SETI: Physics Conspires to Keep the Aliens Isolated
Where are the aliens? They’re too far away to get to know. Don’t look for galactic federations to join any time soon, said SETI Institute Director Seth Shostak at Space.com. The harsh realities of the speed of light make fellowship, both in person and via radio signals, too remote to be feasible.
Shostak noted the fine-tuning of the universe before discussing these problems with interaction.
For years scientists have wrestled with a puzzling fact: The universe appears to be remarkably suited for life. Its physical properties are finely tuned to permit our existence. Stars, planets and the kind of sticky chemistry that produces fish, ferns and folks wouldn’t be possible if some of the cosmic constants were only slightly different.
That led to the principle theme of his essay: “Well, there’s another property of the universe that’s equally noteworthy: It’s set up in a way that keeps everyone isolated.”
Realistic SETI researchers don’t expect to have two-way communication with aliens. They understand that any message detected will have come from a civilization that has either become extinct or has gone on to bigger and better things than to care about an answer from us. The dream of SETI is to establish the existence of aliens, not, like Jimmy Carter wrote on the Voyager record, to “join a community of galactic civilizations.”
It was nice of Seth to admit the fine-tuning of the universe. He can say that and keep his job, but let an ID person say the same thing and he gets expelled, as in the case of G. Gonzalez (see Evolution News #1 and Fox News).