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Are we alone in the universe?

A recent article on CNN left me feeling .

Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell claims that, once again, the guv'mint knows that aliens have visited Earth, and are covering it up.

Now, the Drake equation is an interesting exercise in cerebral onanism, but for my money has too many irrelevant variables such as fc - intelligent life elsewhere may be sufficiently advanced that they don't give a rat's south-40 about who else is out there, and instead concentrate on maximizing conditions on their own spatial lifeboat...

All I have to do is look at the deep-field and ultra-deep field images, multiply the infinity of galaxies I observe there by the total area of our sky, and say to myself, "How flapping arrogant does a person have to be to assume that we are the pinnacle of that infinitely supreme creation?"

Nobody's ever seen a Higgs boson. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but there are enough empirical signposts to make it worth spending gozillions of dollars to find it. Conversely, people have been spending substantial sums of money to locate extraterrestrial life, and thus far we've come up with nothing. In all the "reported" UFO sightings in my lifetime, why has no one ever been able to get a decent photo instead of the fuzzy Frisbees™ we have all come to know and love?

My two very unscientific penn'orth:

  1. Even assuming calculations based on the Big Bang theory (i.e. the universe is finite in size) are correct, the value for N* in the Drake Equation is mind-boggling. And as N* approaches the infinite, the probability that N = 0 approaches 0. Yes, there is other intelligent life out there.
  2. We are probably being watched, or have been at some point.
  3. We have a long way to go before anyone else thinks we're worth open contact, and
  4. No, the guv'ment doesn't know any more than anyone else.

In the meantime, I'll focus on trying to make Spaceship Earth a place that works for everyone.

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Apr. 21st, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
The problem is most of mankind cannot fathom "infinity". Man needs a beginning, end and boundary. And the empty void the universe exists in does not have any of these. The chances of our universe being a satellite in the void is also unlikely.

I believe it is inconcevable for us to be the only life and the only self-aware life in the universe.

I also believe the tyrany of distance will prevent us from ever finding such life.
Apr. 21st, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
Ain't that sad? So we have to search for meaning down here, don't we...

Apr. 21st, 2009 12:46 am (UTC)
The main _issue_ with locating exterrestial life (and vice versa) is that radio and the radio age on any given civilization is very short lived, maybe 300 years or so in any given civ. (we're actually getting near the end of ours, we have at most, another century of radio before something better completely replaces it)

So given the speed of light, any civ that we can listen to, is likely already past their radio-age and won't hear us for a while yet. We ain't alone, but we're probably not in shouting distance yet.
Apr. 21st, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
Excellent points! All I know is that I'm stuck in the wrong century...
Apr. 21st, 2009 09:16 am (UTC)
♫ I've seen things, I've seen them with my eyes... ♫

I know from personal experience that we're not alone. I've seen a few different types of craft that can't be terrestrial. I got a good long look at one in particular and saw how it operated. It generated a small gravity well ahead of it in the direction it wanted to go, and "fell" in that direction, toward the well, that always stayed ahead. I doubt very much anyone from Earth has that technology.
Apr. 21st, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
Well dang, lucky you... I wouldn't mind a close encounter of any kind.
Apr. 21st, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC)
Baptist John Piper has addressed the claim that we must not be all that meaningful given the size of the universe. He says the universe was not made to represent the significance of anything in it, but to give an understated hint at the greatness of God. If that's the case, it's conceivable that Earth is the only inhabited planet in the universe.

Personally, I don't really lean either way. My only strong conviction is that if any aliens do exist, they bear little to no resemblance to us.
Apr. 21st, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
Interesting ideas. Unlike Sagan, I don't have any worries about our significance, or our place in the universe. Regardless of how big creation is, as Secoh mentioned upstairs, the distances involved and the inhospitable nature of our solar sisters means that this Earth is all we get.

Personally, I think we're just one of many such worlds.
Apr. 22nd, 2009 07:05 am (UTC)
Sometimes I think we are alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case the idea is quite staggering. --Arthur C. Clarke


The Old Wolf

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