View Poll Results: Will we contact ET's?

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Thread: Will we make contact with an extra-terrestrial life-form before life ends on earth?

  1. Top | #1
    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Will we make contact with an extra-terrestrial life-form before life ends on earth?

    What do you think?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Somebody must have taken a wild stab at the probability of this happening..

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    Strange criteria--barring catastrophe life will continue on Earth for something like a billion years. That doesn't mean we will be around, though, nor does the end of life on Earth mean we won't be around.

    While we are still on Earth it's very unlikely we will make contact with any ETs and if we do it will be a *VERY* ill omen as it means there's a virtual certainty that we will soon be gone.

    If we make it to the stars it's even more unlikely we will find any ETs out there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    Strange criteria--barring catastrophe life will continue on Earth for something like a billion years. That doesn't mean we will be around, though, nor does the end of life on Earth mean we won't be around.

    While we are still on Earth it's very unlikely we will make contact with any ETs and if we do it will be a *VERY* ill omen as it means there's a virtual certainty that we will soon be gone.

    If we make it to the stars it's even more unlikely we will find any ETs out there.
    The question would be: will life in some form on earth make contact with life in some form on another planet. Even if the species that makes contact isn't human, presumably we'd be a distant ancestor.

    Whether we might exist on another planet after life ends on earth brings an interesting component to the question.

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    Content Thief Elixir's Avatar
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    I think not. Distances are too vast, and to any entity that has solved that problem we are probably too uninteresting.

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    According to sources, the universe is 13.8 billion years old. Human beings have had modern technology for, give or take, 100 years. Even if we assume there has been another species in the range we can detect that is sending out detectable signals, the odds of that happening during the same time period is about 0.0000000009%. If you add the probability that life evolves in that range at all, let alone intelligent life, the probability becomes astronomically (no pun intended) low. To me the whole thing seems like a pipe dream.

    But then.. we'll never know if we don't try.

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    Content Thief Elixir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    According to sources, the universe is 13.8 billion years old. Human beings have had modern technology for, give or take, 100 years. Even if we assume there has been another species in the range we can detect that is sending out detectable signals, the odds of that happening during the same time period is about 0.0000000009%. If you add the probability that life evolves in that range at all, let alone intelligent life, the probability becomes astronomically (no pun intended) low. To me the whole thing seems like a pipe dream.

    But then.. we'll never know if we don't try.
    Give my record on these kinds of things, there are probably intelligent beings on Enceladus trying their best not to be discovered by their bumbling neighbors on that little blue inner planet.

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    Depends on what you mean by 'contact'.

    I am relatively certain that we will find extra-terrestrial life, at least in the form of microbes, before the human race dies out. I think that we will also contact them physically, sooner or later. The chances of finding intelligent ETs, and communicating with them in the same time frame, however, seems vanishingly small. I would never rule it out, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elixir View Post
    I think not. Distances are too vast, and to any entity that has solved that problem we are probably too uninteresting.
    I disagree--the thing is life won't remain confined to Earth.

    Even with very pessimistic estimates an intelligent species can colonize the galaxy in tens of millions of years. Those distances won't remain too vast.


    The fact that we have not already detected ETs is pretty scary. Nature got a hundred billion rolls of the dice, no starfaring ETs?? The odds against a planet developing a starfaring race have to be at least billions to 1.

    We have a pretty good idea of star formation and we can see that planets are abundant (the failure to detect anything Earthlike is more a matter of the techniques being used--we see Jovian worlds because they're far easier to see.) so the worlds are out there.

    The limiting factors we can see:

    1) The development of life. Looking at our own world this seems unlikely to be an issue as we can't measure the time between when life was possible and when it arose.

    2) The development of multicellular life. That took billions of years, perhaps we were very lucky and it normally takes longer.

    3) The development of intelligence. From looking at Earth this doesn't seem to be a problem.

    4) The suitability of the world for industrialization. An intelligent species that developed on a water world might have quite a problem here. We have no data on how likely terrestrial planets are to be water worlds.

    5) The propensity of intelligent life to destroy itself before it escapes it's planet. We can see this is scary but obviously we have no data on how likely it is.

    6) The amount of time a planet remains suitable for life. We eeked in under the wire here, 99% of the calendar was already gone before we showed up. While it's only about 80% of the total time when life would be possible we will be entering an era of ever increasing temperatures--a world not favorable to big, slow-reproducing (thus slow-evolving) creatures.

    7) The absence of major catastrophes. Earth has seen some bad times in the past that wiped out most life but nothing wiped it all out. Projecting from what has hit us the odds of a cosmic reset button are about 1 in 2 billion years--we have been lucky in this regard.

    Multiplying these must end up with at least billions, probably much more. It's unlikely that #4 is a serious factor in this regard and #1 and #3 do not appear to be serious factors. Thus we are down to #2, #5, #6 and #7.

    One or more of these factors must be a doozy.

    This is why I regard contact with ETs as a very ominous event--if we see another planetary civilization that means that #5 must be a very big factor--and since once we colonize the solar system #5 becomes very hard to accomplish it means it's going to strike soon.

    Of course contact with a galactic civilization carries no such ill omen but if there were one out there why haven't we see it? Earth's intelligence is readily detected at interstellar distances (you don't need to understand our radio broadcasts to notice the excess radio energy), why haven't we already seen them??

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    What do you think?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Somebody must have taken a wild stab at the probability of this happening..
    Okay, 99%. Sooner or later we're bound to establish a Mars colony. How long can it take after that before a new species evolves from one of the microbes that hitched a ride with us. Presto, extra-terrestrial life-form.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel
    This is why I regard contact with ETs as a very ominous event--if we see another planetary civilization that means that #5 must be a very big factor--and since once we colonize the solar system #5 becomes very hard to accomplish it means it's going to strike soon.
    I'm not sure I'm following.

    Do you mean that if planetary civilizations tend to end as a result of intra-civilization wars, the particular civilization that (in your scenario) survived and moved beyond its home planet enough to be close enough to attack Earth if they so choose would attack Earth and wipe out human civilization?

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