Samir’s Selection 03/02/2015 (a.m.)

  • tags: politics gerrymandering election explainer

  • Jeff Wise

    tags: MH370 aviation flight mystery

  • tags: SETI astronomy FrankDrake controversy policy 2015

    • These critics add that it’s bad form for scientists to attempt such interstellar communication without getting permission from the rest of humanity. Plus there’s the question of what, exactly, a message to the stars ought to say.

      Thus one of the greatest scientific mysteries — Are we alone in the universe? — leads to a thorny political and cultural question: Who speaks for Earth?

    • Brin, a signer of the petition protesting the campaign for active SETI, said we don’t know what’s out there and shouldn’t presume that aliens are benign. He said there are roughly 100 scenarios to explain why we haven’t heard from the aliens so far. About a dozen of those scenarios are unpleasant, he said.
    • He said he thinks it’s too soon to engage in active SETI. We don’t know enough.

      “I think it’s a waste of time at the present. It’s like somebody trying to send an e-mail to somebody whose e-mail address they don’t know, and whose name they don’t know.”

    • When Drake plugs his estimates into the Drake Equation (and who is more entitled to do so?), he comes up with 10,000 alien civilizations that we could detect if we looked in the right places with the right techniques.

      “It’s 10,000 that we can detect. There are a lot more,” Drake clarifies. “A lot more young ones that can’t be detected because they don’t have the technology, and there are older ones that have technology that is so good that they don’t waste any energy.

    • Why, a reporter asked Tarter, should we try to pick up signals from an alien civilization?

      “We’re curious how many different ways there are to do this thing called life,” she said. “And we’re curious if it’s possible for us to have a long future.”

    • Tarter isn’t discouraged by SETI’s null result to date. She says our ability to detect signals, though much improved since 1960, remains limited.

      “We’ve explored one eight-ounce glass of water out of the ocean,” she says.

    • “The absence of strong radio beacons, television broadcasts, robotic spacecraft, obelisks on the moon — all of those absences add up to give us the suggestion that our galaxy is not teeming with technological life,” Marcy said.
    • Bottom line: No one’s going to be beaming signals to the aliens anytime soon.
    • Rogue alien-hunters can always go it alone, of course — and they have. For example, a Russian astronomer, Alexander Zaitsev, has repeatedly beamed messages to nearby stars. Even NASA has gotten into the act, beaming the Beatles song “Across the Universe” toward the star Polaris in 2008
    • Drake said he doesn’t worry, as some do, that we would become depressed by contact with a superior civilization. Children aren’t depressed by the company of adults, he says. He compared SETI to doing research on ancient civilizations on Earth, such as the Greeks and the Romans.

      “We’re going to do the archaeology of the future,” Drake says. “We’re going to find out what we’re going to become.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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