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Thread: A Philosophical Ponderance: Are we being watched by Aliens?

  1. #1

    Default A Philosophical Ponderance: Are we being watched by Aliens?

    Your immediate thought when reading the title is probably one of the following: Spaceships, UFOs, Abduction and Conspiracy Nuts. However bear with me for a moment even though this does get a bit heavy, I can assure that I have approached this thread with as much critical analysis and scientific method as I could muster, while still being a Philosophical nut-job!

    Something occurred to me while standing on my balcony having a cigarette and thinking about an article I read on the Beeb.

    Hypothetically speaking our technological progress is set to continue at it's current pace. It is in reality exponentially increasing pace, but for arguments sake let's say it continues at a steady pace (you never know what hiccups are around the corner!). We are already able to view, and take pictures of some Exoplanets that exist within our Galaxy. It is not that much of a leap of the imagination to assume that as our ability to view the surrounding Universe expands due to our technological development, as will the resolution and detail of these pictures and also the ease at which we are able to take them.

    Both Drake's equation and the Fermi Paradox propose differing ways of looking at whether extra-terrestrial civilisations exist within the Milky Way. Unfortunately, I am an optimist in this respect. Considering the relative size of our galaxy, the distances separating stars, and the recent discovery that photons cannot travel faster than the speed of light (thus holding up Einstein's theory of relativity), I'm not surprised that up until this point in our technological evolution as a species, we have not been able to find evidence to support sentient (or even primitive) life from within the confines of our Solar System. By this I mean, Radio Transmissions from other planet, Evidence for life on Mars or even UFOs crash landing. Basically the stuff we can look at with post-war technology and without the help of the advanced technologies that the computer revolution of the past two decades has started to produce.

    So for the sake of this ponderance, I ask you to assume (if you don't already) for just a moment, that we are not the sole sentient life in our Galaxy. We should consider that up until this decade, human beings have not been in the technological position to photograph Exoplanets, and it is not much of a stretch of the imagination to assume that within another decade we will start to take really in depth and detailed pictures of other Planets. Photographs that allow us to see cloud formations, seas of methane, volcanic activity, plant life, and even intelligent life. This is itself is truly remarkable, and will be the turning point for finding out whether we are truly alone in the Universe or not.

    So now I'm going to turn this on it's head. If we're not the only intelligent species in our Galaxy, and considering the age of our Galaxy, who's to say that those other intelligent extra-terrestrials aren't ahead of us technologically? They might even be far ahead of us technologically. I personally would like to believe that relatively quick travel between stars is possible, but that's a personal belief, and rationality and logic, and the current scientific understanding of the Universe tells me that it simply isn't possible within human life expentencies. We cannot travel faster than the speed of light. It's physics. So I can understand why Aliens won't have been able to visit us.

    But, there's no reason that Aliens of the future, haven't got us under constant watch, or perhaps have turned us into some sort of birds-eye-view Big Brother variant. Light takes time to get to from star to star, hence the term "light year". Some of the stars that you can view up in the sky today have since gone Supernova and burned out into a white dwarfs, neutron stars or black holes. But in a million years time, light from the Earth might reach a Solar System home to a sentient species, who might still be evolving in the mud now when you read this post, but will then be a Sentient culture in a million years time; with technology well beyond this primitive Quad Core PC I'm typing on right now and with the capability to capture photos in real-time of our little blue dot. They will have the ability to do what isn't that beyond us right now, look at us, study us, and know that they are not alone in the Universe.

    So, there's me, standing outside with no cloud cover, now uniquely aware of the fact that aliens could possibly see me unshaven, and with messy hair, thinking, "Oh shit!" :P.

    In all seriousness though, bring on the next 20 years. I'll bet anyone a fiver we'll find ET before I turn 45! This is an exciting time to be alive. In fact, this post might have just pushed me towards doing a degree in Astronomy. It really is fascinating stuff.
    Last edited by Luca; 13-Sep-2011 at 06:05.

  2. #2

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    I do not think we are alone in the universe. I do not think we are alone in our galaxy either. I don't see why we would be alone. The universe is just too big for that to be true. Our galaxy alone is pretty big too.

    It could be possible to travel the stars in ways we just don't have the technology to accomplish yet. According to general relativity, it could be possible to create wormholes. Maybe we just haven't found out how to do it yet. Maybe there are other ways to travel through space that we haven't discovered yet.

    For a second, let's assume that maybe there are no wormholes and no way to travel faster than light. Well, some sort of artificial intelligences could probably make the journey between stars. It would be difficult, but maybe aliens with technology far more advanced than human technology could make the long trip from one star to another.

    I agree with what you've said. There could even be aliens out there, right now, watching World War II, The French Revolution, the construction of the Great Wall of China, or dinosaurs roaming our planet. Or there could be aliens, ten thousand years from now, who will watch things yet to happen this week. Crazy time dilation stuff.

    (Your theory reminds me of a Star Trek episode... The Squire of Gothos)

    As you said, some scientists think we'll find alien life, one way or another, in the next 20 years or so.

    Will We Really Find Alien Life Within 20 Years? | SETI Estimates It Will Find Life In 1 In a Million Stars | Search for Life & Extraterrestrials | Life's Little Mysteries

  3. #3

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    Obviously it's possible but personally I don't think it's too likely. Space is so big and we haven't been doing much of interest (or that's readily detectable) for very long. I also think that while life is probably very common, we may find that intelligence is not that adaptively significant. I would like to think that there are lots of other intelligent beings out there and that they're grappling with the big problems the same as we are and that the problems of distance are somehow technically solveable but the ongoing quiet makes me wonder. There really are any number of half-decent explanations for that quiet and we really don't know what we don't know but at present, the most reasonable position to me is to assume that intelligence is rare in this vast expanse but to continue the search. I'm optimistic about the benevolence of any aliens capable of getting their collective shit together enough to manage space travel, so I hope we'll hear from some.

  4. #4

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    If those aliens come to this planet... they best stay the hell away from my fridge.

    O_o S'all I'm saying!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luca View Post
    In fact, this post might have just pushed me towards doing a degree in Astronomy. It really is fascinating stuff.
    Have fun with that. My major's in physics (astrophysics), it's a lot of work and times wishing you got high before class but it's worth it. However, not to be persnickety, but I highly doubt we'll be able to take in-depth photographs of exoplanets in ten years. In fact, the vast majority of the exoplanets (if not nearly all--personally, I haven't heard of a single exoplanet being legitimately photographed; it's kind of a far way away bruh) we have found through infared and spectrograph--far from hi-def or even lo-def enough to be able to see clouds and what not.

    I do agree with you, though. I'm sure there is life somewhere else. But I also believe that the day we find out about it probably won't be a good day for humans.



    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
    I'm optimistic about the benevolence of any aliens capable of getting their collective shit together enough to manage space travel, so I hope we'll hear from some.
    Going with what I just said, what reason would benevolent beings have to travel hundreds and thousands of light years? Being discovered or found through our communications emissions or something is a lot different than being discovered by space explorers. Indigenous tribes anybody? Technology is primarily spurred on by competitive evolution. A race could have the technology to make contact, but they would need a reason to leave--and that reason would not be good for us.

    Well I just re-read your post Trevor and I see what you meant. But I still don't know if it's good for us to hear from aliens. I'd rather we be the ones to discover them, if you catch my drift.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luca View Post
    I'll bet anyone a fiver we'll find ET before I turn 45!
    I'm sorry I don't have more to say (I may be back to add opinion) but I'll damn well take that bet! A fiver says we don't find him in our lifetime!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by zultan View Post
    Have fun with that. My major's in physics (astrophysics), it's a lot of work and times wishing you got high before class but it's worth it. However, not to be persnickety, but I highly doubt we'll be able to take in-depth photographs of exoplanets in ten years. In fact, the vast majority of the exoplanets (if not nearly all--personally, I haven't heard of a single exoplanet being legitimately photographed; it's kind of a far way away bruh) we have found through infared and spectrograph--far from hi-def or even lo-def enough to be able to see clouds and what not.
    Yeah you're right it's very far away, I understand that . However we observed an exoplanet in visible light as far back as 2008. My post agrees with your position that at our current technological and scientific stage of development, we don't currently have the ability to photograph in-depth and high resolution images of exoplanets. I definitely won't challenge you on that! But, considering how many leaps and bounds we've made in the past 20 years in computing alone, not to mention physics, I really don't think it's too much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that by 2036 we'll have our first high resolution image of an exoplanet. Will that exoplanet be in the habitable zone of that Solar System? Who knows.



    Quote Originally Posted by zultan View Post
    I do agree with you, though. I'm sure there is life somewhere else. But I also believe that the day we find out about it probably won't be a good day for humans.
    If they physically come looking for us I'd have to agree with you. Resources are always going to be a major, if not THE major factor of any civilisation. But if we're simply observing them, I think it'd be a great day for humanity. Another nail in Religion's coffin among other things.



    Quote Originally Posted by zultan
    A race could have the technology to make contact, but they would need a reason to leave--and that reason would not be good for us.
    It depends on the ease of their travel amongst the stars. If they've developed to the point where space travel is as easy to purchase as a train ticket, there's no reason they'd be hostile. In fact I would argue the opposite. At that point, if I were them, I would travel the galaxy, on a quest to better myself and better understand the Universe that I live in.



    Quote Originally Posted by ShippoFox
    (Your theory reminds me of a Star Trek episode... The Squire of Gothos)
    I love Star Trek, but am not the biggest fan of the Original Series :P (movies, TNG, DS9 and Voyager ftw!). But I'll make a point of watching it.

  8. #8

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    Are we being watched by aliens? Unlikely. If anything, we'd be pissing them off right now for all the fighting we do. Are we alone? I personally believe that we are not alone in this universe. It's simply too big.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by zultan View Post
    [snipped]
    Going with what I just said, what reason would benevolent beings have to travel hundreds and thousands of light years? Being discovered or found through our communications emissions or something is a lot different than being discovered by space explorers. Indigenous tribes anybody? Technology is primarily spurred on by competitive evolution. A race could have the technology to make contact, but they would need a reason to leave--and that reason would not be good for us.

    Well I just re-read your post Trevor and I see what you meant. But I still don't know if it's good for us to hear from aliens. I'd rather we be the ones to discover them, if you catch my drift.
    In my vastly uneducated estimation, I'm assuming that intelligence is something rare. In that case, the reason to visit (presuming it is technically feasible) is the visit itself. If intelligence is rare, intelligent beings are the most valuable things around. Natural resources are abundant but poetry is in limited supply. If I'm all turned around on this and there are lots of critters running around the universe and we've just had the good or bad luck not to encounter them, then perhaps a visit would go differently. I note that we are quite scrupulous in our interactions with less-developed civilizations that have no resources we want. It's their culture that we're interested in and not as a method of plunder but to see what it tells us about where we came from. An alternate perspective on reality could be more valuable than any material wealth.

  10. #10

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    This reminds me of the Silence on Dr Who for some reason.

    Back on topic, Do I think we are being watched? Personally no.

    Thats not to say there isnt life out there, It acually wouldnt supprise me if we had already found it and its just some government cover up, But I dont really think thats the case either.

    I personally think there is some form of life, just maybe not what we could consider life

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