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Horizon 2017: Strange Signals from Outer Space



 
 
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  #91  
Old July 17th 17, 09:35 AM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Roderick Stewart[_3_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,091
Default Horizon 2017: Strange Signals from Outer Space

On Sun, 16 Jul 2017 18:06:46 +0100, Norman Wells
wrote:

There's an important distinction I've mentioned before, but is worth
repeating. We know the necessary conditions to *support* life (as we
know it), but we don't know the necessary conditions to *start* it. We
can't assume they're the same.


Of course they're not the same. But the conditions to start life here
have definitely occurred. What they are exactly we do not yet know.

However, there are 100 billion stars in just our own galaxy, the Milky
Way, and there are approximately 10 trillion galaxies. Those numbers
are simply so vast that it defies logic to think that we may be unique
in the universe in any respect, including the synthesis of DNA.


I wouldn't say that it defies logic that something we only know to
have happened once cannot have happened many times, and that's not
what I'm saying anyway - only that we don't have the evidence to say
whether it has happened more than once. Normally when we estimate the
likelihood of something happening, it's on the basis of previous
observations, which is what scientific knowledge is based on, and in
this instance we have absolutely none.

We can put chemicals in test tubes and see what happens, we can pass
electrical currents through wires and see what happens, we can drop
things and throw things and swing pendulums and see what happens, and
so on and so on. We can do all these things and many more anywhere in
the world and make our measurements and see that the various processes
are, above all, repeatable - every time we do a certain thing the same
thing always happens as a consequence. We have a vast amount of
evidence about things that happen as consequences of other things,
which enables us to make predictions about things we don't know yet
with a reasonable expectation of being correct (and we usually are).
But in the case of the emergence of life, we only have one piece of
information, which only tells us it has happened once, which is not
enough to say anything at all about the likelihood of it happening
more than once. It's as if we were plotting a graph but had only
acquired one data point; we've drawn our coordinates on an otherwise
blank piece of paper and have put one little cross in the middle, so
we know the line must go through it, but where would we be justified
in drawing it?

The danger here is of becoming carried away with our own wishful
thinking, which is not exactly defying logic, but more like abandoning
it, which is just as bad.

Rod.
  #92  
Old July 17th 17, 11:24 AM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Norman Wells[_6_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 936
Default Horizon 2017: Strange Signals from Outer Space

On 17/07/2017 10:35, Roderick Stewart wrote:
On Sun, 16 Jul 2017 18:06:46 +0100, Norman Wells
wrote:

There's an important distinction I've mentioned before, but is worth
repeating. We know the necessary conditions to *support* life (as we
know it), but we don't know the necessary conditions to *start* it. We
can't assume they're the same.


Of course they're not the same. But the conditions to start life here
have definitely occurred. What they are exactly we do not yet know.

However, there are 100 billion stars in just our own galaxy, the Milky
Way, and there are approximately 10 trillion galaxies. Those numbers
are simply so vast that it defies logic to think that we may be unique
in the universe in any respect, including the synthesis of DNA.


I wouldn't say that it defies logic that something we only know to
have happened once cannot have happened many times, and that's not
what I'm saying anyway - only that we don't have the evidence to say
whether it has happened more than once. Normally when we estimate the
likelihood of something happening, it's on the basis of previous
observations, which is what scientific knowledge is based on, and in
this instance we have absolutely none.

We can put chemicals in test tubes and see what happens, we can pass
electrical currents through wires and see what happens, we can drop
things and throw things and swing pendulums and see what happens, and
so on and so on. We can do all these things and many more anywhere in
the world and make our measurements and see that the various processes
are, above all, repeatable - every time we do a certain thing the same
thing always happens as a consequence. We have a vast amount of
evidence about things that happen as consequences of other things,
which enables us to make predictions about things we don't know yet
with a reasonable expectation of being correct (and we usually are).
But in the case of the emergence of life, we only have one piece of
information, which only tells us it has happened once, which is not
enough to say anything at all about the likelihood of it happening
more than once. It's as if we were plotting a graph but had only
acquired one data point; we've drawn our coordinates on an otherwise
blank piece of paper and have put one little cross in the middle, so
we know the line must go through it, but where would we be justified
in drawing it?

The danger here is of becoming carried away with our own wishful
thinking, which is not exactly defying logic, but more like abandoning
it, which is just as bad.


Any 'wishful thinking' it seems to me comes not from those wanting there
to be extraterrestrial life but from those who think they're somehow
special, and don't.



  #93  
Old July 17th 17, 11:29 AM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Norman Wells[_6_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 936
Default Horizon 2017: Strange Signals from Outer Space

On 17/07/2017 11:20, Huge wrote:
On 2017-07-15, Norman Wells wrote:

[26 lines snipped]

But your assumptions would have to be pretty wild to come to the
conclusion that intelligent life on earth is unique. They'd have to
exclude the possibility that the chemical processes leading to life here
could not or would not happen anywhere else at all. And I wonder if you
could possibly justify that.


"Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are
not. Both are equally terrifying."

-- Arthur C Clarke. (attrib.)


As long as you just receive signals and remain anonymous, that's fine.
It's when you transmit and someone hostile receives that it becomes a
problem.

Maybe advanced civilisations realise that and won't transmit, so there's
nothing to listen to even though they're out there somewhere.
  #94  
Old July 17th 17, 12:05 PM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Jim Lesurf[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 4,164
Default Horizon 2017: Strange Signals from Outer Space

In article , Norman Wells
wrote:
As long as you just receive signals and remain anonymous, that's fine.
It's when you transmit and someone hostile receives that it becomes a
problem.


Maybe advanced civilisations realise that and won't transmit, so there's
nothing to listen to even though they're out there somewhere.


Alternatively, they've simply found a better alternative to EM for comms
over long distances. For all we know, discovering this may even represent
the 'entrance requirement' for them to talk with us.

Jim

--
Please use the address on the audiomisc page if you wish to email me.
Electronics https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_pa...o/electron.htm
Armstrong Audio http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/Armstrong/armstrong.html
Audio Misc http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/index.html

  #95  
Old July 17th 17, 12:09 PM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Jim Lesurf[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 4,164
Default QMC etc Was Horizon 2017: Strange Signals from Outer Space

In article , Martin
wrote:

it's not your memory. It's mine. I confused QMC with UCL.



Understandable given that QMC have morphed their name into QMUL!

I assume they did this when lots of London colleges that had been polys,
etc, changed their names to 'University' and QMC decided their name needed
to be changed to make plainer what they were.

BTW Just put up another page

http://jcgl.orpheusweb.co.uk/history...PantoPlus.html

Those of a nervous disposition are warned to view with care... 8-]

I've also edited the Western St page.

Jim

--
Please use the address on the audiomisc page if you wish to email me.
Electronics https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_pa...o/electron.htm
Armstrong Audio http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/Armstrong/armstrong.html
Audio Misc http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/index.html

  #96  
Old July 17th 17, 01:29 PM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Jim Lesurf[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 4,164
Default QMC etc Was Horizon 2017: Strange Signals from Outer Space

In article , brightside S9
wrote:
On Mon, 17 Jul 2017 13:09:07 +0100, Jim Lesurf
wrote:


[snip]
BTW Just put up another page

http://jcgl.orpheusweb.co.uk/history...PantoPlus.html

[snip]


I came across Prof Ian Robson at UCLAN in 1992, just before he moved
to Hawai. See http://www.ukatc.stfc.ac.uk/35313.aspx


I'm not sure (yet [1]) when I last spoke to Ian. I think it was at a
meeting at ROE *well* over a decade ago. At the time I was on a committee
that was discussing future instrumentation for the telescopes ROE ran. TBH
after a few meetings I got unhappy with the approach as it seemed to me a
bit 'old boys club'. In effect, the people who'd built the existing systems
sat discussing what they'd do next.

The method at the time was to commission sets of establishments and workers
with a known track record to collaborate on making complete new systems.
That was fine if you were one of the people sitting around the table. But
made it hard for anyone who wasn't already known to us to get involved.

So I felt it would be good to adopt a more heretical approach.

I suggested we simply define a set of standardised interface specs. That
would divide the systems into smaller chunks or parts. Then let people bid
to make a *part* of a system. That would stop people re-inventing and
re-building other parts that existing systems already had. Allow new better
'parts' to be made as possible without the cost of a complete new system
being required. So allow more scope for speculative or competitive
development by people who weren't already 'in the club'. *And* keep down
the cost as well as be more responsive.

The idea wasn't liked. :-)

But TBH I had similar criticisms of the entire UK research grant system.
Over the years I focussed on getting money from other sources.

I did visit him and Chris in Preston before the above, but again, can't
recall when at present.

I always got on well with him. Like him and Chris very much, but I think
the 'Tigger' description fitted quite well. :-)

Jim

[1] Still working though old notebooks, etc, and haven't yet got to the
later periods relevant for this.

--
Please use the address on the audiomisc page if you wish to email me.
Electronics https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_pa...o/electron.htm
Armstrong Audio http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/Armstrong/armstrong.html
Audio Misc http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/index.html

  #97  
Old July 17th 17, 07:36 PM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Roderick Stewart[_3_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,091
Default Horizon 2017: Strange Signals from Outer Space

On Mon, 17 Jul 2017 12:29:00 +0100, Norman Wells
wrote:

"Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are
not. Both are equally terrifying."

-- Arthur C Clarke. (attrib.)


As long as you just receive signals and remain anonymous, that's fine.
It's when you transmit and someone hostile receives that it becomes a
problem.


Yes, perhaps ten thousand years later they get our signal, and a
hundred thousand years after that they arrive here. I'm not
particularly worried by that; are you?

Rod.
  #98  
Old July 17th 17, 07:42 PM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Roderick Stewart[_3_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,091
Default Horizon 2017: Strange Signals from Outer Space

On Mon, 17 Jul 2017 12:24:42 +0100, Norman Wells
wrote:

On 17/07/2017 10:35, Roderick Stewart wrote:
On Sun, 16 Jul 2017 18:06:46 +0100, Norman Wells
wrote:

There's an important distinction I've mentioned before, but is worth
repeating. We know the necessary conditions to *support* life (as we
know it), but we don't know the necessary conditions to *start* it. We
can't assume they're the same.

Of course they're not the same. But the conditions to start life here
have definitely occurred. What they are exactly we do not yet know.

However, there are 100 billion stars in just our own galaxy, the Milky
Way, and there are approximately 10 trillion galaxies. Those numbers
are simply so vast that it defies logic to think that we may be unique
in the universe in any respect, including the synthesis of DNA.


I wouldn't say that it defies logic that something we only know to
have happened once cannot have happened many times, and that's not
what I'm saying anyway - only that we don't have the evidence to say
whether it has happened more than once. Normally when we estimate the
likelihood of something happening, it's on the basis of previous
observations, which is what scientific knowledge is based on, and in
this instance we have absolutely none.

We can put chemicals in test tubes and see what happens, we can pass
electrical currents through wires and see what happens, we can drop
things and throw things and swing pendulums and see what happens, and
so on and so on. We can do all these things and many more anywhere in
the world and make our measurements and see that the various processes
are, above all, repeatable - every time we do a certain thing the same
thing always happens as a consequence. We have a vast amount of
evidence about things that happen as consequences of other things,
which enables us to make predictions about things we don't know yet
with a reasonable expectation of being correct (and we usually are).
But in the case of the emergence of life, we only have one piece of
information, which only tells us it has happened once, which is not
enough to say anything at all about the likelihood of it happening
more than once. It's as if we were plotting a graph but had only
acquired one data point; we've drawn our coordinates on an otherwise
blank piece of paper and have put one little cross in the middle, so
we know the line must go through it, but where would we be justified
in drawing it?

The danger here is of becoming carried away with our own wishful
thinking, which is not exactly defying logic, but more like abandoning
it, which is just as bad.


Any 'wishful thinking' it seems to me comes not from those wanting there
to be extraterrestrial life but from those who think they're somehow
special, and don't.


I neither want there to be extraterrestrial life, nor do I not want
there to be extraterrestrial life. What I want is to know the truth,
and will accept it whichever it turns out to be.

What I'm trying to say is that we need to recognise that we don't yet
have enough information to know what the truth is.

Rod.
  #99  
Old July 17th 17, 09:39 PM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Norman Wells[_6_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 936
Default Horizon 2017: Strange Signals from Outer Space

On 17/07/2017 20:36, Roderick Stewart wrote:
On Mon, 17 Jul 2017 12:29:00 +0100, Norman Wells
wrote:

"Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are
not. Both are equally terrifying."

-- Arthur C Clarke. (attrib.)


As long as you just receive signals and remain anonymous, that's fine.
It's when you transmit and someone hostile receives that it becomes a
problem.


Yes, perhaps ten thousand years later they get our signal, and a
hundred thousand years after that they arrive here. I'm not
particularly worried by that; are you?


Who knows what technology they may have, or how quickly their tanks
could be on our lawn?

Maybe they haven't heard of Einstein and aren't constrained by his
ridiculously limiting theories.

It's sobering to think that it's only about 120 years ago that anyone on
earth made the first radio transmission even just across a room. It's
still early days in our intergalactic communications project.
  #100  
Old July 17th 17, 09:44 PM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Norman Wells[_6_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 936
Default Horizon 2017: Strange Signals from Outer Space

On 17/07/2017 20:42, Roderick Stewart wrote:
On Mon, 17 Jul 2017 12:24:42 +0100, Norman Wells
wrote:

On 17/07/2017 10:35, Roderick Stewart wrote:
On Sun, 16 Jul 2017 18:06:46 +0100, Norman Wells
wrote:

There's an important distinction I've mentioned before, but is worth
repeating. We know the necessary conditions to *support* life (as we
know it), but we don't know the necessary conditions to *start* it. We
can't assume they're the same.

Of course they're not the same. But the conditions to start life here
have definitely occurred. What they are exactly we do not yet know.

However, there are 100 billion stars in just our own galaxy, the Milky
Way, and there are approximately 10 trillion galaxies. Those numbers
are simply so vast that it defies logic to think that we may be unique
in the universe in any respect, including the synthesis of DNA.

I wouldn't say that it defies logic that something we only know to
have happened once cannot have happened many times, and that's not
what I'm saying anyway - only that we don't have the evidence to say
whether it has happened more than once. Normally when we estimate the
likelihood of something happening, it's on the basis of previous
observations, which is what scientific knowledge is based on, and in
this instance we have absolutely none.

We can put chemicals in test tubes and see what happens, we can pass
electrical currents through wires and see what happens, we can drop
things and throw things and swing pendulums and see what happens, and
so on and so on. We can do all these things and many more anywhere in
the world and make our measurements and see that the various processes
are, above all, repeatable - every time we do a certain thing the same
thing always happens as a consequence. We have a vast amount of
evidence about things that happen as consequences of other things,
which enables us to make predictions about things we don't know yet
with a reasonable expectation of being correct (and we usually are).
But in the case of the emergence of life, we only have one piece of
information, which only tells us it has happened once, which is not
enough to say anything at all about the likelihood of it happening
more than once. It's as if we were plotting a graph but had only
acquired one data point; we've drawn our coordinates on an otherwise
blank piece of paper and have put one little cross in the middle, so
we know the line must go through it, but where would we be justified
in drawing it?

The danger here is of becoming carried away with our own wishful
thinking, which is not exactly defying logic, but more like abandoning
it, which is just as bad.


Any 'wishful thinking' it seems to me comes not from those wanting there
to be extraterrestrial life but from those who think they're somehow
special, and don't.


I neither want there to be extraterrestrial life, nor do I not want
there to be extraterrestrial life. What I want is to know the truth,
and will accept it whichever it turns out to be.

What I'm trying to say is that we need to recognise that we don't yet
have enough information to know what the truth is.


Before you embark on any project, it's always good to have an idea,
indeed any idea, of whether it's likely to be successful and thus
whether it's worthwhile spending large sums of money on it. The Drake
equation provides that as far as we're able.

It's why we're looking. It's also why we don't spend millions on the
search for fairies at the bottom of my garden.

 




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