Tag Archives: ETI

Pleasantly Surprised by NASA Funding and Good SETI Theater

Space.com:

“U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed a funding boost for NASA that provides more support for Earth sciences missions and aviation, while keeping the agency’s three space shuttles on target for a 2010 retirement.

NASA would receive $18.7 billion for the 2010 fiscal year under the budget proposal released by the White House on Thursday. That would be an increase from the $17.2 billion NASA received in 2008 and represents an overall boost of more than $2.4 billion for the space agency when coupled with the additional $1 billion it received in the recent economic stimulus bill.

The budget calls on NASA to complete International Space Station construction, as well as continue its Earth science missions and aviation research. Yet it also remains fixed to former President George W. Bush’s plan to retire the space shuttle fleet by 2010 and replace them with the new Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, which would fly astronauts to the space station and return them to the moon by 2020.

The outline does make room for an extra shuttle flight beyond the nine currently remaining on NASA’s schedule, but only if it is deemed safe and can be flown before the end of 2010.

“The $18.7 billion budget proposal for 2010 is fiscally responsible and reflects the administration’s desire for a robust and innovative agency aligned with the president’s goals of advancing our nation’s scientific, educational, economic and security interests,” said Acting NASA Administrator Chris Scolese in a statement. “This budget ensures NASA maintains its global leadership in Earth and space research, and it advances global climate change studies, funds a robust program of human and robotic space exploration, allows us to realize the full potential of the International Space Station, advances development of new space transportation systems, and renews our commitment to aeronautics.”

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There goes the opinion that Mr. Obama will gut the space program. He proved a lot of folks wrong. Myself included.

The budget isn’t set in stone though. Congress has yet to approve the bill.

Obama Budget Includes Funding Boost for NASA

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From the Cult of SETI:

“In the 1970s, a small group of Canadian astronomers thought they had a method for finding planets around other stars. Their intention was not to see the planets directly, but to measure the planets’ effect on their host stars; the wobble that their host stars would have as a consequence of the planets existence. The Canadians built the requisite technology, a very sophisticated spectrometer, and looked at a half dozen stars. They didn’t find any planets. However, had they not given up so quickly, had they had a certain amount of persistence and looked at more candidate stellar systems, they would have been the first to find planets orbiting other stars. As it happens, that honor went to a couple of Swiss astronomers in 1995. It’s been 13 years since the first planet around an ordinary star was found. 51Peg was that planet, and it caused a sensation. Since then there have been over 300 planets found. That’s a lot of planet pleasure.

As those of you who are familiar with this field are aware, many of these planets are very large and very close to their suns. They are so-called hot Jupiters. They have other unfortunate properties that suggest that while there are a lot of worlds out there, many of them hardly seem like the kind of worlds with a chance for life. But that situation is changing as the data continue to come in.

There is a strong tendency for planets we find to be very close to their stars, but that’s the result of an obvious selection effect. The planets that are close to their stars are the easiest to detect.”

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This is an interview with Tori Hoehler by Seth Shostak, SETI scientist and UFO debunker.

Read the mainstream version of finding ETL/ETI and form your own conclusions.

Hey, I enjoy these interviews!

Alien Safari, Part I: Slime World

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And why is SETI called a “cult” by certain people?

Because it is based on a belief that is yet to be proven, i.e., that the Universe has other intelligent species and that they’ll communicate by radio waves.

Anyone who thinks that alien life would communicate by other means, or that they already might be investigating Earth, are immediately and rabidly attacked as delusional, and thusly, heretics:

PH: But while the SETI people are telling the UFO people, “you don’t have any evidence,” the UFO people are telling the SETI people, “you have even less evidence than we do.”

SS: Yes, that’s quite right, but we don’t claim that we’ve found them. That’s a big difference. They do claim that they’re here.

PH: Don’t you think that the tremendous ridicule that surrounds the UFO subject really prevents academics from looking into it?

SS: There may be something to that. It may apply to 90 percent of scientists. But scientists are well aware of many instances in which something that was very radical turned out to be true. It happens over and over again in science; that’s the way science makes the big steps. So I don’t think they would all be scared off by the fact that it’s considered radical or non-mainstream. Continental drift was not very popular at the beginning, but it gained adherents rather quickly. As soon as you have a trickle of evidence, that trickle turns into a torrent, and then what was radical yesterday is today mainstream. Now I don’t see that happening with the UFO phenomenon. ( link )

And of course, competing for private funds is there also as the interviewer points out.

I don’t know, I think the whole thing amusing and good theater! Wouldn’t it be ironic that both groups could be right in their own way?

With quantum entanglement and our increasing prowess in long range sensing/viewing technology, couldn’t we be spied upon/visited by non-corporeal entities?

Truth is always stranger than assumptions/theories/fiction.  8)

Seth Shostak: UFOs and SETI

Other posts comparing SETI with religions:

David Darling’s Newsletter #39

Jennings Program (2005): MUFON letter by Stanton T. Friedman

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UFOs and MIBs of the South Pacific

Serious investigation of the UFO phenomenon over the past sixty-some-odd years is anything but. There has always been an air of the carnival act and circus vargus quality about it and very little, if any attention has been given at all to formally investigate how the flying vehicles (?) operate, people who suffer indignities when abducted from their homes and the public at large witnessing and recording objects that defy all known laws of Newtonian physics ( they might defy Einsteinian physics as well ).

Of course there was Project Bluebook ( 1952 – 1970 ) which determined the phenomenon wasn’t a danger to national security, but that never satisfied the people who take the position the US government has a partnership with aliens and that the government will do anything to keep that secret.

Enter one of the most enduring myths(?) of Ufology; the MIB, or Men In Black. The MIBs job is to discredit UFO witnesses and do other “unsavory” operations for the US government. Or for the aliens themselves.

The MIB myth/legend/meme has been around as long as the Roswell Incident, or earlier possibly. The main feature of the MIB of course is they dress in black. If the purpose is to remain stealthy, well, I think they haven’t been very good at that. But maybe that’s part of the deal, to spread a meme of “warning”.

Anyway, Paul Dale Roberts of The Alien Seeker News recently did an interview with a supposed Man In Black in which no new relevations were revealed, just some stuff the meme-stream of Ufology has had for years:

Paul: Good afternoon. May I use your real name in this interview?

Mr. Q: No.

Paul: Can I call you Mr. Q or a name of your choosing?

Mr. Q: (Chuckles). Yeah, Mr. Q sounds good.

Paul: Why did you select me for this interview?

Mr. Q:You are the most accessible paranormal investigator on the web. You have your cell number right out there for the world to see. When I call, you answer. Plus, you are not just a ghosthunter, but you investigate all things of a paranormal nature. I like the fact that when I call, I get a real person. How many times have you heard that?

Paul:Why are you disclosing your status as a former MIB? (Men in Black).

Mr. Q: I am tired of the lies of our government. It’s time for disclosure. We are not alone.

Paul: Did you get fired or did you quit?

Mr. Q:Yes, you can say I got fired. I fell in love. The aliens that control American Intelligence MIBs have a way to manipulate our emotions. One of those emotions is love. Somehow I overcame this obstacle and actually fell in love. I was rejected from the MIB program.

Paul: Who did you fall in love with?

Mr. Q: Move onto the next question.

I guess Mr. MIB doesn’t like personal questions about his love-life, but who does? Other than the folks who go on the Jerry Springer Show anyway.

But further on in the interview, Roberts notices that Mr. MIB is of South Pacific origin, which segues nicely into this little post from Greg Bishop of UFOMystic:

William B. Gill, an Anglican priest with a mission in Bosinai, Papas New Guinea, observed craft-like UFOs — one with Humanoid figures on top — on two consecutive evenings, June 26-27, 1959. About twenty-five natives, including teachers and medical technicians, also observed the phenomena. They “signaled” the humanoids and received an apparent response. This was one of sixty UFO sightings within a few weeks in the New Guinea area…

What many may not know is that this event took place about 1200 miles from the United States military installation in the Kwajalein atoll, located in the Marshall Islands, which has been a semi-secret missile and rocket test facility since, coincidentally enough, 1959. Now, 1200 miles may seem like a long way, but in the geography of the immense South Pacific, as well as the distances covered by high speed aircraft and of course rockets, it’s a stone’s throw. New Guinea is also the nearest land that isn’t a micro-island in that area of the South Pacific (with the possible exception of Guam) which suggests that the object and apparent “crew” may have picked it in case they ran into any serious trouble with their equipment.

If you lend any credence to stories of unconventional aircraft (of the anti- or electro-gravitic type) and rumors about captured technology just after WWII, Gill and his fellow witnesses may have seen some sort of test flight stopover. Why the crew bothered to hover right over a beach in New Guinea in front of scores of witnesses is a question that remains unanswered.

Gill’s own account stresses the almost mundane nature of the encounter. There were no high-G or other strange movements made by the object. It apparently hovered over the small church complex and then slowly disappeared into the clouds. (There were two sightings on subsequent evenings.) During the second event, Gill went inside before the craft had left. While some investigators have expressed surprise that anyone would leave in the middle of such an extraordinary sight, Gill and his companions had been looking at the UFO for over four hours just the night before. After returning hand gestures and moving the object in answer to a flashlight, the “crew” had apparently lost interest in the witnesses as well, and repeated attempts to make it land were unsuccessful.

The key link here is the base at Kwajalein Atoll, which the MIB mentions in the Roberts interview and why he is of South Pacific origin.

The post in UFOMystic leaves the impression that the UFO is of human origin, which is very plausible. But the MIB interview keeps the ETI angle in play. Convenient, eh?

Just enough to keep things nice and muddy.

The meme must go on!

Interview with Mr. Q. Former MIB (Men In Black)

Was The “Father Gill” Sighting A Classified Aircraft?

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Dyson Spheres, Detection and E.T.

This past Friday I participated in a discussion on Paul Gilster’s blog Centauri Dreams. Paul concentrates on mainstream astronomy, real-science interstellar travel and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI or ETI). Believe it or not, I hang out there often and sometimes manage to throw in an intelligent comment or two. The post in discussion was Dyson Spheres: Hoping to be Surprised. The discussion was not only should we be searching for radio signals from ETI (looking more and more unlikely), we should be looking for signs of ‘astroengineering’. Examples of astroengineering would be Ring WorldsAlderson Disks, whole planetary systems swept clean of dust other than the system’s Kuiper Belt, worlds or stars travelling at extraordinary speeds (already been detected) and Dyson Spheres, or ‘Shells’. A Dyson shell totally envelopes it’s star, using all of the solar energy available. When observed from outside of it’s system, the Shell would resemble a red dwarf star, emitting huge amounts of infrared radiation. There are some astronomers trying to detect potential Dyson Shell candidates now using methods that measures a candidate star’s infrared emissions.

Gilster also brings up an excellent point that I have postulated on other science sites, “How could we detect engineering projects from intelligences thousands, maybe millions of years ahead of us?” Would ants living in an anthill by an Interstate highway recognise the highway for what it is? Would chimps using sticks to pick out insects from termite hills know what a fork is? Would beavers know what Boulder Dam is?

See the point?

And as large as these structures are supposed to be and visible using 20th century tech, so far in our computer assisted 21st century we’ve yet to see such objects. How come we haven’t seen any of these things yet? 

In my view, astroengineering projects by beings million of years beyond us, if they still built anything at all, would be indistinguishable from observing objects appearing natural. According to science-fiction author Karl Schroeder, being in harmony with nature is an efficient method of data storage and engineering:

…the logic behind such monstrous engineering projects as the “Kardashev-II civilization,” where a species decides to capture all the energy radiated by its sun, generally by building a giant Dyson sphere around it.  I think the idea’s a perfect example of homocentrism, or more exactly the kind of techno-centrism that assumes that future civilizations will orient themselves around the same central issue as 20th century humanity (in this case energy use).  Here’s my off-the-cuff comments to Milan about energy efficiency as it relates to the visibility of spacefaring civilizations:

Notes to Milan

I’ve been doing  a lot of consulting/writing about “green” technologies lately, and one idea that comes up a lot is the concept of ecosystem services.  An ecosystem service is something you get for free from nature, whose value can be directly calculated by estimating what it would cost for us to provide the service ourselves.  For instance, water treatment:  recently a greenbelt area was declared around Toronto, basically a crescent-shaped region where real estate and industrial development is banned.  A key reason for doing this was the discovery that these forested lands filter and treat the entire aquifer for the Toronto region.  If they were developed, much of the fresh water in the region would dry up.  We’d then have to import/produce fresh water ourselves, and the cost of doing that can be directly calculated, and compared to the financial benefits of developing the land.  It turns out that the land, left alone, provides a set of essential services more cheaply than we can provide them technologically.

Now in the realm of information processing, it turns out to be cheaper for many organisms to offload calculations into the natural world; cockroaches use a clever mechanism that’s directly tied in to air movement and shadow angle to directly cause leg movement (they scurry away when something swings at them).  This mechanism essentially bypasses the nervous system because that’s too slow.  A partial program is in general any algorithm where key steps in the algorithm are offloaded in this manner:  the classic example is (for Americans) how do you catch a pop-fly in baseball?  AI researchers used to think that it required a sophisticated internal model and some nasty differential equations solved by the nervous system; in fact, runners catch a ball by running backward while keeping the ball at a fixed angle with respect to the horizon.  This combination of factors substitutes successfully for the calculation.

 Combining these two ideas, of ecosystem services and partial programs, we can propose an economic argument for the invisibility of advanced civilizations.  A settlement that uses solely ecosystem services is called a ‘zero footprint’ settlement (another word for sustainable).  Zero-footprint means environmentally neutral; it also means invisible to the mechanisms we usually use to detect the presence of technological activity (because our means for doing so generally involve detecting the waste products of systems running against or in parallel to natural processes).  In addition, a civilization that offloads as much of its data processing as possible into natural processes in the physical world, through partial programs, is more energy-efficient than one that builds “computronium” to do its thinking, and probably calculates faster (because the energy required by an algorithmic process and the speed with which it’s executed are related).  The more such processes are substituted by integration with the natural world, the harder it will be for us to see the operations of that civilization from interstellar distances.  In fact, I would argue that a civilization that integrates efficiently with its environment on these two levels will be invisible by definition. 

After I read this, I had one of those ‘Wow, I could’ve had a V-8!’ moments and it made perfect sense. But after thinking about it for a while, this involves a certain amount of ‘homocentric’ attitude too. Do most intelligences develop energy sustainable technologies as their civilization progresses? Do they go through a form of ‘Technological Singularity’ as a result? If so, do they ‘upload’ into the environment? Should we look for a civilizations’ ‘upload’ or ‘transcension’ fossil instead? And how would we recognise one?

You see, because we have only one sample of an intelligent technological civilization, us, any  discussion about ETI, astroengineering and SETI is going to be homocentric, it can’t help being anything but!

This was a great thought experiment and Paul still has the post up. Schroeder’s post is still up at his site too. If you’re curious about SETI and why we haven’t detected any ETIs yet, check these out.