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Author Topic: What is the point of SETI? Why look for life elsewhere in the universe?  (Read 5023 times)

Offline chris

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Given that the existence of life on another world (beyond this solar system), which is the scope of a recently-launched ESA initiative, is unlikely to have much bearing for life here on Earth, why do we bother with this potentially fruitless endeavour?

Chris


 

Offline neilep

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Because we must know ?

We just have to know ?

By looking for life elsewhere we are just doing what humans do and that is pursuing knowledge....surely the very definition of curiosity.  Even if it may just be a lichen or a fungus we just push ourselves . If not we stagnate and become an arrested culture. The moot word you have cited is ' potentially '...That word means there's a chance that we can locate it....I firmly believe there is every chance.... And I have no doubt that one day we will......either that or we will discover that there is no other life. But it is the search itself which beats at the core of our very selves...and who knows ?....an ' Alien ' life form may reveal knowledge that we need to progress across the whole scientific spectrum....the potential is not fruitless ...it is limitless.
 

Offline Karen W.

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Neil makes a good point if nothing else we may uncover knowlede substances stc that may help us to continue on, perhaps fight disease slow down the destruction of our own planet, perhaps find other life.. continue to expand our own minds and further our own knowledge about what lies out there what lies within here in our own system.  See what out there may be realitive to what we have here and why it is here or how it effects us... OH I so whole heartedly agreee, that we must continue to explore and learn because the possibilities are endless indeed!
 

Offline Heliotrope

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The cost/benefit analysis is actually quite good for SETI.
It costs next to nothing and the payoff is the largest imaginable.

That's about it.
 

Offline Aware

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Isn't that the nature of scientists: to be curious and try to find answers?  Which of course lead to more questions...
 

Offline chris

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Sure, the ground-based SETI programme is dirt cheap (excuse the pun). But it has a number of spin offs including surveying space for habitable "Earth-like" planets orbiting "Sun-like" stars, analysing said planets spectroscopically for the existence of water and organic molecules, building probes to travel millions of miles to parachute down through the soup-like atmosphere of distant moons (Titan), and constructing landers to drop in to nearby planets and scratch the surface looking for the chemical hallmarks of life.

This all comes at tremendous expense. Could we not better deploy the resources this consumes by, for instance, developing more efficient vehicles or cleaner energy sources, working out how to make the Chinese and president Bush take the environment more seriously, developing a cure for cancer...

I'm playing devils advocate here, before any space scientists send me a letter bomb.
 

Offline neilep

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Take the money from one place and it will just be squandered on something else ....I don't see how throwing money at the Chinese or bush..or even a Chinese bush or a bushy Chinese will solve the environmental problem...but i do know what you mean by citing these as examples of just alternative possible worthwhile endeavors.

My opinion is to continue seeking,,because I firmly believe that it will pay back enormous dividends with interest...albeit probably not in mine or our children's lifetimes.....

I would rather develop ways of being economical with the money we spend rather than divert it. Unbelievable the figure is that is wasted...billions and billions due to bad management...
 

Offline Karen W.

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I agree.. And as far as I am concerned, no offence But Bush is hopeless and to spend money trying to make his brain work at all.. is hopeless!! The man just doesn't get it!
 

Offline Heliotrope

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Sure, the ground-based SETI programme is dirt cheap (excuse the pun). But it has a number of spin offs including surveying space for habitable "Earth-like" planets orbiting "Sun-like" stars, analysing said planets spectroscopically for the existence of water and organic molecules, building probes to travel millions of miles to parachute down through the soup-like atmosphere of distant moons (Titan), and constructing landers to drop in to nearby planets and scratch the surface looking for the chemical hallmarks of life.

This all comes at tremendous expense.

You're right all that does come at tremendous expense.
However, none of it is a spin-off from SETI research.
The programmes you mentioned are not driven by SETI.


 

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