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Author Topic:   Avoiding Aliens
Rahvin
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Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 16 of 62 (557533)
04-26-2010 1:35 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by cavediver
04-26-2010 1:03 PM


Very much depends upon the resource in question - if it is bioshphere for colonisation, then I would say that Terra is somewhat more appealing than Europa and the asteriod belt. And time of travel will not be a consideration for such an endeavour if it is prompted out of necessity.

That assumes an alien biochemistry compatible with our own biosphere.

Further, for a nomadic race, it's significantly easier to build orbital habitats in resource-rich solar systems than to seek out pre-existing biospheres that may be compatible with your species' biology. Bringing resources in and out of a gravity well is extremely energy-intensive, while bringing them to and from orbital facilities is relatively trivial.

In the case of our own solar system, it would be far easier to set up orbital habitats around Mars, and mine the nearby asteroid belt (and even Phobos and Deimos) for mineral resources than it would be to establish a permanent settlement on Earth. Less travel time, no gravity well, no atmospheric concerns for transportation, and easy to pack up and move when the time comes.

Conquest for the use of a pre-existing biosphere also makes the actual warfare far more costly in lives and resources than other "kill all humans" scenarios. If you just want to kill us all, tow some asteroids into an unstable Earth orbit and watch a mass extinction. Fire off some nuclear warheads, whatever. But you wouldn't want to do those things if your goal was to live here after the conquest was complete - you'd be destroying the very biosphere you want to steal. You'd have to resort to landing troops and more conventionally-scaled bombings, and we'd have far more of an opportunity to fight back than in a "drop some asteroids" scenario.

But again, all this assumes that alien life would find our own biosphere to be compatible with their own biology. That's a rather large assumption. This isn't Star Trek, where everyone is basically humanoid, breathes oxygen in the same basic concentration that humans do at the same atmospheric pressures humans do with the same gas mix found on Earth, and speaks English. We evolved to be compatible with our environment. An alien species will have evolved to be compatible with their own world, which would almost certainly be significantly different from our own.


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cavediver
Member (Idle past 1927 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 17 of 62 (557535)
04-26-2010 1:54 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Rahvin
04-26-2010 1:35 PM


it's significantly easier to build orbital habitats in resource-rich solar systems

I think you are substantially over-simplifying this and making a rather large number of assumptions yourself. Difficulties with manufactured habitats will probably scale exponentially with population size, in terms of energy requirements, radiation shielding, impact shielding, etc. A ready-made planet would quite possibly be not just significantly more attractive, but the only viable option. I agree that bio-compatibility would be by no means assured, and probably somewhat of a miracle should it occur, but the Terran bio-sphere offers far far more than just pure biological resources.

And when it comes to energy expenditure on combat - that simply depends upon the technological differential. Yes, if combat is expensive, that will weigh heavily against an armed assault. If combat is essentially zero-cost owing to sufficient technological advance, then it is a non-issue.


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Rahvin
Member
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 18 of 62 (557537)
04-26-2010 2:28 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by cavediver
04-26-2010 1:54 PM


I think you are substantially over-simplifying this and making a rather large number of assumptions yourself. Difficulties with manufactured habitats will probably scale exponentially with population size, in terms of energy requirements, radiation shielding, impact shielding, etc. A ready-made planet would quite possibly be not just significantly more attractive, but the only viable option. I agree that bio-compatibility would be by no means assured, and probably somewhat of a miracle should it occur, but the Terran bio-sphere offers far far more than just pure biological resources.

Remember, we're talking about a nomadic space-faring race that already possesses sufficient technology to transport their civilization across interstellar distances.

This means they are, in effect, already existing in spaceborne habitats, simply with engines attached. We can safely assume that they have solved such problems as long-term living space, population growth, radiation, and internal food production simply because they would need to have solved such problems simply to get here in the first place.

The exception would potentially be some sort of cryogenic colony ship that stores the biological population in suspended animation for the journey, and wakes them up on arrival. They would still, however, need to have sufficient living space for their entire military (since a frozen army doesn't conquer anyone) at a minimum. Issues of radiation shielding and food production are still prerequisites in this scenario - you still can't get here or stage an invasion without having solved them.

And when it comes to energy expenditure on combat - that simply depends upon the technological differential. Yes, if combat is expensive, that will weigh heavily against an armed assault. If combat is essentially zero-cost owing to sufficient technological advance, then it is a non-issue.

I think you're starting to enter the realm of magic-tech. I don't for a moment suggest that we could actually repel a sufficiently advanced race, but at some point they're still going to face issues of logistics, where we have a well-established chain of logistics for food, ammunition, replacement parts, weapons, and manpower, while the invaders exist in orbiting spacecraft with essentially no logistical support (that being the reason they want Earth in the first place). If we assume that they first establish a logistical chain by taking advantage of our solar system's other resources like comets and asteroids, what are they invading for again?

The fact is, even if we're analogous to the Native Americans with the invasion of the Europeans, they need to establish a foothold on our territory fast or they soon lose their ability to sustain an offense because their logistical support is limited by what they brought with them in their ships. And while we may be at a technological disadvantage, I thin kit's reasonable that, faced with extermination by an invading alien force, we would immediately nuke the living fuck out of any such beach head - and I don't think it's reasonable to say "maybe their technology is sufficiently advanced that they are impervious to nuclear weapons," because that would mean we're being invaded by fucking Kryptonians, and inevitably a similarly physics-breaking superhero will rise to our rescue. Honestly, they're no more likely to be somehow impervious to our own weapons through sufficiently advanced technology than you or I are immune to an arrow from a 15th-century Native American.

Similarly, I think it's reasonable to assume that we'd attempt nuclear strikes (and kinetic-kill weapons) on their spacecraft in-system.

The best way to take us out is a massive kinetic-kill attack using towed asteroids and dropping them on us. We'd have very little real defense against big fucking rocks from the sky. The problem is that such attacks would also destroy the biosphere - the only reason in this scenario they'd be attacking in the first place, which again begs the question, "what are they doing here, again?"


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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5826
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 19 of 62 (557540)
04-26-2010 2:58 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Stagamancer
04-26-2010 2:14 AM


Foundationless assertions
While the prospect of meeting a sentient alien species is exciting (even if very far fetched), I think he does make a good point.

I don't think he has a point at all since it is completely reliant on pure speculation. He places the cart way before the horse. There is exactly 0 evidence that any intelligent life exists outside of earth. From that basic conjecture, he then assumes that said lifeforms would be as intelligent or more intelligent than humans. Stephen, lets get to proving life outside of this earth first, guy, let alone this solar system, then we'll start considering the War of the Worlds.

My main question to you is: Do the potential benefits from contacting alien species outweigh the risks, or has Dr Hawking been watching too much V?

Anything is possible. Is there a probability that life exists outside of this earth? Yes, but I wouldn't know how to begin to quantify the probability. But Hawkins may be watching too many movies.


"Political correctness is tyranny with manners." -- Charlton Heston

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Rahvin
Member
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 20 of 62 (557542)
04-26-2010 3:17 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Hyroglyphx
04-26-2010 2:58 PM


Re: Foundationless assertions
I don't think he has a point at all since it is completely reliant on pure speculation. He places the cart way before the horse. There is exactly 0 evidence that any intelligent life exists outside of earth. From that basic conjecture, he then assumes that said lifeforms would be as intelligent or more intelligent than humans. Stephen, lets get to proving life outside of this earth first, guy, let alone this solar system, then we'll start considering the War of the Worlds.

Well, the conversation was essentially one regarding the attempt by SETI to detect alien life, and the logical next step of beginning a dialogue.

The scenario itself requires a society capable of emitting electromagnetic signals like radio, since that's what we're listening for. I think the entire conversation disregarded non-intelligent life not because of which is more likely to exist, but because which was more relevant to SETI.

I think the more unreasonable assumptions are ones that assume an intelligent species will:

1) have the technology and resources to build interstellar spacecraft
2) have sufficient motivation to expend those resources and the time required to get here
3) will bother with Earth as a source of resources when we are looking at space for the future of industry in the form of asteroid mining, because it's just that much easier and you don't have to worry about ruining a biosphere

And honestly, the entire question is moot - whether we seek contact or not is irrelevant, because we're already bleeding all over the radio bands for anyone to see if they're in range. If there's a scary "exterminate the humans" evil alien overlord out there, the damage in terms of letting them know we exist has already been done.


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 Message 22 by Hyroglyphx, posted 04-26-2010 3:38 PM Rahvin has responded

  
Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5826
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 21 of 62 (557545)
04-26-2010 3:24 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by nwr
04-26-2010 8:32 AM


I agree with Hawking on this.

I think people shouldn't waste their precious time on earth listening to white noise or staring aimlessly in to a vacant sky, hoping for some chance encounter. But that is beside the point.

What is more to the point is that I don't see the relevance of the inquiry. It would be like saying we shouldn't try to find Bigfoot on the basis that it might be a violent creature. But if literally nothing is known of such a creature (either Bigfoot or aliens) then the fear of violent overthrow is precipiced on human beliefs based upon our own penchant for destruction.

That nothing whatsoever is concretely known of bigfoot, aliens, loch ness monster, gryphons, YHWH, Molech, pixies, leprechauns, etc, literally anything could be possible. To concede that you shouldn't look for something on the pretense that it could be dangerous would preclude all of science to cease and desist on that exact same basis. That emasculates science and strips it of it of its wonder.


"Political correctness is tyranny with manners." -- Charlton Heston

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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5826
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 22 of 62 (557546)
04-26-2010 3:38 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Rahvin
04-26-2010 3:17 PM


Re: Foundationless assertions
whether we seek contact or not is irrelevant, because we're already bleeding all over the radio bands for anyone to see if they're in range. If there's a scary "exterminate the humans" evil alien overlord out there, the damage in terms of letting them know we exist has already been done.

Yeah, really. Since anything is possible, it is also possible that what sustains life here could be toxic to life there (wherever that may be). Just because the earth has a very specific criteria for life does not necessarily mean that hypothetical extra-terrestrial life is carbon-based or needs oxygen to survive.

I guess the real problem is that there are incalculable variables that any amount of speculation will amount to more speculation because literally nothing is known of it. We have to have a reasonable basis in which to hypothesize in the first place. We don't even have that at our disposal. So I don't see Hawkins' caveat as even having teeth.


"Political correctness is tyranny with manners." -- Charlton Heston

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nwr
Member
Posts: 5586
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 23 of 62 (557548)
04-26-2010 3:50 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Hyroglyphx
04-26-2010 3:24 PM


Hyroglyphx writes:
To concede that you shouldn't look for something on the pretense that it could be dangerous would preclude all of science to cease and desist on that exact same basis.

I took Hawking's point to be that we should not be trying to make it easier for them to find us (by setting up beacons). I don't have a problem with searching for life elsewhere, though I think SETI is a rather dubious way of doing that.

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slevesque
Member (Idle past 2924 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


Message 24 of 62 (557549)
04-26-2010 4:05 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by nwr
04-26-2010 3:50 PM


And very very costly way of doing it. Seriously all that money and ressource could be spent on other areas of science

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Rahvin
Member
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 25 of 62 (557554)
04-26-2010 4:18 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by Hyroglyphx
04-26-2010 3:38 PM


Re: Foundationless assertions
Yeah, really. Since anything is possible, it is also possible that what sustains life here could be toxic to life there (wherever that may be). Just because the earth has a very specific criteria for life does not necessarily mean that hypothetical extra-terrestrial life is carbon-based or needs oxygen to survive.

I guess the real problem is that there are incalculable variables that any amount of speculation will amount to more speculation because literally nothing is known of it. We have to have a reasonable basis in which to hypothesize in the first place. We don't even have that at our disposal. So I don't see Hawkins' caveat as even having teeth.

Well, we do know a few things. We know how we, for example, would fare on worlds where the conditions were even slightly different from our own. I'm not even talking about something as basic as a lack of oxygen; I mean things like atmospheric pressure and specific gas mixes. We know that we would need specialized equipment to survive in an environment with significant differences from those found on Earth, and that at a certain point we'd no longer be looking at a compatible biosphere, and we would be just as "comfortable" on Mars.

It's perfectly reasonable to hypothesize that alien life, having developed on a world other than Earth, would have evolved to tolerances based on the conditions of their world, which would almost certainly be different from those on Earth.

We also know the relative energy requirements to deal with a gravity well, and we know that if you've already solved the basic issues of space flight (as any interstellar civilization must have by definition), it's far less resource-intensive to mine asteroids than to haul minerals out of a deep gravity well. We know that, in order to travel interstellar distances, you must have already developed a habitat capable of supporting life for long periods of time for your entire population in space, making orbital habitats possible (since a ship is just a habitat with engines).

One of the most reasonable suggestions I've read surrounding space-faring civilizations involves mining asteroids by hollowing them out, and using the interior as habitation space. The asteroid shell serves to effectively block out radiation and protect from normal impacts, while being already in space so you don't have to do much in the way of hauling. You can mine nearby asteroids for additional resources, and eventually attach a form of propulsion. Sufficiently large asteroids can be used to house entire functioning biospheres, while you use fission or fusion for power generation that can last a long, long time. You can use your asteroid habitat as an interstellar generation ship if necessary. Such a civilization would never have any need to enter a planetary atmosphere and subject themselves to the many disadvantages to productivity carried by a gravity well.

Given that we're already acting like a giant "HI, WE'RE HERE, HOW ARE YOU!" beacon by broadcasting radio signals even without any SETI beacon, and given that the chances of an alien race both having teh capability and the desire to snuff us out seem rather slim, I'm not exactly going to lose sleep.


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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5826
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 26 of 62 (557567)
04-26-2010 8:49 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by nwr
04-26-2010 3:50 PM


I think SETI is a rather dubious way of doing that.

I won't argue that point. Also as Slavesque touched on, it's a huge waste of money, effort, and time.


"Political correctness is tyranny with manners." -- Charlton Heston

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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5826
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 27 of 62 (557568)
04-26-2010 9:03 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by Rahvin
04-26-2010 4:18 PM


Re: Foundationless assertions
I'm not exactly going to lose sleep.

Nor am I. I think there is a decent chance that, somewhere in the vast expanse of the universe, life exists outside of this solar system. I think there is also a decent chance that some of it could be considered "intelligent." It is also possible that said intelligent life is parasitic, constantly roving for hosts to exploit. That is within the realm of possibility. But it's also possible that a Hippo's ass orbits Alpha Centauri too, so I won't hold my breath.

I'll even go so far to say that maybe Hawkins' is right; that we might not want to invite danger. The only problem is that so little is known it's like preparing for a disaster you cannot even begin to contemplate because you have nothing to go by.


"Political correctness is tyranny with manners." -- Charlton Heston

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Taz
Member (Idle past 1575 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 28 of 62 (557579)
04-26-2010 10:15 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee
04-26-2010 7:12 AM


Jumped Up Chimp writes:

He's definitely been watching too much V! I've often thought that Hawking, although obviously very clever in his academic field, talks a lot of unoriginal, wishy-washy drivel.

It just doesn't seem to make sense to me that a species that is so advanced that it can roam the universe should need to lead a nomadic lifestyle, plundering resources from other planets. You'd think that they'd have learnt to re-cycle first. If not, let's send them a few bottle banks.


When the whities first made contact with the reddies, the reddies absolutely did not in their wildest imagination that there wasn't enough room in this world for them to live together.

Human nature is violent, especially towards outsiders. What makes you think other sentient species are somehow any better than us?

The other complaint I have of your linear way of thinking is you very linearly interpreted Hawking's quote instead of trying to see the deeper meaning in what he said.

For example, let's look at something I would say.

I believe that we shouldn't just release all prisoners from jail tonight. We need to rehabilitate them and release them one at a time back into our society. I don't want our streets suddenly filled with rapists and murderers. And I absolutely don't want my wife to suddenly be raped by these hords of anarchists.

Someone like you would then try nitpick what I said in a linear way by saying: But most people didn't go to jail for rape. So, clearly you're insane.

Did you get that? My paragraph there wasn't about rapists. There's a higher meaning to what I said than what is literally there.

And in the same way, Hawking's quote presented a higher meaning than what is literally there. He didn't literally mean that there will be nomadic alien races out to take over our planet. He only used that as one possible example of how contact with a more advance civilization might be a bad idea just like I used rapists as one possible example of how releasing all prisoners in one day is a bad idea.


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 Message 3 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee, posted 04-26-2010 7:12 AM Jumped Up Chimpanzee has responded

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Taz
Member (Idle past 1575 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 29 of 62 (557580)
04-26-2010 10:23 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Rahvin
04-26-2010 12:14 PM


Rahvin writes:

1) They're not likely to be able to get here easily. So far as we know, you can;t go faster than light, meaning even relatively "close" civilizations will take thousands of years or more to travel interstellar distances.


I actually had a long conversation with Rrhain about this. Again, let me remind you people that the native americans couldn't by any stretch of imagination understand how other civilizations could exist on the other side of the vast ocean and those civilizations actually got the means to get to the americas.

What you just pointed out is pretty much the same narrow-mindedness that brought the native americans to their doom.

The reason to come here will never be "resources." It's easier to acquire resources by far in an asteroid belt or on low-gravity or even by mining uninhabited worlds than by wasting resources in a war.

Since when was the last time a big war was fought strictly over resources? Again, this is narrow-minded thinking, the same kind that brought the native americans to their doom.

Now, none of this precludes aliens that, while intelligent enough to travel interstellar distances, are also stupid enough to waste resources by attacking another intelligent civilization with the capability to fight back when easier choices are innumerably common.

And you think spending months on a floating wooden box and getting scurvy was any better for the spaniards? Personally, I wouldn't have signed up for such an expedition. And yet, history proved that there were such men who were willing to go through all those ordeals for power.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Rahvin, posted 04-26-2010 12:14 PM Rahvin has responded

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Rrhain
Member (Idle past 156 days)
Posts: 6349
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


Message 30 of 62 (557594)
04-27-2010 3:09 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Stagamancer
04-26-2010 2:14 AM


Stagamancer writes:

quote:
Do the potential benefits from contacting alien species outweigh the risks, or has Dr Hawking been watching too much V?

Well, he does have a bit of a point in that we would need to examine the motivations for why a species would deliberately cross space to other planets.

Indeed, looking for resources is one of them and a problematic one at that. However, I think the esteemed professor has forgotten his own point: Space is huge. The universe is bigger than you imagine...bigger than you can imagine.

Given the vast distances you would have to cross in order to get from one place to another, the idea of going to another planet for resources is amazingly impractical. It's akin to the problem with the ark: How do you manage to provide for so many for so long cut off from all external resources? If they have the power capabilities to provide for a ship, food, air, water, propulsion, and enough variety in existence to allow for a long journey without everybody going crazy, what on earth would be the point of going to another planet?

To plunder its resources? What does a planet have that you don't already have on your ship? That you can't already create? If your technology is so vast that it can power a ship for that long and provide sustenance for all aboard, there is no need to plunder a planet.


Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

Minds are like parachutes. Just because you've lost yours doesn't mean you can use mine.

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