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Old Jul 22nd 2015, 12:25 AM
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Default Breakthrough Listen

Here's an interesting project in the works: http://www.breakthroughinitiatives.org/Initiative/1

A massive multi-tiered and multi-faceted search for any kind of indication of intelligent life in the nearest one million stars in our galaxy as well as the 100 nearest galaxies. I suppose it's a sign of the times that it isn't set up by any official space agency, university or any kind of academic entity but simply by a single billionaire (a Russian called Yuri Milner) although it's backed by very prominent scientists (Drake, Hawking, Witten, Rees, etc.).

The outcome of this will be quite significant whether its result is positive or negative. If it's positive the consequences speak for themselves but almost as interesting would be a negative outcome. In that case the upper limit for the probability of intelligent life elsewhere will become very, very low, which means that either there isn't anyone out there, or only very, very rarely or that technological societies have very, very short livespans in an astronomical context. FWIW, my money is on the latter given the behaviour of the single known data point.

Some might argue that we don't actually know what to look for or that we have no way of recognizing very different activities of intelligent life to our own but that argument ignores that the physics are the same everywhere, that the mathematics are the same and that the chemical composition of the environment is roughly the same everywhere whether you're a uppity biped or a five-headed lobster.

Only ten years before we will know the outcome of the investigation. Mark your calendars
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Old Jul 24th 2015, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Breakthrough Listen

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Originally Posted by Dominick View Post
Here's an interesting project in the works: http://www.breakthroughinitiatives.org/Initiative/1

A massive multi-tiered and multi-faceted search for any kind of indication of intelligent life in the nearest one million stars in our galaxy as well as the 100 nearest galaxies. I suppose it's a sign of the times that it isn't set up by any official space agency, university or any kind of academic entity but simply by a single billionaire (a Russian called Yuri Milner) although it's backed by very prominent scientists (Drake, Hawking, Witten, Rees, etc.).

The outcome of this will be quite significant whether its result is positive or negative. If it's positive the consequences speak for themselves but almost as interesting would be a negative outcome. In that case the upper limit for the probability of intelligent life elsewhere will become very, very low, which means that either there isn't anyone out there, or only very, very rarely or that technological societies have very, very short livespans in an astronomical context. FWIW, my money is on the latter given the behaviour of the single known data point.

Some might argue that we don't actually know what to look for or that we have no way of recognizing very different activities of intelligent life to our own but that argument ignores that the physics are the same everywhere, that the mathematics are the same and that the chemical composition of the environment is roughly the same everywhere whether you're a uppity biped or a five-headed lobster.

Only ten years before we will know the outcome of the investigation. Mark your calendars
Wasn't SETI supposed to do this?
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Old Jul 27th 2015, 02:27 AM
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Default Re: Breakthrough Listen

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Wasn't SETI supposed to do this?
Seti is a part of this. Several directors and researchers of SETI are on the board (if you can call it that) of this project. SETI was always limited in what it could do because it uses data from the Arecibo observatory which is all but fixed in position (see picture) and thus can only observe a rather narrow band of the sky. It's also limited by computational power which is why Seti@home was devised.
Anecdote: I used to run the Seti@Home client on any computer I could get my hands on including the servers of the companies and organizations I worked for I stopped with that when a glitch in the software caused the CPU of one of my home computers to fry though

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Old Jul 28th 2015, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: Breakthrough Listen

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Seti is a part of this. Several directors and researchers of SETI are on the board (if you can call it that) of this project. SETI was always limited in what it could do because it uses data from the Arecibo observatory which is all but fixed in position (see picture) and thus can only observe a rather narrow band of the sky.
So it is a new and improved SETI (v2).

I suspect that if it fails to find anything, in 10 or 15 years from now, we will have SETI v3.

That being said, finding some radiological trace of some alien civilization that went extinct a few million years ago doesn't seem all that interesting or useful.
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Old Jul 28th 2015, 08:40 PM
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Default Re: Breakthrough Listen

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So it is a new and improved SETI (v2).

I suspect that if it fails to find anything, in 10 or 15 years from now, we will have SETI v3.

That being said, finding some radiological trace of some alien civilization that went extinct a few million years ago doesn't seem all that interesting or useful.
Not interesting!?

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Old Jul 29th 2015, 09:53 AM
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Default Re: Breakthrough Listen

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So it is a new and improved SETI (v2).

I suspect that if it fails to find anything, in 10 or 15 years from now, we will have SETI v3.
It's more than that, the scope of the search is much wider in all respects: distances, direction, nature of the signals, means of detection, etc. And not least important: more brute computer force.

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That being said, finding some radiological trace of some alien civilization that went extinct a few million years ago doesn't seem all that interesting or useful.
Apart from answering the age old fundamental question of whether we're alone in the universe, nah, not really.
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Old Jul 29th 2015, 06:08 PM
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Default Re: Breakthrough Listen

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It's more than that, the scope of the search is much wider in all respects: distances, direction, nature of the signals, means of detection, etc. And not least important: more brute computer force.
Well yes, I'd expect a major generational improvement over SETI v1 in every respect, but the whole principle is still the same - scanning the skies to try to pick up some trace of life out there.

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Apart from answering the age old fundamental question of whether we're alone in the universe, nah, not really.
Yes, many people do crave certainty. I think the probability math is pretty solid on this one. If there is anything is this universe that truly approximates the idea of infinity, it is the universe itself. If life could develop here according to seemingly random elements combined with particular conditions, then statistically, it is very likely that it will have happened somewhere else as well. Maybe not people per se, but certainly lots of fungus and algae and bacterial lifeforms have to be out there.
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Old Jul 29th 2015, 08:03 PM
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Default Re: Breakthrough Listen

We had pretty thoroughly proven the Higgs Boson on paper. Should we have not gone looking for it?
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Old Jul 30th 2015, 07:00 PM
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We had pretty thoroughly proven the Higgs Boson on paper. Should we have not gone looking for it?
Just a question of public priorities, since this all publicly funded with tax money.

I'd rather see my tax dollars invested into some important science - like alternative energy rather than sky-searching for ET.
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Old Jul 31st 2015, 01:13 AM
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Default Re: Breakthrough Listen

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Just a question of public priorities, since this all publicly funded with tax money.

I'd rather see my tax dollars invested into some important science - like alternative energy rather than sky-searching for ET.
It's paid for by a Russian billionaire called Yuri Milner.
Here's some more information.
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