The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence

By Paul Davies

One of the world’s best scientists explains why—and how—the look for clever lifestyles past Earth will be expanded.

 

Fifty years in the past, a tender astronomer named Frank Drake first pointed a radio telescope at within reach stars within the wish of picking out up a sign from an alien civilization. hence begun one of many boldest medical initiatives in heritage, the hunt for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). After a half-century of scanning the skies, even though, astronomers have little to document yet an eerie silence—eerie simply because many scientists are confident that the universe is teeming with lifestyles. Physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies has been heavily concerned with SETI for 3 many years and chairs the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup, charged with identifying what to do if we’re abruptly faced with facts of alien intelligence. He believes the hunt thus far has fallen into an anthropocentric trap—assuming that an alien species will glance, imagine, and behave very similar to us. during this provocative booklet Davies refocuses the quest, demanding present principles of what shape an alien intelligence may perhaps take, the way it could try and speak with us, and the way we should always reply if it does.

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By Paul Davies

One of the world’s best scientists explains why—and how—the look for clever lifestyles past Earth will be expanded.

 

Fifty years in the past, a tender astronomer named Frank Drake first pointed a radio telescope at within reach stars within the wish of picking out up a sign from an alien civilization. hence begun one of many boldest medical initiatives in heritage, the hunt for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). After a half-century of scanning the skies, even though, astronomers have little to document yet an eerie silence—eerie simply because many scientists are confident that the universe is teeming with lifestyles. Physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies has been heavily concerned with SETI for 3 many years and chairs the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup, charged with identifying what to do if we’re abruptly faced with facts of alien intelligence. He believes the hunt thus far has fallen into an anthropocentric trap—assuming that an alien species will glance, imagine, and behave very similar to us. during this provocative booklet Davies refocuses the quest, demanding present principles of what shape an alien intelligence may perhaps take, the way it could try and speak with us, and the way we should always reply if it does.

Show description

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In pursuing new SETI, it is very important take note the adage: count on the unforeseen. New SETI isn't really meant to switch conventional SETI yet to enrich it. whether my wild speculations approximately quantum Matrioshka brains and different exotica are right, no longer all extraterrestrial intelligence can have attained, or ever will reach, such a complicated country. there's likely to be a spectrum of intelligence, from alien groups now not but getting into the age of expertise, via organic organisms with the aptitude of signalling utilizing radio, computer-dominated societies that preserve (and keep) organic groups, to full-blown cyber-intellects. it might be unwarranted to consider that none of those hypothetical groups, at any point of development, will ever transmit messages, or construct beacons or monuments meant to make a press release to their cosmic cousins. And whereas there's even a distant likelihood that somebody, someplace, desires to allure our consciousness, we should always cross on taking a look, for the results of good fortune will be actually momentous. nine First touch The societal and cultural impression can be extra such as the results of a spiritual revelation. Stephen Baxter1 THE POST-DETECTION TASKGROUP In 2004, Ray Norris, a radio astronomer in Sydney, Australia, requested if I’d give some thought to taking up from him as Chair of the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup. This curious physique was once constituted by means of the SETI everlasting examine crew of the foreign Academy of Astronautics (IAA), a systematic establishment dedicated to fostering the advance of astronautics for peaceable reasons, with participation by means of over sixty international locations. The short of the Taskgroup, in a nutshell, is to arrange for the large Day. no matter if the opportunity of humankind being contacted any time quickly by means of an extraterrestrial civilization is distant, it is smart to imagine via a number of the implications may still it occur. We don’t are looking to be stuck at the hop. I agreed to serve, and after being duly elected I convened a gathering in February 2008 on the past middle, Arizona nation college. The Taskgroup is barely a imagine tank; it has no felony prestige and no the teeth to impose its coverage tips on anyone. Its contributors are nominated, and elected to the everlasting research team. They comprise top SETI scientists and activists, representatives of the media, legal professionals, a thinker, a theologian and technological know-how fiction writers. The Deputy Chair, Carol Oliver, bridges the 2 cultures via having a heritage in print journalism in addition to a long time’ adventure as a SETI researcher in Australia. the first objective of the Taskgroup is to supply a source for astronomers typically, and SETI researchers particularly, approximately post-detection matters. The Taskgroup’s protocol used to be developed in 1996 by means of the astronomer John Billingham, and is out there on the internet. 2 within the occasion putative sign is detected, it might be the Taskgroup’s task to suggestions the events involved. If the protocol works as marketed, then the 1st job will be to induce the discoverer to topic the knowledge to cautious checking and assessment.

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