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Tony Grist

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Following On From Yesterday [Oct. 1st, 2010|11:11 am]
Tony Grist
Yes. I think it's very likely we have visitors. Planet Earth is at a crucial phase in its history: it's developing a global society, it has weapons of mass destruction, it has rudimentary space travel. We're no longer galactic peasants, we're becoming contenders. We're at an interesting age.  If I were an intelligent extraterrestrial I'd be motivated to drop by and take a peek- even perhaps violate the prime directive and give things a bit of a nudge.

We can no longer- plausibly- argue that we're alone in the universe. Our telescopes keep detecting planets in the orbit of neighbouring stars- and just the other day- for the first time-  we found one that replicates conditions on Earth. Actually there must be billions of them. 

Of course the visitors may not be coming from other planets. They may be sliding in from other dimensions. They may be hopping back from our own future. The old, mechanical universe our grandfathers had their heads in ruled such things out of court, but we're living in a quantum universe now. 

What would be really weird would be if everyone out there was ignoring us.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2010-10-01 11:26 am (UTC)
I think it's mathematically certain that there are other planets that have life, that free-moving organisms will start to need decision-making, that intelligence will evolve from basic decision-making, that actual sapience will evolve from intelligence, that civilizations will rise among sapient beings, and that technology will arise within civilizations.

So I am certain that there are other intelligent species in the universe. And I'm certain that among those species, there are people -- because they ARE people -- who WANT to travel among the stars and meet other alien people, like us.

The question is -- can they?

The speed of light is a hard limit. In order to get around the speed of light, you need time travel. (Because the speed of light is actually the speed of reality, and the speed of the fact of an event having happened -- things aren't ACTUALLY simultaneous, time isn't an absolute, and the speed of light is the speed of time, and to go faster than the speed of time, you have to go backward in time.)

For there to be aliens visiting us, they have to have the ability to travel in time. And it's not clear that such a thing is even POSSIBLE in this universe.

That said, I'm pretty darned certain that, if it IS possible, then someone CAN do it, and that, if someone CAN do it, somebody WILL want to use that to visit us.

The question isn't "is there somebody out there?" There is. The question is, "Do the other species out there even know about us, and, if they do, can they get here?"
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-01 12:44 pm (UTC)
If we could get to them, we would- because we're inquisitive so-and-sos. I don't suppose they're any different.

We're only just beginning to understand how the universe is put together. I suspect the speed of light isn't actually the barrier we currently think it is. Perhaps we'll get round it by folding space. Perhaps we'll use wormholes. After all, I remember a time (yes, I'm that old) when people thought we'd never get through the sound barrier.
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[User Picture]From: petercampbell
2010-10-01 06:27 pm (UTC)
From what I understand (which is little, admittedly), the speed of light CAN be breached, in quantum conditions at least. The problem I have with the alien visitors people report seeing if that they look and behave much too similarly to humans for comfort.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-01 07:20 pm (UTC)
But maybe they adjust their appearance to make themselves more palatable to us.
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2010-10-01 11:30 pm (UTC)
The issue, of course, is that FTL = time travel = breaking the idea of cause and effect the way that we normally think about it.

However, I've talked to a few scientists who think that, well, maybe that's what we're just going to go ahead and do.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-02 05:19 pm (UTC)
Perhaps our problem is that we've got into the habit of thinking of Nature as having "Laws" when what it actually has is "conventions".
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-10-01 12:57 pm (UTC)
I expect they are treating us like some kind of meetcat colony - filming us for their own version of David Attenborough to commentate on back home. Hence the people being picked up and probed by alien abductors, it's like a naturalist ringin a nest of little kestrel chicks then coming back and checking on them later.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-10-01 12:57 pm (UTC)
MEERKAT!!!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-01 02:28 pm (UTC)
And why not?

I find us interesting, why shouldn't they?
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[User Picture]From: clindau
2010-10-01 01:55 pm (UTC)
What would be really weird would be if everyone out there was ignoring us.

Because they've seen the future and know our fate, and have concluded we're best left alone?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-01 02:29 pm (UTC)
I'm an optimist. I think we'll survive our teething troubles. Give us a few more centuries and we'll be out there exploring the galaxy with the best of them.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2010-10-02 12:13 pm (UTC)
Or, with us humans out of the way via our stupidity, some other sentient creature from earth will go exploring--maybe a highly evolved insect.

Hopefully, they'll figure out something more efficient and effective than a chemical rocket.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-02 05:16 pm (UTC)
I don't believe we've developed this far only to fall at the last hurdle. We got through the 20th century without wiping ourselves out and that gives me hope that we'll last a good bit longer.
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From: sunfell
2010-10-01 03:48 pm (UTC)
We've made enough radio noise to get anyone's attention. I do wonder though, if our switchover to digital and terrestrial broadband has dropped the noise level (or silenced it) enough for real offworld curiosity to be piqued.

I mean, to be so noisy with all the analogue, then suddenly silent with the digital would be perplexing to an observer.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-01 07:26 pm (UTC)
My guess is that they've had us under observation for a long time now. We're not the first generation to see unaccountable things in the sky.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-10-01 06:22 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't really blame them.

Maybe some day some intergalactic cop will drop by and tell us we've had an ASBO served on us...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-01 07:30 pm (UTC)
Perhaps that's exactly what they were doing when they swooped down and temporarily shut down our nukes.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-10-01 07:33 pm (UTC)
:-)

As usual, I read your posts backwards, and yeah! I see exactly what you mean!! I'd like to think our alien friends are more enlightened than us, but I still suspect it'll be more like the native Americans scratching their heads at the first sighting of the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria...
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2010-10-02 11:20 am (UTC)
I don't believe that the UFO phenomenon is due to visitation by extraterrestrials, so I see the question of FTL travel and whether there is intelligent life on other planets as separate issues. I agree with Jacques Vallée and think UFOs are nothing new and that humanity has been, and continues to be, subtly and not-so-subtly manipulated by forces we do not understand. I have also known multiple contactees and what is most striking is not what they witnessed but the long-term effect it had on the witness.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-02 05:13 pm (UTC)
I don't know what UFOs are, but I have little doubt that they exist- or, to be a little more specific- that people have authentic, otherworldly experiences they report in terms of aliens and UFOS. In a generation before space travel was a theoretical possibility they might have ascribed such experiences to fairies or angels or gods.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2010-10-02 12:10 pm (UTC)
I find the subject of UFOs and alien visitors both fascinating and frustrating.

I'm not paranoid enough to think the government is hiding anything from us, but the information we get seems so fuzzy: we see blurry glimpses of ships (never ever a clear image), anecdotal evidence that can't be proved, so that it's like ghost stories, or legends.

...What exactly happened to Bernadette of Lourdes? What happened when the children saw Mary-or something-and the sun supposedly receded and danced around in the sky and thousands supposedly witnessed it (or got hysterical)?

And (my sister certainly shares my frustration) what did my own sister see that night when she was nineteen and had just dropped me off at 10 30 at night, then drove down the alley and back up the deserted road, and saw over a brick house a glowing ball bigger than a house? With windowlike areas that glowed in different colors?

She tells me she drove off in terror, no one was around, and she looked into her rear view mirror and it was still there!

Everyone listened, but without any context it was hard to believe she didn't imagine something--the moon? A streetlight?

My sister doesn't talk about her experience anymore. But she knows what she saw.

That's the frustrating part for me: I believe her, but I don't expect to ever know why, who, how.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-02 05:08 pm (UTC)
Weird stuff happens- and it happens a lot. Sadly it never happens to me- which makes me cross- because I'm someone who would appreciate it.

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From: (Anonymous)
2010-10-03 04:21 am (UTC)

avatar/ district 9

Let`s just hope when they do come here they have a federation with rules like the prime directive- otherwise we`d most likely be at their mercy, dependent on their wishes and whims. The last thing we want is to be exploited like the Pandorans in Avatar or bundled up into internment camps like the bugs in District 9. But- if they`re anything like us, and since we have those things in our history- I`d say it`s a distinct possibility.

Though there is always the hope that evolution weeds out that sort of evil, and that the extreme levels of tech required to get over here would also necessitate a free-thinking and free society to birth it. In which case, they`ll be numerous rungs ahead of us in terms of social law and compassion. Let`s hope that`s the case. I`d be proud to join a Federation with precepts like that.
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[User Picture]From: Michael John Grist
2010-10-03 04:22 am (UTC)

Re: avatar/ district 9

that was me, Mike.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-10-03 07:45 am (UTC)

Re: avatar/ district 9

I'm an optimist. I believe a society that has perfected interstellar travel will also have progressed beyond the ethics of Ghenghis Khan. After all, they can go anywhere they want, so what resources do we have that they're likely to covet?

I think it's far more likely that they're motivated by scientific/ethnological curiosity or pure benevolence.

They seem to have been watching us now for decades- and probably very much longer. If they were going to make an aggressive move on us, I reckon they'd have done it by now.
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