would be from civilisations close in development to us but given the spread of time it would be rather bad luck. In any case, I don't think that cracking interstellar travel will happen anytime soon.
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #40 on: 09/05/2010 01:06:12 »
If we had to do something similar (which I think we will be able to in less than 100 years), we would probably aim for a close star that appears to have some rocky planets similar to Earth (I suspect we'll have the ability to detect rocky planets in less than twenty years). They might send out large numbers of "lifeboats" in lots of different directions in the hope that at least one of them will find a new home.

Mind you, I think it's highly unlikely anyone ever will show up. If life evolves on other planets anything like the way it has on Earth, I don't think there are too many planets in our general vicinity with lifeforms that have the capability.

I don't think it's even safe to assume that life eventually evolves to the point that we consider "intelligent". It's a bit of a fluke that humans evolved as they did. We were almost wiped out at least once.
 

Offline norcalclimber

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« Reply #41 on: 09/05/2010 03:09:09 »
As the human race occupies only a tiny fraction of this timespan and our technological advancement an even smaller fraction, any advanced civilisation capable of interstellar space travel would likely to be aware of us on earth for thousands (even many millions) of years. Any nasty things that they could do to us would have been done already - why wait.


I agree that some advanced civilization would be aware....but any?

I agree that any advanced civilization which had been aware of us and had interstellar travel would have probably done it, but I don't see why all other alien life has to have known about us or been capable of interstellar travel for thousands or millions of years.  There is likely to be many alien civilizations in my opinion, at every stage of development.  I think if they have interstellar travel they can probably wipe us out pretty easy, we aren't that tough.  Plus, interstellar travel can be really fast, and still possibly take quite a bit of time.

Also, we don't really know how rare an Earth environment is... it could be exceedingly rare and necessary for life.  Considering a lease on a planet can last for a few million years at least, it may be well worth a long drive for some prime beachfront property on the cheap  :D
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #42 on: 09/05/2010 03:22:56 »
Considering a lease on a planet can last for a few million years at least, it may be well worth a long drive for some prime beachfront property on the cheap  :D

"Ewooooo! Come and look at this pretty blue one Quarfisnot. Wouldn't this be a darling nursery for the Quarfisnot babies?"
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #43 on: 09/05/2010 10:19:19 »
Aliens with interstellar travel that have been around for thousands or millions of years will considerably outnumber those whose development is similar to ours. It would be an odd distribution if this were not the case. Given (say) 200 billion stars in the galaxy of which (say) 8 billion could sustain a habitable planet and a spread of development of 8 billion years, then, with a flat distribution there would indeed be many close to our own state of development. The rate of gestation being 1 per year. However it would be immensely unlucky, with this number of civilisations, if none of the other 4.5 billion that are in advance of us had not decided to take over the planet at some time earlier. It is also possible that the more advanced of these cultures would have laws which they may enforce to prevent such behaviour, but that is conjecture.

If life in the galaxy is very rare and habitable planets also rare then the case is slightly different. The chance that another civilisation is at a stage of having interstellar travel (but not into terraforming and has no moral compunctions), searching for a new planet but is only capable of finding earth because we are sending out a few weak radio broadcasts, is also rather small.

Geezer, I bet you a pint that we won't have any practical interstellar travel capability in 100 years. Actually I'll take the pint now and give you 2 back (if you win) in 100 years. Honest.
 

Offline norcalclimber

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« Reply #44 on: 09/05/2010 16:24:54 »
It is also possible that the more advanced of these cultures would have laws which they may enforce to prevent such behaviour, but that is conjecture.


From what I have heard, the Hindu Vedas is a story about "good" aliens fighting "bad" aliens, and the "good" wins.  Perhaps some rebels violated the "prime directive" by setting up shop here on Earth, and then the Law had to come in and clean up Dodge  ;D
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #45 on: 09/05/2010 18:14:42 »
Graham,

I didn't say we would have interstellar capability in 100 years, but I think we could if we really had the motivation. However, you're on. Put one on my slate.

Here's another scenario. We know lots of life forms cast their progeny to the winds and oceans in vast numbers, and never do any parenting at all. An alien species could do the same thing by launching their offspring into space.

We have much of the technology to do that too. We could launch a ship into space with frozen embryos and a robotic system to bring them to life and educate them before dropping them off on a likely planet. Sort of interstellar school bus.
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #46 on: 09/05/2010 21:20:21 »
Hmm, does not seem a very guaranteed method of procreation of the species. Anyway, such a random system would again be much better for the offspring if there were less opposition. Also if this was anything like common it would have happened already. Some people have the idea that we are actually the outcome of such seeding; after all, beings who are billions of years ahead of us might have much longer term plans than we could conceive of. Not that I subscribe to this view.

Expect a bill for 1 pint of decent real ale in 100 years then. I will let you know the exact price and specific ale next week; it depends on the guest ale in my customary drinking establishment. I should warn you it will cost in the vicinity of £3.00.
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #47 on: 09/05/2010 23:38:11 »
Expect a bill for 1 pint of decent real ale in 100 years then. I will let you know the exact price and specific ale next week; it depends on the guest ale in my customary drinking establishment. I should warn you it will cost in the vicinity of £3.00.

Apparently you didn't understand. I said you can put it on my slate at my pub. First, you have to find my pub - just ask if anyone's seen A. Geezer.

I wonder what two pints is going to cost you in 2110?
 

Offline norcalclimber

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« Reply #48 on: 10/05/2010 00:38:39 »
Also if this was anything like common it would have happened already.

You are making a good argument, but I lose you right here.

 "Common" is a completely subjective term.  We cannot reliably say whether aliens have or haven't visited already; but if they have, then by definition of the question we are looking at, we are not talking about any aliens that already have visited.  The question looks at the problem of us meeting a previously unknown alien species and the odds of whether they will be "peaceful" so to speak.  It could be that viable planets are conquered repeatedly, but because we are in a rural area we haven't really seen the effects of interstellar war.  But if the Galaxy is filling up?  What if a nearby area was colonized within the last few thousand years, and Earth is on a list to be scouted?

I'm not saying I think any of this is happening, but my point is: You can't say "If something was possible, it already happened and I would know of it."
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #49 on: 10/05/2010 09:32:32 »
You can't get a decent pint in the US, Geezer. I don't accept your terms :-)

norcalclimber, I am just going on some sort of statistical likelihood of the events postulated as a means of deciding whether we should try to hide from the rest of the universe or not. I would not deny that any outcome is possible, but then if we, personally, took such a view we would all be reclusive and never venture outside our houses.

We may think a few hundred billion stars as being a lot but, if interstellar travel is practical, then over the possible 4.5 billion years that alien civilisations may be in advance of us it would be relatively easy for a whole variety of them to have a good galactic geo-political map and that they will have been here (and maybe here now or at least observing us). We would not know and there is no point looking. The analysis of vast amounts of data from the earth would be trivial and automated for such advanced technologies.

I would contend that colonisation is a recent and temporary drive in an expanding population. I think that it is likely that advanced alien cultures may have cracked birth control when they had to face it within the confines of their own planet, much as we are doing now, if not yet wholly successfully.

If we wish to advance ourselves and explore the galaxy we are going to have to face up to meeting alien cultures anyway. Even if the assumption is made that there are hostile and expansionist aliens (and they are all too preoccupied to have noticed the earth over the last few million years), given the timespan of the cultures that may be out there, trying to hide is only going to delay the interaction by a few hundred years.
 

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