The Fermi Paradox: Taking Issue With a Few of the Problems

Discussion in 'Alien Hub' started by nivek, Jul 19, 2018.

  1. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    The Fermi Paradox: Taking Issue With a Few of the Problems

    stars.png

    Are we alone in the universe? Could alien life exist, and if so, is there a reasonable explanation for why—scientifically speaking—we’ve never seen any evidence for it?

    This is a question many have asked over time, although it is most famously attributed to physicist Enrico Fermi, for whom the so-called “Fermi Paradox” is named. The general premise has to do with what appears to be the contradictory nature of high probability for the existence of alien life, versus the paltry evidence to support it.

    As the name suggests, the idea is famously attributed to Enrico Fermi, and was suggested under circumstances of such fame in the scientific literature that they border the mythical. As the story goes, Fermi was on his lunch break with fellow Los Alamos employees Emil Konopinski, Edward Teller, and Herbert York in 1950, when discussion about a funny little cartoon depicting dumpster-diving aliens returning from a visit to New York caught their imagination. Musing more broadly on the subject of aliens, Fermi is said to have asked, “where is everybody?”

    [​IMG]

    Los Alamos National Laboratory (Public Domain)

    It was a decidedly scientific question, despite its simplicity: where is the evidence of aliens, if it otherwise seems so likely that we aren’t alone in the universe?

    Taking a stab at this famous conundrum, a recent paper published by a team of Oxford researchers with the University’s Future of Humanity Institute argues that the absence of evidence may, in fact, actually be evidence of absence: we may be alone after all.

    The problem, researchers Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler and Toby Ord argue, has a lot to do with human expectations, which build on earlier models for the likelihood of whether life exists elsewhere; namely the Drake equation, which supposes a decent probability that alien civilizations exist, which are technologically advanced to the degree they would be potentially observable to us.

    As stated in a portion of the paper’s abstract:
    As Vox reports, “the paper’s authors do not appear to be making any definitive claim about whether or not aliens exist; simply, our current knowledge across the seven parameters suggests a high likelihood of us being alone,” noting that with new forthcoming information, the Oxford team “would update that likelihood accordingly.”

    Naturally, criticisms will arise from such a claim. To consider just a few of them here, it seems difficult (even in probabilistic terms) to suggest the unlikelihood of alien life elsewhere given the expansiveness of the universe, let alone the fact that so little of it has been explored by humans. Also, this isn’t the only solution to Fermi’s paradox that has appeared recently; there are constantly a variety of contrasting views about what might, or might not, explain it.

    Sure, Frank Drake’s famous aforementioned equation also focused on the question of alien life, and more specifically, those civilizations which would be sophisticated enough that any evidence for their existence would be detectable by us. While we might expect that a significantly advanced alien civilization would leave an easily discernible cosmic footprint, it may just the opposite: what if our cosmic neighbors have advanced to the point that they employ what we might call “cleaner,” energy sources and other sustainable technologies… and thus, maybe they’re less easily detected, as well?

    Bottom line, it’s nearly impossible to conceive of what alien life and their technology would be like without anthropomorphizing the argument (that is, projecting our own ideas, values, and expectations onto things). However, there are at least a few other problems with the Oxford study, one of which has to do with what Fermi actually said about aliens in the first place.

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    Fermi’s ID photo from his years at Los Alamos (Public Domain).

    The paper leads off, naturally, with the famous story of the Fermi lunch at Los Alamos. “While working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1950,” the paper reads, “Enrico Fermi famously asked his colleagues: ‘Where are they?’ ” Although it’s a famous and often-cited story, some have questioned whether it’s entirely true and accurate. Robert H. Gray, writing for Scientific American in 2016, noted that Fermi’s fellow diners at the famous lunchtime discussion had a pretty clear memory of the conversation when asked about it years later, and noted that Fermi hadn’t been merely discussing where all the aliens were. More specifically, they had been talking about interstellar travel, and why there was so little evidence in the specific form of alien spacecraft:
    All discussion of UFOs aside (since, to date, there is nothing that conclusively proves that these objects are in any way related to alien spacecraft), the minor detail of what Fermi actually meant may not be enough to change the outcome of the Oxford study’s findings, which purportedly employed “millions” of logarithmic simulations to arrive at the mathematical conclusion that we’re 53 to 99.6 percent likely to be the only civilization in the galaxy. Further, we run a 39 to 85 percent chance of being the only intelligent life in the entire observable region of the universe.

    However, if we consider that the basic averages of the Oxford study boil down to there being roughly a 50% chance that we’re alone in the universe, our potential desolation still amounts to a coin flip: either we’ve got some interstellar neighbors out there somewhere, or we do not. We simply don’t know yet.

    So maybe it’s a little too soon to be cashing in on whether aliens exist or not; we still have an awful lot of the universe we’ve yet to explore, and innumerable scientific advances that will be required before we can embark on our ultimate journey. For the time being, maybe it’s best to keep an open mind, and see what the innovations of the coming years have to say about what may await us out in that great and final frontier.

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  2. Black Angus

    Black Angus Honorable

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  3. SOUL-DRIFTER

    SOUL-DRIFTER Life Long Researcher

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    We humans tend to go by too many assumptions.
    Are we even sure radio transmissions can survive through interstellar space without degrading into simple static?
    Also our method of communication may not be widely used elsewhere and something other than radio waves may be employed.
     
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  4. Black Angus

    Black Angus Honorable

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    Some good answers to that question here

    BBC News - Can our TV signals be picked up on other planets?
     
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  5. Thomas R. Morrison

    Thomas R. Morrison Unapologetic Rationalist & Grand Inquisitor

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    I found that BBC article to be far too vague and unspecific. People grossly overestimate the range of our telecommunications signals. Here are some specific answers that put this question into proper perspective:

    "If an extraterrestrial civilization has a SETI project similar to our own, could they detect signals from Earth?

    In general, no. Most earthly transmissions are too weak to be found by equipment similar to ours at the distance of even the nearest star."
    FAQ | SETI Institute

    "The only kind of transmission that we have much hope of detecting is a "beacon" — a very strong signal that aliens somewhere have deliberately designed to announce "Here we are!" as clearly and loudly as possible to any listeners in the cosmos, such as us. The searches now under way are much too weak to pick up any plausible radio chatter from another civilization's internal traffic — its own broadcasts and point-to-point communications — no matter how advanced the civilization may be. (Indeed, there's every reason to think that internal communications will become less recognizable from a distance as a civilization advances, judging from trends in our own communications technology.)"
    SETI Searches Today - Sky & Telescope

    "In fact, if aliens have radio telescopes similar to what we have on Earth, our television and radio broadcasts would only be detectable up to 0.3 light-years away. That distance doesn't even transcend the farthest reaches of our solar system."
    12 Possible Reasons We Haven't Found Aliens

    "So here's the bottom line: LOFAR would only be able to find TV signals comparable to ours from a distance of much less than one light-year! Turning this around, the mother of all rabbit ears couldn't pick up the Alien Broadcasting Network at the distance of even the nearest star."
    Listening for ET’s Television

    And we should also note that the era of broadcasting is already ending after a mere century of widespread application - cable and targeted signalling have supplanted the very inefficient non-directional systems of the past. So if we're any indication (and since we're the only example we have, then we have to run with it), it seems that a technological civilization will only experience a very brief and very weak (basically undetectable) era of EM broadcasting lasting about one century - which is an instant when looking at cosmic timescales.

    Similarly, the era of nuclear weapons testing produced very powerful signals without any embedded information, but that era was even more brief.

    It always annoys me when mainstream media articles on this subject just sweep the ufo/AAV phenomenon under the rug; "ufos haven't been proven, blah blah blah," and "we can't be sure that they're from alien worlds even if the are real, derp."

    To the first point, we can now (finally) point to the AATIP at the Pentagon and their conclusions based on solid scientific evidence like multiple independent radar system confirmations and clear gun camera footage (which is still being withheld from the public, sadly). Plus the multiple scientific assessments by other nations, which reached the same conclusion: we're not alone. And the second point is a disingenuous argument. It's like finding a bicycle on the street that doesn't belong to you - unless you can talk to the owner of that bicycle, you have no idea where it came from. By it's very nature, such a situation doesn't provide any evidence of origin, so it can't be proven. But if it's not "ours" - and the Pentagon has confirmed that these things don't belong to any nation on Earth, then they are by definition not of this Earth, i.e., extraterrestrial. [And no - the "extradimensional ultraterrestrial" idea can't even be raised to the level of a hypothesis unless and until somebody can demonstrate that extra dimensions actually exist, so I don't want to hear it]
     
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  6. Black Angus

    Black Angus Honorable

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    Thats odd, i thought thats what the article said ?

    Space scientist Dr Chris Davis, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, says it is possible that television and radio signals from Earth could be picked up on other planets, but it isn't easy.

    As you go into space that power would dissipate. They would need more and more sensitive equipment to pick it up."

    Assuming the energy spread out equally in a sphere, and that the receiver on Gliese C was as big as the planned Square Kilometre Array of antennas on Earth, the television signals reaching the planet would be a billion, billion, billion times smaller than the original signal generated on Earth, says Dr Maggie Aderin, a space scientist at technology firm Astrium.

    "Detecting a signal like this with lots of background noise would be incredibly hard,
     
  7. 3FEL9

    3FEL9 Islander

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    Does it really matter `?

    Would we feel sad if it was a fact ?
     
  8. Thomas R. Morrison

    Thomas R. Morrison Unapologetic Rationalist & Grand Inquisitor

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    Phrases like "incredibly hard" make it sounds tough, but do-able. All of these quotes are so vague that they not only fail to convey the titanic problems with picking up any earthly television or radio transmissions even as close as the nearest star, but some of these comments give the impression that alien worlds could actually pick up Hitler’s broadcast:

    “Space scientist Dr Chris Davis, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, says it is possible that television and radio signals from Earth could be picked up on other planets, but it isn't easy.”

    "Of course, no one more than about 50-70 light years away will have yet heard from us, but I figure that our earliest broadcasts are washing over about one new star system each day. So the potential audience is growing.” – Seth Shostak

    “But if aliens can watch our television, there might be a problem. Astronomer Carl Sagan, in his book Contact, suggested the first high-powered television broadcast the aliens would have picked up would be Hitler's broadcasts at the Nuremburg rallies.”

    The key point is in my quotes above: using a SETI-like system, earthly radio and television signals could only be picked up as far as .3 light-years away. So SETI is a terrible example used by people who believe in the Fermi paradox – it’s not surprising at all that we haven’t picked up any alien transmissions. It would take an incredible magnitude of energy for an alien civilization to broadcast a detectable signal to the Earth…and they’d have to keep doing that for millions or even billions of years for us to have a reasonable chance of detecting it. And long before then, they’d probably have warp field propulsion capabilities, and could just drop by to have a look around, up close and personal.
     
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  9. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    I took that question as a very shallow one and rhetorical, there is no doubt we are not alone but in reflection to our physical lives it would not really matter except for that fact that they have chosen to visit us here and affect many lives...It may not matter to some but to others who's lives are affect by these visitations or those who research UFOs it does matter...

    I would be saddened if it was proven this planet was the only oasis of life in the universe, but fortunately it is not...

    ...
     
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  10. Black Angus

    Black Angus Honorable

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    It matters to me,

    If we are alone you lot can have this mudball, and i lay claim to the rest of the entire universe.

    I'm gonna need a new costume

    [​IMG]

    Bugger, Now Queens "Flash" is going to be todays earworm
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
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  11. 3FEL9

    3FEL9 Islander

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    I think so too... Humans are not worthy to be the sole inhabitants in of the grand universe.

    And then theres the equation... And all the stars around us,lol
     
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  12. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

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    @3FEL9 I did mean the question "are we alone in the universe?", not your questions...I don't think my post above was clear lol...

    ...
     
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  13. 3FEL9

    3FEL9 Islander

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    Thanks... Not to worry, I got it ( right ) :)
     
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  14. 3FEL9

    3FEL9 Islander

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    So radio is only useful for intercom purposes in our own solar system, for probes and planetary missions... u reckon ?

    What if they could open portholes and send (tunnel) radio signals through them, to us `?
     
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  15. Standingstones

    Standingstones Celestial

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    Doesn't the idea of sending radio signals out to try and contact extraterrestrials seem awfully primitive?
     
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  16. Thomas R. Morrison

    Thomas R. Morrison Unapologetic Rationalist & Grand Inquisitor

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    Yep. For anything really long range you'd want to use a targeted laser signal, or something even better that we haven't figured out yet.

    Well they'd need to get here first, to install the other end of the wormhole system (I assume that you meant "wormhole" rather than "porthole"). But at that point you could just open communication directly from the ship/probe. They don't seem to want to talk to us though, which isn't too surprising, given that we're still an incredibly primitive and warmongering civilization governed by psychopaths.

    Yeah we're in the odd position of knowing that radio signals (and even laser signals) are incredibly primitive and slow, and yet having nothing better.

    If I were an advanced alien civilization, I'd probably place a wormhole device near any living world in my vicinity, to relay any radio signals to my home world - an early warning system to detect emerging technological civilizations.

    It's kinda weird to think about, but it may be that it's easier to get a probe to a world like ours using faster-than-light (FTL) gravitational field propulsion, than it is to transmit information across interstellar distances. I'm not really convinced that wormholes are technologically feasible, but if they are, then it would make a great deal of sense to construct a network of wormhole radio communication relays wherever you go, so you could communicate with your ships more or less instantly across vast interstellar distances. There may be a better solution, but as far as I know we haven't figured it out yet, even in principle.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018
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  17. 3FEL9

    3FEL9 Islander

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    right,Wormhole was the word I was aiming for . Opening your porthole in space is a very bad thing, unless the Aliens
    want to exit their space ship really fast :D

    Lasers or perhaps using gravity fields to modulate and send messages could work better. Maybe LIGO Lab | Caltech | MIT
    will find more :ex8: than just colliding black holes. :sparkle:
     
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  18. Sheltie

    Sheltie Noble

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    Assuming intelligent life exists and sends messages, I believe they must have discovered a way to harness the instantaneous connection of quantum entanglement. It's hard to imagine they've found a way to travel light years away from their home planet yet they must still wait eons for primitive radio waves.
     
  19. Thomas R. Morrison

    Thomas R. Morrison Unapologetic Rationalist & Grand Inquisitor

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    Gravitational radiation travels at the speed of light too (and it's way harder to make), so no help there.

    Nope. Quantum entanglement, by its very nature, can't be used to send information, because the entangled state is indeterminate/random. So no help there either.

    I know it seems weird, but the best we can tell, it's easier to travel faster-than-light in a spacecraft employing gravitational field propulsion, than it is to send a signal faster than the speed of light.

    The only working hypothesis for sending a signal between two points in interstellar space faster than the speed of light, requires a wormhole system with devices pre-installed at both ends of the wormhole.
     
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  20. Dejan Corovic

    Dejan Corovic Honorable

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    Talking about signals that travel at a speed of light I would like to bring up a topic of Longitudinal or Scalar Electro-Magnetic waves (LEMW), because they were supposed to travel faster than a speed of light.

    The original Maxwell equations, published 1865, were done in quartenion format (4D) instead of todays notation which is in vectors (3D). So, today one dimension (D) is missing. In solutions of the original Maxwell equations, the quarterion ones, LEMW existed.

    As some of you might now, the great American inventor Nikola Tesla was a huge proponent of LEMW. He was an experimental scientist and he was in a possesion of the best and the most expensive electrical laboratory of the time, so advanced than any university in the 19-th century Western world would envy him. Tesla did doezens of meticulous experiments which confirmed to him that LEMW were real. Tesla's position lead to constant fierce exchanges with academics of that time. Prevelent opinion than and today was that only Transversal EM waves existed and that LEMW were pipedream.

    Because Tesla's high reputation in a world of engineering many took him very seriously. Lord Kelvin, who was at that time a president of Royal Academy of Science, took upon himself to resolve the dispute and once for all decide if LEMW existed. For that reason lord Kelvin took to a steamboat, crossed Atlantic and spent about 3 weeks in New Yourk, mostly with Tesla in Tesla's laboratory. Tesla repeated many experiments in a lord Kelvin's presence and lord Kelvin opinion was changed in favor of LEMWs.

    On his return to London lord Kelvin wrote a paper that is still available for free download at Royal Academy of Science in London: On the generation of longitudinal waves in ether.

    Beside lord Kelvin's musings on longitudinal waves, LEMWs still turn up in modern electrical engineering in a form of near field longitudinal waves. Each time you pass anti-theft rails at an entrance to a supermarket you are exposed to near field longitudinal waves. But they fall of nearly to zero after just 1/6th of wavelength.

    Although mainstream science considers a question of LEMW's non-existance settled, there were many experiments on the fringe science notably by physics professor Dr. Karl Meyl and others who claimed to found otherwise. Dr. Meyl went so far that he claimed that his own students, at a university of Konstanz, Germany, repeated experiment hundreds of times and routinely created Tesla's faster than light LEMWs.

    I don't understand diferential equations well enough to know any better, but was always perplexed by persistant claims of such well qualified people like Dr. Meyl and many, many others.

    • Is it possible that LEMWs can explain the Dark Energy?
    • Can faster than light LEMWs explain uniformity of the background radiation during Big Bang, which is still a mistery, because Big Bang didn't happen in one spot but everywhere in Universe at once?
    • Can it be that aliens actually use faster than light LEMWs to communicate and thus SETI can't find them? If aliens can travel, say hundreds of times faster than light, but can only communicate at spead of light, they would be in a lot of trouble.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018

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