World-leading Physicist: "ET Artifacts Could Be Camouflaged as Natural Objects in the Universe"
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July 27, 2010

World-leading Physicist: "ET Artifacts Could Be Camouflaged as Natural Objects in the Universe"

Ngc6781 According to the British physicist Stephen Wolfram, intelligent life is inevitable. But there is a hitch. Although intelligent life is inevitable, we will never find it -at least not by looking out in the Milky Way. As evidence Wolfram points out In order to compress more and more information into our communication signals - be they mobile phone conversations or computer- we remove all redundancy or pattern. If anything in a signal repeats, then clearly it can be excised. But this process of removing any pattern from a signal make it look more and more random - in fact, pretty much like the random radio "noise" that rains down on Earth coming from stars and interstellar gas clouds. According to Wolfram, if someone beamed our own 21st-century communication signals at us from space we would be hard pressed determining whether they were artificial or natural. So what chance do we have of distinguishing an ET communication from the general background radio static of the cosmos?

ET artifacts coordinated by computers would look far more like a natural artifact. It is easy to distinguish a technological artifact such as a car from a natural object such as a tree. The tree is far more complicated. But, says Wolfram,"this is simply because our technological artifacts are primitive. As they become more complex - with computer processors enabling them to make a moment-by-moment decisions - they will begin to look just as complex as trees and people and stars." We have slim chance, he suggests, of distinguishing an ET artifact from a natural celestial object.

If Wolfram is right and ETs are out there but we will not be able to recognize them - either in their communications or their artifacts - then of course they could be here in the Solar System and we would not have noticed. 

Wolfram thinks ETs will not want to travel to Earth -  or anywhere else for that matter. In Wolfram's view, everything in the Universe is the product of a computer program. In fact, he imagines an abstract cyber-universe of all conceivable computer programs, all the way from the simplest up to the most complex. This "computational universe" contains everything from the Apple Macintosh operating system to a programme for creating a faster-than-light starship

Wolfram believes he has found nature's big secret - how it generates the complexity of the world, everything from a rhododendron to a tree to a barred spiral galaxy by applying simple rules over and over again as a simple computer programs. Wolfram came to this remarkable conclusion in the early 1980s when he discovered that the simplest kind of computer program - known as a cellular automaton - can generate infinite complexity if its output is repeatedly fed back in as its input. Wolfram has found evidence that the kind of computer program that produces endless complexity can be implemented "not just systems of biological molecules but in all sorts of physical systems - chaotic gas clouds, systems of subatomic particles and so on. He concludes that all over the Universe life - though definitely not life as we know it - will spring up spontaneously. It is a fundamental feature of matter."

The existence of this computational universe is the crucial thing.  But the reality is it would be it easier and more efficient for an ET civilization to stay at home and use a computer to search the computational universe for useful programs rather than try to get the same information by hunting for ETs to talk to among the 200 billion or so stars in the Milky Way. "It's a simple numbers game," says Wolfram.

Everything is generated by computer program,"and that includes you and me," says Wolfram. "Someone halfway across the Galaxy could have found the computer program for you and conversing with you at this very moment."

Casey Kazan via ] M. Chown,The Universe Next Door and A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram http://.wolframscience.com/nksonline/toc.html

Comments

Wow

We have slim chance, he suggests, of distinguishing an ET artifact from a natural celestial object.

Phobos comes to mind. And when I think of Phobos I think of Star Trek 2 and stage 2 of the Genesis Project. Seems like the same ideas have been tossed around for years

This article should be called
World-leading Physicist: "I also read Sci-Fi". These concepts have been explored thoroughly by Greg Egan, and certainly many others. Egan first explored this in his short story Wang's Carpets, released in 1995.

Unless Wolfram has actually done the math behind how probable it is to find these things (e.g. an extension of the Drake Equation), he is not presenting anything novel.

Also, you should definitely proofread your articles.

I agree with them for once. SETI has repeatedly illustrated these problems. Signals weaken over distance and blend in with the background, absence of patterns makes it seem like a natural phenomenon, etc. The most important thing to remember about SETI, though, is that in the time we have been broadcasting radio signals, we have only reached a small part of our own galaxy. It's possible that aliens have received us and beamed messages back and that they haven't reached us. It is also possible they haven't received the earliest broadcasts yet, and it is still possible that aliens have broadcasted their own 'hello' signals to the stars, and that their messages simply haven't reached us yet. Give it a few centuries =P

Oh, ya I almost forgot.

https://sites.google.com/site/edocsil6437

That's my website. I've posted a lot of scientific guesswork, and criticism is very, very welcome!

Does anybody know what evidence he can point to for the inevitability of life. We have only observed life on Earth. Meteorites and other planets have never show any evidence of anything but very simple chemicals.

It is quite a leap to say that simple rules lead to complex behavior when we have complex interrelated rules in the first place. "It is a fundamental feature of matter" is not a scientific statement. It is philosophy.

His boldness in putting forth philosophy makes me more comfortable stating that, as a scientist, the uniqueness of Earth and life on Earth reinforce my belief in God.

"...we would be hard pressed determining whether they were artificial or natural"

Unless, of course, they were deliberately trying to reach us.

@Sean So you are saying that God is only capable of creating one specie ? It's a very brash and arrogant statement to believe that God created you alone and yet made this huge Universe!
I think your problem is with Religion and not the God. Religion is nothing but a human construct and teaches loads of trash, it is pretty much the root of all evil (wars, divisions, cullings etc!
I believe in God and not Religion and I have no issue with there being a plethora of possible life in the Universe. It breaks no scientific rules but it sure as hell causes chaos in some Religions, which go so far as to demonise other possible life. You would think that commonsense would dictate that a religious perspective would be "if it exists it was created by God". But hey there is no fun in that is there, it always looks better when it is "them against us" another nice human construct called hatred.

he says that they would rather just search for the right programs than talk to us...but I don't think WE would. If he is right and I am just a program okay...but I don't experience the world as a program, I don't long to know a program, I long to know a person and I don't think the drive to find life on some other planet is rooted in the search for information alone. It is a search to find another, to know that we are not alone, that in all this vastness we are not the only beings that know ourselves and yearn to be understood, yearn to know that at least somewhere there were beings that could continue to hold the banner. Computation may explain the Universe but it won't explain my immediate experience of it. Knowing that I am just an outgrowth of the universal program does not ease my loneliness, it does not quell my desire to explore or to seek out new and more visceral experiences.

zn+1 = zn2 + c

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandelbrot_set#Image_gallery_of_a_zoom_sequence

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ that's natural.
If it's out there and wants to be found, we'll find it.

it might be easier for some alien civilization to stay at home and search the universal internet for stuff rather than going out into space, but that fact doesn't absolutely dictate their hypothetical behavior. its easier for me to sit at home and use our terrestrial internet to find and acquire everything i need from food, to entertainment, to social interaction, but i still go out into the world cause after a while, staying at home gets boring, especially when i know for a fact that the world outside my door exists. also, for them to rely on this computational system to access whatever they want that means they first have to discover the existence of this system, figure out how it works, and develop their own technology for interfacing with the universe. then they would either have to convince their society that it is the case, or hide it from them to maintain order, after all, what would the world be like if everyone could manipulate the universe to their own whim? finally, how can he say that it is unlikely that extra terrestrial civilizations will go out of their way to discover other alien life, when the only example we have for this, ourselves, are currently engaged in going out of our way to search for alien life?

While I think it's possible that another intelligence has received our signals, I think it's unlikely. We've been sending out signals for either by coincidence or intentionally for about 100 years.

so, we've reached no farther than one hundred light years in our broadcast which would translate into roughly 14 or 15 thousand stars.

I do believe the universe or omniverse is full of life but the odds are against us finding another intelligent life form any time soon.

John M. How does the mandelbrot set relate to alien contact? I know fractals are used for tv and stuff, but...

All I know about it is that it's impossible to calculate the exact area of a 'fractal' and that fractals have infinite perimeters. The site says they calculated the value down to plus or minus 8.0 X 10^-8. what does a theoretical infinite shape have to do with extra terrestrial signals?

And also, I think whoever wrote this is missing a fundamental point: Computers did not create humans, humans created computers. Computers do exactly what we tell them to do. All this DNA encoding garbage is just us meddling with nature to make it useful to us, so it's illogical to assume that the universe is a giant internet just because we can adapt our own narrow little slice of existence into a computational system. If there was no intelligent life, there would be no data storage systems, and there would be no 'cyberspace.' If there is any extraterrestrial internet amongst the stars, it's artificially created and maintained, just like our own computers.

Fractals like the Mandelbrot are infinitely reversable or self-similar size invariant structures. The entropy or order is equivalent everywhere for the observer no matter how tiny sized. The 2nd law of thermodynamics for isolated systems is essentially all about Irreversibility. Yet fractals have extra dimensions undefined borders event horizons like black holes and instantly expand compress space. Fractal particles are quantum field effects and are observed in cosmic objects and structures. IF aliens wanted to conceal huge matter structures that they have built,they would have to fool us cloak things etc into appearing like a galaxy. this could be easy for them,because we believe that having a larger redshift at greater distances is from dark energy or the stupid big-bang idea of how dumber beings fail in comprehension. spectra analysis seems to make it pretty obvious that no giant structures like alien built buildings exist, however mostly all we get is light from very poor telescopes that need to be upgraded to capture picosecond visible light before we have a clue what is really out there.

Scientists are too anxious to get their views published - no matter how obsurd their conclusions.

The media needs to start sifting out these crackpots.

Has anyone actually read Stephan's book, "A New Kind of Science?" It is a complex work and quite "heavy" reading, physically and literally, but studying it provides great insight. Also, Stephan Wolfram is no "crackpot" jimhenson, check out his accomplishments.

uh moons ?

World-leading Physicist: "ET Artifacts Could Be Camouflaged as Natural Objects in the Universe"......
You mean...as well on Earth.
They are here on Earth and there are two big groups:
Alien animals
Alien humanoides
...
Anyone can catch them with a bit of work.
I have.
And if these ones here living on earth are almost invisible, then one has to consider that there others which arte COMPLETELY invisible, and if these ones are very fast, then others will be superfast.
...
After the Ionosphere everything is possible.
But we still have a lot of homeworking, for example to understand weather making....


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