Star Trek's Prime Directive and the Fermi Paradox

murdeoc

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medv4380,
what are the variables in the graph you posted? im trying to make sense of it and i suppose it should show me how we've had regular mass-extinction events, but without knowing what is what it doesnt tell me much.
or if you have a link to a source i would like to read about it.

 

DrOswald

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murdeoc said:
medv4380,
what are the variables in the graph you posted? im trying to make sense of it and i suppose it should show me how we've had regular mass-extinction events, but without knowing what is what it doesnt tell me much.
or if you have a link to a source i would like to read about it.

The graph can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event#Patterns_in_frequency
 

Beetlebum

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As we can see on our own planet, once an appropriate scientific method has been invented there is exponential technologic progress. This is needed for interstellar communication let alone interstellar transportation.
There are risks to it, however.

One is self-destruction. To be able to power a spaceship to go to another solar system you need the power that could destroy a planet (or at least make it inhospitable.). Maybe self-destruction is the natural end for all inteligent life.

A second is a technological singularity. There are dozens of those, ofcourse, ranging from a Robot Apocalypse to a world where robots take care of all of societies needs.
Interstellar travel will not happen on its own, there will need to be a demand for it, a drive. We see it as a given that the drive will be there because we have it now. If we had robot butlers taking care of everything, we'd have very little need for it and in a few generations the potential loss of knowledge will make it forever impossible, dooming our race to a slow extinction while being cared for by uncaring machines. Maybe all formerly inhabited planets are just hosts to millions of machines taking care of the ruins of a long-dead species

Then there is immortality, That would grant any race space faring capabilities, since time is no longer relevant. However, without the fear of death a species might lose all purpose, idly wandering the universe for the sake of it before finally choosing to sleep forever.

Or maybe everyone is very quiet as to not wake up the terrifing self-replication robotic nano-probes send out to colonize planets by a race that didn't know or care what a terrible idea that is (it only takes one such race to ruin the galaxy for everyone).

All kinds of fun thought experiments that make me wake up screaming in terror..
 

medv4380

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Feb 26, 2010
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murdeoc said:
medv4380,
what are the variables in the graph you posted? im trying to make sense of it and i suppose it should show me how we've had regular mass-extinction events, but without knowing what is what it doesnt tell me much.
or if you have a link to a source i would like to read about it.
It's the chart that leads to the thought that there is a period in the frequency of mass extinctions. I don't know why the raw Nemesis Star [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event#Patterns_in_frequency] which is interesting even though the general idea of it has been ruled out.
DrOswald said:
medv4380 said:
DrOswald said:
medv4380 said:
Some people are desperate to prove 1 - 3 are false because one of the valid hypothesis solutions to the Fermi Paradox is the God Hypothesis. But even that falls to the simple logic of why make a universe so big and only put one planet with life in it.
To be fair, the god hypothesis does not necessarily require that only 1 planet have life.
You miss understand. It's not that the God Hypothesis has the requirement. If life is ordinary and the evolutionary process can occur without external intervention then the universe must have many planets with life. If the universe only has one then it is much more likely that the God Hypothesis is true no matter how unlikely it may seem. It would be strong evidence of God even though the opposite would not be strong evidence against God.
So the theory is that extreme rareness of life indicates a god? Eh, seems suspect to me. Even if the conditions to form life were so unlikely that it only happened once in our galaxy that is no good indication of god. There are enough galaxies out there that it could still be a freak chance sort of thing.

Edit: to be clear, I am familiar with a different god hypothesis, maybe it is named something else, but it is basically that all civilizations are kept apart by god. If life is common but never interacts it would indicate that something is preventing interaction. The hypothesis is that something is a god.
We're not talking rare. We're talking unique. It's a fairly old debate though. God Hypothesis is an umbrella term that covers just about all the variants that God is used in the explanation.

If you're saying that the Principle of mediocrity can be wrong it would invalidate or force a rewrite of every hypothesis built upon it. As a note Richard Dawkins would disagree with your view. The mediocrity principal is currently built into most scientific views. Not all, but most, at this point in time.
 

Seanchaidh

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Maybe backwards time travel is a real thing and easier than interstellar travel but (of course) harder than making a gigantic arsenal of nuclear weapons. Every society or civilization eventually invents this time travel on the way to developing interstellar colonization, then repeatedly changes its history until one of the changes causes the civilization to go extinct permanently without anyone being able to fix it (or at least replace it with something better than extinction) with time travel.
 

Requia

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RA92 said:
Maybe a sentient pulsating star has been trying to communicate with us for years...

Maybe a few black holes or any other massive bodies that emits no radiation (dark matter?) are actual stars covered in a Dyson Spheres...

Dyson spheres would emit radiation, probably in the infrared, but radiation (even if they could somehow defy blackbody laws, they'd eventually vaporize from the heat of their stars without cooling). We have looked in the infrared, though nto on the kind of galactic scale we'd need to to find Dyson spheres.
 

ZZoMBiE13

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Whenever this debate comes up, I always go with the Red Dwarf postulate. The Stars and Planets are the real entities and human beings are the galactic equivalent of measles. Other races avoid Earth, it's got a bad case of PEOPLE and no one wants to play with "that kid".
 

ExtraDebit

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Maybe our brains are receivers instead of processors and our consciousness actually comes from our sun, If we travel too far from it we'll lose our connection to our consciousness or mind and that's why we can't travel to other star systems.
 

Kahani

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Rhykker said:
Remember that Star Trek was able to predict the flip phone, tablet computer, Bluetooth headset, and other modern technology that was inconceivable to the everyman of the 1960s.
Star Trek also predicted that no-one would ever actually obey the prime directive. But in any case the prime directive is largely irrelevant. We don't need aliens to park on the White House lawn in order for us to see them. A true stealth/cloak system will never exist - using one would render you blind and incapable of propulsion. Any alien visitors must be visible, and any communications must be interceptable. Given how good we're getting at spotting small, inert rocks that come too close, how easy is it going to be for a spaceship intent on studying us to hide?

But in any case, the whole question is largely irrelevant. The important point is this:
Depending on what numbers you plug into the Drake Equation, estimates suggest that there may exist hundreds of thousands of civilizations in the Milky Way.
No estimates using the Drake Equation suggest anything. We simply do not know any of the numbers. If someone suggests there are hundreds of thousands of civilisations in the Milky Way, that is not an estimate, it's simply a wild-ass guess based on absolutely nothing. The Drake equation tells us what variables we would need to know in order to make such an estimate, but with our current level of knowledge it does not actually allow us to do so. There is therefore no paradox. If you guess that there should be lots of civilisations wandering around the place but we don't see any evidence of them, the conclusion is simply that your guess was wrong. A paradox occurs when two contradictory things both appear to be true. It is not a paradox when a prediction simply turns out to be wrong.
 

ExtraDebit

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Kahani said:
Rhykker said:
Remember that Star Trek was able to predict the flip phone, tablet computer, Bluetooth headset, and other modern technology that was inconceivable to the everyman of the 1960s.
Star Trek also predicted that no-one would ever actually obey the prime directive. But in any case the prime directive is largely irrelevant. We don't need aliens to park on the White House lawn in order for us to see them. A true stealth/cloak system will never exist - using one would render you blind and incapable of propulsion. Any alien visitors must be visible, and any communications must be interceptable. Given how good we're getting at spotting small, inert rocks that come too close, how easy is it going to be for a spaceship intent on studying us to hide?

But in any case, the whole question is largely irrelevant. The important point is this:
Depending on what numbers you plug into the Drake Equation, estimates suggest that there may exist hundreds of thousands of civilizations in the Milky Way.
No estimates using the Drake Equation suggest anything. We simply do not know any of the numbers. If someone suggests there are hundreds of thousands of civilisations in the Milky Way, that is not an estimate, it's simply a wild-ass guess based on absolutely nothing. The Drake equation tells us what variables we would need to know in order to make such an estimate, but with our current level of knowledge it does not actually allow us to do so. There is therefore no paradox. If you guess that there should be lots of civilisations wandering around the place but we don't see any evidence of them, the conclusion is simply that your guess was wrong. A paradox occurs when two contradictory things both appear to be true. It is not a paradox when a prediction simply turns out to be wrong.
If you see foot prints, is it wrong to guessed someone was here?
 

008Zulu_v1legacy

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As I sit here typing this, I would like to imagine that out there is a member of an alien race writing fan fiction about strange pink flabby bipeds with opposable thumbs, and them being abducted by these pink things and forced to endure all manner of erotic experiments.
 

Eliam_Dar

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What if we are the most advanced of all species in the milky way (numbers and reason do not seem to backup this possibility, but it might as well be the case). In that case the reason for lack of contact is simply that we haven't started exploring.
Having said that, we can also assume that in a galaxy where advanced civilizations are common, we are not worth to be contacted, and we are simply a case of study about the development of a civilization.

In any case, we will never find the answer until we develop either FTL capabilities or something more advanced that a telescope to see what's out there.
 

Shodan1980

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This discussion, this right here, is why I love the Escapist. How many other non-science related websites could engage in a discussion like this, throw in a bunch of great theories, and discuss it intelligently without name-calling. Love you all you wonderful people.

I think the most likely answer is the duration of a civilisation. Even a civilisation that endures for a million years and fills the galaxy with artefacts wouldn't leave much of a trace a million years after their decline. If we all succumbed to a virus tomorrow that left our infrastructure intact no trace of us would be left after as little as half a million years let alone a million years. Except maybe a few lucky vacuum ablated satellites, and the odds of finding them would be remote. For all we know other civilisations have lived on Earth, but all traces of them have long ago been eroded to nothing. The chances of civilisations arising may be high, but the chances of those civilisations coinciding in time may not be so. Drake's equation is too full of unknowables
 

Eliam_Dar

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@Shodan1980 (quote function not working for some reason). The interesting part is that even if a previous civilization existed in this planet, we might never find it due to the time factor. We as a civilization have only existed for several thousand years (if we consider either the starting of written history or agricultural development as true indicators of a civilization). And even in that case we should consider the possibility that some civilizations might have fell to a cataclysmic event of some kind, loosing or their previous achievements, which could make the possibility of civilizations with inter-stellar travel capabilities coinciding extremely rare.
 

Fasckira

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Rhykker said:
Or maybe, just maybe, in this seemingly endless universe of billions of galaxies, trillions of stars, and countless planets, we are, indeed, alone.
Off-topic but I read the last line in the voice of Patrick Stewart in my head, even pictured him sitting at his desk whilst sipping a cup of Earl Grey and staring off into the distance. Amazing stuff.
 

Synthetica

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DrOswald said:
medv4380 said:
Some people are desperate to prove 1 - 3 are false because one of the valid hypothesis solutions to the Fermi Paradox is the God Hypothesis. But even that falls to the simple logic of why make a universe so big and only put one planet with life in it.
To be fair, the god hypothesis does not necessarily require that only 1 planet have life. Many religions believe that there will be an end of the world scenario and very soon (within hundreds of years.) If this is the case we could have intelligent life in many many systems without any of them ever able to communicate with us. Basically, god made many systems many instances of intelligent life and the rest of the systems are buffer systems meant specifically to prevent interaction between civilizations. All civilizations are scheduled to end before they can really get going on space travel.

Also, the logic that god would not make an entire universe to put only one sentient species in it is problematic because it is ascribing human values of efficiency to a being that is supposed to be omnipotent. Human limits on something that has no limitations. Efficiency doesn't really come into play for an omnipotent individual. If there is a god and that god is truly omnipotent then it is entirely possible he created the vast universe just so we would be able to see something pretty when we look at the sky. For an omnipotent individual it would be no more difficult that not creating the universe.
Omnipotency is a tricky one though. Consider the following question: "Can God create a rock so heavy, that God can't lift it?" If he can, he isn't omnipotent. If he can't, he isn't omnipotent either. Think about it. http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Can_God_create_a_rock_so_heavy_that_he_can%27t_lift_it%3F
 

oZode

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I believe alien life (strange critters everywhere) is common, but life like ourselves is extremely rare. However, I do not believe interstellar species could possibly exist since almost anything is possible, insanely huge distances be damned. So it's hard for me to imagine interstellar travel being impossible to be the reason. While there may well be life that don't care to expand beyond their solar system, one must also take into account that some life out there may not operate on human time scales, let alone logic,

For instance a alien species that is nitrogen based from a freezing world that perceives the world much slower than us would have no problem with interstellar travel since what would fifty years be to them?

As to why? Maybe they have some spiritual reason, or perhaps their curiosity outweighs economic rationale.

That being said I see the easiest solution being that intelligent life capable of developing being that maybe they're just not that common, and don't last long enough to be detected and in a cosmic time scale their evidence may falter away A LOT.
 

seiler88

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Synthetica said:
DrOswald said:
medv4380 said:
Some people are desperate to prove 1 - 3 are false because one of the valid hypothesis solutions to the Fermi Paradox is the God Hypothesis. But even that falls to the simple logic of why make a universe so big and only put one planet with life in it.
To be fair, the god hypothesis does not necessarily require that only 1 planet have life. Many religions believe that there will be an end of the world scenario and very soon (within hundreds of years.) If this is the case we could have intelligent life in many many systems without any of them ever able to communicate with us. Basically, god made many systems many instances of intelligent life and the rest of the systems are buffer systems meant specifically to prevent interaction between civilizations. All civilizations are scheduled to end before they can really get going on space travel.

Also, the logic that god would not make an entire universe to put only one sentient species in it is problematic because it is ascribing human values of efficiency to a being that is supposed to be omnipotent. Human limits on something that has no limitations. Efficiency doesn't really come into play for an omnipotent individual. If there is a god and that god is truly omnipotent then it is entirely possible he created the vast universe just so we would be able to see something pretty when we look at the sky. For an omnipotent individual it would be no more difficult that not creating the universe.
Omnipotency is a tricky one though. Consider the following question: "Can God create a rock so heavy, that God can't lift it?" If he can, he isn't omnipotent. If he can't, he isn't omnipotent either. Think about it. http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Can_God_create_a_rock_so_heavy_that_he_can%27t_lift_it%3F
That question is based on a misunderstanding of omnipotence. God cannot do anything that is outside His nature, so if creating such a rock is outside of God's nature then He can't do it. Now in the context of this discussion we know that creating intelligent life IS in God's nature but the question is would He choose to do so on multiple planets? I don't know, I don't think so but Scripture give no answer one way or another so I must be open to the possibility.
 

DrOswald

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Synthetica said:
DrOswald said:
medv4380 said:
Some people are desperate to prove 1 - 3 are false because one of the valid hypothesis solutions to the Fermi Paradox is the God Hypothesis. But even that falls to the simple logic of why make a universe so big and only put one planet with life in it.
To be fair, the god hypothesis does not necessarily require that only 1 planet have life. Many religions believe that there will be an end of the world scenario and very soon (within hundreds of years.) If this is the case we could have intelligent life in many many systems without any of them ever able to communicate with us. Basically, god made many systems many instances of intelligent life and the rest of the systems are buffer systems meant specifically to prevent interaction between civilizations. All civilizations are scheduled to end before they can really get going on space travel.

Also, the logic that god would not make an entire universe to put only one sentient species in it is problematic because it is ascribing human values of efficiency to a being that is supposed to be omnipotent. Human limits on something that has no limitations. Efficiency doesn't really come into play for an omnipotent individual. If there is a god and that god is truly omnipotent then it is entirely possible he created the vast universe just so we would be able to see something pretty when we look at the sky. For an omnipotent individual it would be no more difficult that not creating the universe.
Omnipotency is a tricky one though. Consider the following question: "Can God create a rock so heavy, that God can't lift it?" If he can, he isn't omnipotent. If he can't, he isn't omnipotent either. Think about it. http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Can_God_create_a_rock_so_heavy_that_he_can%27t_lift_it%3F
First of all, the omnipotence paradox doesn't apply here. From the perspective of creating the universe nearly omnipotent, practically omnipotent, and actually omnipotent are essentially the same. In any case it takes no more effort to create the universe than it would take to not create the universe.

Second, the omnipotence paradox is, and I am really trying not to be rude here but I just can't think of a way to say this that isn't rude, a really dumb argument against omnipotence. It is, at best, squabbling over the exact meaning of the term omnipotence. Useful only in that it helps establish a logical definition of omnipotence.

More often it insists on a specific and inherently illogical definition of omnipotent. It is the exact same thing as the moronic internet trolls who take a quote out of context and then declare victory because the twisted meaning is stupid.

I don't even believe in an omnipotent god and I can see the omnipotence paradox poses no real problem. People really need to stop using that one.