SETI: When is enough enough?

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Tue Oct 30, 2018 2:43 pm

:lol:
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Centaur » Sat Nov 03, 2018 3:15 am

landrew wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 5:59 pm
SETI has been banging away for decades, burning through millions of dollars, with increasing capacity for processing signals, yet there's nothing to show for it.
Isn't it about time to call it quits?
Careers and incomes are at stake. Every few years the folks running SETI will again assure us that they will find evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence within no more than a decade if donors keep sending them money. And those who "want to believe" will keep doing so.

I go along with the hypothesis that the first species in the galaxy to achieve space travel will colonize the entire galaxy before any competition emerges. Since no extraterrestrials have yet done that, it likely would be accomplished by our own descendants, who may eventually be more robotic than animal.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sat Nov 03, 2018 8:33 am

Thank you Centaur. That is my view.
Since you agree with me, you must be a very intelligent and educated person.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:27 pm

It wasn't a bad idea when it started; looking for a needle in a haystack, albeit with sophisticated tools, but the haystack is just too big. That should have been obvious after a decade or two.
What difference would another decade or five or ten make? Probably none. Time to reconfigure the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:11 pm

There's no need to stop listening. SETI doesn't stop other projects. And rejecting one possible means of detecting aliens just because one has an impulsive nature and singularly short attention span is just stupid.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:28 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:11 pm
There's no need to stop listening. SETI doesn't stop other projects. And rejecting one possible means of detecting aliens just because one has an impulsive nature and singularly short attention span is just stupid.
There's a finite amount of money available in this world, despite the idea for some that it's unlimited.
SETI could account for it's donations in a better way than: "It was good enough 40 years ago, and it's good enough today."
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:53 pm

And you, in your infinite wisdom KNOW what that money should be spent on. You need to fly that ego of yours to Lakehurst.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:58 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:53 pm
And you, in your infinite wisdom KNOW what that money should be spent on. You need to fly that ego of yours to Lakehurst.
Image
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:40 pm

landrew wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:28 pm

There's a finite amount of money available in this world, despite the idea for some that it's unlimited.
That is like saying that a cake cannot feed more than 6 people, BEFORE you start mixing in the ingredients.

Money is variable. There is no fixed amount. It increases with good financial management, and drops when those in charge are idiots. We know that global GDP in 2017 was 75 trillion dollars, but it does not mean it will be 75 trillion next year. In fact, the total keeps increasing as a long term average, even when inflation is accounted for.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:49 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:40 pm
landrew wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:28 pm

There's a finite amount of money available in this world, despite the idea for some that it's unlimited.
That is like saying that a cake cannot feed more than 6 people, BEFORE you start mixing in the ingredients.

Money is variable. There is no fixed amount. It increases with good financial management, and drops when those in charge are idiots. We know that global GDP in 2017 was 75 trillion dollars, but it does not mean it will be 75 trillion next year. In fact, the total keeps increasing as a long term average, even when inflation is accounted for.
So there's an endless well of money.
OK, I understand now.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Centaur » Sat Nov 03, 2018 8:26 pm

landrew wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 12:51 am
Lance Kennedy wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 12:20 am
No. As far as I am concerned, the Rare Earth Hypothesis has a consensus of one. (me!).

Just that it seems to me to be the best explanation for the Fermi Paradox. I have seen numerous alternative ideas and none make sense unless you also assume that alien civilisations are very rare.
One is a bit too precise a number for me, against trillions of potential worlds in our observable universe.
Trillions may seem significant when counting things, but not necessarily with probabilities. When 72-year-old me was 14, I thought about how improbable it was that considering the entire lengthy history and future of the universe, now is a moment in my lifetime. But that was the only way it could be for me at that time to be pondering the matter. If we are alone in the universe, we are the only ones who can speculate about alien life. The fact that no extraterrestrials conquered our ancestors, makes the likelihood of that worth considering. The longer that SETI finds only negative results, the more likely the negative hypothesis becomes.

Countless improbable steps led to mankind, including the creation of DNA, photosynthesis, multicelluar organisms, fish surviving on land and bipedal primates growing large brains. All that in a solar system where Jupiter protects us from most of the potential celestial catastrophes, but lets through a few that might have helped encourage diversity and evolution. The immensely unlikely collision between Earth and a planet at least the size of Mars created a relatively large Moon and perhaps a cauldron on Earth to initiate life. The Moon has stabilized the Earth's axis to allow for predicable seasons that further nudged evolution. It led to tides that pushed fish out of the sea to become amphibians. All of this in a nearly 14 billion-year-old universe during a relatively brief period from the Cambrian explosion of multicellular life a half billion years ago to the likely impossibility of life on Earth a half billion years from now as the Sun expands.

Here's a simple thought experiment regarding probabilities. It involves a perhaps not directly related, but more tractable problem. You have a deck of cards numbered from 1 to 100 which you randomly shuffle. In each of the 10^80 (a one followed by 80 zeroes) atoms in the universe is a little angel who randomly shuffles a similar deck. The question is what is the expected number of matches to your deck?

I'll give most of you a minute to answer the question intuitively, while those who want to perform the math can calculate the answer.

The answer is that you would need nearly 10^78 universes each with 10^80 atoms for the expected number of decks matching yours to be 1. The numbers resulting from probability assessments can easily dwarf the "astronomical" number of potential planets. Intelligent life (or any life) may be nearly impossible to develop, but we know it happened at least once. Perhaps we need to invoke the multiverse theory in which at least one of a multitude of universes led to intelligent life.
Last edited by Centaur on Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:24 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:03 pm

Anthropic principle notwithstanding, it's always going to be a matter of opinion what the real odds are.
There's always two ways to look at it; either we are so incredibly special that we are unique, or if the universe were configured any other way, we wouldn't be here to witness it.
I tend to shy away from uniqueness, but that's just my choice. It can't be more than that for anyone.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:04 pm

There are about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 star systems in what we laughingly call the known universe. I think it is very clear that there will be intelligent and space faring life somewhere other than Earth. But the vast bulk of them will have no chance to interact with us on any level.

On the other hand, there are 100,000,000,000 star systems in our Milky Way galaxy. That may seem a lot but as Centaur pointed out, a lot of probability calculations make that number look small. It is only those star systems that might contain an alien species that might interact with us.

My degree is in biology, and I tend to look at this from the biology view point. What conditions are needed to :
1. Permit abiogenesis, the beginning of life on a particular planet.
2. Permit that life to survive for the full 4 billion years.
3. Permit evolution of sufficient alterations to that life to lead to intelligence.

Getting it all right will not be common. I have previously listed some of the possible conditions. If there are 12, and the odds for each condition are such as to make only 1 star system in 10 to provide that condition, then there will be intelligent life on only 1 galaxy in 10 the size of our Milky Way. Of course, there may be more than 12 essential requirements, and the odds for each one may average less than 1 in 10, meaning intelligent life will be even rarer than that. Or there may be fewer essential requirements and the odds may be better than 1 in 10 each, meaning intelligence will be more common. We do not, at this point in time, know.

But the Fermi Paradox makes it very likely that intelligent life in our galaxy is very, very rare. If it exists at all anywhere but Earth.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:07 pm

The Fermi Paradox makes no such promise.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:16 pm

A paradox doesn't answer any question. It poses a question which is difficult or impossible to answer.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Io » Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:13 am

Not wanting to nitpick but, since that's what this forum is all about, I shall...
Centaur wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 8:26 pm
Trillions may seem significant when counting things, but not necessarily with probabilities. When 72-year-old me was 14, I thought about how improbable it was that considering the entire lengthy history and future of the universe, now is a moment in my lifetime. But that was the only way it could be for me at that time to be pondering the matter. If we are alone in the universe, we are the only ones who can speculate about alien life. The fact that no extraterrestrials conquered our ancestors, makes the likelihood of that worth considering. The longer that SETI finds only negative results, the more likely the negative hypothesis becomes.
Whilst this is true it's a smidge disingenuous as it's somewhat akin to saying, when boiling an egg, 'a second ago the egg hadn't boiled and now a second later it still isn't boiled', and concluding that it's not possible to boil an egg.
Centaur wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 8:26 pm
Here's a simple thought experiment regarding probabilities. It involves a perhaps not directly related, but more tractable problem. You have a deck of cards numbered from 1 to 100 which you randomly shuffle. In each of the 10^80 (a one followed by 80 zeroes) atoms in the universe is a little angel who randomly shuffles a similar deck. The question is what is the expected number of matches to your deck?
This is a false analogy since the originating of life has very few, if any, random elements outside of the quantum realm. As far as we can work out, life arises though chemical processes that depend on underlying physics processes that come about naturally (through cause & effect), not randomly. (I know one doesn't preclude the other, but you know what I'm saying.)

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:10 am

Unfortunately, people frequently believe stuff because of their emotions rather than their reason.

In this case, there appears to be a romantic emotional appeal to the idea that we are not alone in the universe. This romantic view induces otherwise smart people to jump to a conclusion. Since humans are more rationalizing than rational, the large number of star systems in our galaxy is used as the rationalisation for the faith based belief that alien civilisations exist.

But many star systems is not actually evidence for alien civilisations.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:22 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:10 am
Unfortunately, people frequently believe stuff because of their emotions rather than their reason.

In this case, there appears to be a romantic emotional appeal to the idea that we are not alone in the universe. This romantic view induces otherwise smart people to jump to a conclusion. Since humans are more rationalizing than rational, the large number of star systems in our galaxy is used as the rationalisation for the faith based belief that alien civilisations exist.
On the contrary. Nothing would gratify me more than to believe that I am a member of the most advanced organism in the universe.
But my reasoning doesn't allow me that emotional indulgence.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:48 am

How about the most advanced in our galaxy ?
Which is a tiny fraction of the universe. Since there are star systems more than 8 billion years old, and evolution took only 4 billion on Earth, and it would take less than 2 million years to colonize the galaxy, why is there no sign of any alien civilisation, even in billion year old fossils ?

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Io » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:17 am

Lance, you repeat this argument quite a bit but what you see as a reason to presume highly intelligent life throughout the galaxy is extremely rare I see as more a reason why easy interstellar travel is unlikely. And if interstellar travel is hard (as all evidence indicates - and I include laborious and lengthy in 'hard') then you need to factor in duration of transit, likelihood of survival of transit, survival of arrival (landing/crashing) and survival of initial colonisation, likelihood of pushing through probable technological regression and then being subject to the ordinary survival & development prospects that any native species would encounter. Bear in mind that any colony world would need to maintain or re-develop sufficient technology to spread out again themselves, otherwise the origin world would need to deploy colonists further and further afield. Resources for the task are an issue in both cases.

Also, the universe is quite big and a species colonising our galaxy from the other side may well not even have got this far yet (factor in breeding times and how long any species might naturally survive into the above). Never mind if we're talking about another galaxy.

I agree that intelligent species capable of leaving their planet of origin are going to be rare compared to the prevalence of life of any kind (which is likely to be rare when compared to the number of planets that are lifeless) but even 'very rare' is going to be a lot more than none.

You say that "there appears to be a romantic emotional appeal to the idea that we are not alone in the universe". It could be said that you have a romantic view of the idea that we are alone in the universe. Either conclusion is unfounded in reality. It's all just opinion :)

I should point out that I while I don't think that life is unique to this planet (or hasn't been, or won't ever be) I also don't think aliens have visited and spent their time flying over hick towns where only yokels with crappy cameras live.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Lance Kennedy » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:06 am

Io

I have previously discussed interstellar travel. In theory, it is quite possible, and probably given time, inevitable. Ion drive engines can, in theory, be developed to the point of achieving 0.2 C. The Orion drive, in theory, is capable of achieving 0.5 C. So is the fusion torch drive.

Now, it is possible that these potentials may not be reached, but even if a starship can only get to 0.1 C and requires 10 years to accelerate and decelerate, then crossing the average distance between stars (4 light years ) will take about 50 years. Allowing for longer life span, or some version of suspended animation, 50 years is do-able. On this basis, an advanced species would colonize the entire galaxy to the point of overpopulation is less than 2 million years, which is a tiny fraction of the age of our galaxy.

I have done the calculations. Breeding time is not an issue. Population growth is exponential and not at all limiting. The limiting factor is the speed of the starship. And the speeds that are possible in theory, and probably in reality given enough development time, are quite sufficient for full galactic colonisation in less than 2 million years.

So in a galaxy that is more than 8 billion years old, with an evolution time of 4 billion, where are those aliens ?

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Poodle » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:41 am

The only possible answer to that, Lance, is 'not here'. Anything else anyone can say is simple (and preferential) guesswork. Based upon our sample of 1, I'd suggest that organic life will be found just about everywhere. Intelligent life is pure guesswork but (I think, given the numbers involved) probable. Intelligent life which develops the technology to get off their home planet is, logically, less probable and, of those, societies which develop the means of interstellar travel, less probable still (Oh - I think I may be re-inventing the Drake Equation here). Given the size of our galaxy, though, I'd still bet on more than one civilisation in the Milky Way. Multiply that by the number of galaxies and the probability of intelligent life becomes enormous. But you know all of that.
I suspect it boils down to the attitude toward life developing HERE. My own opinion is that it was all but inevitable but, even if it wasn't, it did anyway, which predisposes me to an optimistic view on alien civilisations. For me to change that opinion, someone would have to prove to me that our home environment is a blip - an almost impossibly unlikely result of a long, long chain of improbabilities. But I do not think that to have been the case - therefore ET. Therefore keep looking.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Io » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:06 pm

Bottom line, we'll never know if we are alone but we could conceivably find out that we're not, so, like Poodle says, keep looking. Where is the harm?

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:58 pm

Io wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:06 pm
Bottom line, we'll never know if we are alone but we could conceivably find out that we're not, so, like Poodle says, keep looking. Where is the harm?
We'll know if the delegation arrives. Maybe they'll tell us that radio is a long obsolete technology, and that we wasted a lot of time and money on it.

But it's a bit of a devil's choice... On one hand, the notion of other intelligent life in the universe is hard to accept, but on the other hand, science seems to tell us that our chances of being alone are increasingly unlikely. It seems a bit uncomfortable either way.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:02 pm

It's not uncomfortable for 99.99% of the people here, people interested in such things. Nor is the idea that we might not be alone so difficult to accept for them. The remainder of the people here are, happily, disregardable.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Io » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:10 pm

landrew wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:58 pm
Io wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:06 pm
Bottom line, we'll never know if we are alone but we could conceivably find out that we're not, so, like Poodle says, keep looking. Where is the harm?
We'll know if the delegation arrives. Maybe they'll tell us that radio is a long obsolete technology, and that we wasted a lot of time and money on it.

But it's a bit of a devil's choice... On one hand, the notion of other intelligent life in the universe is hard to accept, but on the other hand, science seems to tell us that our chances of being alone are increasingly unlikely. It seems a bit uncomfortable either way.
It's not uncomfortable at all. And even if it were wouldn't you rather know and be able to make informed choices than remain ignorant?
Oh, wait, what am I saying. :roll:

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:17 pm

Io wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:10 pm
landrew wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:58 pm
Io wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:06 pm
Bottom line, we'll never know if we are alone but we could conceivably find out that we're not, so, like Poodle says, keep looking. Where is the harm?
We'll know if the delegation arrives. Maybe they'll tell us that radio is a long obsolete technology, and that we wasted a lot of time and money on it.

But it's a bit of a devil's choice... On one hand, the notion of other intelligent life in the universe is hard to accept, but on the other hand, science seems to tell us that our chances of being alone are increasingly unlikely. It seems a bit uncomfortable either way.
It's not uncomfortable at all. And even if it were wouldn't you rather know and be able to make informed choices than remain ignorant?
Oh, wait, what am I saying. :roll:
My original argument was that this hasn't been a very good way of finding the answers to those questions. SETI seems like doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Io » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:28 pm

landrew wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:17 pm
My original argument was that this hasn't been a very good way of finding the answers to those questions. SETI seems like doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
But what you're failing to realise is that that isn't what's happening. They're "doing the same thing over and over" (or, more accurately, "searching" which isn't a single-moment task) and not getting a result. There's a difference between getting a negative result and not getting a result.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:31 pm

Io wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:28 pm
landrew wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:17 pm
My original argument was that this hasn't been a very good way of finding the answers to those questions. SETI seems like doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
But what you're failing to realise is that that isn't what's happening. They're "doing the same thing over and over" (or, more accurately, "searching" which isn't a single-moment task) and not getting a result. There's a difference between getting a negative result and not getting a result.
By "not getting a result," I meant the primary goal of finding evidence of intelligent life has not been met.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Io » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:37 pm

Right, which means (brace yourself) they've not finished yet. Not reached a conclusion. No results so far.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:44 pm

Io wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:37 pm
Right, which means (brace yourself) they've not finished yet. Not reached a conclusion. No results so far.
How do you finish a fruitless task? Even if they covered every point in the sky some day, they may have missed a signal that was there at a different time. It starts to look to me like they are wasting their talents.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Io » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:46 pm

Fruitless? Oh, you have a result? You know something the rest of the world doesn't? Please, do tell.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:12 pm

Io wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:46 pm
Fruitless? Oh, you have a result? You know something the rest of the world doesn't? Please, do tell.
No result after decades? Is that unclear?
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Io » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:17 pm

It's inconclusive. You seem not to comprehend astronomical timescales. Did you think it would happen before you popped your clogs? I'd be surprised if my great great great grandchildren had heard anything*. No excuse to stop.

*leaving aside the fact that I don't have kids.

What exactly have you got against SETI?

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:37 pm

Io wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:17 pm
It's inconclusive. You seem not to comprehend astronomical timescales. Did you think it would happen before you popped your clogs? I'd be surprised if my great great great grandchildren had heard anything*. No excuse to stop.

*leaving aside the fact that I don't have kids.

What exactly have you got against SETI?
Here we are at another impasse. I was excited about SETI when I first heard of it in the late 80s. I was disappointed when congress defunded it. I installed the Seti@home screensaver and ran it for years. It's just my opinion that it's time for them to either reconfigure, or take their marbles and go home.
Agree to disagree? There's no point in dragging this on any farther.
The job of a skeptic is to investigate the unexplained; not to explain the uninvestigated.

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Io
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Io » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:43 pm

landrew wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:37 pm
There's no point in dragging this on any farther.
That at least is true. I just think that if you don't consider them effective enough you'd be better pressed to suggest what they might do to improve rather than take the approach that "despite the fact that it doesn't really affect me I don't think what you are doing is worthwhile so I'm going to demand that you stop."

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by landrew » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:50 pm

Io wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:43 pm
landrew wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:37 pm
There's no point in dragging this on any farther.
That at least is true. I just think that if you don't consider them effective enough you'd be better pressed to suggest what they might do to improve rather than take the approach that "despite the fact that it doesn't really affect me I don't think what you are doing is worthwhile so I'm going to demand that you stop."
It also concerns economics. I happen to believe that money is finite, and I'm sure most people involved in research agree. That is the most compelling reason to stop or reconfigure in my opinion.

Post edit: I fully realize that SETI is entirely privately funded, and does not use any tax dollars. My concern was that even private money is also limited and could be better spent.
Last edited by landrew on Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Io » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:59 pm

Fair enough, money is finite, but unless you're suggesting we roll out global communism the money that people make is theirs to do with as they please. It would be a far greater travesty to deny people their rightful earnings and autonomy to dispose of it how they wish than it would be to continue what some consider a fool's errand in The Quest For ET.
Your only option is to work how to better search and campaign for that.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Austin Harper » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:17 pm

They're not doing the same thing over and over again.

Let's say I have a table covered in 100 upside down cups. You know there is at least one marble under one cup. This is us. Now flip over the cup right next to the one we know has a marble under it. There is no marble there. Are there marbles under any other cups? You don't know.
Dum ratio nos ducet, valebimus et multa bene geremus.

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Re: SETI: When is enough enough?

Post by Gord » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:57 pm

landrew wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:49 pm
Lance Kennedy wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:40 pm
landrew wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:28 pm

There's a finite amount of money available in this world, despite the idea for some that it's unlimited.
That is like saying that a cake cannot feed more than 6 people, BEFORE you start mixing in the ingredients.

Money is variable. There is no fixed amount. It increases with good financial management, and drops when those in charge are idiots. We know that global GDP in 2017 was 75 trillion dollars, but it does not mean it will be 75 trillion next year. In fact, the total keeps increasing as a long term average, even when inflation is accounted for.
So there's an endless well of money.
OK, I understand now.
No, there isn't "an endless well of money". But if SETI shuts down, you can't have the money anyway: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SETI_Inst ... supporters
...Contrary to popular belief, and their Form 990, no government funds are allocated for its SETI searches – these are financed entirely by private contributions. Other astrobiology research at the SETI Institute may be funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, or other grants and donations....
Shutting down the SETI Institute will redirect some public funds away from non-search related programs.
...The Institute consists of three primary centers: The Carl Sagan Center, devoted to the study of life in the universe, the Center for Education, focused on astronomy, astrobiology and space science for students and educators, and the Center for Public Outreach, producing "Big Picture Science," the Institute's general science radio show and podcast, and "SETI Talks" weekly colloquium series....

...The Carl Sagan Center is home to over 80 scientists and researchers organized around 6 Research Thrusts: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Exoplanets, Planetary Exploration, Climate and Geoscience, Astrobiology and SETI....

...The Center for Education promotes STEM education through NASA and NSF-funded programs aimed at teaching and inspiring children, young adults and educators in physical sciences with emphasis on astronomy and astrobiology....
https://www.seti.org/faq#obs7
...Didn't NASA have a SETI program?

Yes. The NASA effort was called the High Resolution Microwave Survey (HRMS). In 1993, Nevada Senator Richard Bryan introduced an amendment that eliminated all funding for the NASA SETI program. The cost of the program was less than 0.1% of NASA's annual budget, amounting to about a nickel per taxpayer per year. The Senator cited budget pressures as his reason for ending NASA’s involvement with SETI.

So who funds the SETI search now?

Current SETI searches are funded by donations, mostly from individuals among the public and a few foundations and corporations. Major donors have included William Hewlett, David Packard, Gordon Moore, Paul Allen, Nathan Myhrvold, Arthur C. Clarke, Barney Oliver, and Franklin Antonio....
So yeah, you already got your nickel back. :P :lol:
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"Imagine an ennobling of what could be" -- the New Age BS Generator site
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