Stephen Hawking Backs Venture To Listen For Aliens

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Holy moly! No wonder Stephen Hawking is backing this project, it has a $100 million in funding to just listen for aliens. :eek:

Prof Stephen Hawking has launched a new effort to answer the question of whether there is life elsewhere in space. The venture is said to be the biggest yet in support of the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. The £64m ($100m) initiative was launched by the Breakthrough Initiatives group at the Royal Society in London.
 

sfsuphysics

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Hmm, he's backing it and in he's giving it his seal of approval, or he's actually giving them money for it?
 

Ashbringer

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I'm more excited about the idea of finding a prevention and cure to the motor neurone disease that Hawkings has than his search for Aliens.
 

TwistedAegis

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Is there any current monitoring for chemical communications, i.e. scent? Given how much of the animal world uses it, why couldn't it evolve elsewhere with much more complexity?

Although admittedly it wouldn't travel as fast as radio waves, I wonder how something like that could/would be "packaged" for transmission...
 

Darunion

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I would rather use that money to find intelligence here. Nearly just as sparse.
 

Kalabalana

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Is there any current monitoring for chemical communications, i.e. scent? Given how much of the animal world uses it, why couldn't it evolve elsewhere with much more complexity?

Although admittedly it wouldn't travel as fast as radio waves, I wonder how something like that could/would be "packaged" for transmission...

We currently scan atmospheres for their chemical content.
We use a spectograph for this sort of work, which allows us to look at a sample of electromagnetic radiation, and depending on which bands (certain electromagnetic frequencies) are missing, we relate this data to the presence of chemicals that absorb this "light". This is how we tell chemical composition of things across the vacuum of space (which smell cannot really travel across)
 

ViperGrendal

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I'm sure we have the technology or the understanding of what a truly advanced civilization would use to communicate on an interstellar level. Let's face it, our current knowledge only allows us to communicate at light speed. Who would want to wait potentially decades to get a reply back on a communication? Other than stumbling across an errant radio signal hundreds to hundreds of thousands of years old from a civilization on our current level. At that it's probably only a few hundred year window that a race would be using such tech. Probably a shot in the dark to find a signal even if you knew where to look.
 

TwistedAegis

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We currently scan atmospheres for their chemical content.
We use a spectograph for this sort of work, which allows us to look at a sample of electromagnetic radiation, and depending on which bands (certain electromagnetic frequencies) are missing, we relate this data to the presence of chemicals that absorb this "light". This is how we tell chemical composition of things across the vacuum of space (which smell cannot really travel across)

Very cool, thanks for sharing. I wasn't necessarily thinking they would send chemicals/scent purely on their own (smell waves?); but wondering if we would recognize chemicals sent to communicate as such, similar to how we sent out golden phonographs, would lifeforms that evolved communicating via chemicals send a much more organic package that we might mistake for debris?
 

Bowman15

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Hope he's covering the 100 million as well. I could think of 100 million better reasons to spend that money on.
 

westrock2000

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I'm more excited about the idea of finding a prevention and cure to the motor neurone disease that Hawkings has than his search for Aliens.

They have the cure.

Aliens is possibly the only thing what will ever bring peace to humans. At least human to human. We don't have anything else to direct our natural hatred at, so we direct it at each other.
 

westrock2000

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I think we should just be flinging small broadcasting satellites into space in all directions. Just throw them out there and let them do their thing for a couple hundred years.

Or possibly make a ginormous broadcaster sit in orbit like the Hubble telescope and just black space in all different directions with a powerful signal.
 

kbrickley

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I am actually not in favor of projects like this ... I think the money could be better spent on establishing a permanent presence in other parts of our own solar system (and yes I know that would be significantly more than 100 million) ... I actually do believe there are other inhabited planets but I think they are likely too far away or too primitive to establish communication with ... alternately we run the risk of encountering a species like that in the classic science fiction novel, The Forge of God ... best to mind our own house until we can figure out a way for interstellar travel
 

DPI

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That Hawking smile propped up by toothpicks has always been a little unnerving, like he's up to something.

Always wanted to roll him into a room full of bees to see if he blinks.
 

Ramses

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I am actually not in favor of projects like this ... I think the money could be better spent on establishing a permanent presence in other parts of our own solar system (and yes I know that would be significantly more than 100 million) ... I actually do believe there are other inhabited planets but I think they are likely too far away or too primitive to establish communication with ... alternately we run the risk of encountering a species like that in the classic science fiction novel, The Forge of God ... best to mind our own house until we can figure out a way for interstellar travel

I tell you what we need, before any of this other stuff, I cheap reliable way to get a lot of stuff in orbit.
THEN we could do some neat things, get to places, like Pluto, and not take nine years once we stockpiled enough fuel and such in orbit. Darn near everything else is cart before horse-ing imo. I think NASA knows this but just can't get funding, least they knew it in the 60's. Much as I admire it that whole Space Shuttle thing really didn't work out very well.

I tend to agree with not attracting attention just yet too, don't see it ending well if anyone has the tech to be able to get out here to us. We damn sure can't get to them..
But I'm not an optimist.
 

jojo69

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I think we should just be flinging small broadcasting satellites into space in all directions. Just throw them out there and let them do their thing for a couple hundred years.

Or possibly make a ginormous broadcaster sit in orbit like the Hubble telescope and just black space in all different directions with a powerful signal.

Ummmm, no

it is quite possible that the reason that we don't hear anything is that it is not healthy to shout
 

kbrickley

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Ummmm, no

it is quite possible that the reason that we don't hear anything is that it is not healthy to shout

Yeah, I don't share Carl Sagan's optimism about the friendliness of aliens ... that is why I mentioned The Forge of God (an excellent book and recommended, by the way) ... it is possible that other aliens might not view their brethren in the galaxy as fellow voices in the wilderness (Contact) but as a threat that should be preemptively eliminated (Forge of God) ... given our inability to protect ourselves (other than committing suicide) it is best for us to wait to initiate contact until we have at least some rudimentary ability to protect ourselves and our species ... or to put it a different way, we could meet someone like the Vulcans but we could also meet someone just like ourselves ... the risk vs benefit just isn't there just yet ;)
 

DPI

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Alien contact isn't something we'll ever have to worry about as long as current laws of quantum physics stand and speed of light is the utmost limit to how fast anything can go. Distances and timescales are the issue.

Distances between things in space are insane, and the timescales of our human lives too small relative to spacetime. Cryo freezing is irrelevant since human race will be extinct by the time anybody went far enough to make contact and came back. Worm holes won't work if they exist because everything will be stretched to shit when passing through.

We're shipwrecked on an island, but that's OK. But that's not to say colonizing elsewhere can't happen. Just not in any meaningful way in our lifetimes.
 

msny

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Holy moly! No wonder Stephen Hawking is backing this project, it has a $100 million in funding to just listen for aliens. :eek:

Prof Stephen Hawking has launched a new effort to answer the question of whether there is life elsewhere in space. The venture is said to be the biggest yet in support of the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. The £64m ($100m) initiative was launched by the Breakthrough Initiatives group at the Royal Society in London.

Sounds like he's looking for "a" god....oh, he's an atheist isn't he?
 

Darunion

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Sounds like he's looking for "a" god....oh, he's an atheist isn't he?

No where does he state that at all. When we assume about others motives we simply reveal our own.

Even if he was searching for one, there is nothing against an atheist looking, as they would change what they feel if they found a god.

I feel that finding intelligent life would greatly change us (actually I doubt it) and could help us to focus on the bigger picture of things.
 

Comixbooks

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Stephen Hawking might of been great like 30 years ago now the poor guy is a mess.
I wish they would stop taking this guy seriously....
 

Phoenix333

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They have the cure.

Aliens is possibly the only thing what will ever bring peace to humans. At least human to human. We don't have anything else to direct our natural hatred at, so we direct it at each other.

Extinction would cure all human problems, yes.
 

Ramses

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No where does he state that at all. When we assume about others motives we simply reveal our own.

Even if he was searching for one, there is nothing against an atheist looking, as they would change what they feel if they found a god.

I feel that finding intelligent life would greatly change us (actually I doubt it) and could help us to focus on the bigger picture of things.

I forget which series but there is a great scifi book that touches on how the expectation of religion dieing off in the future after contact with starfaring races happens, and proof is found that mankind was seeded and curated by them long ago. Long story short it does not die out, it just morphs (again) to fit the current reality and folks keep right on beating the divine drum.
 

Darunion

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I forget which series but there is a great scifi book that touches on how the expectation of religion dieing off in the future after contact with starfaring races happens, and proof is found that mankind was seeded and curated by them long ago. Long story short it does not die out, it just morphs (again) to fit the current reality and folks keep right on beating the divine drum.

Sounds very interesting. I could see that happening that way.
 

Kueller

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I tell you what we need, before any of this other stuff, I cheap reliable way to get a lot of stuff in orbit.
THEN we could do some neat things, get to places, like Pluto, and not take nine years once we stockpiled enough fuel and such in orbit. Darn near everything else is cart before horse-ing imo. I think NASA knows this but just can't get funding, least they knew it in the 60's. Much as I admire it that whole Space Shuttle thing really didn't work out very well.

I tend to agree with not attracting attention just yet too, don't see it ending well if anyone has the tech to be able to get out here to us. We damn sure can't get to them..
But I'm not an optimist.
The most realistic way to get lots of mass into orbit is to use mass that's already outside Earth's gravity well, not try to push mass out of it.

The Shuttle program was a terrible setback for NASA space exploration. The single biggest expense in space exploration is escaping Earth's gravity well. Single-use light weight launch vehicles would have been much more efficient than sending up the stupid 165,000lb flying brick, only to have to fall back to Earth at the end of every mission. Would've been awfully nice to use a 40,000lb disposable launch capsule and be able to send up an extra 60 tons of cargo for the same fuel.

The economic waste of the shuttle was terrible, but even worse was the fact that it shackled NASA to Low-Earth-Orbit experiments for 40 years, boring 2 full generations of children out of going into STEM fields...because who wants to go up 400 miles and fly in circles when some old white guys in the 60's already went 240,000 miles to the Moon? NASA stopped exploring and the public understandably lost interest.

So here we sit, finally nearing the levels of automation that will make serious space exploration and colonization possible, and NASA has a pitiful budget and weak public/political backing. By serious space exploration I mean: capture an asteroid and use it as a source of raw materials already free of Earth's gravity well. It will be possible to construct a enormously larger craft in zero-G than we ever could on the ground (that could survive a high-G launch phase). A colony ship to Mars or manned expedition to Jupiter's moons goes from pure fantasy to ambitious construction project when you don't need to lift all the necessary metal and water mass out of Earth's gravity well. When that construction is largely automated and all you have to do is upload the additive manufacturing models to your orbiting factory it becomes downright realistic.
 

Dr. Righteous

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I'm more excited about the idea of finding a prevention and cure to the motor neuron disease that Hawkings has than his search for Aliens.

Man, you got it.

There is much more pressing needs for funding that will better humanity than looking for extraterrestrials.

There is a startling fact that on the "betterment of humanity" front we have DECLINED.
Efforts 50 years ago were much more effective than any of the "feel good" things going on now.
 

DPI

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I forget which series but there is a great scifi book that touches on how the expectation of religion dieing off in the future after contact with starfaring races happens, and proof is found that mankind was seeded and curated by them long ago. Long story short it does not die out, it just morphs (again) to fit the current reality and folks keep right on beating the divine drum.

I used to believe that when I was younger too. That if we found life or even water elsewhere in the universe that religion would be obsolete because it would disprove that we weren't created in the way the bible spells it out. But in my adult years it became apparent that absolutely nothing would change about religion if alien life was a thing. It would go on exactly the same, because it's not about finding answers and introspective and reassessing. It already purports to have them all by design so it's not interested in a conflicting viewpoint, and for its leadership religion is the scaffolding of power and control over groups of people.
 

oROEchimaru

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nobody is stopping the other money going to other research. this is cool and probably wont amount to much. we would need a different form of transportation for sure. each year more and more stuff from star trek and star wars is created:)
 

Aireoth

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Yeah, I don't share Carl Sagan's optimism about the friendliness of aliens ... that is why I mentioned The Forge of God (an excellent book and recommended, by the way) ... it is possible that other aliens might not view their brethren in the galaxy as fellow voices in the wilderness (Contact) but as a threat that should be preemptively eliminated (Forge of God) ... given our inability to protect ourselves (other than committing suicide) it is best for us to wait to initiate contact until we have at least some rudimentary ability to protect ourselves and our species ... or to put it a different way, we could meet someone like the Vulcans but we could also meet someone just like ourselves ... the risk vs benefit just isn't there just yet ;)

You honestly think that they would be the aggressor? We are the plague, our entertainment is preparing us for 'interstellar war' we are already angling to beat the sh*t out of the first species we run into. Merica!

I don't buy into the fear mongering about aliens, nor do I about AI and singularity. Even if the worst does happen, we kinda deserve it.
 

kbrickley

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You honestly think that they would be the aggressor? We are the plague, our entertainment is preparing us for 'interstellar war' we are already angling to beat the sh*t out of the first species we run into. Merica!

I don't buy into the fear mongering about aliens, nor do I about AI and singularity. Even if the worst does happen, we kinda deserve it.

Any civilization with the ability to get to us would be vastly superior to us technologically. That said you have two options then:

1 - Advanced civilization is peaceful and makes peaceful contact with us but is unable to share much advanced knowledge with us because we are too young and dangerous a species and must mature first (The Day the Earth Stood Still)

2 - Advanced civilization is hostile and either destroys us outright (eliminating a future threat) or subjugates us with their superior technology (The Forge of God, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, V)

The concept of us successfully resisting the occupation of a superior technological entity makes a good movie but has almost zero chance of being true in reality

I am leaving soon, and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all or no one is secure. Now, this does not mean giving up any freedom except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them. We of the other planets have long accepted this principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets and for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher authority is, of course, the police force that supports it. For our policemen, we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets—in space ships like this one—and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us; this power can not be revoked. At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk. The result is that we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war—free to pursue more profitable enterprises. Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet. But if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: Join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer; the decision rests with you. - The Day the Earth Stood Still
 

msny

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No where does he state that at all. When we assume about others motives we simply reveal our own.

Even if he was searching for one, there is nothing against an atheist looking, as they would change what they feel if they found a god.

I feel that finding intelligent life would greatly change us (actually I doubt it) and could help us to focus on the bigger picture of things.

Maybe you should check your facts before posting.

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/im-atheist-stephen-hawking-god-space-travel-n210076

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/25/stephen-hawking-atheist_n_5882860.html
 

Hagrid

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Alien contact isn't something we'll ever have to worry about as long as current laws of quantum physics stand and speed of light is the utmost limit to how fast anything can go. Distances and timescales are the issue.

Distances between things in space are insane, and the timescales of our human lives too small relative to spacetime. Cryo freezing is irrelevant since human race will be extinct by the time anybody went far enough to make contact and came back. Worm holes won't work if they exist because everything will be stretched to shit when passing through.

We're shipwrecked on an island, but that's OK. But that's not to say colonizing elsewhere can't happen. Just not in any meaningful way in our lifetimes.
But an alien civilization might have the technology to travel and visit us.
 

Phoenix333

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But an alien civilization might have the technology to travel and visit us.

Why would anyone want to? Would you drive your expensive supercar into the "projects", get out with your expensive high-tech gadgets and snappy clothes, and wave to the folks in the 'hood? What do you think would happen? That's what the human race would do to aliens dropping in to say "hello". Anyone out there is smart enough to know NOT to visit this planet because the so-called intelligent life here would steal their spaceships and take them apart to figure out better ways to kill each other while cutting the alien pilots up into little tiny pieces to see what color their insides are. Human history is pretty damning in this regard.

I think Hawking is right. The only reason aliens would overtly visit this planet would be to wipe out the human race in order to preserve the other forms of life so as to prevent a human-induced mass extinction of some kind. No, if any alien visitation is going on for any kind of purpose benevolent or neutral toward human activity it would be done covertly and from a position of impunity. There's no reason for anyone out there to announce their presence. The human species has not given them any, and has given plenty of reasons for them not to.
 

Kueller

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Why would anyone want to? Would you drive your expensive supercar into the "projects", get out with your expensive high-tech gadgets and snappy clothes, and wave to the folks in the 'hood? What do you think would happen? That's what the human race would do to aliens dropping in to say "hello". Anyone out there is smart enough to know NOT to visit this planet because the so-called intelligent life here would steal their spaceships and take them apart to figure out better ways to kill each other while cutting the alien pilots up into little tiny pieces to see what color their insides are. Human history is pretty damning in this regard.

Oh come on, it's not like going to the projects, it's more like going to a particularly violent tribal area in central Africa. I can totally see humans as the galactic equivalent of child soldiers riding around in compact pickups with RPGs.
 

blade12

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For those worried of getting killed or enslaved by an alien species.. What would an alien species get out of destroying us? How often do you go out of your way to kill rabbits or squirrels? If these alien species can travel through interstellar space then they sure as hell are advanced enough to recognize that
 
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