Posts Tagged ‘aliens’

SENDING messages into deep space could be the best way for Earthlings to find extraterrestrial intelligence, but it carries a grave risk: alerting hostile aliens to our presence. Game theory may provide a way to navigate this dilemma. So far the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has mostly been restricted to listening for signs of technology elsewhere. Only a few attempts have been made to broadcast messages towards distant stars. Many scientists are against such “active” SETI for fear of revealing our presence. If all aliens feel the same way then no one will be broadcasting, and the chance of detecting each other is limited. To weigh up the potential losses and gains, Harold de Vladar of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria in Klosterneuburg turned to the prisoner’s dilemma, a game-theory problem in which two prisoners choose between admitting their shared crime or keeping quiet, with different sentences depending on what they say. An individual prisoner gets off scot free if they rat on a partner who remains silent, with the silent partner getting a maximum sentence. If they both rat on each other, each gets a medium sentence. By contrast, if both stay silent, both get token sentences – the best overall result. De Vladar reasoned that the SETI dilemma is essentially the same, but reversed. Mutual silence for prisoners is equivalent to mutual broadcasting for aliens, giving the best results for both civilisations. And while a selfish prisoner rats, a selfish civilisation is silent, waiting for someone else to take the risk of waving “Over here!” at the rest of the universe.

Search for aliens poses game theory dilemma – space – 13 December 2012 – New Scientist

Posted: November 6, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Of all the images that have ever been made, would you be able to select just 100 to represent our species and human achievement? Trevor Paglen’s Last Pictures is a project to do not only that, but also launch those images into geosynchronous orbit around Earth – all so that long after humans are gone, any space-wanderer will be able to fathom what humanity was all about. The project is based on the idea that after billions of years, all signs of human civilization will have eroded away on Earth, but its satellites will still spin around the planet, making them the best bet for an indefinite time capsule. “Any group of people would come up with 100 totally different images, but that is part of the fun. It’s an impossible project. Part of it was to engage peoples’ imaginations,” says artist Trevor Paglen, who conceived of the concept and collaborated with scientists, anthropologists, curators and corporations to get the images into space. (via In Billions of Years, Aliens Will Find These Photos in a Dead Satellite | Raw File | Wired.com)

Posted: May 16, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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There’s rarely any middle ground on the topic of life in space. You either believe the untold trillions of stars and planets out there make it anthropocentric folly to think that biology emerged nowhere else, or you believe that nope, life is particular to the nonreproducible conditions on our uniquely verdant, uniquely organic world. Either way, science agrees with you. Paul Davies, physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State University and author of the book The Eerie Silence argues that the vast number of other worlds is actually misleading, that the statistical improbability of organic molecules lining up just as they did to create life as we know it is greater than even so large a sample group could overcome. (Of course, Davies does not rule out the possibility that so-called shadow life — so very different from our own that we wouldn’t recognize it even if it sidled right up to us — could exist.) Other exobiologists, particularly those at NASA say nope, life as we know it is easy. All you need is water, an energy source, some hydrocarbons and time and you can easily cook something up—perhaps even in our own solar system on worlds like Jupiter’s watery moon Europa or in the deep, ice deposits on Mars.

Life in the Universe: Easy or Hard? | NewsFeed | TIME.com