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.) After you've finished checking out those links, if you have some spare change (or more) and would like to support Techdirt, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: aliens, astrobiology, dyson sphere, extraterrestrial life, fermi paradox, goldilocks zone, seti


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2015 @ 5:35pm

    "or maybe we're actually alone"

    Yeah sure. That must be it.
    Haven't found any yet so that must mean there aren't any.
    How can one refute such evidence?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 21 Apr 2015 @ 6:08pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    avideogameplayer, 21 Apr 2015 @ 6:39pm

    There's always the chance that aliens look at us as ants...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2015 @ 6:46pm

    Typo: "Goldilock's"

    The girl's name was Goldilocks ("locks" as in hair, cf. Sherlock)—so it's the Goldilocks Zone, not Goldilock's Zone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    MrTroy (profile), 21 Apr 2015 @ 7:40pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    CharlieBrown, 21 Apr 2015 @ 7:51pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Alien Rebel (profile), 21 Apr 2015 @ 8:11pm

    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.
    --

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2015 @ 8:12pm

    If advanced aliens exist that can traverse the cosmos, then their technology is advanced enough that they can send probes the size of mosquitoes to earth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Pixelation, 21 Apr 2015 @ 10:23pm

    Re:

    Think of all the alien probes my bug zapper has killed...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Michael Ho (profile), 21 Apr 2015 @ 10:33pm

    Re: Re: Typo: "Goldilock's"

    Fixed. Thanks for the grammar link.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Pat, 22 Apr 2015 @ 6:26am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Oblate (profile), 22 Apr 2015 @ 6:53am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Pat, 22 Apr 2015 @ 6:56am

    Aliens?

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2015 @ 6:59am

    Re: Re:

    whoooosh

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 22 Apr 2015 @ 8:33am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 22 Apr 2015 @ 8:35am

    Re: Dyson Spheres

    Yes, that's a very odd assumption to make. Particularly considering that our own civilization has been making huge strides in using power more efficiently, and we're really only just beginning on that path.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2015 @ 9:16am

    But as they say with the lottery, you can't lose, if you don't play.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 2015 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re:

    I'm thinking about how my back yard must be a massive alien observation post, but only during the summer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 22 Apr 2015 @ 11:18am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Alien Rebel (profile), 22 Apr 2015 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Dyson Spheres

    Keep in mind one key indicator of intelligence is the ability to make predictions about the future and then modify structures and behaviors for optimal performance.

    We have Congress; an excellent argument for the count of known intelligent species in the universe to still be ZERO.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 22 Apr 2015 @ 11:26am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Zonker, 22 Apr 2015 @ 11:34am

    Re:

    They probably already send a battle fleet to attack our planet, but due to a terrible miscalculation of scale was accidentally swallowed by a small dog.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.