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Obituary column: By the time we hear from the space aliens, they will be dead

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Alien tripod by Alvim Corréa, 1906 French edition of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”

From Lisa Grossman at Science News, on an effort to update the Drake Equation:

If the civilization lasted less than 100,000 years — the time it takes light to cross the galaxy — then the odds of the signals reaching Earth while the civilization is still broadcasting are vanishingly small, the researchers report February 27 at arXiv.org. Humans, for example, have been transmitting radio waves for only about 80 years, so our radio waves cover less than 0.001 percent of the Milky Way.

“If the civilization emitted from the other side of the galaxy, when the signal arrives here, the civilization will already be gone,” says Grimaldi, of the Federal Polytechnical School of Lausanne in Switzerland.More.

The space aliens have always lived and will live in our imaginations. Maybe they came at last to prefer it that way.

See also: ET still hasn’t phoned Frank Drake


Americans don’t fear the discovery of alien life. So why do some commentators insist they do?

We have already heard from ETs- they have been here. ET
Their apparent manifestations, if true, have been attributed to demons, and that makes sense to me. Why would God suddenly start making such ugly little critters ? Don't give me that 'eye of the beholder...', here. Axel
The space aliens have always lived and will live in our imaginations. Maybe they came at last to prefer it that way.
Or they might show up in orbit tomorrow. We have no way of calculating the probability of some highly advanced alien civilization because we cannot predict the impact of genuinely new knowledge will have on that civilization. So, where is this certainty coming from? critical rationalist
The article makes several unwarranted assumptions about the aliens that AREN'T EVEN TRUE OF EARTHLINGS. 1. The aliens must have a fairly short lifetime. Not true of some fish, turtles and trees, and definitionally untrue of budders and splitters. The first bacterium is still here. 2. Radio or similar signals must be a high-level development that occurs late in a high-tech civilization. Tell that to the mud-dwelling fish who have been communicating in FM Stereo for millions of years. 3. Signals must be readable in an absolute sense, without context. Why? We never read signals in an absolute sense. Everything we perceive is deltas, often multi-level deltas, from our local ambient baseline and from our own memories. If the aliens work like Earthlings, we don't stand a chance of interpreting their signals because we can't possibly compare with their local ambience and individual memories. polistra
From the cited article-- "Surprisingly, the team also calculated that the average number of E.T. signals crossing Earth at a given time should equal the number of civilizations currently transmitting — even if the civilizations we hear from aren’t the same ones presently broadcasting. Grimaldi is now working on a paper about what it means that we’ve found none so far." So, yeah, we have received... carry the 2... I need to take off my shoes to finishing counting... ZERO POINT ZERO intelligent signals. And this calculation implies there are, um, ZERO POINT ZERO other intelligent societies out there. So we're IT. Earth is the ONLY planet EVER created (caused to come into existence with all its required modifications) upon which Intelligent Life exists. When we individually die and go to be with The Creator, our immortal spirits might get to meet a few immortal spirits whose bodies had lived on some other specially created planet. But it appears the odds are a million to 1 that we have met the Aliens and they is us. Note that some of the UFO guys suggest that the Aliens on the flying saucers are NOT from other PLANETS. They're from other Dimensions or from other Times. Earth is simply a a popular "train station" to lay over between jumps. mahuna

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