TO Universe today, science writer Matt williams spear another hypothesis in the ring to find out why we don’t see ET: Maybe universally everyone is listening but no one is broadcasting. Or few are, anyway. Now why could that be?
He sketches a distinction between two different approaches to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (ET): SETI and METI
Most of the efforts to date have been SETI (Search for extraterrestrial intelligence) where we search for them. This encompasses projects like Cornell Astronomer Frank drakethe pioneer of Ozma Project (1960) and the current Allen telescope array.
No more projects now, Williams says, are METI (Extraterrestrial Intelligence Messaging). We could include in this group the three Soviet words Morse Message (“Peace”, “Lenin” and “SSSR”, transmitted by radio into space in Morse code in 1962). Also the 1679-bit Message from Arecibo sent from this telescope to Puerto Rico in 1974, targeting the M13 star cluster, 21,000 light years away. Currently there is the Breaking initiative, sponsored by russian billionaire Yuri Milner.
Compared to past METI projects, however, the Breakthrough Initiative is very careful : âTo encourage a worldwide discussion on the ethical and philosophical issues of sending messages to space, we pledge not to send any messages until there has been a broad debate at high levels of the world. science and policy on the risks and benefits of contacting advanced civilizations. “
The caution may be partly due to the fact that the METI approach was criticized from the start for its presumption, notably by Carl Sagan (1934-1996). Sagan believed we might actually get an answer. Remember, throughout his career he had to hide how much he believed we would likely get an answer because he feared pushback from more orthodox scientific authorities.
russian radio engineer Alexander Zaitsev has long been a supporter of messaging, as he noted in his 2006 paper (free access). It turns out he had ideological reasons for trying to send messages directly to aliens. Williams tell us that Zaitsev believed, according to the space physicist David Brin, in “a modified form of Universal Altruism (UA), a Soviet-era doctrine that states that all advanced civilizations naturally evolve towards the altruistic and socialist. Like Brin the dish,
(Ironically, Dr. Alexander Zaitsev modified this doctrine to suggest that advanced aliens are not only altruistic but also cowardly – thus explaining their failure (so far) to create beacons or beam messages on Earth. that the youngest and most ignorant technological race (humanity) must overcome this universal cowardice by boldly announcing itself.
(This is not the place to analyze the logical flaws of this hypothesis. I put it a blow in another article: let me offer some thought here. If aliens are so advanced and altruisticâ¦ and yet choose to remain silentâ¦ shouldn’t we consider following their example and doing the same? At least for a little while? Is it possible that they are shutting up because they know something we don’t know ?)
David Brin, “Cry out to the cosmos” To Lifeboat Foundation (2006)
So Brin (and Carl Sagan’s shadow) would advise caution.
Williams goes through various thoughts and critiques on this recasting of the Fermi Paradox, starting with the questionable assumption that extraterrestrial civilizations have a uniform approach to the situation – or that we ourselves:
Like many proposed resolutions to the Fermi Paradox, this assumption assumes that the behavior of extraterrestrial civilizations is uniform. Similar to the Dark Forest and Zoo assumptions, all that is needed for the “great silence” to be broken is for an ETI to speak out. And given humanity’s own experiences in creating interstellar messages, it’s hard to believe that one civilization would be able to impose a policy of âradio silenceâ, let alone many.
Additionally, if a civilization were to detect a signal from Earth (much as Carl Sagan explored in his novel Contact), it can be assumed that they would want to respond to it. Douglas Vakoch, the president of METI, argued that the passive SETI is already an endorsement of the active SETI, because “If we detect an alien signal through a SETI program, there is no way to prevent a cacophony. of responses from Earth.
Matt williams, “Beyond the âFermi paradoxâ XVII: what is the âSETI-paradoxâ hypothesis?” To Universe today (October 5, 2021)
Indeed. Who would want to be the bureaucrat charged with keeping contact with an extraterrestrial civilization a secret?
More soberly, if we look at our own experience on Earth, we can see that when very different civilizations meet, the results are mixed. Many civilizations have benefited from the sharing of knowledge and trade among themselves. But the Aztec and Inca civilizations in North America were destroyed by contact with Spanish explorers. No one really knows how that would turn out, but it does help keep the questions alive.
You can also enjoy these tales of why we don’t see aliens. All of this offers some thoughtful sci-fi potential while we wait …
1. What if aliens couldn’t afford to take risks with us? This is the Dark Forest Hypothesis, which takes the title of one of the novels by famous Chinese science fiction author Liu Cixin. The Dark Forest Hypothesis assumes that we can use sociology to determine what alien intelligences might look like or want. But can we?
2.Do the aliens we never find obey Star Trek’s primary directive? The guideline is not to interfere in the evolution of extraterrestrial societies, even if you have good intentions. Hence the zoo hypothesis. Assuming the aliens exist, it might be as well, on the whole, if they want to leave us alone. They might want to “fix” us instead …
3.How can we be sure that we are not just a simulation of ET? A number of books and films are based on the planetarium hypothesis. Should we believe it? We make a decision based on the belief that logic and evidence together are reasonable guides to what is true. Logical possibility alone does not make an idea true.
4.Have intelligent machines destroyed the aliens who invented them? This is the Berserker hypothesis. A clever lethal weapon may well decide to dispense with its inventor and, for lack of moral guidance, destroy everything in sight. Extinction of a highly advanced civilization by its own lethal technology may be more likely than extinction by natural disaster. They could control nature.
5. Researchers: Aliens exist but they sleep … And we wake them up at our peril. The Aestivation hypothesis is that immensely powerful aliens wait in digital form for the universe to cool down due to the heat emitted by their computers.
6. Maybe there are very few aliens out thereâ¦ The Rare Earth hypothesis offers scientific reasons why life in the universe is scarce. Even though life is scarce in the universe, Earth may be particularly suited to space exploration, as suggested by the preferred planet hypothesis.
7.Does science fiction suggest that we are in fact doomed? This is the implication of an influential theory, the Great Filter hypothesis, explaining why we never see aliens. Depending on how we read the Kardashev Scale, civilizations disappear somewhere between the current state and the advanced state necessary for intergalactic travel.
8. Aliens could actually be watching us. Using the methods we use to spot exoplanets. But if they’re technologically advanced, wouldn’t they be here now? The Hart-Tipler conjecture (they don’t exist) is, of course, very unpopular in science fiction. But let’s face it, if only to move on to more promising speculations.
9. Does the short window to find AND close? According to some scenarios (brief window assumption), we might have passed our expiration date for contacting aliens. Of course, here we are assuming a law of nature as to the duration of civilizations. Can anyone state this law? How is it derived?
10. What if we don’t see aliens because they haven’t evolved yet? From this point of view, not only did we emerge at a favorable time in the history of the universe, but we could end up suppressing them. The firstborn hypothesis (we got intelligence before aliens) aligns with the idea that humans are unique but sees this status as temporary.
11.Aliens do exist, but have evolved into a nanoscale virtual reality. This is the Transcendence Hypothesis, the last in our series of sci-fi hypotheses as to why we don’t see aliens.
From this point of view, after a Singularity, ETs become virtual intelligences, exploring interior space on an undetectable scale.
12. Does intelligent life in the universe live in the inner oceans of planets and moons? The oceanic planets hypothesis is that intelligent beings can thrive in the inner oceans of the moons of gas giant planets – or in exoplanets – but they are trapped there.
If intelligent life forms are trapped in the inner oceans of rocky moons and planets, Earth is a special planet, much better suited for space exploration.
13. Is real-world space travel too intimidating for ET? This is the percolation hypothesis as to why we do not come into contact with extraterrestrials. They can’t overcome the laws of physics, and neither can we. If there is a purpose behind the universe, maybe the aliens and we weren’t meant to meet. It is worth considering, given the physical barriers.
14. Aurora’s hypothesis: ET could only risk rare contacts with us. Given the difficulties and risks of space travel, advanced-tech aliens may only have visited Earth for one in a million years, the researchers say. After centuries of modern science, we are now looking for fossil bacteria on Mars, not without risk. AND can be in the same position.
The data analyst offers 15 reasons why aliens are not seen. He estimates that there should be 100,000 civilizations in our galaxy. Some of the reasons Yung Lin Ma suggests are ones we hadn’t considered before, including the flow of time and differences in communication.