NASA News: Mars Ancient Oceans Yield Clues to Possible Cradle of Life --"Undersea Hydrothermal Conditions May Have Existed 3.7 billion Years Ago" (WATCH Video)
The SF Projector --The 'Three-Body Problem' China's Hard Science-Fiction Phenomenon: "Every Advanced Alien Civilization is a Hidden Hunter" (WATCH Video)

The Alien Observatory --"China's Astronomers Aim to Be First to Discover Existence of an Advanced Technological Civilization" (WATCH Video)

 

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"We don't know when earthlings will discover ET. It could be 1,000 years from now, or in our lifetimes. It could be next year, when FAST gets going on the sky surveys," said Dan Werthimer, chief scientist for the SETI Research Center at University of California, Berkeley.

However, with no clues of extraterrestrial life over the past five decades, questions are constantly asked as whether the search methods are appropriate. "Some strange signals have been found, but it's hard to confirm their origins, because these signals do not repeat," says Li Di, chief scientist of China's new FAST Radio telescope. "We look for not only television signals, but also atomic bomb signals. We'll give full play to our imaginations when processing the signals," Li says. "It's a complete exploration, as we don't know what an alien is like."

 

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With a dish the size of 30 football fields, China's new FAST radio telescope, which measures 500 meters in diameter, dwarfs Puerto Rico's 300-meter Arecibo Observatory. Having the world's largest and most powerful new radio telescope, the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), "We can receive weaker and more distant radio messages," said Wu Xiangping, director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, "It will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and explore the origins of the universe," he added underscoring the China's race to be the first nation to discover the existence of an advanced alien civilization.

The dish will have a perimeter of about 1.6 kilometers, and there are no towns within five kilometers, giving it ideal surroundings to listen for signals from space. Scientists have depicted it as a super-sensitive "ear", capable of spotting very weak messages - if there are any - from "cousins" of human beings.

The telescope, nicknamed Tianyan, or the Eye of Heaven, can accurately image twice as much the sky as the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which had previously been the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, with double sensitivity and five to 10 times the surveying speed.

Douglas Vakoch, president of METI International, an organization promoting messaging outer space in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, noted that astronomers worldwide will be invited to use the facility through a competitive review of observing proposals.

"By opening FAST to use by the broader international community, China is demonstrating its commitment to fostering astronomy as a global scientific enterprise," he told Xinhua, saying it may lead to "discoveries beyond our wildest imagination."

As for FAST's scientific missions, Vakoch said it will be used to look for the signatures of complex organic molecules in interstellar space, which will show how widely the basic building blocks of life are distributed throughout the cosmos.

"For over a half century, astronomers have been using radio telescopes to answer the haunting question, 'Are we alone?' But astronomers face a daunting challenge: the signals they seek are so weak that an incredibly sensitive telescope is needed to detect them," he said.

"FAST's innovative design and huge collecting area give it unsurpassed speed and sensitivity, making it vital to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the coming decades," said Vakoch. "We can expect China to become a world leader in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence because of its demonstrated commitment in building FAST."

However, FAST will not initially be outfitted with the signal processing capabilities to search for aliens, he said. This technology will be added at a later stage, and when that happens, FAST will be able to scan the heavens for signals that "can't be created by nature, but only by advanced civilizations," Vakoch said.

Sometimes, radio telescopes are "confused" by signals from astronomical objects. For example, astronomers once mistook signals from a pulsar for extraterrestrial signs, because a pulsar can also give out very stable periodical signals.

"It is highly possible that life on other planets is entirely different from that on Earth, and it might not be carbon-based," says Jin Hairong, deputy curator of Beijing Planetarium.

Liu Cixin, a Chinese science fiction writer and winner of the Hugo Award for his novel The Three Body Problem (check out the fascinating video trailer below), points out the current method assumes that aliens also communicate in radio waves. "But if it's a truly advanced civilization, it is possible to use other more advanced forms of communication, such as gravitational waves." 

 

 

But Mao Shude with the National Astronomical Observatories of China and professor of astrophysics at the Jodrell Bank Observatory believes many methods deserve a try: "Who knows what they are and how they think? "When we study the origin of life, we risk going down a blind alley if we only have one sample from Earth," Mao says. "If we could find more samples in the universe, we could look at the puzzle more comprehensively and solve it more easily."

Shude gives an example in astronomy to explain the limitations of a single sample. "When scientists started to look for planets around Sun-like stars, they thought it must be difficult as their period might be as long as a year. However, the first such planet discovered outside our solar system takes only four days to orbit its host star - much faster than astronomers expected. At that time, some people doubted it, showing how the example of our solar system narrowed their thinking."

"If we really discover extraterrestrial life, I'd like to know how life spreads in the universe. Is it distributed uniformly in space, or clustered?" Mao wonders.

However, the idea communicating with aliens comes with concerns.

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has warned that communicating with aliens could be a threat to Earth: "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans."

The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin depicted the universe as a jungle with every civilization as a hidden hunter. Those who are exposed will be eliminated.

But Han Song, another leading Chinese science fiction writer, believes humans naturally want to connect, citing the Internet as proof. "I think aliens might think similarly. It is a biological instinct to connect with each other. Everyone wants to prove that they are not alone in the universe. Loneliness is intolerable to humans," he says.

He also points out that the contact will be driven by curiosity and real requirements. "Humans will ultimately go to space to find resources and expand their living area, so it will be hard to avoid aliens. Contact with them, especially those with more advanced intelligence, may help us leap forward in civilization."

Regardless of the theoretical debate, scientists have never wavered in the search. "I think we shall call out. As a matter of fact, we have been yelling for years, and our radios and televisions are broadcasting in space all the time," Mao says, "Aren't you curious what our counterparts would look like?

If they are inferior or equal to us in terms of civilization, we won't be easily destroyed. If they are much more intelligent than us, they wouldn't be so narrow-minded as to compete with us. Some worry they will come to rob us of our natural resources, but they likely have the power to transform the entire globe already. What's the point of eliminating a much lower civilization?"

Mao believes the result will be significant however it turns out. "If we find other life, it will undoubtedly be the most important scientific discovery in our history; if not, it shows that life on Earth is unique and we should respect life and cherish each other.

"No matter the outcome, we shall never stop searching, and I hope to hear more voices and contributions from Chinese scientists."

The Daily Galaxy via China News   and  Xinhuanet  

 

Comments

"If we really discover extraterrestrial life, I'd like to know how life spreads in the universe. Is it distributed uniformly in space, or clustered?" Mao wonders.

I am sure we will find (prove later) that life does not spread around the universe. It either has the right conditions and basic building blocks and time to assemble those blocks in the correct order and sequence and then survive or evolve over time.... or not. Now it may prove that once simple life starts, it can lead to complex lifeforms, then eventually to intelligent life, then to life that builds spaceships and spreads life, but lifeforms without the means to escape their gravity well, survive or thrive in deep space and then travel for thousands or billions of years is always on a trajectory to death otherwise. The great filter is gravity and distance and all the great things on Earth that let life thrive are the opposite in deep space.

The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin depicted the universe as a jungle with every civilization as a hidden hunter. Those who are exposed will be eliminated.

This comment is a failure or thinking from a viewpoint that there are limited resources and as a survival tactic you should take out all other threats to improve your chances. Great for movie plots as fear sells tickets.... Horrible for science and real understanding of how things work. I guess if you are expecting to find billions of aliens and you can't find a single one, or even a sign of a single alien civilization, then you start making up desperate and crazy fear based conspiracies.

Occam's razor is your friend.

Shude gives an example in astronomy to explain the limitations of a single sample. "When scientists started to look for planets around Sun-like stars, they thought it must be difficult as their period might be as long as a year. However, the first such planet discovered outside our solar system takes only four days to orbit its host star - much faster than astronomers expected. At that time, some people doubted it, showing how the example of our solar system narrowed their thinking."

So at it turns out... our Sun type is not that common in the Galaxy or Universe and it quite different than the Red Dwarf stars that make up the majority or 70% of the stars found. Because our Sun (type G2) burns out after about 10 billion years.... vs. Red Dwarfs that give off 1/1,000 the energy those last longer.. and the smaller they are, the longer they last.. maybe 1 trillions years, even longer. In summary the Red Dwarfs also have planets orbit them much closer to be in a zone where liquid water would at least be possible. So much easier to find a planet orbiting every week or so, vs. waiting 365 days like on Earth to see/find it. We can't prove it yet, but I think life will prove NOT to be able to start around any red dwarf stars because they are so closely orbiting they are tidally locked and thus burnt on one side, frozen on the back side. Plus radiation bursts are unstable and kill off life easier (even if you had the right building blocks for life). The theory right now is that life started quickly on Earth somehow and thus it must be common in the Universe. Truth is we have never found a great Twin to the Earth, even hunting our own galaxy (yes to be a true Earth twin, you need a matching star, then matching Earth, then also a matching sized moon, etc). If you had life developing on Red Dwarf stars, you would find life everywhere... but of course we don't see a single sign of life anywhere beyond Earth, not even in our own solar system!!! Guess what... simple life is ridiculously rare.... almost impossible.... almost.. and even when it starts up... it gets snuffed out very easily over a lifespan of billions and billions and billions of years. It is like a gambler that goes ALL in on every hand... if he loses just 1 time, he has no more money to ever gamble with in the future. Poof, your gone and snuffed out. Life is about layers and layers of complexity, each built totally on the last step.... That takes time... lots of time... and a stable environment that allows for life to evolve. Think on this for a second... our Earth did not have trees on it until 380 million years ago... we have been here 4.54 billion years and Trees were just recently invented by mother nature, or evolution just a fraction of a moment ago... 380/4540. And then Flowers were just invented only 180 million years ago.... (we need flying insects to get their game together to make use of flowers, or help with mother natures invention of flowers). Imagine a world with no trees, or no flowers... Note that flowers or trees would Never show up at the 1 billion mark, because they are so complex you need trillions of tiny steps before that... trillions and trillions... over billions of years. Now imagine that it is the early mixing of ocean water and fresh water where the chemistry of early life must mix and now without a huge moon to create small and large tides, this process is delayed just a tiny percentage.... so that you get evolution, but trees show up now at the 7 billion year mark... just as our sun is heating up and all the oceans boil off.... and humans never get time to develop... and poof... we are gone.

"We can receive weaker and more distant radio messages," said Wu Xiangping, director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, "It will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and explore the origins of the universe," he added underscoring the China's race to be the first nation to discover the existence of an advanced alien civilization.


I love that there is a race... it should push everyone to up their game. I still think working together vs. a You vs. Them mentality will prove the most powerful way to solve big problems... but still, the race is on and when you need funding and things done the competition can help make things happen faster. Love it.

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has warned that communicating with aliens could be a threat to Earth: "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans."

The most important word above is "if", because once you actually understand distance of objects or planets in space, or our galaxy you realize that no aliens will EVER come visit us. The "if" part is just like saying... NOPE, they will never get here.... but if they did, then yes, of course that could be a bad problem.

Of course every Hollywood Movie script has had their fun playing with your lizard brain to use fear to drag you through the, "what if...." stuff...

No Alien is ever going to get in their spaceship and travel the bazilions of miles to get here to steal your stamp collection for 2 reasons..... #1 it takes too long to get here and #2 there are way more plentiful and wonderful resources closer to them than you. As you move mass at high speeds it takes more and more energy... Maybe they can send a spaceship that weighs less than a Nat at 20% the speed of light, but once you understand how far way things are, then you realize how long it takes even at 20% the speed of light. At the end of the day the only thing we have of value is information and the knowledge to know how to use that. We can send digital info at the speed of light.... and if some alien is out there and ahead of us by just a few thousand, or even just a few million years, our knowledge base is so old and useless, they would have no value learned from us beyond the curiosity side of things.

Our caveman brains have done well to get us to fight for resources to survive... in the future we will learn to have unlimited resources and that fight to take from others will dissapear. That way of thinking is clearly clouding our judgement in how we search for aliens, or even think of what they want or need. Lizard Brain (caveman brain) thinking fail.

i remember the huge amount of "movies" playing the "Aliens coming here to steal our water" motive...when we already knew there are asteroids and moons made of ice , some with more water than our planet...sadly there is no nation (other than the chinese that mean business) capable to compete with them. Meanwhile our billionaires pretend to do business in the markets of Wall-street (moving the cash from right pocket to left pocket)...Except for Elon Musk who is a dreamer.

Finely written. Technically enlightening. Lengthy but realistic. Some observations: the book excellently describes the problems we face with ET communication. The diaphanous nature of ET signals from ultra-long distances (as well as the probable alternate physics used by an ET mind), and the long-wating and tediousness of 'listening' for them...these are at the core facing current human 'searches'. Long-term messaging (over generations requiring transform decoding at the least) is something we haven't yet seemed to accept even now with, .e.g., the example of 'Tabby's Star' Kepler 8462852.
Special note: imho, the writer 'resorts' to formula to describe the evolution of alien life to advanced technology. But, the book gives a good picture of the evolution of an alien psychology based on an implied acceptance/belief in a universal 'Darwinian' model for the evolution of sentient life - it must evolve in an eat-or-be-eaten environment thus resulting (one supposes in most cases) in Hawking's conundrum, to welcome contact or not respond in hopes 'They' will go away or overlook us. But, of course, our technology campfires reveal us...and in ways we don't fully understand. But They do!

Much to think about with this novel's help. China!. China is Here and is beginning to lead. What has happened to American imagination and technology (as far as is publicly known?)!

Regarding 'apparently' non-repeating but long term signals/anomalies - imho, one should almost immediately suspect sentient origins. We should be developing new paradigms to attempt to 'get into the heads' of Alien civs. Maybe DARPA has already...think anything thought of in discussion posts like this is already a DARPA project.

Re the first post, by GatorAllin: imho, sentient life occurs randomly BUT ultra-advanced life occurs in clusters as relatively short-distanced federations with (1) a common origin planet civilization, or (2) galactic-distanced or inter-galactic FTL associations.

Regarding 'apparently' non-repeating but long term signals/anomalies - imho, one should almost immediately suspect sentient origins

Hopefully they will be using the telescope for other observations, otherwise it is the biggest waste of money material. personnel and resources .

Living worlds in the cosmos are not "clustered." Nor are they "distributed uniformly."

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