We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re phucked
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  1. #1
    Roll Out Jeremy
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    We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re phucked

    I love this article, not sure why. Maybe the layman's terms....
    Where are all the aliens? - Quartz
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  2. #2
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    I believe in a variation of possibility #8 - Higher civilizations are aware of us, but have concluded that we're not worth visiting and just moved on.

    Good article though.
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  3. #3
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    That was interesting. Kinda puts into perspective how F'n big the universe is.
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  4. #4
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    Interesting article, but I think it kind of ignores the simplest and most obvious solution: Relativity as understood today is basically correct, with only minor refinements to macro-level mechanics left to be discovered. Additionally, no sentient species is immortal or otherwise lives beyond a few hundred years (evolution makes that likely as a species capable of living thousands of years would either reproduce very slowly and not evolve much or overpopulate quickly). This means:

    1) Faster than light (or even travel near light speed) is impossible. Accordingly, interstellar travel beyond immediate neighbors (such as proxima centauri) is impossible. No aliens can ever physically reach us and we can't reach them. The "generation ship" idea of having a slower than light starship utilizing a crew that span many generations requires such scale that no civilization could possibly acquire enough energy to get it into orbit. Or, every generation ship has eventually resulted in the death of all occupants in transit because the logistics of creating a machine with infinite life without an outside source of repair materials or supplies are insurmountable.

    2) Meaningful communication between us an any other advanced civilization is effectively impossible. If the incidence of intelligent life is such that the next civilization is 5,000 or 10,000 light years away, there is no way to have two-way communication. The sender will be long dead before the communication reaches the recipient. One reason we may not have received one-way communication is that wide broadcasts such as were experienced during our 20th century are actually an anomaly. In another century, the Earth isn't going to be radiating much communication into space- everything is digital now.

    3) Sagan's type II and type III civilizations are impossible. You cannot harness the entire energy of a galaxy without faster than light travel. The logistics of becoming even a type II civilization may be insurmountable for any civilization.

    I suppose my explanation is a refinement of "we're phucked"- that the great filter is ahead of us. It's not really a filter- just a barrier that is a result of the laws of physics. But I don't really consider our collective failure to become masters of the universe being "phucked." It does not mean there isn't incredible technological advancement ahead of us- it just means we will never be interstellar travelers. But did you really think you were going to travel to another star in your lifetime?
    Last edited by nealric; 01-14-2016 at 12:58 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by nealric View Post
    Interesting article, but I think it kind of ignores the simplest and most obvious solution: Relativity as understood today is basically correct, with only minor refinements to macro-level mechanics left to be discovered. Additionally, no sentient species is immortal or otherwise lives beyond a few hundred years (evolution makes that likely as a species capable of living thousands of years would either reproduce very slowly and not evolve much or overpopulate quickly). This means:

    1) Faster than light (or even travel near light speed) is impossible. Accordingly, interstellar travel beyond immediate neighbors (such as proxima centauri) is impossible. No aliens can ever physically reach us and we can't reach them. The "generation ship" idea of having a slower than light starship utilizing a crew that span many generations requires such scale that no civilization could possibly acquire enough energy to get it into orbit. Or, every generation ship has eventually resulted in the death of all occupants in transit because the logistics of creating a machine with infinite life without an outside source of repair materials or supplies are insurmountable.

    2) Meaningful communication between us an any other advanced civilization is effectively impossible. If the incidence of intelligent life is such that the next civilization is 5,000 or 10,000 light years away, there is no way to have two-way communication. The sender will be long dead before the communication reaches the recipient. One reason we may not have received one-way communication is that wide broadcasts such as were experienced during our 20th century are actually an anomaly. In another century, the Earth isn't going to be radiating much communication into space- everything is digital now.

    3) Sagan's type II and type III civilizations are impossible. You cannot harness the entire energy of a galaxy without faster than light travel. The logistics of becoming even a type II civilization may be insurmountable for any civilization.

    I suppose my explanation is a refinement of "we're phucked"- that the great filter is ahead of us. It's not really a filter- just a barrier that is a result of the laws of physics. But I don't really consider our collective failure to become masters of the universe being "phucked." It does not mean there isn't incredible technological advancement ahead of us- it just means we will never be interstellar travelers. But did you really think you were going to travel to another star in your lifetime?
    Oh great. Now I can't watch Star Trek, Star Wars ever again
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    They have enough in common to blast down it.

  6. #6
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    Great read, thanks for posting. I've always been the dreamy type, wondering what's out there, what things will be like in 50,000 years, etc. I don't understand why people aren't interested in these things, and are happy to just exist and ruin their physical shell before they die too young.
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  7. #7
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    Nealric nailed it. People just don't realize how far away things are in space.

    Also, humans are going to go extinct. That's what species do. Just about any specie you can think of has had a longer track record on the Earth than we have, and yet we use our overdeveloped brains to worry about how soon we're going to go extinct.

    If we don't quit daydreaming about other worlds to live on and get deadly serious about protecting the one we've evolved on, we're going to go extinct sooner rather than later, along with all the other species we're sending into oblivion.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziscwg View Post
    Oh great. Now I can't watch Star Trek, Star Wars ever again
    You just have to be happy suspending disbelief. Relativity kind of puts the kibosh on the entire Star Wars/Trek universe (really the entire Sci-fi genre involving interstellar/galactic travel). They propose faster than light travel, but ignore the time travel that would be part and parcel of doing so (and quite necessarily so).

    My favorite ignoring of physics from Star Wars was in the latest installment when the Millennium Falcon enters a planet's atmosphere at light speed. What they leave out is that the result of doing so would be the instant vaporization of the space craft, its immediate surroundings, and quite possibly the entire planet.

    For a fun scientific analysis of a massive object traveling near the speed of light through an atmosphere:

    https://what-if.xkcd.com/1/

  9. #9
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    bummer, was really hoping that humans could find a higher civilization to provide some mentoring...

    because we are a Class A clusterfark on our own.

  10. #10
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    Maybe there IS a God, and we're the only ones He made...

    I wonder why that wasn't one of the choices?

  11. #11
    Roll Out Jeremy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    Maybe there IS a God, and we're the only ones He made...

    I wonder why that wasn't one of the choices?
    I think that falls under stage III.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fordy View Post
    We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re phucked
    you sure that isn't AND instead of OR?
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

  13. #13
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    cause long distance space travel is a B
    one nation, under surveillance with liberty and justice for few

    still not figgering on biggering

  14. #14
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    one dark spot in the sky the size of a dime. Aim the Hubble at it for days.
    What did we find

    The Hubble Deep Field: The Most Important Image Ever Taken:eepAstronomy.com

    thinking we are alone defies probability
    one nation, under surveillance with liberty and justice for few

    still not figgering on biggering

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by atpjunkie View Post
    one dark spot in the sky the size of a dime. Aim the Hubble at it for days.
    What did we find

    The Hubble Deep Field: The Most Important Image Ever Taken:eepAstronomy.com

    thinking we are alone defies probability
    Alone is a "relative" thing. Especially in this case.

  16. #16
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    One major obstacle in contacting another civilization or them reaching out to us is the vastness of space and the 1/r^2 decrease in signal strength. Our communication sphere is only about 100 light-years in radius, and a lot of those first radio signals have probably been absorbed by interstellar gas clouds beyond our solar system.

    If you want a taste of just how unimaginably huge space is and you have plenty of free time to kill, try scrolling all the way through this scale model of our solar system:
    If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel - A tediously accurate map of the solar system

    Are we alone in the universe? I don't know, and I don't have evidence to credibly say we are not. However, I think it would be inexcusably egocentric to lean toward the notion that we are. Life as we know it is made of the most common stuff in the universe. If you rank the abundance of elements in the universe in decreasing order, living organisms follow that trend almost to the letter (the exception being noble gases which are chemically inert). We've discovered a couple exceptions to the following rule, but the vast majority of life is carbon based, and that is no accident. You can form more molecules with the carbon atom as the hub than you can with every other element combined. It should be no surprised that life--the most complex chemistry we know--is based upon it.

    Regarding interstellar travel, it's true we can't exceed the speed of light through space. Einstein's theories demonstrate that, but they don't place any limitations to space itself which we know is elastic. The physics of Star Wars and Star Trek are greatly different in that the former outright violates special relativity, whereas the latter uses plausible concepts to get around it. Miguel Alcubierre's theoretical warp engine uses real physics to show that you could potentially warp space-time in such a way to produce the effect of faster than light travel. Now, it requires an absurd amount of energy to accomplish, but the fact it's doable does give hope.

    As far as why we haven't found life elsewhere or why they haven't found us, our galaxy and the universe may not simply be old enough yet to have developed a large number of advanced civilizations. That may seem crazy considering our galaxy is about 12 billion years old and the universe nearly 14 billion, but when you consider the cosmic scale and the cataclysmic events that are happening all the time, perhaps the universe simply needs more time to settle. We're lucky to be in a galaxy that is not experiencing or recovering from a galaxy-on-galaxy collision where star systems are ejected in every direction, though that will change in about four billion years. Also, we're about 2/3 of the way out from the core where it's calm enough for conditions to be favorable to life. The inner half of most galaxies is a shooting gallery filled with incredible amounts of ionizing radiation and unstable stellar orbits.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SauronHimself View Post

    Regarding interstellar travel, it's true we can't exceed the speed of light through space. Einstein's theories demonstrate that, but they don't place any limitations to space itself which we know is elastic. The physics of Star Wars and Star Trek are greatly different in that the former outright violates special relativity, whereas the latter uses plausible concepts to get around it. Miguel Alcubierre's theoretical warp engine uses real physics to show that you could potentially warp space-time in such a way to produce the effect of faster than light travel. Now, it requires an absurd amount of energy to accomplish, but the fact it's doable does give hope.
    The Alcubierre drive has a few fatal flaws besides needing an absurd amount of energy.

    1) It can't be steered or controlled
    2) It's likely to destroy anything within it
    3) It would destroy anything in front of it (i.e. the destination planet)

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireform View Post
    If we don't quit daydreaming about other worlds to live on and get deadly serious about protecting the one we've evolved on, we're going to go extinct sooner rather than later, along with all the other species we're sending into oblivion.
    Don't really think it's an 'either/or' thing.

    We're not doing an insufficient job of protecting our home planet due to daydreaming about other worlds, rather it's due to certain large moneyed interests who have a vested interest in a particular status quo. And certain complicit politicians.

    Science fiction isn't killing the planet.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    Maybe there IS a God, and we're the only ones He made...
    If so, then the Universe seems like an awful lot of empty space for just one sentient species.
    MH: I want to go like my Dad did — peacefully, in his sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

    Sys: COMPLACENCY IS LETHAL. VOTE in November.

    Homer: I believe that the children are our future. Unless we stop them now.

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by nealric View Post
    I suppose my explanation is a refinement of "we're phucked"- that the great filter is ahead of us. It's not really a filter- just a barrier that is a result of the laws of physics. But I don't really consider our collective failure to become masters of the universe being "phucked." It does not mean there isn't incredible technological advancement ahead of us- it just means we will never be interstellar travelers. But did you really think you were going to travel to another star in your lifetime?
    Even if we never can travel faster-than-light, we can still be interstellar travelers.

    We just won't be able to travel to a great many stars, that's all.
    MH: I want to go like my Dad did — peacefully, in his sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

    Sys: COMPLACENCY IS LETHAL. VOTE in November.

    Homer: I believe that the children are our future. Unless we stop them now.

    Plat: I'd rather fellate a syphilitic goat than own a Cervelo.

    Seam: Saw Bjork poop onstage back in the day. It blew my teenage mind.


  21. #21
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    I had a really cool Battle Star Galactica lunchbox when I was in elementary school. I wonder if that's down in the crawlspace with my throwing stars...

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    Maybe there IS a God, and we're the only ones He made...

    I wonder why that wasn't one of the choices?
    Quote Originally Posted by Fordy View Post
    I think that falls under stage III.
    And according to Men In Black, our entire universe could just be one of God's kids experiments he/she/it is playing with.
    It's a fire road.............
    I'm on a road bike..........

    They have enough in common to blast down it.

  23. #23
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    Everyone is ignoring the ability to fold space.

    What if we find spice on Mars????

    Alpha Centauri could then be a weekend getaway in 20 yrs
    It's a fire road.............
    I'm on a road bike..........

    They have enough in common to blast down it.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziscwg View Post
    Everyone is ignoring the ability to fold space.

    What if we find spice on Mars????

    Alpha Centauri could then be a weekend getaway in 20 yrs

    only Sci Fi that understood propulsion is BS

    and intergalactic travel would be achieved through mind altering substances
    one nation, under surveillance with liberty and justice for few

    still not figgering on biggering

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by atpjunkie View Post
    only Sci Fi understood that propulsion is BS

    and intergalactic travel would be achieved through mind altering substances
    LOL, yah he was joking/referencing Dune.

    And when you think about it, faster-than-light travel via drugs is beyond hilarious. Imagine if Star Trek or Star Wars worked that way.

    "Damn Chewie, we're not baked enough, that Imperial Star Destroyer is gonna catch us! Quick, gimme another hit!!!"






    .
    Last edited by SystemShock; 01-16-2016 at 06:39 AM.
    MH: I want to go like my Dad did — peacefully, in his sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

    Sys: COMPLACENCY IS LETHAL. VOTE in November.

    Homer: I believe that the children are our future. Unless we stop them now.

    Plat: I'd rather fellate a syphilitic goat than own a Cervelo.

    Seam: Saw Bjork poop onstage back in the day. It blew my teenage mind.


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