From: Diana Cammack <cammack.nul> Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2010 18:21:08 +0200 Archived: Mon, 04 Oct 2010 12:57:15 -0400 Subject: Cosmic Loneliness Source: Discovery News http://tinyurl.com/2g9ghg5Discovery News Mon Oct 4, 2010 Will We Die Of Cosmic Loneliness? Analysis by Ray Villard Top astronomy news items last week wrestled with the question of whether we are alone in the universe. One story gave a dire warning that aliens are already here because they are mad at us. The other report, that inhabitable planets are everywhere in our Milky Way galaxy. In reality, our own civilization's biggest threat to long-term survival may be cosmic boredom, say a pair of theorists. Things got started in a highly publicized event at the Washington Press Club where UFO investigator Robert Hastings offered spooky testimony by several retired military officers. They described seeing flying saucers shaped like "pregnant cigars" snooping around and sabotaging our nuclear missile bases. His hypothesis: aliens are upset that we are "playing with fire." How aliens would have become aware of our warlike shenanigans went unexplained. The burst of light from the first atom bomb test in New Mexico is presently only detectable to a distance of 65 light-years from Earth. What's more, it would be indistinguishable from the flash of a large meteor exploding in our atmosphere. Later in the week, a team of astronomers announced the culmination of a 12-year search for the first planet found in the habitable zone around a star. This is a world where water oceans might exist. The super-Earth orbits a red dwarf star, as I predicted last July. The big news is that the world lies just 20 light-years away. This implies that planets in the "sweet spot" around stars are very common in the galaxy. But if this is true, why don't we have any bona fide evidence for intelligent life beyond Earth? A pair of Russian theoreticians, I. Bezsudnov and . Snarskii, believe they have an answer. Alien civilizations might simply die of loneliness if they don't make interstellar contact with another intelligent species. Extraterrestrials may wither away due to a loss of interest in the universe around them, or the atrophy of technological capability. Their brains might turn to mush as they become totally preoccupied with their versions of Facebook, World of Warcraft and reality TV shows. The team ran a computer model that factored in a finite longevity for alien races. Contrary to other simulations that assume civilizations go on indefinitely, the new simulations have alien cultures rise and fall according to a common modeling algorithm called cellular automata. This approach simulates the birth, development and death of organisms based on certain rules. In the model, intelligent species that contact each other across interstellar space had their lifetimes boosted. "The meeting between civilizations generates the new purposes and objects of knowledge, necessity to use an intellect," the theoreticians maintain. My caution is that other civilizations would be, well, too alien to care about us. We'd have to look for beings very much like ourselves with a comparable level of evolution and technology, similar curiosity, and parallel mastery of mathematics. Though there are likely many inhabited planets nearby, the odds of finding a species we can have a meaningful conversation with might be quite small. On the other hand, the mantra to "seek out new life and new civilizations" is the embodiment of Star Trek's imaginary universe. Trek's United Federation of Planets is a cluster of inhabited star systems undergoing an interstellar Renaissance that engages them in cross-cultural activities, commerce, and exchange of species. In the coming decades our cosmic loneliness and curiosity will drive us to spend many billions of dollars to build ever larger space telescopes to seek out inhabited planets. This will eventually lead to autonomous, miniaturized, life-seeking interstellar probes. The Russian team's hypothesis is antithetical to the idea that extraterrestrials would devote an enormous amount of resources to physically travel here only to snoop around, be mischievous, yet avoid direct contact. Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast At: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/sdi/program/ These contents above are copyright of the author and UFO UpDates - Toronto. They may not be reproduced without the express permission of both parties and are intended for educational use only.
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