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The Drake Equation

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 


Quote:
But seriously, there's loads of intelligent life. It's just not screaming constantly in all directions on the handful of frequencies we search.

www.xkcd.com/
post #2 of 16
Quote:
but seriously, there's loads of intelligent life. It's just not screaming constantly in all directions on the handful of frequencies we search.

Probably because they are intelligent?
"We've never made the case, or argued the case that somehow Osama bin Laden was directly involved in 9/11. That evidence has never been forthcoming". VP Cheney, 3/29/2006. Interview by Tony Snow
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"We've never made the case, or argued the case that somehow Osama bin Laden was directly involved in 9/11. That evidence has never been forthcoming". VP Cheney, 3/29/2006. Interview by Tony Snow
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post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by sammi jo View Post

Probably because they are intelligent?

LOL!!
post #4 of 16
Larry Niven already proved that no other intelligent life makes it very far technologically - if they got to the point where they could build Bussard Ramjets, then we evidently would be able to see the traces of those engines. They must blow themselves up or something before they get that far.
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post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
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Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

Larry Niven already proved that no other intelligent life makes it very far technologically

Really? A science fiction writer. Proved?

Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

if they got to the point where they could build Bussard Ramjets, then we evidently would be able to see the traces of those engines.

If you want some better science fiction proof, have a read on the Singularity

The probability of an extra-terrestrial intelligence being on roughly the same technological level as us is practically zero. So to say that they would use some particular technology like Bussard Ramjets is absurd. It is likely that, if they are out there, ETIs are millions (or even billions) of years ahead of us, and we will have about as much chance of understanding them (or even noticing that they exist) as an ant has of understanding us.
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denton View Post

The probability of an extra-terrestrial intelligence being on roughly the same technological level as us is practically zero.

A single species, sure - little chance, but no species in the entire universe using bussard ramjets? I think that means we are alone, personally.
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post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

A single species, sure - little chance, but no species in the entire universe using bussard ramjets? I think that means we are alone, personally.

No one is going to notice the use of this technology outside our galaxy (we're talking about moving around a very small amount of hydrogen), and it is likely that these effects would not even be noticeable at galactic distances.

Also, Suppose that the bussard ramjet is a very long-lasting technology. Let us say that a space-faring civilisation uses this technology for 1000 years before replacing it with something that we can't even imagine. In the time-frame of billions of years, there would need to be millions of space-faring civilisations in our galaxy to cover all of those intervening years, and even if you consider the Birthday Paradox, there would have to be thousands of space-faring civilisations before you would expect to see two such civilisations at approximately the same developmental stage at the same time.

Lastly, how much of the sky do we actually monitor at the correct frequencies to even notice the spectrum that a bussard ramjet would give off?

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Edit: and this is to say nothing for the technical detail that no one has actually built one of these machines. They may turn out to be completely useless in practice. If this is the case, then we would not expect to observe any traces of this technology in the cosmos, whether the galaxy is teaming with life or not.

And for the record (because this conversation is getting out of hand), I think that people who look for certitude of the existence of ETIs in the Drake equation are missing the point. The equation is a thought-experiment. Every step is a guess. And so the final factor in the product: "Amount of bullshit you're willing to buy from Frank Drake."
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

Larry Niven already proved that no other intelligent life makes it very far technologically - if they got to the point where they could build Bussard Ramjets, then we evidently would be able to see the traces of those engines.

or Bussard Ramjets don't work...
Quote:
Since the time of Bussard's original proposal, it has been discovered that the region surrounding the sun has a much lower density of interstellar hydrogen than was believed at that time. By 1978, analyses indicated that Bussard ramjets were not feasible.

Before making half-arsed statements at least be a tad bit current on the tech espoused. OK?
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post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro View Post

or Bussard Ramjets don't work...


Before making half-arsed statements at least be a tad bit current on the tech espoused. OK?

you are a bit rude - I never claimed to be an expert.
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post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

you are a bit rude - I never claimed to be an expert.

So your lack of knowledge on a topic, a topic which you TWICE tried to use as proof of something (specifically that there must not be any aliens because none of them are using Bussard ramjets), is supposed to get a free pass?

No, I don't think so. And pointing out that you twice used a busted assumption to attempt to score points in a debate isn't being rude. It's just a fact, unfortunately for you one that makes you look a bit foolish. Your displayed ability to post irresponsibly on some topic you don't really know about isn't my problem, it's yours.

Now you try to worm out of it by calling me rude and saying you aren't an expert when I point out that Bussard ramjets don't work. I'm not an expert either, but when several sources all say the same thing in the first page of Google results for "Bussard ramjet" all related to the same problem of low interstellar hydrogen densities it doesn't take an expert to believe the problem really exists. Nor much effort to have realized that.

Dude, if you are going to state something Larry Niven wrote about forty years ago (which happened to be new then but was ruled out as not feasible thirty years ago) and then re-state it even more strongly a second time as evidence for your point of view, at least have the sense to know more about it than what was in a forty year old science fiction novel. And if you don't know more than the old novel has, at least own up to screwing it up by not checking. Don't try to blame anyone else for your mistake or throw a false tantrum over it.
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post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro View Post

And pointing out that you twice used a busted assumption to attempt to score points in a debate isn't being rude.

If I had more information on a topic than you, I would just point it out. You point it out with a chip on your shoulder - I am sorry that you are so angry, it doesn't seem like an appropriate level of response to my posts.

I'm not trying to "score points", just having a conversation (with an angry young man, evidently). I actually appreciate the information you gave me as a response, just not your attitude.
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post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

If I had more information on a topic than you, I would just point it out. You point it out with a chip on your shoulder - I am sorry that you are so angry, it doesn't seem like an appropriate level of response to my posts.

I'm not trying to "score points", just having a conversation (with an angry young man, evidently). I actually appreciate the information you gave me as a response, just not your attitude.

I'm not the least bit angry. I do find it interesting and ever so slightly amusing that you try to steer the point away from the posts themselves by trying to analyze my state of mind and age though. That's technically in ad hominem territory, although it wasn't any kind of attack worthy of note. You might be far more effective if you merely tried to be accurate at what things you have hope of being accurate about.

So I gave you a little advice on how to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Wow, call the sheriff!!! Give that man an attitude check!!! He's a meanie... It's unfortunate for you and those others who read your posts that you would rather try to stir "something" up than just admit you didn't even try to be accurate, or even just go on without getting defensive. Given that, look around locally for that chip you talk about. It's probably a lot closer to home than you think.
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post #13 of 16
Hiro - I acknowledge that you were right and I was wrong, I just don't think your tone was justified.

moderators - sorry about my part in spinning this thread into the dirt, maybe you should delete everything except for the first post so we can start over.
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post #14 of 16
You're almost there now, but you have a subtle hump to cross.

It's not me that was right, it's the references that were. I had to look it up myself. My whole point was take the time to do that before posting.

I find it incredibly useful to spend a few minutes with Google if something is unfamiliar, or I know the last time I dealt with it was a long time ago.
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post #15 of 16
I think it's well worth pointing out that the universe has existed for over 13 billion years, while we have only been aware of the possibility that there are other planets out there that might possibly support life for about 500 years. For all we know, there could have been countless civilizations capable of interstellar travel that went extinct long before we came around.

This of course means that similar civilizations could very easily evolve/or be evolving in our time.

I think the key is in the note on the comic in the first post: "But seriously, there's loads of intelligent life. It's just not screaming constantly in all directions on the handful of frequencies we search." Our field of vision is prohibitively small in these matters.
post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denton View Post

But seriously, there's loads of intelligent life. It's just not screaming constantly in all directions on the handful of frequencies we search.

Pretty much.

The universe is, uhh, rather big (Link, link), so the idea that out of all that we are the only time intelligent life has ever developed seems pretty unreasonable.

We just haven't found each other yet. (Fermi paradox? What Fermi paradox?)
"How fortunate are you and I.."
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