SETI

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  • #449
    Bob Marley
    Keymaster

      SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. It has a distinct difference from the general search of extraterrestrial life in that it focuses on intelligent life forms as opposed to, say, microbes. Assuming the Universe has an infinite size with an infinite number of bodies, there is a high possibility that intelligent life exists beyond our borders. Why hasn’t it been found? Could be for any number of reasons but one of the primary could be due to space being enormously large and the incredible distance between various bodies. As we remain mostly confined to our own solar system in terms of exploration, there is nevertheless a wealth of discovery ahead.

      If we do happen to come across other life, intelligent or otherwise, the question becomes: would be indeed recognize it? Thus far, our search has mostly been limited to our conception of life. That is, a carbon based life form. In terms of searching for signs, we’ve been focusing on radio telescopes. Not to discount these efforts but it’s possible that intelligent life out of our region of space could be quite different, using vastly different technology. As to our perception of life built from organic compounds, why not consider non-carbon-based amorphous life forms (including silicon-based) and communicating with, say, vibrations? Instead of looking for life based on specific elemental makeup, perhaps we should instead focus on behaviors and patterns, redefining our definition of what constitutes a life form. These patterns could be based on colonies of rocks in certain places that act in certain ways, for example. By these new definitions, one could actually consider our planet as a life form itself. If we look on a smaller scale, we could potentially come across life that we never thought would exist otherwise.

      An interesting situation would be on a water world as the compounds would need to be both insoluble in water and nonreactive. Looking a basic solubility chart, we see that many gasses and elements in the lower range are soluble in water. Essentially, we’re looking at heavier metals and their alloys and elements such as aluminum. We know iron is reactive in water and corrodes, which causes it to weaken so we can generally rule that out. Titanium and gold have a low reactivity so those could potentially be good candidates, along with other elements in that range.

      With regards to looking for radio transmissions, it’s quite possible that alien civilizations are using a form that we cannot detect using current technology. We’re also limited by the activity on Earth. We do have filters to filter out terrestrial waves and there is discussion of putting a radio telescope in space but the issue remains that we’re assuming other civilizations are much akin to our own. We’re making progress in light transmitted data, perhaps the same could be said for other civilizations? As with components of life, we may very well be searching for the wrong signs. If we change our search patterns, we may very well have better success.

      I very much think the search is worth the effort, however. In the event that we make contact and are able to somehow communicate, the exchange of culture could bring a great boon for our civilization even if trade and knowledge doesn’t come with it. There’s also the possibility that they’ll be hostile but I still believe the benefits outweigh the risks. In the event of a hostile encounter, there exists the possibility that it will help bring the human civilization together.

      A nearby intelligent race may already know of our efforts to locate new life forms – they may indeed be “pleased” that we have moved on to different methods of search.

      #1965
      Bob Marley
      Keymaster

        Regarding Europa, from the recent studies they’re now leaning towards life not being able to survive but enough oxygen to somewhat support a colony of sorts. I find fault with this as I still believe it’s a mistake assuming oxygen is required for life as a whole. A specific example on Earth is the tardigrade. If they can live in a vacuum, why shouldn’t we expect other forms of life to do the same?

        #2011
        DeVaultSetter
        Keymaster

          Interesting, tardigrades would be most happy in mosses and lichens, and require bacteria for sustenance. Going for micro-lifeforms is the best bet.
          Didn’t know about Li-Fi, thanks.
          Yes, life as we know it, and we know that we don’t know too much of what’s out there. For instance, how do we know life (as we don’t know it) might exist within a class of stellar bodies? Creatures perhaps possessing the physical capacity to withstand a few thousand degrees at the sun’s surface, but not the temperatures of the hot corona. Could it be those crafty beings expel those pesky hot energy packets to keep cool? 😛

          #2029
          Bob Marley
          Keymaster

            Tardigrades are near indestructible! 😀

            Yep, many different possibilities that definitely need consideration. Take Venus, for instance. There are some theories that microbial life could be living in its clouds. Fortunately, this is a planned mission but by a private party. We need more publicly funded missions to keep the private sectors from laying exclusive claim to any findings but I digress.

            This could very well be extended to stars and gas giants, as you mentioned. In Skyward Sword, we had this lovely fellow. May sound a bit farfetched but it’s quite possible! Who knows what lies beyond our understanding?

            #2064
            Bob Marley
            Keymaster

              Haven’t had a chance to read it yet but had an interesting article come in related to what we were discussing: https://futurism.com/the-byte/biologist-says-sun-conscious

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