DailyDirt: To Seek Out New Life And New Civilizations…

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The search for extraterrestrial life hasn’t yielded much evidence that there’s anyone else out there. We could be looking in the wrong places or not looking with the right instruments to detect faint signals — or maybe we’re actually alone. But as they say with the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play, so we won’t find any aliens if we don’t continue looking. (Assuming that aliens aren’t already on their way to come and get us.)

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Comments on “DailyDirt: To Seek Out New Life And New Civilizations…”

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orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That is neither evidence, nor a claim, it’s another hypothesis.

And if you want to get picky with words, we are, in fact, alone. No observable neighbors in any other sense means “alone”, regardless as to how many other people live on the planet.

The likelihood that there are species with intelligence and tech like ours, making themselves obvious, is very, very slim.

OTOH, we can, especially as techniques and technology improve, identify life elsewhere, simply by finding free oxygen and spectral evidence of things like chlorophylls, for values of life similar to ours.

I’ll assume there is life elsewhere, probably a lot of it, but in any meaningful sense, yeah we’re alone. But you can go on operating on belief while talking about evidence all you want. It’s a free country.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Re: Typo: "Goldilock's"

If you want to be that picky, it should then be either the Goldilocks’s Zone or the Goldilocks’ Zone – both with the same pronounciation. The former is arguably more correct, the latter is arguably more acceptable; if only they were the same thing.

See http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/apostro.asp, rules 1a, 1b, 1c.

Pat says:

Re: Re: Typo: "Goldilock's"

Not to be even pickier, but Goldilocks doesn’t actually OWN the zone, it’s a term used to describe the state of the zone (as being able to support life), not who the zone belongs to.
You would not say red’s zone for a zone that is red, or hot’s zone for a zone that is hot.
Therefore it is Goldilocks zone, and never Goldilock’s zone or Goldilocks’ zone.

CharlieBrown says:

Another Maybe

Maybe no one has mastered space travel yet? I mean you could have very advanced civilisations, right, but they simply haven’t worked out how to travel properly in space. It is also possible that radio waves expire after a while, so if that is the case, we won’t pick up alien signals and, likewise, they won’t pick up ours.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Another Maybe

It’s also possible that interstellar travel is simply impossible.

“It is also possible that radio waves expire after a while”

They do, in a sense. The power of an electromagnetic wave decreases as a function of the square of the distance from the source. In other words, it falls off really fast, and the farther away it is from the source, the faster it falls off. For any radio signal, there is a distance at which that power falls to undetectable levels no matter how sensitive your detector is.

Alien Rebel (profile) says:

Dyson Spheres

From the linked article-

“The basic idea is that all technological civilizations require ever greater sources of energy.”

How typical of humankind’s lack of imagination. It assumes that intelligent life would remain in the same needy organic form it was in when it crawled out of some warm puddle. Resource dependence and the fear of scarcity are at the heart of all your potentially extinction-level conflicts and activities, so it should be obvious that any life worthy of the title “intelligent” re-engineers itself to be less dependent, and more robust and adaptable.

The Midichlorians are shaking their little heads about all you ponderous meatbags; trust me.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Dyson Spheres

I believe the statement stems from the idea that a population grows, or it dies. Stagnant populations usually die just as quick as declining populations. Only growing populations thrive. This would be especially true on an interstellar level as cosmic events like gamma ray bursts will deal with any civilization that isn’t expanding into space at a sufficient rate. So power usage would go up even as the race gets more efficient. Especially when they reach the ability to travel in space since space is so large – the power needed to reach even the closest star is astronomical.

Oblate (profile) says:

Dyson spheres

The article describes a key difference from ‘traditional’ Dyson spheres, in that it seems to state that they would be occupied on the exterior of the sphere. The previous descriptions I had seen of larger ones were occupied on the interior, and spun to simulate gravity. While this seems unstable, it’s not an unsolvable problem. One other problem is that there would be no natural ‘daylight’ since the star would be enclosed by the sphere (and underfoot). One obvious solution to this problem would be to build the sphere around a white dwarf that was part of a binary system, so the other star would provide lighting to the surface. To astronomers, this would appear as a single star with a mysteriously large wobble, with maybe a slight possibility of an occasional transit of the sphere. A widely spaced binary would probably be preferable, with the primary being a larger, brighter star to be able to provide sufficient light at that distance. I note that there is an entire class of binary stars (Astrometric) where the secondary star can not be identified, according to space.com. Obviously not every one of these would have a Dyson sphere hiding the secondary, but it might be an interesting area to begin investigating.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Dyson spheres

Being on the outside is a BIG advantage as the sphere will block the fluctuations in output (flares, coronal bursts, etc) as well as much of the usual radiation. As to light levels, just use lights. If you use humans as an example, a well lit room is usually more than 100 times dimmer than a bright sunny day outside – we just don’t need nearly as much light as we get to see properly. Humans all around the world do just fine at night without a sun-lit sky to help.

You could also genetically engineer the race to work in lower light levels if you wanted to really cut back on light necessity.

Pat says:


It is possible that there are aliens… sure. It is even possible that there are intelligent aliens.

But if you only take into account the numbers, you’re missing a very large part of the facts that we know.

The Universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old.
The solar system is 4.6 billion years old.
Earth is 4.5 billion years ole.
It too over 300 millions years for life to appear after Earth formed.

So life on Earth is about 3.8 billion years old.
It took over 1.7 BILLION years for multi cellular life to emerge, and there’s only been “intelligent” life as we know it for 200 thousand years.

So it’s almost certain that life exists somewhere else, but Intelligent life with technology? Yes, it IS entirely possible that we are the first. And if we’re not the first, we came and are still so close to annihilating ourselves that it is also possible that emerging intelligence is not sustainable.

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