Oxford scientists say: Looks like no other intelligent life in whole universe (but keep looking)

THX1138

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One thing too is if an intelligent culture did develop on the opposite side of the galaxy from us at the same time and started to send and searching for radio signals around the same time as us, we will never receive them at all; the galactic core will block it all, except for maybe x-rays.

Also, they would be looking in the same/similar way as us; along their own part of the galaxy and outwards. Therefore, from their perspective they are all alone.

Just because we haven't received a signal does not mean one has not been sent to us. This also holds true for any spectrograph imaging we have done to determine life on known habitable planets. How far away are they? And we can't base the forming of life on our own planet's timeline either. There seems to be a definite organized randomness going on out there.

JMPV!
 

Extollager

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But this is an assumption?

The science is that allowing (obviously) for abiogenesis and the consequent spread of bacterial life, the jump from bacteria to eukaryote by endosymbiosis between bacteria and archaea is hugely unlikely.

It is regarded as an absolutely unique and one-time-only never repeated event upon the planet earth. Bacteria and archaea swarm the earth in billions of trillions -- so why isn't it happening all the time?

Although the abiogenesis of prokaryote bacterial life is possible elsewhere in the universe, the jump to eukaryote> intelligent life is not at all likely?

In the end, if we are going to use terms like infinite and almost infinite -- there are going to be an infinite, or almost infinite, number or worlds that contain an exact, or almost exact replica of me? But is there any justification to assume just because 'me' happened once here -- that I am bound to happen elsewhere too?
Ordinary usage allows "almost infinite," etc. But something is either infinite or it's not; it can't be "almost" infinite. There's no point in a finite series, no matter how long, at which you are almost to infinity.

(Same thing with "unique" -- something's unique or it isn't; it can't be "pretty unique.")

But I agree with your point. Rvery time you flip a coin it's 50-50, even if you flip it 900 trillion times.
 

paranoid marvin

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Personally I think we will find life, or evidence of past life, in the waters of one of the moons in our solar system. It probably won't be intelligent by our standards, and perhaps only plant life, but I think it will be there.

I agree that life which is considered 'intelligent' by our standards will be much more dificult to find. Not because of the vast distance between stars, but because of the miniscule time window of two civilisations capable of communicating with each would find themselves in.

Tbh I don't think I want us to find intelligent aliens out there in my lifetime. I really dontvthink that we would like what we saw. This is what Stephen Hawking thought, and I see no reason to disagree with him

What would we do if we found a hornets nest at the bottom of our garden?
 

RJM Corbet

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Ordinary usage allows "almost infinite," etc. But something is either infinite or it's not; it can't be "almost" infinite. There's no point in a finite series, no matter how long, at which you are almost to infinity.

(Same thing with "unique" -- something's unique or it isn't; it can't be "pretty unique.")

But I agree with your point. Rvery time you flip a coin it's 50-50, even if you flip it 900 trillion times.
The proton and electron have exactly equal and opposite charge, enabling atoms to form -- it is a fact that just IS. There's no reason or solution or justification. It just turned out like that for us.

The 'fine tuning' details for the existence of intelligent life on Earth are beyond all possibilities of coincidence as occuring spontaneously elsewhere. It's not at all likely, much less inevitable ... imo
perhaps only plant life
Plant life -- one single cell of a single blade of grass -- is incredibly complex to the level of miraculous -- orders of magnitude beyond bacteria IMO
 
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Lostinspace

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I haven't read through everyone's posts but this does seem very encouraging. If producing intelligent life was easy, we would have to look at future filters to account for the Fermi Paradox. In "The Singularity Trap" by Dennis E. Taylor possible filters suggested are war, environmental collapse or the development of hostile AIs (the Dishwasher Liberation Front).
 

paranoid marvin

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One thing too is if an intelligent culture did develop on the opposite side of the galaxy from us at the same time and started to send and searching for radio signals around the same time as us, we will never receive them at all; the galactic core will block it all, except for maybe x-rays.

Also, they would be looking in the same/similar way as us; along their own part of the galaxy and outwards. Therefore, from their perspective they are all alone.

Just because we haven't received a signal does not mean one has not been sent to us. This also holds true for any spectrograph imaging we have done to determine life on known habitable planets. How far away are they? And we can't base the forming of life on our own planet's timeline either. There seems to be a definite organized randomness going on out there.

JMPV!

The time it would take for a radio signal to get from one side of the galaxy to the other is going to be at least 100,000 years. We've been able to pick up frequencies for less than 150. It's not only the distortion of the wave in space, its the likelihood of it being sent and received by lifeforms during a rather narrow period of time.

Our best hope are the probes sent into deep space, but at the moment all they're saying is 'here we are, all alone and vulnerable. Come and get us!' If aliens are anything like humans, we will be in big trouble.
 

Matteo

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Our best hope are the probes sent into deep space, but at the moment all they're saying is 'here we are, all alone and vulnerable. Come and get us!' If aliens are anything like humans, we will be in big trouble.
Or they might be bald and hot...:cool:
 

Elckerlyc

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Our best hope are the probes sent into deep space, but at the moment all they're saying is 'here we are, all alone and vulnerable. Come and get us!' If aliens are anything like humans, we will be in big trouble.

Assuming:
a. aliens exist
b. we have not erased ourselves as a species before our probe is being hailed by these propositioned aliens
c. they are anything like us, which seem unlikely
d. they are not paranoid and overly suspicious, thinking such naivety can't be real and therefor it must be a trap
e. they are prone to 'get us', for whatever purpose
f. they are interested at all in us of what is ours and useful to them
g. have the resources and abilities to finance a space armada to visit us
h. have nothing better to do than to spent years and years traveling the lightyears that separates us (and back again, I hope)
i. are dumb enough to overlook the fact we once have beaten the Martians (OK, bacteria did that for us, but still...)
j. anything else that are yet unknown unknowns
 

paranoid marvin

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Assuming:
a. aliens exist
b. we have not erased ourselves as a species before our probe is being hailed by these propositioned aliens
c. they are anything like us, which seem unlikely
d. they are not paranoid and overly suspicious, thinking such naivety can't be real and therefor it must be a trap
e. they are prone to 'get us', for whatever purpose
f. they are interested at all in us of what is ours and useful to them
g. have the resources and abilities to finance a space armada to visit us
h. have nothing better to do than to spent years and years traveling the lightyears that separates us (and back again, I hope)
i. are dumb enough to overlook the fact we once have beaten the Martians (OK, bacteria did that for us, but still...)
j. anything else that are yet unknown unknowns


We send out probes into space showing who, what and where we are. Presumably in the hope that we find life, that it will attempt to reply to our message or even to visit our planet (why else give directions?).

The chances are that if an alien race is capable of travelling to Earth, it has a much higher level of technology than us. The chances are that if they do decide to travel halfway across the galaxy, it isnt out of idle curiosity. They will come with a purpose (and no, I don't buy the Star Trek 'first contact' ethos)


That purpose could be benevolent; they may want to share their technology, build bonds of friendship and/or introduce us to a wider community of planets and civilisations. Or their purpose could be mercantile or even hostile, and they could want something from us; either voluntarily or by force.

As Stephen Hawking stated, when an advanced civilisation meets one that is much less advanced, it doesnt usually work out well for the latter; even when the attempts of the former are well intentioned.

When we send information about ourselves out into space, we are really hoping that any aliens that respond will be nothing like us.
 

Elckerlyc

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Yes, I get it was naive to send data with our home-address etc. into the dark woods. Also pretty futile.

Given that Voyager I and 2 are traveling at a snails pace of approx 10 miles per second (see here ) through interstellar space, it will take them about 75,000 year to reach the nearest star (Alpha Centauri), if they were going in that direction.
The changes of being noticed and intercepted somewhere in the immeasurable void that is interstellar space seems so remote as to be negligible. In 108 million years it will fall, still unnoticed, into some gaseous exoplanet and disappear without a trace, thus ending its lonesome, depressing life.
 

Extollager

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See, this is what fascinates me. Many people believe there must be creatures of more or less human intelligence "out there." I'm not talking about "UFO nuts" but people who have this idea in the back of their minds, and think it's probably just a matter of time before contact is made. But what if civilization survives for 300 years and in all that time there is no evidence (as there is none now) for such "aliens" existing?

I think that situation could contribute to a kind of malaise, even if in other respects things are reasonably pleasant.

People like to reason that in a universe so vast -- trillions of galaxies with trillions of planets -- life more or less like us "must" have "developed." But that same vastness means that the chances of contact are vanishingly low.

So what do you folks think? Accept the premise that 300 years from now civilization exists and things aren't too awful, but there has been absolutely no genuine indication of "aliens" out there. What do you think that will mean for people?
 

Ursa major

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But what if civilization survives for 300 years and in all that time there is no evidence (as there is none now) for such "aliens" existing?
I'm pretty sure that civilisation has already survived for longer than 300 years, so where is this malaise of which you speak?
 

Vertigo

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would still be ten-a-penny
That is a huge and unfounded assumption.
My assertion is mathematics based.
And I'm afraid it is not mathematics based. If we find two totally independent examples of life then statistics insists that in such a vast universe there will be many. But so long as we only have one there is absolutely no statistical foundation for any assumption there will be more. I'm afraid that is the mathematical situation. You simply cannot build any statistical predictions, no matter how large the sample, based on a single instance.

I'm not saying I don't hope or even believe there will be more but, for now, I'm afraid that is faith not science. I don't deny the possibility (though the amount of extraordinarily unlikely events makes it highly unlikely) but I do deny the certainty.
 

paranoid marvin

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That is a huge and unfounded assumption.

And I'm afraid it is not mathematics based. If we find two totally independent examples of life then statistics insists that in such a vast universe there will be many. But so long as we only have one there is absolutely no statistical foundation for any assumption there will be more. I'm afraid that is the mathematical situation. You simply cannot build any statistical predictions, no matter how large the sample, based on a single instance.

I'm not saying I don't hope or even believe there will be more but, for now, I'm afraid that is faith not science. I don't deny the possibility (though the amount of extraordinarily unlikely events makes it highly unlikely) but I do deny the certainty.


I understand what you're saying, but the way I think of it is this. If something happens once, it means that it is possible; we don't have to have irrefutable proof that it has happened twice. In fact we don't have to have proof that it has happened once, but its always nicer when it has.

Once we know something is possible, the next quesrion is how likely is it to happen again. Obviously the longer the time frame, the more likely. The more moons, planets, solar systems, galaxies and universes the more likely.

For me this is a case of probability, which is a which is a branch of mathematics

I would say that I'm not a scientist or a mathemetician!

My comment of ten--a-penny was a little tongue in cheek, but I do believe that the universe is too big and too old for it never to have happened before.
 

Extollager

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I'm pretty sure that civilisation has already survived for longer than 300 years, so where is this malaise of which you speak?
Ha -- yes -- just in case I wasn't clear, I mean 300 years from now.

For some people, 300 years from now is Star Trek come true. But I have my doubts about whether human beings will have visited Mars by then -- and certainly don't think we are "going to the stars."

But again -- am I the only person here intrigued by the question -- But what if civilization survives for 300 years and in all that time there is no evidence (as there is none now) for such "aliens" existing? -- given the expectations that people have?


Lookit all the people who believe intelligent life exists on other planets. I realize that is not the same as "people who expect that we on earth will have conclusive evidence of intelligent life on other planets or indeed contact with it." But I suppose that's commonly linked to the other notion.

I think this is a fascinating topic. In the absence of any evidence for intelligent life on other planets, will space agencies survive that long, or even for another hundred years? Or will more and more money be put into space exploration because the need for that evidence will become desperate?
 

Extollager

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So do you think that the hypothetical people 300 years in the future will be living in a state of being terrified? But that's an interesting thought -- global terror but not of disease, famine, war, etc. but of being the only intelligent beings in the vast universe. But real, unmistakable terror. Your doctor, your AI designer, your friend, you yourself terrified. So would everyone have to be sedated all the time? I suppose we could expect that 300 years from now there'll be sedatives of an effectiveness far beyond anything available now.
 

paranoid marvin

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I think if it were (somehow) ever proven that life on Earth was, and had only ever been, the only life on any planet ever, it would bring a great sense of loneliness and sadness.

It perhaps may make us value life even more, and hopefully stiffen our resolve to not allow it to be extinguished from the universe forever.

It may strengthen religious belief, it may make us realise just how special our planet is and every person and animal that lives on it.

For as far back as we know, we have gazed up at the stars and seen meaning in them. Whether it was gods, angels or aliens, we have always believed that the heavens are there for a purpose.
 

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