Stephen Hawking, celebrated physicist, was one of the smarter people to grace our humble ball of clay recently. But, he did not like some things about METI. That’s short for a project called Measuring Extraterrestrial Intelligence. It’s a “let’s find you, hope you find us” mission. By contrast Don’t tell’em we’re here was the essence of Hawking’s advice, which he meant in the spirit of helping us survive.
Extraterrestrial intelligences, he felt, might not be delighted to find a new species. They could view us like we might view bacteria, said the physicist. Ok, granted, he got a little moody and dark toward the end of his life. On other topics, Hawking also said things like:
— AI could destroy us. The worst thing we could do to ourselves…
— We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible.
Sure, the second statement, about global warming, we read all the time. But — not often from a mind the quality of Stephen Hawking’s.
In any case, METI is supposedly searching for extraterrestrial connections. They listen for signals, radio-beaming ours into space, in the hope that an alien species would find it. And they beam our messages out. But Hawking felt that IF there are aliens near enough to find our signals, it would be a very very bad idea to advertise our presence to them.
From the METI Mission Statement’s list of objectives
“Research and communicate to the public the many factors that influence the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe, with a special emphasis on the last three terms of the Drake Equation: (1) the fraction of life-bearing worlds on which intelligence evolves, (2) the fraction of intelligence-bearing worlds with civilizations having the capacity and motivation for interstellar communication, and (3) the longevity of such civilizations.”
The Drake Equation, probably…
The Drake Equation is a probability projection. It seeks to enumerate the possible number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. Probability theory is one of science’s most popular tools to explore the poorly quantifiable. So, we use what we do know and then apply certain casino techniques to hazard a guess? No, but there is always some subjective judgment involved…
- An article in National Geographic by Frank Drake’s daughter, Nadia Drake. A must read. “My dad launched the quest to find alien intelligence. It changed astronomy.” Learn about Project Ozma — the first real scientific effort to detect and find (circa 1960) communications from extraterrestrials.
- Today’s state of art project in the search for ET communications — at least that we know of — is Breakthrough Listen at SETI / U. of California, Berkeley CA. Note the project still employs the Green Bank VW facility — along with one from Australia (Parkes Observatory). Also the Rocky Planet Finder robotic telescope (optical) at the top of Mount Hamilton near San Jose CA.
Piccadilly of alien ships
It’s astonishing to me that anyone with a rudimentary understanding of light wavelengths and visibility, would make the assumption that aliens are not here. I mean, based simply on the fact that we can’t see them. We see so very, very, pathetically little — a sliver of the spectrum. Our instruments — like microscopes and telescopes — extend our range of sensory receptivity by a minuscule fraction. But we still detect a mere sliver of what is.
We could be in the bustling Piccadilly of ancient, current and future alien civilizations and we wouldn’t know a thing about it.
P.S. if anyone knows of new, reasonably priced hobby scientist or home-user level UFO detecting devices, please write to us. We would not want to design and build our own but may be forced to, lol.
You can reach us at admin3 | at | wharf 21 dott komm. (Make that a regular email address.)
Don’t miss our spirited article on OVERLANDING. (Yes, “Overlanding” is a thing now.. )
Note: The image at the top of this article is from Wikipedia’s article on the Green Bank Observatory. Attribution: