SETI: Passion With Little Hope of Success
SETI enthusiasts would rather believe in fake reality than accept the silence.
The passion driving SETI is admirable. Would that it were directed at initiatives more likely to succeed and actually help the only intelligent beings we see: people.
Why haven’t we heard from aliens? Because we’ve barely started looking (New Scientist). Douglas Heaven excuses the 60-year failure of the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence on the small area we have searched so far. He cites an estimate by Jason Wright (U Penn) that the vast search area undermines Fermi’s Paradox, the idea we should have heard from ET’s by now. Wright’s answer to Heaven relies, however, on a series of speculations impossible to determine.
E.T., phone Earth? How neutron-star crashes could help aliens call us (Fox News). The bizarre meter redlines in this article. Believing that ET would be able to predict supernovas from neutron star collisions, the thinking is that they could piggyback their radio signals on the event to let us know they are there. Well, they haven’t tried it yet, apparently.
Where Are They? Cosmologists use photonics to search Andromeda for signs of alien life (UC Santa Barbara). Flush with money from billionaire Yuri Milner’s “Breakthrough Listen” project, Philip Lubin and colleagues at UCSB are embarking on detection techniques that rely heavily on assumptions:
“First and foremost, we are assuming there is a civilization out there of similar or higher class than ours trying to broadcast their presence using an optical beam, perhaps of the ‘directed energy’ arrayed-type currently being developed here on Earth,” said lead researcher Andrew Stewart, a student at Emory University and a member of Lubin’s group. “Second, we assume the transmission wavelength of this beam to be one that we can detect. Lastly, we assume that this beacon has been left on long enough for the light to be detected by us. If these requirements are met and the extraterrestrial intelligence’s beam power and diameter are consistent with an Earth-type civilization class, our system will detect this signal.”
It would have had to be left on for a long time: two-and-a-half million years, the light-travel distance from Andromeda where Lubin’s team will be searching. Forget any two-way communication. That’s “more than long enough for the civilization that sent it to have died out by the time the light reaches us.”
Breakthrough Listen to Search 1 Million Stars for ET Signals Using South African Scopes (Space.com). It sounds optimistic, but one million stars represents a tiny, tiny fraction of the number of stars (see Illustra video “How Many Stars?“). This search effort might be compared to looking in a few molecules of one straw in a big haystack. Is this the best use of a billionaire’s money? Someone should calculate how many life-saving vaccinations could be purchased with $100 million.
Success! Extra-terrestrial intelligence has been found! Astronauts are intelligent, aren’t they? They’re not on earth (Terra), are they?
The reasoning behind SETI is exactly the same as the reasoning behind intelligent design. SETI advocates believe that they can differentiate between natural causes (e.g., pulsars) and intelligent causes (minds with intention to organize matter for the purposes of communication or functional creativity). The ironic thing is that these same people, for the most part, are vicious enemies of the intelligent design movement. As members of the Darwin Tribe, they believe their creation myth that intelligence arose out of the void on our planet, and therefore it must have emerged on billions of other planets. The priests of BS (Big Science), and their shamans are the only ones allowing access to BM (big media).