back to article Space brains resign over efforts to attract ET attention

A pair of noted space thinkers have resigned from an international body in protest at plans to send out powerful radio signals to alien civilisations. The two men feel that the risks of contact with extraterrestrials - who would need to be much more technologically advanced than humanity in order to visit us - have not been …

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  1. Peter Fielden-Weston
    Alien

    When they find us

    they had better watch out.

    Any alien life form doing a 'First Contact' in this neck of the (interstellar) woods should know that the Prime Directive is laughed at by most of humanity.

    So ravening alien hordes when we find you, and we will, then we'll all have a single enemy to concentrate upon. And we're GOOD at war, VERY GOOD!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    If they do show up,

    and they ARE pissed, I hope we can all remember to keep an old powerbook around just in case all else fails.

  3. BoldMan
    Alien

    "they could spot it 1,000 light-years away"

    In 1,000 years time as the signal will travel, funnily enough, at the speed of light!

    Its pretty academic whether we actively beam "Hello sailor" messages out there as we've already been transmitting radio signals for about 100 years, so anyone within 100 light years already knows we exist and might already been on their way. Mind you when they get to a couple of light years out and start getting Pop Idol and X-Factor they might turn their Battlecruiser dreadnoughts around and head home as they will have realised that there is in fact no intelligent life on Earth.

  4. Paul

    Xmas list

    Well at least i know what to get them for Christmas - Tin foil hats and a subscription to 'They'r coming to get you' monthly.

  5. John
    Stop

    We're all DOOMED ...

    As soon as the aliens find out we're made of chocolate coated mint fondant, we've had it!

  6. jonathan keith
    Alien

    I for one welcome our new alien overlords

    But really, I would imagine that we're already making enough electomagnetic noise to attract the attention of anything nearby. All these Active SETI people are doing is just shouting a bit louder.

  7. chuckufarley
    Alien

    As if.

    As if we should worry. We still have a very long time before any messages reach the Romulans et al. Like everything from deficit spending to global warming to pollution, it's something our kids and great kids will have no problem coping with.

    Besides, this is one case when those things might work in our advantage. Who would want to rule a red hot, toxic planet where all the people are too poor to pay attention?

  8. Robert Harrison

    Phew

    "As an example, the people at the Allen Telescope Array - a new, dedicated SETI detection rig built with the aid of $25m from zany Microsoft megawealth figure Paul Allen - reckon that if another race were fooling about with an Arecibo-type setup, they could spot it 1,000 light-years away."

    ... In a thousand years time. One for the chldren's children's children's children's children etc to worry about.

    Oh wait, if we deal with it like we deal with climate change et al. then we'll be lobbying for the 'Radio Silence Act' in 950 years time with treaties on the amount of potentially interstellar war instigating radio noise emitted by the planet. Presuming we haven't all drowned in molten polar ice caps by then, or been eaten by murderous cyberloos, or contracted MRSA, or indulged in euthanaisa due to the pensions shortfall etc.

  9. David Evans
    Alien

    Sign me up

    I for one would like to volunteer my services for our Space Battlefleet & Interstellar Colonisation programme. A sound policy for a better Britain. Do I get an attractive jumpsuit? (No red, thank you).

  10. Ross

    The real issue

    Surely the real issue isn't so much being obliterated/enslaved by aliens, as the ridiculous waste of money. Surely it would be better to shut down all the SETI operations and spend the cash on something slightly more useful? Or is that just me?

  11. Daniel
    Pirate

    i'm trying to imagine ...

    ... a bunch of Red In^H^H^H^H^H^H Native Americans all sitting by the beach arguing about whether they *really* ought to build a fire *quite* that big. And the "your mother smells like fish" smoke signals were a definite no-no ...

  12. Syd

    We come in peace

    I reckon that any alien civilization which has the vast intellectual resources required to come looking for us, will have long outgrown war and conflict, and will therefore be coming in peace

  13. Roger Kynaston Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Time to notify the NRA

    Methinks. These space transmitters are clearly a homing beacon for the Lizard Army and as such must be destroyed forthwith. I'm going to get my bunker ready in Iowa (oh bugger, it will have to be Yorkhsire moors for me)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Does that mean...

    That the whole planet willl have to do silent running drills?

    Red lights everywhere, and Jurgen Prochnow lookalikes sweating and motioning for silence... das planet LOL

  15. Steve
    Thumb Up

    @Ross

    Personally I'd rather see my tax money spent on SETI than on more discussions about the acceptable radius of curvature of an EU-standard banana, or whatever. If we're going to have aliens immigrating to us in hordes anway, we might as well have *real* aliens. With luck they won't want to pinch your cellphone, and it would make Saturday nights at the pub a lot more interesting...

  16. Andy
    Alien

    @Peter Fielden-Weston

    Yeah, we're pretty good at war. Been doin' it for a long time!

    I doubt, however, that the fast approaching alien hordes will feel intimidated by our ikkle nukes!

    Naa, they'll probably toy with us for a while until boredom sets in. Then they will naff off to a safe distance of lets say a million miles or so and blast the shit out of us! A nice big flash and lots of pretty colours later.... ...and off they go to the next planet full of silly beings!

    I say "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!" :O)

  17. Nick
    Unhappy

    If TV has taught me anything...

    ... it's that Aliens, no matter how advanced their technology, only know how to communicate by putting blunt metal instruments into your backside. So forget sending radio waves, lets just go straight for the intersteller nukes, yeah?

  18. John Imrie

    @ Roger Kynaston

    There is all ready a bunker on the Yorkshire Mores. The ultra top secret RAF Fylingdales. http://www.raf.mod.uk/raffylingdales/

  19. Alan

    on the plus side

    given that it seems likely aliens are going to destroy the planet we don;t need to worry about global warming anymore.

  20. James Le Cuirot
    Go

    Let them decide

    If a far superior race deems us totally beyond help and chooses to exterminate us then I, for one, would probably agree with their decision!

  21. Steve
    Paris Hilton

    @Syd

    I think that one of the points made by the guys in questions is that your hippy tree loving opinions and wishes don't alter reality. If aliens do exist (which is a big if) then we have no idea at all and no basis to make predictions as to their psychology.

    What does the ambassador for the human race Miss Hilton thing of active SETI, that's what we all need to know (and does it involve being naked and covered in gold paint?)

  22. Paul
    Alien

    hmm..

    ..paints a picture of a universe full of sentient life but everyone attempting to remain stealthed (planet sized faraday cage perhaps?) because they are scared that the next race over might drop by and eat/mate/probe/shave them. And that's why the SETI guys are wasting their time.

    also... isn't beaming out "fancy a fight / hello sailor etc." a kind of attempted "death by cop" or rather "genocide by alien bastard".. can't we all sue them for reckless endangerment?

  23. Greg

    Saying it doesn't chagne much misses the point

    Those, ElReg included, who say or imply it's not a problem because it changes nothing or almost nothing to the probability of being detected are missing the point in a shamefully flawed logic.

    You can't justify, from a logical point of view, an action that would be bad if it succeeded simply based on the fact it won't succeed.

    You have to compare each outcome (succeed/don't succeed) for each situation (send, not send).

    Assuming sending the beam won't succeed (meaning that won't be what gets us detected, regardless of whether we are detected for some other reason or are not), then the only difference between sending the beam and not sending it is a waste of money.

    So No increased proba of detecting -> wastes taxpayer's money

    Then if it can in any way be justified to do it, it HAS to be that it CAN do something, and that if it does, it's something that justifies spending money on.

    Now assuming it can do something, then obviously it can mostly gives humanity a random chance to get destroyed utterly so I guess it qualifies as not really worth spending money on

    Increased proba of detection -> should kill the bastard who willingly risks being responsible for the most efficient genocide that can be conceived. We should probably even call that ADNocide.

    So it leaves us with two choices: either it's the most political decision that can be imagined, or it's pointless and is misusing public money.

    More precisely, it's 99% chance of a waste of money, 1% chance of deserving immediate execution for deciding to stake the existence of humanity on the gamble that ET would be benevolent.

    Plus, whatever the actual chance of having consequences, the beamers clearly have the INTENT to stake humanity's existence if he just can get the occasion to do so, which should be enough to warrant being caged somewhere cold and isolated.

  24. GrahamT
    Alien

    Already here...

    ... and buzzing and probing rednecks for fun, coz they know nobody will believe them.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Interplanetary, quite extraordinary

    It's been a long time since I played Frontier, so my understanding of macro-orbital mechanics is rusty. I assume that the aliens will be able to work out which planet the signal came from, given that the Earth will have moved through the sky in the intervening centuries (let us assume that they pick the nearest planet along the radio beam, having run their universe simulator backwards a thousand years).

    Couldn't we therefore stick one of these stations on Mars instead, beaming a signal out into space? It could play a boastful loop, with CGI shots of an imaginary Martian empire, and an imaginary Martian emperor. "Come, and have at us! We Gods of Mars defy you! Look upon the Martian Empire, and Despair! We spit on the weak people of Earth, who also challenge us!"

    That kind of thing. The aliens will come to visit Mars, find that it is barren, and they will think that we conquered the Martians for them. And they will give us chocolates etc. The UN can have that idea for free.

  26. Mark

    @Ross

    Define "more useful".

    Signal processing that has introduced better and faster mobile services was paid for by the needs of SETI.

    Grid computing: seti@home.

    And since we're all going to die in a thousand years (or millions or decades, as per preference) and at some time the Sun will burn itself out meaning the end of any life on this planet rendering anything we do a pointless exercise, why not do another pointless thing just to find out if we really are alone.

    And, unless they are so far ahead of us that travelling 500 light years is feasible in a few months and that the energy cost of getting out of their own gravity well makes it a useful proposition to wipe us out, then they'd be able to tell us apart from the other planets because in the radio spectrum, earth outshines the sun. Noting the parallax change in visible vs radio wavelengths will show that something weird at the very least is happening here shows that we're already boned if someone wants to play safe and be the only entrant in the space race.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Build it on Mars

    There's a simple solution to all this. Just build the enormous radio beacon on Mars instead of Earth and keep an eye out for huge fleets of alien ships arriving en masse at the red planet.

    If they blow the shit out of it, no harm done. Just keep radio silence till they get bored and go home. In fact, this will save us a load of money, as we won't have to explore Mars any more.

    On the other hand, if they turn out to be peaceful-yet-foxy space vixens in skimpy silver outfits (and lots of cool alien technology to share with us), a quick phone call should put things straight in no time.

    I can't believe the combined boffinry of Russia and America didn't think of this already. Intelligence and common sense are not the same thing at all are they?

  28. Peter

    Why worry?

    The window of opportunity between them being advanced in enough to detect us and too advanced to think we're worth bothering with is probably tiny anyway.....

    Kinda like that brief period of your childhood when you found the chucklebrothers funny.

  29. Chris Morrison
    Paris Hilton

    Where's the Paris angle...

    If they are going to beam any message it should be 'One Night in Paris'

    That should get the aliens attention and make them come and have a look at what we're up to.

  30. Ferry Boat

    I say we broadcast loud and clear

    Everyone knows security through obscurity is no security at all.

    Or does not apply in the real world?

  31. Greg

    @Mark

    >Define "more useful".

    Signal processing that has introduced better and faster mobile services was paid for by the needs of SETI.

    Grid computing: seti@home.

    That's irrelevant.

    You don't pursue objectives that are groundless in and of themselves (or worse, possibly fatal to our species) just on the hope that it will lead to useful by-discoveries.

    If scientists think it would yield so many discoveries doing Active SETI, then just spend the would-be budget on research on precisely the issues that Active SETI would require solved, without actually sending any signal.

    You'll still get results, and you'll even spare some money.

  32. Paul Barraclough
    Alien

    When they arrive in the uk...

    ..no doubt our government will give each alien visitor £3k of taxpayers money, send them back to where they came from and show them how to set up there own business!!!!

  33. Tawakalna

    No future Federation..

    but a Terran Empire! If the aliens are peace-loving we'll just kill them and take their tech and turn it into phasers, warp drive and transporters; if the aliens are warlike we'll take a while longer to kill them and take their tech and turn it into phasers, warp drive and transporters. It'll take about as long as it takes the aliens to die of 'flu or for Jeff Goldblum to upload a virus on a Mac (it would've been Windows but the alien hardware isn't man enough for Vista)

  34. Thomas Martin
    Pirate

    They wouldn't stay. . . .

    Any extraterrestrial bunch coming here wouldn't stay. We have made too big a cock-up of our world and it would be too much for them to renovate it. Besides what we have done to our planet would most likely kill any extraterrestrials anyway. Of course, that just well may be why they stay away now...

  35. sue
    Coat

    Maybe I missed it.......

    but I can't believe no one has said that should the arguing win around to sending out these beams, and let's face it, that in itself will probably take millions of various currency and decades of political/scientific bods to just come up with a firm decision, and E.T. decides to pay a visit, the first thing we should all remember is 'Don't panic!'

  36. carey pridgeon

    its a bit late

    As Carl Sagan already pointed out, the first visual images beamed into space were a broadcast of one of Hitlers speeches.

    If any race followed that one up and watched our signals for a few more years, chances are they'd never come near us.

  37. Derek Hellam

    They are waiting

    They know we are here, they are just waiting until we reach a nice round figure, ripe for harvesting. With obesity levels the way they are, it won't be long.

    I wonder if the Turkey's have this discussion before Christmas? "But these humans are so advanced in comparison to us, so much more intelligent, they must be serene friendly creatures?"

    As we wait for an answer from space, minds immeasurabley bigger than ours are writing the "Human cookbook".

    Look thin people! be the last turkey in the shop!

  38. Tim
    Stop

    Hubris

    Interesting how most people have one of two opinions on alien contact: either an attempted war of conquest or a cultural and technological exchange enabled by our sheer worthiness in some kind of post-conflict, co-operative, Star Trek vision of the future.

    It's pretty arrogant of us (humanity) to assume either really. What'll probably happen is that the aliens will pop over and harvest us for food. Our weapons will be as about effective as a turkey flapping at Bernard Matthews. They'll treat us with the same consideration a sweaty Norfolk slaughterman up to his arse in giblets a week before Christmas gives his birds. Jeff Goldblum could save us about as easily as Dolly could engineer a rootkit - on BSD.

    As we're filleted by the green-skinned, bug-eyed Heston Blumenthal-alikes we will die indignant that the aliens never even gave a second's thought to conquest and enslavement. To prolong our existential agony futher it'll probably turn out that the aliens have long mastered sustainable farming; we won't even have the eternal sleep of extinction as comfort.

  39. Dazed and Confused

    Re: When they arrive in the uk...

    Nah... they'll promptly be issues with speeding tickets for travelling through deep space at speeds in excess of 60MPH.

  40. Anonymous John

    Well, I think we're safe.

    Our TV transmissions have now reached any civilisations within 50 light years or so. I can see any hostile ones watching Star Trek, and deciding not to f**K with the Federation of Planets.

    Look at how two of their starships disgused as comets have reacted lately.

    I'll get my cloaking device.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Why my post looked almost exactly like Ashley's...

    ...is not because I copied him.

    It is because I am already on Mars building a massive transmitter - and as any fule kno, it takes 8 minutes for my posts to arrive on El Reg's comments page.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why all the talk of fleets of battleships?

    Sending robotic guided interplanetary missiles is much more cost effective.

    In fact, an aggressive species might use a barrage of them as their standard greeting to other planets. It makes a certain grim sense-- any race sufficiently advanced to build potentially planet-destroying weapons would be forced to assume that since they can do it, any race they might come in contact with also could.

    Therefore, the most logical strategy would always be to deliver the first attack in all situations, to preempt any chance of the opposing species doing it first.

    For all we know, there might already be a missile on the way, scheduled to arrive at Earth some time in the next hundred years.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    re: Space brains resign over efforts to attract ET attention

    >I reckon that any alien civilization which has the vast intellectual resources

    >required to come looking for us, will have long outgrown war and conflict, and will

    >therefore be coming in peace

    Like any race that has the vast intellectual resources required to split the atom? Need we go into the first use of atomic energy in the Sol system by the primitive hew-mons of Terra?

    Any race capable of intersteller travel would be capable of wiping us out, even if not by having weapons technology they could still drop asteroids on us.

    Considering our complete inability to coexist with other people of the same species I think we are pretty much doomed if it comes to any alien contact.

    And graham, if someone turns up and has a look at mars don't you think they might notice the artificial satellites in orbit around earth?

  44. Johnny FireBlade

    Human beings aren't born, we are grown

    Of course, they *could* decide to utilise our biological energy as a sustainable power source...

    We were probably discovered ages ago and alien races have chosen to ignore us because we'd prove a liability if they got involved with us!

  45. Kurt Guntheroth

    alien motives

    Re: radio signals.

    Most radio signals are attenuated or reflected in the atmosphere. We're not as noisy as you might think. Only particular frequencies make it out into space. And the inverse square law makes the signal ridiculously weak. Radio telescopes are able to pick up the emissions of whole stars and galaxies undergoing energetic events. Picking up the TV7 news is a whole other thing.

    Re: alien motives

    Warp drive or no, coming here is going to be expensive. If "they" come, they're going to want something. Something important and valuable. Friendship? Yeah right. When was the last time you walked to Timbuktu to make a new friend? Search for knowledge? Yeah right. Non-commercial exploration only happens when it's cheap. Most exploration in history was about laying claim to valuable real estate, and subjugating the aboriginal population or wiping them out, either through genocide or accidentally through disease.

    8,000 years of recorded history has seen a lot of technological growth, but we're still the same bloodthirsty savages as ever. No amount of watching Star Trek reruns is going to make us less avaricious any time in the foreseeable future. So, unless we assume that aliens handled evolutionary pressure very differently, why shouldn't they be as greedy and zenophobic as we are?

  46. Bill Fresher

    Would you like to see our puppies?

    Aliens detect signals from Earth.

    Alien 1: "What the hell are they doing letting everyone know where they are?"

    Alien 2: "It's a trap!"

  47. David Simpson

    Say no to stupid Hippies

    "I reckon that any alien civilization which has the vast intellectual resources required to come looking for us, will have long outgrown war and conflict, and will therefore be coming in peace"

    Why exactly ? War advances technology faster than anything else and sadly for all the hippies in the world even if we all grew our hair and ate flowers people will still have disagreements. In any dynamic free society different people have different goals, Why will space be any different.

    I think if active SETI goes ahead the ROW should start bombing america, I for one see no need to start shouting about our place in the universe before we have any idea what else is out there just because a collection of rich nerds watch too much star trek.

  48. Dam

    Signal: Light years

    You're all talking about us being already 50-100 light years in.

    But errr...

    Now, seriously, you're aware that *radio* signals *don't* travel at the speed of light ?

    RADIO

    SIGNALS

    DONT

    TRAVEL

    AT

    THE

    SPEED

    OF

    LIGHT

    Sigh...

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't think it matters

    After all, aliens killed the dinosaurs, who didn't transmit any radio signals.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    good alien / bad alien

    technologically superior does not equal morally superior, as many many examples in earth history show. If we look at earth history a rough rule of thumb is: draw a line equi-distant between two cultures, whoever crosses that line second gets it in the shorts. given our current level of technology our only hope is to offer up our leaders as sacrifice. currently i have a fiver on the first message received being "ALL YOUR BASES ARE BELONG TO US"

  51. Huw Jenkins

    Hostile Aliens

    I would also like to volenteer my services to the greater good of humanity and take gunnery command of the NuBrit navy. Consisting of a converted telecom tower with pumped up microwave transmitters...

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    lolhumans

    Look at those crazy hoomans. most of them have an imaginary friend, and actually run their lives accordingly. they even fight over whose imaginary friend is the one true imaginary friend. They use their imaginary friends "teachings" as an excuse to rape the planet and overpopulate themselves.

    leave them be they are funny to watch on youtube., but if they escape the earth WIPE THEM OUT.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Bah.

    This is like being too scared to talk to pretty women in case they're nasty to you. I say send out loads of signals. Play the numbers game. One of the alien civilisations might like us.

  54. jai

    if aliens are of much superior intelligence....

    it's agreed that any alien species capable of recieving our signal and either responding or coming to visit are more intelligent and technologically advanced that we are

    so the question is, if it is such a good idea to advertise our presence here, they would the aliens not have done that previously? and so we would have already found them with the SETI project previously?

    since SETI didn't find anything, there are 2 conclusions

    1) aliens don't exist

    2) aliens do exist and know far better than to turn up the cosmic sub-woofer, switch on the intergallatic strobe lights and advertise that there's a party going on here and anyone's welcome to gate-crash

    humanity was always going to be wiped out by it's own stupidity, but i didn't think it'd happen so soon

  55. Hollerith
    Thumb Down

    Why not beam a little Reiki vibes, too?

    Given that there is a good chance that there is NOBODY out there, we could send astrology charts or whale song or whatever we fancy. We will not be in danger.

    It's easy to see how religions form: you start with a few odd events, people choose to believe the more outlandish explanations rather than the simple ones, because they are more fun and exciting and you can get all stirred up, and then people start organising meetings and publications, and then it gets serious and we built pyramids and temples and radio beacons.

    As far as I can see, without proof of, or any rational arguments for, the existence of aliens, all this effort is on par with Government-sponsored Therapeutic Touch or kirlian energy. In short, cobblers.

  56. Mark

    Why would they bother?

    Our physiology would probably invalidate our use as food source. If they have the energy to come all this way and have found a way to travel faster than light (if they haven't, then why would they make a 1000 year trip to kick the shit out of us when we'll be either 1000 years more advanced and maybe kick THEIR butt or 1000 years more dead) then why would they bother. If they were on the way past to somewhere else, they may think "Oh, a civilisation. Nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to make sure" or not give a rats arse.

    If they pass 100 ly away, is a side-trip to blow us up going to be worth the energy? Could we stop them? No.

    'course they may either tell us how to achieve FTL or we may be able to pick up hints if we spot them (so we can hide, in case they want to put us on the probulator).

    But they definitely aren't going to bother travelling 1000ly to take earth (there will be dozens of earths a lot closer than 1000ly to them).

    And money is spent on Gigli, so don't tell me SETI is a waste when that movie was made!!!

  57. Sillyfellow

    too late

    like GrahamT said. too late.

    i see this as a totally pointless discussion/issue. a bunch of posturing and smoke-screening as per usual..

    these so-called 'extra terrestrials' have been here for many many years. lots of different ones too. and this is known by our 'controlling authorities', who keep it secret from us idiotic public.

  58. John

    @Dam

    How fast do electromagnetic radio waves travel then? Faster or slower than light? Faster than carriage returns? Some CRs seem to have caught up with your message in transit - must be some kind of doppler effect. Does that mean you're travelling rapidly away from us as you typed your message?

  59. Chris
    Alien

    @Hubris

    I think even Tim has it wrong. I don't think we can assume they will eat us when our alien biology is more likely to be deadly poison to them. We are probably going to be treated with as much courtesy as we give to a colony of ants or termites. Either we are a nuisance to be exterminated quickly before we damage something valuable to them (like our planet), or a harmless collection of insects that small boys can amuse themselves with by torturing and squashing individuals at random. If we're lucky, some of us might only get dissected and/or fitted with anal probes. Oh, wait...

    -Chris

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Step up to Red Alert

    So in Xn years time, when/if the alien hordes arrive, regardless of if they heard any signal we send or not, the state of Britain's contribution to any planetary defenses will look like something from Red Dwarf.

    "Step up to Red Alert!"

    "Of course you do realise, that means changing the bulb?"

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evolution and Technology

    Aliens have two options for interstellar travel: technological development or evolution (admittedly the former would only be possible with a certain degree of the latter). Either way their motivation for travel is likely to be the pursuit of resources.

    The technological path might lend itself to the pursuit of intellectual enlightenment but would probably come in a distant second. Their technological development would likely enable them to obliterate us (if only by crashing their space vessels into key locations!) but they might not have evolved the same aggressive drives as the human race. Of course if they didn't decide to crush us and they didn't just completely ignore us for being too un-evolved they would probably keep their distance as we are a ridiculously destructive race and we might take some of them out by accident!

    The evolutionary path (think really big bug!) may result in our alien friends acting purely on instinct driven by a hive consciousness - it is unlikely they'd consider the morality involved in stripping the planet of the resources they need and depriving us of our breathing privileges.

    While I can understand the appeal of a common enemy for humankind to fight against (we just seem to be built that way) I'd rather people stop looking to the skies to provide answers to the world's ills and sort out the here and now. Threat of alien attack is more likely to produce results than wishing for a more peaceful humanity but I can still hope... :)

  62. adnim

    Nothing to offer

    What do we have here that could be of possible interest to extraterrestrial intelligence, an intelligence capable of bridging light years to reach us?

    Social interaction? I don't think so, they would have seen much of the media beamed out from our planet. They would understand what the prime motivation of mankind is, and the methods he is prepared to use to gain wealth, power and control. They know what we are like and they would want nothing to do with us. We as a species have little in the way of redeeming features, and likely nothing that would be of interest to the more intelligent life in our Universe.

    Materials? Maybe, life may be sparse in the Universe, our genetic material and that of other life on the planet could be a commodity for which there is a universal market. Why should our conceptions of morality or a life being of value be respected by another intelligence? Especially since these concepts are hardly respected by humans.

    I have come to the conclusion that any peaceful and benign alien life would simply ignore us, or observe in silence in the name of research. Any alien life with motivations or goals that are at all "human like" would just effortlessly take what they want with no regard for the consequence to humanity, life or the planet. Of course they will have rationalised the destruction if they have anything like what we consider to be a conscience.

    As for beaming out high power signals, I think this is just preliminary testing for galactic advertising. If there is life out there, then there is a market.

  63. Anonymous John
    Joke

    Send out some 419 emails.

    And wait for the money to roll in.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    @Dam

    RADIO

    SIGNALS

    ARE

    ELECTROMAGNETIC

    WAVES

    THE

    SAME

    AS

    LIGHT

    http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/waves_particles/lightspeed-1.html

    Maybe you're thinking of sound waves? In space, no-one can hear you fail remedial science...

  65. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Play them for ITSuckers...... Confuse them with your Dream Scenario.

    "the first thing we should all remember is 'Don't panic!'" Hmmm.... Now there's a novel disaster waiting to happen .... the Treasured head in the sand approach pretending everything going to be business as usual. I think a much better plan would be to credit them with a taste of the Good life if we wanted them to remain friendly lest any insult to their IntelAIgents turn them hostile. They would be sure to know every human weakness and how to XXXXPloit IT Remotely from Space.

    After all, if they are here to stay they are going to need supplies and we all know what is required for those. We wouldn't want them destroying that little set-up, now would we?

    Their advanced knol for our modern day baubles and beads, fast flash trash cash .... and Plastic Fantastic . What else of greater value would we have to Offer which costs us so little but which demands so much.

    They could then show us how their technology works at their leisure and in pleasure without breaking Open the Piggy Banks....... that is if that is of interest to them, of course. Suck IT and See, I suppose, would be the Best and Safest Bet and aSAP too.

    Turn Human Weakness into Alien Strength? It worked against earlier Vikings did Danegeld.

  66. Michael

    Beastie Boys...

    All I can think of is:

    Intergalactic, planetary. Planetary, Intergalactic...

  67. Michael

    Air...

    @ AC:

    "it is unlikely they'd consider the morality involved in stripping the planet of the resources they need and depriving us of our breathing privileges."

    Yes, but what happens when their giant, maid-shaped ship goes from suck to blow??

  68. b166er
    Stop

    We won't find them, they won't come

    Perhaps the reason that we've never discovered any EBE's is because they cloak themselves/derive their energy from something we've yet to discover.

    Maybe they haven't come to us because they haven't seen us cruising around the universe in vessels of our own and we are therefore nowhere near as interesting as other EBE's that are, and it would quite likely be like visiting a zoo.

    I opine that human race at this time has far too many preconceptions and 'facts'. Until it gets serious and realises that one day this planet will no longer sustain life, and enters the space race proper, a zoo we shall remain. Until then, we can continue to pay our taxes ;p

    I've also just REALISED, that your spell-checker doesn't like my spelling of REALISE! What 'kinda' alien language are you using here?

  69. Chris Bradshaw
    Boffin

    @ Dam

    It is interesting why no other life form has contacted us first - assuming intelligent life exists elsewhere (given billions of galaxies with billions of planets each, it probably does). Some of their civilizations will be millions of years ahead of ours - they must have astronomers and telescopes capable of detecting that there is a watery planet here.

    Why haven't they visited?

    1. no FTL travel, and no-one wants to spend thousands of years in a spaceship.

    2. they have already killed themselves off (pollution, global warming, atomic war, religion, ...)

    3. they are already here or have been (why does every culture believe in all-powerful Gods?)

    4. their freezer is still full of dinosaurs and mammoths...

    @ Dam

    Sorry to disappoint you, but radio waves do travel at the speed of light in a vacuum. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light or http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/waves_particles/lightspeed-1.html or do your own google search...

  70. Dean H.
    Go

    Send the signals

    A hundred years from now we will be very, very advanced technologically and spoiling for a fight. It takes a long time for the signals to cross space, and a long time for an alien invasion fleet to travel to us. If we want action in the future we have to send the invitations now.

  71. The Other Steve
    Alien

    I, for one...

    would happily be prepared to precipitate the destruction of the entire planet and every last human being, plant, animal, fish, bird and insect on it just to go to my grave with the smug satisfaction of being able to say "I fucking told you the aliens wouldn't be all serene and friendly, you stupid lentil eating hippy dickwads."

    But then, I'm just that kind of guy.

  72. Keith Doyle

    They might as well resign...

    If they haven't figured out the only really good argument for not doing it (the money would be better spent elsewhere) then these guys absolutely *should* resign.

    If aliens were able to detect us they'd likely be mostly curious, as we could probably answer some questions they have about the universe their in, just like their existence would do for us. In neither case is direct contact necessary (or likely). Given that, the only thing aliens detecting us would do is possibly elicit some thanks by them for providing enough information to answer a few questions they had, and that's about it. It represents more an act of goodwill on our part than anything else, as the chances it could ever benefit us in any way are extremely remote.

    In 1000 years our signals will only have made it through a pathetic 1% of our galaxy, and technology-using aliens would have to REALLY be plentiful to be that close (and as someone else pointed out, such plenty would have to be combined with a universal motivation to keep quiet or we would have ourselves detected some blabbermouth species by now), by the time aliens could see our aged signals we could have grown to be as dangerous to them as they might be to us (and perhaps we are already). If all that wasn't obvious to the "space brains" referred to in the article, they don't belong in the business anyway.

    Rather than spend any $$$ on a total longshot that if it would ever pay off wouldn't for thousands if not tens of thousands of years, we ought to use that money to do something a little more immediate-- reduce pollution, or poverty, or disease, for instance. Just about any need that we have seems a little more pressing than almost anything unlikely that could happen thousands of light years off in outer space a few thousand years from now...

  73. Michael

    @ Dam

    Really?? Radio waves don't travel at the speed of light?? You ARE aware that Radio waves and Visible light are just different parts of the same electromagnetic spectrum...right?? The wavelengths are different, but the speed at which the wave travels is the same.

    According to the University of Colorado Physics Department, "all electromagnetic radiation -- from radio waves to x-rays -- travel at the speed of light. In empty space this speed is approximately 300,000 kilometers per second" http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/waves_particles/lightspeed-1.html

    Radio waves are merely a longer wavelength, but in the same way that a school bus is longer than a sedan, they both (for the purpose of this example) move at 60 mph on the highway. Assuming an empty highway (vacuum), and they obey the speed limit (the laws of nature).

    So one last time, for the especially thick, radio waves and visible light are each forms of electromagnetic radiation, and it is a FACT that all EM radiation travels at the same speed in a vacuum.

  74. J
    Alien

    Ai...

    "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough"

    I wonder how to say that in Andromedan...

    Anyway, what the brain-dead, stupid morons who seem to revel in yelling "hippie" and foaming at the mouth at the very slightest suggestion of anything they don't like don't understand is the logic behind the "they're probably peaceful" argument. Of course it could be wrong. Hell, we can't even be sure one way or another, maybe time will tell (I wouldn't hold my breath), but the argument is not at all far fetched.

    It goes like this, in short words for your little hippie-frightened brains benefit: one only survives long enough to develop something like interstellar travel (specially of the "above light speed" variety required for them to just drop by at a whim) if one is not so aggressive that self destruction would occur before such developments. OK, so this is based on extrapolation from OUR behaviour, so who knows if it would apply to aliens? (or even to us in the long term, if we do have a long term) But it makes some sense anyway, and at least provides one minimally intelligent backing to some idea, instead of just blabbing "they're nice/ they're nasty" without any reason why it would be either way.

    One way or the other, whatever. Does not make any difference, does it?

  75. Tim

    RE: @hubris

    Reckon you've got a point there Chris. The assumption of delicious, nutricious edibility is of course nothing more than arrogance on my part.

    The best hope our fragile egos appear to have is that we are sufficiently poisonous for them to bother rendering us into a smooth paste to be used as a biological weapon in their own internecine wars.

  76. Mahou Saru
    Happy

    Think of the children!!!

    On the bright side if the do come and conquer Earth we can blame them for global warming

  77. DJ
    IT Angle

    This MUST be addressed at the next Dem/GOP debate!

    Think about it; what do health care, social security, immigration, environmental, or taxation issues mean when we're all subservient to a bunch of blood-sucking, spineless, self-secreting life forms? Oh, right. We already are. Never mind.

  78. Steve Medway
    Pirate

    We'll all be dead in a thousand years anyway!

    What's the big deal? By the time any alien race finally reaches our planet it'll be wrecked beyond our (and their) comprehension.

    It's more than just a bit likely the human race will have destroyed itself in 1000 years. Why not send lots of signals, I'm pretty sure the aliens have archeologists who can all start arguing as to the reasons why we wrecked our planet quite so spectacularly in such a short period of time ;-)

    You never know it's even possible that by the time the aliens turn up giant cockroaches will rule the earth - now that's what I call a nice present from a long dead species of idiots to out friends from outer space!

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    I seem to be having this tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle.

    " ... a huge atomic space battlefleet ... "

    Isn't that an oxymoron? Most atoms are pretty tiny as far as I know.

    Still, on the plus side, at least the Earth will be saved when the entire fleet is accidentally swallowed by a small dog. As long as no interfering busybodies have already given it a cheese sandwich that morning, that is.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @ John Imrie

    Fylingdales doesn't really have much of a bunker, just a reinforced control room. There was no way to protect the radar array from a cruise missile or tactical nuke, or even a few shoulder-launched spetnaz-specials (ever wondered why half the cast of Heartbeat have Slavic accents?). So they didn't waste money protecting it's operators from anything that would've already killed the technology.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    KPAX

    Forgot to mention KPAX, a damn good film which is based on the first novel of a series of books by Gene Brewer, the books are good too. Anyway we are all talking of light years and being limited by our current understanding of physics however the alien (or not) in K-PAX claimed to hitchhike on light beams and could travel at multiple times the speed of light without a craft. He was contacted not by radio signals but by the thoughts of a disturb human friend. He could, he claimed, travel interstellar distances in a matter of minutes.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    annoying them

    Some highly intelligent hive mind, communicating by sensitive radio waves at the speed of light. Is going to get spammed constantly for the next 1000 years .

  83. LaeMi Qian
    Stop

    come and have a go if you think you're hard enough

    "Come and have a good snigger if you are bored enough", more likely!

  84. BoldMan

    @dam

    RADIO

    SIGNALS

    **** DO ****

    TRAVEL

    AT

    THE

    SPEED

    OF

    LIGHT

    What?

  85. Louis Lohman

    But there's always "The Doctor" ....

    Not to worry. The Doctor is on our side. He may be the Last Time Lord, but one of him is worth a whole galaxy full of bad guys, any day of the week. He'll save us - and if he can't - well then, there's always Tom Baker.

  86. Jamie

    Bah

    I think its a bit of a non issue to be frank, if after x number of hundreds or thousands of years the miraculous happens and an ET civilisation picks up our transmissions what do you think is going to happen?

    A) if they're within a degree of our level of technology there's going to be nothing they can do except send a message back - Perhaps we could have a conversation with 1000 year pauses between replies...

    B) if their technology is vastly superior to the point of sci-fi ludicrousness then to be perfectly honest I think they're going to find us one way or the other pretty quick anyway. Radio silence isn't going to buy us the time we need to catch up in the tech stakes.

    C) their technology is somewhere in-between the above examples and they decide to make the 3200 year round trip in some sort of conventionally propelled vessel(s) - spending mind boggling resources in the process - then to be perfectly honest they would have to be pretty darn thick, i'm confident we can advance our technology enough to defend ourselves in the 1600 years it might take them to get here.

  87. Tim Butterworth
    Pirate

    Honey trap

    Or look at it this way... you send out a weedy 'Look how stupid we are' signal, but in the few thousands of years time it takes for the signal to get detected by the aliens and for them to get to us you tool up significantly. Humans detect aliens entering our space and Kapow! One captured alien race with a bounty of new technologies!

    In the last ten thousand years we have moved from hitting each other with sticks to fusing atoms together to potentially wipe out a million people with a single strike. Once we get the hang of dark matter production we will have access to a bomb that will make current nukes look like party poppers. If we really are at risk then we should be focusing all our efforts into creating dark matter bombs to protect ourselves with!

  88. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Considering the distance in space and evolution between us and ET

    They'd probably just ignore us. The Earth and humans are relatively young by the standards of a universe about 15 billion years old. So if an an alien civilization started, say just 500 million (just 3% older than us in universal terms) years before us and developed at the same relative pace as mankind, any conversation they would have with us would be about as fulfilling to them as one of us having a conversation with a gecko lizard (and not that cute Brit-accented Gieco Insurance gecko lizard either), which was probably the most advanced life form on earth about 500 million years ago.

    Doubt my logic? Just think, dear Reg reader, how you feel when some friend hits you up for advice on how to keep his 486 PC running Windows 95 up and running, or when the boss tags you to run down to the datacenter to nurse some obscure NT box running a key legacy app back to health. The last thing that I as an advanced demi-godly alien would want to deal with is a pack of shaved apes asking me if I can make Windows secure or validate their SAP integration :)

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Syd: We come in peace

    "will have long outgrown war and conflict, and will therefore be coming in peace"

    You forgot "and religion" if they get here and find out we've all called our teddy bears Bug Eyes we could be in for some serious probing and not the nice serene peaceful mind reading kind but the eye watering physical stuff.

    I actually read through all these comments to see if anybody had picked up on one point and Dean H. beat me to it so I won't bother repeating it. However there is still one flaw in the message out, received and aliens send forth battle fleet theory. I understand that there is a group monitoring asteroids that might impact earth and although there are some pretty big bits of rock out there the number that they have found and can track is thought to be only a tiny fraction of what could be there. Given that this is true it is not unreasonable to suppose that hordes of aliens are already hovering close by but we just haven't seen them yet.

    Maybe they have a bet on the outcome of the US election and are waiting for the result before deciding what to do.

    Alien 1. Yo Bug Eyes, told you those rednecks wouldn't vote for a woman.

    Alien 2. Yeah well, the coloured guy didn't win neither

    Alien 1. So what does that mean.

    Alien 2. WTF, did you hear what they call their teddies? Let's pull the trigger together.

  90. qrindoe

    They will use "a bible" or something in the first few days

    The europeans when they knew of new land/s accross the oceans.

    Then build bigger better ships.

    Whoever had the best infrastructure the English,French,Spanish and Dutch divided the earth among'st themselves to this day.

    Its going to be interesting now that we know there might be life out there ...may just maybe ...they do...If am right our galaxy the milky way might other planets that support life ....

    The question is....are we humans going to be conquering other planets in the name of the lord......or....are we going to have to wait for the Martin Luthers of the future on a strange planet to free us from ET.

    ........Life tends goes on.......

  91. Glenn Alexander
    Alien

    What would they want from us?

    Reproduced with author's permission ;-P

    .......

    "I don't give two shits for humanity just now," Steve shouted. He calmed down. "Besides. Currently Mars and the asteroids are being strip-mined. How long do you think that will take? I'll tell you - about 200 years. Then Earth? Not while Venus and Mercury are still full of minerals. We have several hundred years before they'll consider a big treaty violation like coming here."

    "They might want slaves."

    "A few teleoperators for robot equipment? Humans are hopeless at even that. We can't be interfaced to their computers properly."

    "Food then."

    "None of these species would find us tasty. We'd probably poison half of them. Besides, abducting cattle is less trouble and has more meat."

    "You're saying we're safe, for now."

    "I'm saying the aliens couldn't care less about us. If they stick to mining. Unfortunately this is looking like blowing up into a local resources war with us helpless in the middle."

    "What can we do?"

    "Very little."

    "Nuke them," proposed the president of the RSA (Reunited States of America, otherwise known as USA2, USA TNG or USA - the sequel's never as good!).

    "How long would it take to send a missile to Mars?"

    "I don't know. Not long."

    "Try six months. That's a hell of an early warning. They'd just knock it into the sun and call 'PULL'."

    "We should have kept at StarWars."

    "They made six movies. That's enough."

    "I meant the weapons system." The RSA President hissed through clenched teeth.

    "I know what you meant!" Steve hissed back. "Star Wars is just what we want to avoid here."

    ........

    ...This lack of awareness was probably for the best, since the present prime inhabitants of Earth have a rather unhealthy obsession with things being blown into tiny little bits, particularly each other, which is likely a long-term benefit for the galaxy on the whole.

    And no, aliens are NOT about to come down and run your planet for you for your own good. If you can't sort out your own problems without a nanny-patrol, why the hell would Galactic civilisation be the slightest bit interested in anything you might think you have to contribute to the universe? Your planet has been fully assayed and the gene pool archived. It can be easily decontaminated, stripped of artifacts of civilisation, and re-stocked less the primate species groups should you make the ultimate balls-up. It wouldn't be the first time it's been done down there!

  92. yeah, right.

    but wait...

    Does that mean that "klaatu barada nikto" really means "all your base belong to us"?

    Given the propagation time of said signal, we're far more likely to either (a) wipe ourselves out as a species or (b) beat said signal to its possible destination than we are likely to actually contact anything that gives a shit.

    To be powerful enough, the signal would need to be directional. Which direction then? Or is it going to be fired multiple times towards different stars? There's only what, several million to choose from after all. Then signal would have to be captured by the aliens, which assumes they are at a stage in their development that they actually have and use radio. Then they would need to recognize it as something more than background noise. Then ....

    Screw that. Seems to me to be a waste of money on a very long distance phone call where we're not sure the recipient is home.

  93. LaeMi Qian
    Happy

    Re: Most atoms are pretty tiny as far as I know.

    If you are a quark, they seem bloody HUGE!

  94. Chris
    Coat

    @@hubris

    On further reflection, I'd venture to guess that even toxicity would be a pretty long stretch. Our body chemistries would probably be so vastly different, we would not be able to be metabolized at all. There's no reason to believe they would even be carbon-based life. If Star Trek TOS is anything to judge by, they are most likely made of pure energy. But if they can't metabolize us, that would make human meat the perfect diet food - filling, but no "calories" - like eating sand. So maybe you're right after all, Tim.

    Of course, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and they would also then have to be an excellent diet food for *us*. May the most obese species win...

    I'll get my spacesuit, the XXL one...

    -Chris

  95. Paul
    Paris Hilton

    Alien life form

    The gold-encrusted alien tempress is already here...we should have known that she was not of this world :)

    This all sounds worryingly like Battlestar Galactica, without the homegrown Captain Cyborg element. BTW, will our intergalactic, multidimensional, hideously beweaponed, battlefleet operate on an eternal "it's a week before Christmas" strategy, to keep the crew from going space-happy? Our flagship, El Reg, would be the first to be dispatched into deep space should the aliens turn up, in order to be sure that the cream of humanity are preserved. Once the beer runs out, they should be able to start the fightback :)

  96. JeffyPooh

    Here's exactly what will happen...

    The aliens will examine the print-out, circle the data representing the signal peak, write "Wow!" beside it, publish pictures of it, update their Wiki, and then think nothing of it again...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SETI#The_.22Wow.21.22_signal

    Years later, when the aliens are contemplating sending a reply, a particularly handsome and intelligent alien name HoopYffej will post a message just like this one.

    Then God will wander in, notice that the Universe has locked-up in an endless loop again, and press the Reset button.

  97. Chris G Silver badge

    @ J

    Firstly how could anyone be frightened of a peace loving , stoned, brain ruled by emotion hippy?

    Secondly; the only way a race can reach the top of their particular food chain and become the dominant race on their planet is by being the hardest, most aggressive of whatever the planet has to offer. This being the case, the most likely reason for going to another planet is going to be aggression linked. Population pressure , financial pressure, hungry for almopst anything else.

    Also any one who can go to find strange new worlds will, like Kirk and co , be reasonably sure that should the inhabitants of one of these strange new worlds be a little uppity, they will be able to wipe them off the face of their own planet.

    The basic psychology for any race no matter how alien to go out and explore the universe is an aggressive psychology. Lions are big cuddly looking animals but experience tells us not to cuddle them, experience and a healthy dose of paranoia are what enables us ( humans ) to be at the top of our food chain. Intelligence and/or thousands of years of civilisation is no reason to expect any creature to be benevolent and to blindly assume so is criminally negligent.

    I always thought hippies were twats and you help to perpetuate that notion.

  98. peter wegrzyn

    Nuke 'em

    You can never be too sure.

    If I was an alien species I'd send a tiny little package of the most virulent biological weapon my technology could devise. Nasty little species, humans.

  99. snafu

    "Do you want to know more?"

    OK, space cadets, time to get serious: http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/index.html

    Search for "The Killing Star" in the following two pages, and enjoy the worldview:

    http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3x.html

    http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3aa.html

  100. John Benson
    Coat

    To Serve Humanity

    Judging by the general shape we're in, I hope they like veal.

  101. Jon
    Coat

    @John Imrie

    I had a look at that secret RAF site - do you know that NORAD is going to be tracking SANTA (Soviet-Alien National Treaties Alliance) this year? On the subject of aliens I have the take that they did this, and we're the result of a genetically modified food source that got canned by the Galactic public due to the unknown effect of consuming said meat. Consigned to the arse end of the unknown universe to be forgotten about. Until we start ringing the dinner bell again. Or we're the remains of a Penitentiary. Jury's out on that.

    I'll be out the back .....

  102. Michael

    @Chris W

    "Forgot to mention KPAX, a damn good film which is based on the first novel of a series of books by Gene Brewer, the books are good too. Anyway we are all talking of light years and being limited by our current understanding of physics however the alien (or not) in K-PAX claimed to hitchhike on light beams and could travel at multiple times the speed of light without a craft. He was contacted not by radio signals but by the thoughts of a disturb human friend. He could, he claimed, travel interstellar distances in a matter of minutes."

    First, let's point out the obvious, the KPAX is a work of fiction, and is therefore, a completely useless reference.

    Now, aside from that, if "we have a limited knowledge of <blah>" was anything remotely resembling defensible, I could claim your mother was, in fact, male, and you'd not be able to refute it "because we have a limited understanding of gender". Guess what? Light travels at the speed it travels by. That's not a function of our understanding of physics. It does what it does, irrespective of whether or not we understand it.

    Hitchhiking on a beam of light, you say?? When's the last time you were able to move 80 mph whilst hitchhiking on a truck moving at 60 mph? Your velocity simply cannot exceed the speed of that which propels you.

    There's a reason they're called "laws" of physics. They're not suggestions.

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Ignorance

    Reading this whole thing has just proven to me how ignorant the human species really is. Has anyone ever stopped to think about the Disclosure project or Exopolitics. Has anyone ever stopped think about the fact the power of our mind is far more than any piece of radio tech. Ever heard of an ARV(Alien Reproduction Vehicle) or a USO(Unidentified Sea Object). Has everyone heard of comet14p/Holmes. Extra Terrestrials are here and have been here on and off for millennia.

  104. Brian
    Coat

    the gate

    Its ok, we'll just use the stargate :-D

    *Goes to get his coat and Zat....*

  105. Morely Dotes
    Flame

    Bloody gits

    "It is a deliberate attempt to provoke a response by an alien civilization whose

    capabilities, intentions, and distance are not known to us."

    Assuming for the moment that an "active SETI" program works, we know for certain that the aliean civilzation is no closer than 4.2 light years distant, and it's a damn sight (like the odds are close to infinitely in favor) more likely they're more than 100 LY away.

    Radio waves are limited to the speed of light, you see. But I guess Michaud doesn't know that. Moron.

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Michael

    "First, let's point out the obvious, the KPAX is a work of fiction, and is therefore, a completely useless reference."

    Dear michael (or troll?), I would bow to your superior intellect but I think you'll find that's what the word "novel" means. However, taking you seriously for a minute, many ideas that were once put forward in novels have been turned into reality. If you believe that all knowledge has been discovered and there is no more to learn then I suggest you go back to the days when the Earth was flat or a time when it was thought that the human body wouldn't be able to withstand the forces involved in travelling at 30mph. You sound just like the naysayers of those days. Wathc the film and lighten up.

  107. Tim Coughlin

    Backround noise and nukes

    Even if there are any alien civilizations out there capable of receiving anything we are transmitting, I'm not so worried about ordinary transmissions. Think of them as the background noise of conversation. Its something you tune out. What gets your attention is person yelling "Yo, dip s!*t, over here!" which is what the directed, high powered signals are doing. Even though the odds of someone receipting delivery of a message from Earth is astronomical (sorry, I couldn't resist), it may not be the brightest move we could make.

    Oh, here's another thought. Remember all those test nuclear detonations (along with two not so tests) we've set off. Gamma-radiation pulses are also kind of noticeable. Especially if the source is close by... Having nukes and the willingness to use them on a inhabited planet may not be the best thing to advertise to the universe at large.

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    One quick look at this messageboard

    and the aliens can rightly conclude that while there is intelligence here, there's also a lot of brain-dead morons who think that the laws of physics only exist if you believe in them.

  109. Gilbert Wham
    Alien

    They are already on their way...

    ...and have been monitoring our transmissions as they come. I know this, as I have been communicating with them via a sub-space radio of my own devising. They are most worried to hear that there will not be a sixth season of The Wire. The phrase 'Merciless rain of death from the heavens' was used.

    I only hope this message gets to the right people in time...

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ross

    "Surely it would be better to shut down all the SETI operations and spend the cash on something slightly more useful? Or is that just me?"

    This argument was tired when it was used against the Apollo programme. What do you mean by "waste of money"? The money doesn't leave the planet; it's still here - it's just been redistributed. If you want to do something else with it, just spend it again.

  111. lglethal Silver badge
    Joke

    A few things

    Surely people realise that the alien killbots we are manufacturing here at home will stand a much greater chance of defeating any alien invaders and i for one welcome our future alien killing human kill bot overlords....

    On a more serious note, no one seems to have taken into account the fact that power levels decrease via the inverse square law. So whatever the power we beam out, the power level will have decreased to an unidentifiable level before it gets too far!

  112. Rebecca Putman
    Boffin

    Has anyone considered...

    ...that they already know about us, and that Earth could simply be the glactic insane asylum?

  113. milan
    Thumb Up

    They've been watching all along

    It would explain why big brother still gets half decent viewing figures.

    Earth, the Universes longest running reality show.

  114. Erik Aamot

    ROFLMAO ! ....

    .. which is exactly why *we* haven't enslaved or eaten (yuck, had it once) you all ..

    you idiots are a greatest source of amusement in the galaxy, better than anything else in the whole Andromeda nanodrant really.

    your meat stinks, and you kill so many of yourselves it's pathetic, to kill any of you would be like killing Sponge Bob or Daffy Duck

    as slaves ( been there done that too ) you all aren't worth the hassle ..

    we decided it's best to leave you as *the laughing stock* ..helps keep the 7 known intelligent species from insulting each other, though yur askin to be melted with small atomic dismantler (looks like a cell phone) to call another intelligent species "human"

  115. J
    Flame

    @ Chris G

    >Firstly how could anyone be frightened of a peace loving , stoned, brain ruled by emotion hippy?

    I'm astonished too, but a lot of people clearly are. I reckon it must be something related to sexual repression and inferiority complexes, if I remember the psychology correctly.

    Now, I was asking what the arguments for the "alien nasty" position were. And you gave some, thanks.

    >This being the case, the most likely reason for going to another planet is going to be aggression linked.

    Yes, it's a possibility, but why "the most likely"? We haven't gone on such planetary journeys yet (your Star Trek "reference" tells a lot about you...), and haven't met anyone who has. But how about curiosity? Love of science? Boredom? Just in case, to check us out? Other things on alien minds we can't even imagine? It's that old thing (psychology again): the cheater thinks everybody is cheating, the lier thinks everybody is lying, etc...

    >The basic psychology for any race no matter how alien to go out and explore the universe is an aggressive psychology.

    Really? You gotta show us all these universe exploring alien races you've been studying to reach that categorical conclusion! We would very much like to see them too. As I said earlier, all we have to go by is us. And the more advanced we get in our technology, the closer we seem to get to the possibility of total self-destruction (with life on Earth continuing without us anyway, of course). If that trend continues, things don't look too bright for us (or aliens, if they do follow similar patterns, which is a big if -- but you're assuming they do follow similar patterns to ours, so let's keep it like that). If it stops, or preferably reverses, then the "alien nasty" is a reasonable possibility. So yes, we do get aggressive to dominate on this planet, but why do you think that self-destruction as a side effect is not a very probable outcome of this, unless we throttle down the aggressiveness in time? To me, it sounds quite plausible, inevitable maybe, that some nutcase claiming that some imaginary friend or whatever told him to go to nuclear war -- that excuse has been sort of used recently, but we sure can use other ones too.

    That's all there is to how I see it, as I thought I had explained the first time. But I guess my crazy English does not help many times...

    >I always thought hippies were twats and you help to perpetuate that notion.

    The only notion YOU help perpetuate here is about you only, Chris G: a conceited idiot. Who said I'm a hippie, eh? It's primitive people like you who make me even more convinced that we can't survive long enough to go anywhere, let alone other planetary systems.

  116. gollux
    Alien

    Like Global Warming, the horses already got out and are long gone...

    We've been putting out enough radio hash for a while here. Depends on how many light years away the deadly aliens with killbots reside. When you figure that out, you'll know how many years the mad monkeys on this planet have left to rule.

    Personally, Zed Zed Alpha is such a backwater, intelligent aliens probably have no interest, except for the "Teasers". We know they've already been here.

  117. Andy Worth

    We shouldn't be worried...

    The aliens might be more advanced, have better weapons and a much higher level of technology...........

    but we've got Chuck Norris.

  118. Greg

    @Iglethal

    >On a more serious note, no one seems to have taken into account the fact that power levels decrease via the inverse square law. So whatever the power we beam out, the power level will have decreased to an unidentifiable level before it gets too far!

    Perhaps it's because noone is at the same time:

    - Full of himself enough to assume what the astronomers are spending their time on simply doesn't work and they don't know it while you do

    - Unable to read/Not knowledgeable enough to understand that we're talking about a beam, not a light bulb. You know, like what a laser is doing, this new invention from around 30 years ago that allows you to send light in a focused manner that does not decrease with the square of the distance...

  119. b166er

    Blind faith

    The funniest thing this article has uncovered, is the ages old argument between religion and science. I think it's hilarious that we assume (read: ass of u and me) that science is FACT and that scientists and religious people still can't give each other a hug (so, I'm a hippie, sue me lol) and accept that neither of them have the answers, yet are asking the same questions. While we continue fighting each other, we stray further from any truth there is to be found.

    Consider for a moment, that science can't explain religion (you scientists, don't take that too literally, ok) and that many a heretic have graced our planet. If we don't question science and it's motives as we question religion and it's, then we become blind to the reality, that neither is likely to provide an answer.

    Any 'truth' would appear to be the Human Condition, none of us can accept that the other is different and that it's OK to be different.

    Hopefully, by the time 'we' become the aliens imagined in this article and intercept radio packages from another celestial body, we will have accepted that it's OK to be different and are therefore not a threat to the other civilisation we are considering contacting. They however may still be primitive in their acceptance of each other and we may decide to leave them well alone until they are more enlightened!

    Of course, the above may be utter bollocks, but I love your different opinion (at least I'm trying to, evolution's a bitch ain't it?) ;p

  120. Jan-Erik Finnberg

    Now there's a sci-fi story

    A bunch of advanced alien species desperately trying to not be noticed because each is afraid that if there are other species "out there", they *could* be dangerous.

  121. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Sorted

    The film 'Independence Day' showed us the way.

    What we need to do is upload a virus to their interstellar computer system. Couldn't be easier in my view - upload a copy of Vista. Sorted.

  122. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Radiowaves

    Radiowaves might travel at the speed of light but they can't travel through a vacuum, and since space is a vacuum there's nothing to worry about. Who's paying these supposedly great scientists!?

  123. Greg

    niruht

    I guess the post by the coward on radiowaves is a troll.

    Surely noone could be stupid enough to display their ignorance so ostentatiously after the previous stupid guy got flamed for his ignorant ramblings on radiowaves.

  124. Peter Fielden-Weston
    Happy

    @Roger Kynaston

    I was going to get into my bunker in Iowa, but the doors blocked by a great big hard disk.

    Anyone lost a hard disk in Iowa?

    Anyone?

  125. David Evans
    Alien

    Anyone heard of Fermi's Paradox?

    If space-faring aliens exist then we should see evidence of them all over the place. We don't, which means either; they don't exist, or they're hiding (which means we should be asking why they're hiding so well and take note). The other alternative is that they're everywhere but we're totally crap at identifying them because we're making some huge misplaced assumptions about technology/physics (my favourite theory). Maybe all that missing matter is because they're all hiding behind shielded Dyson spheres or something.

  126. Sam
    Stop

    @Michael

    >Your velocity simply cannot exceed the speed of that which propels you.

    Sail boats travel faster than the wind that propels them, look up vectors and relative velocities.

  127. Mark

    Re: Radio waves

    "Radiowaves might travel at the speed of light but they can't travel through a vacuum, and since space is a vacuum there's nothing to worry about."

    No, radio waves propogate using photons as the carriers of energy. The same particle that visible light uses.

    So, like light, radio waves can travel through a vacuum.

    Jeezus, what are kids being taught these days? This sort of thing was secondary-school level physics for crying out loud!!!

  128. Woenk

    Not much fun

    if they come around...

    If they are hostile, we got no chance, except if we manage to hit them with a stick maybe.

    To feel cozy that nothing travels faster than light and that most likely there is nothing interesting around in 200 ly distance could prove quite wrong. Who knows what kind of radiotion we emit we have not even found yet ?

    Gravito-photons could hae travelled a lot farther out than the radio signals.

    Best thing to play it save would be to do like we are not worth any effort for the next 300 years, either we have destroyed our selves in the meantime or would have evolved enough to handle any problem.

    Right now, it is a lot trickier than the first date.

  129. Huw Jenkins

    Some responses...

    "and the aliens can rightly conclude that while there is intelligence here, there's also a lot of brain-dead morons who think that the laws of physics only exist if you believe in them."

    Well thats actually kind of true in some quantum theories. To observe a thing is to make it real. Do we create physical laws by observing them?

    "Oh, here's another thought. Remember all those test nuclear detonations (along with two not so tests) we've set off. Gamma-radiation pulses are also kind of noticeable. Especially if the source is close by... Having nukes and the willingness to use them on a inhabited planet may not be the best thing to advertise to the universe at large."

    Gamma Bursts tend to be fairly signifficant galactic events, no one really knows what they are but some speculate that they are stars becoming blackholes. Setting off a nuke at Bikini Atoll isn't really in the same ballpark. Its not even on the same continent...

    Most people also seem to thing that life is inevitable, I tend to agree, however people get hung up on the great distances involved. What about the huge, mind boggling amounts of time involved? Its very possible that other life, will/is/has evolved in the galaxy, but the chance of it being in the same time-frame as us is tiny! How long do you think it will take for humanity to go "post physical"? Another 1000? 2000? or even 10,000 years? Thats an amazingly tiny amount of time to be around for. 1000's of civilisations might have lived and died/transended already and the only way we'll ever know is to dig up their planet lol.

    Ofcourse this is only conjecture. But food for thought, none the less...

  130. Mark

    @b166er

    It was a load of bollocks.

    At least you don't have to take that on faith.

    :-)

  131. Huw Jenkins
    Stop

    And to add to my last comment.

    You'd have to be a particularly brain-dead, fuck-pig to assume that aliens would be friendly, just because they have the tech to get here.

    We should STFU till we can at least defend ourselves...

  132. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Re: Radiowaves

    I wonder how he/she thought we communicate with the Mars explorer space craft on the way to Mars? A long tube? When we communicated with the first lunar landing how exactly do you think that occurred, via telepathy?

    @Mark you're right what exactly are they teaching kids in school?

  133. Jesse Smith

    Even a benevolent alien race would toss out the humans

    Put an end to active SETI - even humans agree Earth is better without us.

    The single most valuable resource on Earth is a result of the planet's incredible biodiversity, which humans have not yet succeeded in destroying. The genetic programming that occured on this planet over the last million years is a priceless find for any alien race.

    Given that humans are permanently destroying this resource at a rate of hundreds of species per year, even a benevolent race would probably come to the conclusion that humans have got to go.

    We'd never see them of course... we'd just get sick and die over the course of a single week.

    So not only is the benevolent/malicious distinction fallacious, so is the idea of a civilization that has discarded violence. Law and peace are achieved and maintained through force and the threat of violence. Although an advanced race may find few opportunities where violence is needed, it would not survive without maintenance of an advanced arsenal, and there is a high probability that an exception to their peaceful ways would be made for Earth. Why, after all would aliens identify with us rather than with the other creatures of this world we treat with such cruelty and indifference?

    With this in mind, a "benevolent" race is probably more dangerous to encounter, since extermination rather than enslavement would likely be their course of action.

  134. Tim Burgess
    Alert

    Radio Weapon

    So if SETI start pumping out strong directional radio signals to alien galaxies they potentially risk damaging the sensitive alien civilisation listening devices (akin to the VLA we have (so I'm told))

    Wouldn't our message of "HELLO" be mistaken for a weapon trying to disable their technology and in the process really managing to pi** them off!!

    First act of an interstellar war?? ummm... could be seen that way!

    How would we look at this if it were the other way around?

  135. Stuart Elliott
    Coat

    No need to panic

    They picked up on our radio signals years ago, came to annihilate us, but the whole minuscule attack fleet was eaten by a passing dog that someone had neglected to feed a sandwich to moments earlier.

  136. Mark

    "Law and peace are achieved and maintained through force and the threat of violence."

    Only for us.

    How about bees? Ants? They do not keep order through violence.

    How about hose cultures that merely blank out bad people rather than hit them with sticks? It does seem to work for them, so this is not even true for all humans.

    And who of us, even if we KNEW a child molester (and really a child, so there's no moral grey here) lived 80 miles outside a city 1000 miles away would go over there, kill them and take all their stuff? It isn't worth the effort. There are more iron-rich fragments within any solar system that any one planet needs, so what makes moving all the way over here to nick our resources attractive?

  137. Mark

    Gravito-photons???

    What are they? And how do you know they are tachyons (going faster than light they must be)?

    If there are any aliens that are far enough advanced beyond us they can get here faster than light, we won't be able to stop them if they're hostile. And if we waited until we could travel faster than light and THEN started looking, these same aliens would STILL be technologically advanced so we would STILL have no chance in a fight.

    But if FTL travel isn't possible, then all you can do to "neighbours" 100 or more years away is to say "Hi!" and maybe give them some info you've found out.

  138. Angus Bell
    Heart

    Tax what effing tax

    what's tax got to do with it? Isn't SETI donation funded? Still sending me begging emails after years of inactivity on my part.

    Oh yeah... what global warming? You don't all believe that shit do you?

  139. Tawakalna
    Alien

    Earth will be saved!

    Clearly what we need is a lantern-jawed, wide-shouldered, slim-waisted hero in the manner of Zap Brannigan. I suggest a secret testing regime of United States military officers to see which ones can look bravest in spandex in order to intimidate any invading aliens and make them feel weak and helpless like the lizard-bug larvae that they are in the face of overwhelming heroic jaw-setting.

  140. Mark

    Sail boats

    No, sail boats cannot because then they would have wind against the FRONT of the sail.

    What they can do is go faster than the wind vector along the line which they are travelling, but that is less than the wind speed.

    Or, if you want to be pedantic, when the wind gusts, when the wind reaches a minimum, the boat will be going faster than the wind but it will be slowing down.

  141. Rob
    Alert

    Protocol

    Just remember Aliens have the same network protocols as we do. So give the script kids some sweets and we can beat them back with penis enlargement emails.

    I just hope the run MS Exchange server to.....

  142. Daniel Voyce
    Pirate

    Schoolboy Error

    Havent any of them watched independence Day????

  143. Scott
    Paris Hilton

    Eye,aye......

    Rules are always broken. That energy can wiz or wobble about my noggin until a concept or realization developes AND it can be explained to conclusion doesn't mean a damn thing. Until the blinders are pulled back and we allow ourselves to see the bigger picture nothing changes except our ignorance.

  144. Justin
    Alien

    Attracting ET's attention?

    Uh-oh. The aliens have infiltrated the SETI project and are sending a message home. The message might look to us like "Yoohoo, come and buy our warez" but hidden in the signal is a coded message "come on over for a pillage-fest" (Idea based very loosely on Hamilton's "Pandora's Star").

  145. Sam Therapy
    Happy

    @ Syd

    Certainly, any alien life visiting us will be technologically advanced. Definitely, they will have "outgrown" war, since it would take a vast amount of co-operation to run an interstellar mission. That doesn't mean they won't be xenophobic regarding other races, though.

    Just suppose they decide we're a potential hazard to the rest ot the galaxy (judging by the way we're screwing up our own planet, I wouldn't blame them) and decide to get rid of us?

    Alternatively, they may be quite happy to trade with us but there could still be consequences. Larry Niven wrote a short story about such an idea. The aliens trade with us, on the condition we build them a launching laser so they can get their light sail powered vehicle out of our gravity well. If we don't build it, we're no better than animals. So the aliens quite cheerfully lob a nuclear device into the sun to make it go nova. Now that's global warming for you. :)

  146. Jesse Smith

    To Mark: Bees? Ants?

    Mark, Bees and ants have hardwired behavior; they are incapable of acting against the hive but this does not make them peaceful. They lack any capacity for moral thought/action and in fact this same characteristic manifests itself in unchecked brutality whereever it is beneficial.

    The debate about free will in humans goes deeper than most people realize, but is also irrelevant. Anyways, would you really be comforted if our invaders were space ants? Good luck negotiating with them!

    As for cultures that "blank out" people I have no idea what you are talking about. I suppose you will point to some obscure primitive group that is currently threatened with being overwhelmed by the modern world. That would only proove my point that such a civilization could not survive.

    Finally, I was not implying that anyone would come all this way to exterminate us on moral grounds. Just as is most often the case with humans they would have selfish reasons for the action and the moral argument would arise to justify it.

    Please don't think that I am comfortable with the statement that you quoted. I wish it weren't true but that won't change the fact that law is nothing without force or the threat of force.

  147. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Been and gone?

    Nice to see people have the time and inclination to discuss all the really important issues. But anyway...!

    Think of the benefits an immigrant alien race could bring in technology and arts for instance. A new google universe with real time imaging down to sub atomic level maybe? In cuisine, inspired dishes from intergalactic reaches of the universe guaranteed to heighten and enlighten the senses by recombining with your DNA perhaps? In culture, knowledge of other ancient histories, philosophies and arts to supplement our museums, galleries and concert halls.

    Then there's science and engineering, transport and military applications. Not to mention advancements in medicine (provided you're a silicon based life form of course). Yeah, I imagine any intelligent life that's lived long enough to evolve past the point of threat of self extinction's too busy doing other more important alien stuff (like I dunno what) to bother with exploiting/ educating/ communicating/ exterminating/ enslaving/ emancipating or devouring us foul smelling, corrosive organic carbon based feeble minded oxygen dependent weaklings.

    What would you prefer spending your Sunday's doing, maintaining a state of elevated bliss reflecting on the revelations of the inner mysteries of the universe or trying to teach a cosmological back waters' race of advanced apes how to avoid its own extinction? Either it will happen or it won't. Natural selection on a cosmic scale. If we prove up to the task then we'll naturally live to learn a bit more about life's mysteries. If not, then we weren't worthy anyway. Beautiful, eh?

  148. Lukin Brewer

    Covering old ground

    Take a look at this page on Winchell Chung's site: http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3aa.html

    He quotes from "The Killing Star" by Charles Pelligrino and George Zebrowski, which seems to cover the problem perfectly well:

    "The great silence (i.e., absence of SETI signals from alien civilizations) is perhaps the strongest indicator of all that high relativistic velocities are attainable and that everybody out there knows it.

    The sobering truth is that relativistic civilizations are a potential nightmare to anyone living within range of them. The problem is that objects traveling at an appreciable fraction of light speed are never where you see them when you see them (i.e., light-speed lag). Relativistic rockets, if their owners turn out to be less than benevolent, are both totally unstoppable and totally destructive. A starship weighing in at 1,500 tons (approximately the weight of a fully fueled space shuttle sitting on the launchpad) impacting an earthlike planet at "only" 30 percent of lightspeed will release 1.5 million megatons of energy -- an explosive force equivalent to 150 times today's global nuclear arsenal... "

    "We ask that you try just one more thought experiment. Imagine yourself taking a stroll through Manhattan, somewhere north of 68th street, deep inside Central Park, late at night. It would be nice to meet someone friendly, but you know that the park is dangerous at night. That's when the monsters come out. There's always a strong undercurrent of drug dealings, muggings, and occasional homicides.

    It is not easy to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. They dress alike, and the weapons are concealed. The only difference is intent, and you can't read minds.

    Stay in the dark long enough and you may hear an occasional distant shriek or blunder across a body.

    How do you survive the night? The last thing you want to do is shout, "I'm here!" The next to last thing you want to do is reply to someone who shouts, "I'm a friend!"

    What you would like to do is find a policeman, or get out of the park. But you don't want to make noise or move towards a light where you might be spotted, and it is difficult to find either a policeman or your way out without making yourself known. Your safest option is to hunker down and wait for daylight, then safely walk out.

    There are, of course, a few obvious differences between Central Park and the universe.

    There is no policeman.

    There is no way out.

    And the night never ends."

  149. The Other Steve
    Flame

    Wow

    What a load of clueless and humourless blowhards and hippies this story seems to have attracted.

    You guys all regular readers, or did you just hit up Google news for "alien civilisation" this morning and jump on board to share your expertise in exobiology, exopsychology and exosociology ?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  150. Taskis
    Dead Vulture

    @ Huw Jenkins

    << We should STFU till we can at least defend ourselves...>>

    But as plenty of people have already pointed out: we didn't STFU when it mattered, and it's way too late now for that argument. We can't reel our past EM emissions back in and pretend we never made them. This argument became moot the moment we started beaming our inane chatter at each other, and it's still moot.

  151. Steve again

    Sail boats

    Um Mark, I think I disagree with you - boats CAN sail faster than the wind - but you give enough of an explanation to make me think that perhaps I just don't understand exactly what you are saying. See:

    http://www.physclips.unsw.edu.au/jw/sailing.html

  152. Mark

    @Jesse

    Jesse, I was trying to show that "human behaviour" is a VERY limited set of modes of thought even here on earth. The variety of modes of thought in the universe would be much more than that.

    Ants don't go out their way to kill others. Neither do spiders, snakes or some apes. Heck, it is thought Neanderthals didn't fight to get new land when they migrated.

    So the distance we are from someone is all the protection we need and all we can use. It isn't going to be worth the trouble invading an earth-like planet with humans on when there are hundreds of earth-like planets much closer with nobody on them. If the aliens are more advanced than us, they will (barring self extinction) remain more advanced than us, so if they are far enough ahead NOW to travel here in a fraction of their lifetime, we're no threat and will remain no threat (unless another race gives us a big leg-up, rather like the US paying the Taliban to fight Russia, maybe). We will never forseeably be a threat to them.

    What we may be is slightly more advanced and this spurs them on to try harder to overtake, but they'd have to hope there is FTL travel too.

  153. b166er

    The Other Steve

    Is that an attempt at humour ;p

    How about a 'hose' icon?

  154. tardigrade

    @Syd

    "I reckon that any alien civilization which has the vast intellectual resources required to come looking for us, will have long outgrown war and conflict, and will therefore be coming in peace"

    Isn't that what the Incas were saying to themselves before the Spanish conquistadors landed?

  155. Ian R

    One thing missing

    Having read these comments I notice one thing.

    The thought behind our future space travel is often that of colonisation, Mars for instance.

    Yet many posters consider alien visitations as just that - a visit, sightseeing, saying hi.

    Any very advanced civilisation will be far more conscious of the limited life of their star, and if they have the same drive to survive that we have, they will eventually wish to establish colonies outside their solar system to ensure the survival of their species.

    With the expense involved, this is the reason for interstellar travel that makes most sense. therefore, we can imagine that the most likely motives of any species that notices us will be colonisation - likely including replacement of our own species.

    Now this does not make me call for a halt to active SETI just yet. The distances involved are so huge that there probably isn't a problem for a million years or so ( the idea of 1000 years is a bit short, the likelihood for the nearest space fairing civilisation would be much, much further than 1000 LY).

    Active SETI is most likely to attract a phonecall or two, not visitors (conquering or otherwise), and that would be rather cool, even if hostile in nature, it would still cause a re-adjustment for us that could help us evolve out of the primitive religious tendencies we currently possess in abundance and stand more chance of destroying us than anything else.

    As for us and our space travel, we have perhaps a half billion years before we all have to move to Mars (and work out how to shield ourselves from the sun's UV), and then another half billion before Titan looks like home, so there is no great hurry.

    FTL travel and other Star Trek fictions remain for the moment just that - fiction. Unfortunately physics doesn't allow it and having a belief that we are just not advanced enough to achieve it yet doesn't change physics. Apart from wormholes (extremely doubtful in practise) there is no way to achieve FTL travel.

    With the 'window' argument mentioned far above, I agree that we may find evidence for aliens only as archaeologists on some distant planet in some distant moment in the future, and also that that is how we will be discovered by aliens.

  156. Mark

    @Ian R

    "With the expense involved, this is the reason for interstellar travel that makes most sense. therefore, we can imagine that the most likely motives of any species that notices us will be colonisation - likely including replacement of our own species."

    But that would suppose our earth is particularly suited and the only suited planet within 1000 light years.

    How likely is that? There are dozens of candidate earths within 100 ly, 1000 ly is a sphere of 1,000 x the volume. Must be more than one earth in that!

  157. Ian R
    Thumb Up

    @Mark

    Are you really sure about that? We may have discovered many planets recently but none are known to be earth-like and are many of the ones found really that close?

    There has been lots of conjecture about aliens thinking the earth is poisonous, and it may be - oxygen for instance. But I think liquid water is a good reason to think it's not.

    Anyway, there may be lots of niches we can't envisage yet, we keep finding life in really hostile places here, but we find the vast majority of life dependent on water.

  158. Mike
    IT Angle

    Intelligent life?

    Someone once said that probably the most convincing argument that intelligent life exists on other planets is that none of it has contacted us yet.....

    If you want an IT angle on this, what's being suggested by the anti-active-seti lobby is nothing more or less than SECURITY BY OBSCURITY!

    Of course, it's just possible that this form of security is the only sort we actually have - which is a most frightening concept.

  159. Rebecca Putman
    Boffin

    Yup, I think my premise was close...

    Based on the responses in the thread here, I think "galactic insane asylum" is quite apropos of the situation. Wow.

    I mean, radio waves don't travel through space??? How do you think we're getting those pictures and data from the Mars rovers? Or the two Voyager spacecraft, rapidly approaching the edge of the solar system? Or the many manned missions to the Moon? *shakes head sadly*

    Screeching about whether or not there are aliens out there is a fantastic waste of time. As someone pointed out, not only are the distances prohibitive, the time scale makes things improbable as well. Still, I think there is Life out there - somewhere. *If* they exist in our timeframe, and *if* they are capable of visiting us, I highly doubt they're going to be aggressive. The level of cooperation needed (as has already been pointed out here) is going to sublimate aggressive tendencies simply because they're counter-productive. Do you really think (using a Star Trek reference myself) that the Klingons could advance far enough to get off-planet, let alone develop a star/warp/FTL drive? I cast serious doubt and aspersions in that direction.

    C'mon, people. Use your heads for something besides a hat-rack.

  160. Peter Hook

    Myriads

    If there is one extrasolar civilization in our galaxy there are probably hundreds of them, if not thousands. With almost all of them having rapidly evolved to a non-biological state. Given the number of stars and the number of galaxies visible from here at least one new sentient machine civilization is emerging (as a "singularity") in some stellar system somewhere in the universe every single second. How can anyone assume that "any alien civilization which has the vast intellectual resources required to come looking for us, will have long outgrown war and conflict, and will therefore be coming in peace"? This may be true of some, or even most, but of all?

    Peter Hook

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