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Why should we look for alien civilizations?

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From Mindy Weinberger, interviewing SETIs Seth Shostak at LiveScience:

“The search should continue, simply because it’s a very interesting question,” he said.

“Is Earth special? Is it the only place around with intelligent life? That would be remarkable — but it’s just as remarkable to find you’re not the only kid on the block. That’s something that would change our view of ourselves forever,” he said. More.

But how or why would their discovery “change our view of ourselves forever”? Wouldn’t we still be the same?

See also: But surely we can’t conjure an entire advanced civilization?


How do we grapple with the idea that ET might not be out there?

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It seems to me that we haven’t detected alien signals is because we are looking at the wrong spectrum area. Most of our high power semi continuous transmitters like TV and FM, 100kw or more, are in the 500mhz or lower frequencies. An assumption that aliens also use the sub microwave channels for general use seems reasonable. Detecting such signals would probably require a space based antenna to reduce earth based interference. Most current SETI attempts are in the 2.5ghz range where producing high power continuous signals are more difficult. john matheson
vmahuna, "But why do these fanatics keep insisting...etc" Ummm, they don't 'insist', and if you want to use the noun 'fanatic', I can think of several religions it is more apt to describe. vmahuna, you then point out some of the problems involved in communication, and how difficult it is all going to be, if we ever do make contact. You are correct of course, it will be difficult stretching human capabilities to their utmost. Excuse me, but are you suggesting that the problems with logistics, and communication is a good argument not to even try? Using your mentality nothing would be achieved ever, and the evolved curiosity of man would be better spent bowing before idols, or gods. rvb8
As long as they can't get here and we can't get there (which is a safe bet for the rest of my life at least), the discovery of other intelligent life out there would have no effect on me at all. EDTA
Well, gee, sure. How long did we spend looking for gravity waves? But we already know that Earth humans are VERY, very special, as is Earth itself. But why do these fanatics keep insisting that stumbling upon Romulans 10,000 light years away is going to make any great change here on this inhabited planet? Two-way communications will be impractical for centuries because of the horrendous delays between transmission and reception, and of course there is the problem that it will take a century or 2 just to figure out how to exchange any ideas beyond mathematics. And of course how crushing will it be when the SETI guys do translate that first textual signal and it comes out as "Our Pope sends his blessings to your Pope"? vmahuna

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