Extraterrestrial Civilizations

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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horatio_monster
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Extraterrestrial Civilizations

Postby horatio_monster » Sun May 28, 2006 11:11 pm

I am also curious as to what science fiction writer Harlan Ellison thinks the possibility is of there being technologically advanced civilizations elsewhere in the universe. I thought the aliens in Steven Spielbergs War of the Worlds were really cool. At least as cool as Giger's Alien.

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Rick Keeney
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first hand knowledge

Postby Rick Keeney » Mon May 29, 2006 1:03 pm

i have spoken in some detail about this subject with the science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, and he feels that there is nothing to support the contention that creatures such as John Ashcroft do not hail from beyond the stars. And, of course, my own statement that this conversation ever occurred between Yours Truly and the aforesaid science fiction writer is entirely fabricated, if not completely fallacious.

disingenuously,
Rick

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Duane
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Postby Duane » Wed May 31, 2006 12:02 pm

Actually, I find the possibility a fascinating one. However, while I tend to believe that while LIFE exists on the vast majority of planets around other stars (assuming the worlds in question orbit their star at an appropriate distance to allow for running water), I think intelligent life is a little more rare. Rarer still may be the number of such civilizations currently capable of sending / receiving radio messages.

What works in our favor, however, is the vast quantity of stars. Although our solar system happens to be situated between the spiral arms of the Milky Way, where one would think stars are scarce, there are in fact millions of stars within a thousand lightyears of us. The vast majority of them are red dwarfs, which are much longer lived than our Sun. One would think that if we were nearer to the Milky Way's center, or perhaps "closer to the action" in the middle of one of the spiral arms, we would have a greater chance of being close neighbors with another world with intelligent life. But recent research suggests that we are alive precisely because we AREN'T in one of those two places: too much radiation, too many supernovas and other cosmic explosions.

Something else that may interest you: I read an article on Space.com that suggested that if there was an intelligent civilization on a world orbiting ALPHA CENTAURI, the closest star to our solar system, and if it was at the same technological level as we were, we WOULD NOT be able to detect each others' existance. Despite all our radio emanations, it would take a radio dish much larger than the one at Arecibo with more refined equipment to pick up our broadcasts. However, we could certainly broadcast a message using our current equipment that such a civilization could pick up. Not only that, but our military radar could be easily picked up using equipment similar to ours out to a distance of several hundred light years.

Seth Shostak, the man in charge of SETI, has a great website that discusses all this in detail: seti.org. Check it out, if you haven't already.

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markabaddon
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Postby markabaddon » Wed May 31, 2006 2:19 pm

Duane, before I comment on your post, I must mourn the passing of your avatar. Red haired beauty, I hardly knew ye......

OK, I feel better now. I think most people would agree that Life has to exist somewhere else in the universe but that the conditions necessary to allow a life form as we understand it to flourish fall within a narrow range. However, the sheer volume of planets we are discovering lends credence to the assumption that somewhere in the universe intelligent life exists.

I am going to have to check out that article from space.com you referenced, because I am unsure why we would not be able to detect each other if there were a civilization on Alpha Centauri (AC). If there were emissions of some kind emanating from AC, be they radio or some other type of electromagnetic emission, wouldn't one of the radio dishes pick them up, as they scan many EM frequencies?
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Wed May 31, 2006 2:32 pm

markabaddon wrote:Duane, before I comment on your post, I must mourn the passing of your avatar. Red haired beauty, I hardly knew ye......


Well, damn, she's gone!

Duane, if you can't identify her, can you at least tell us where you got the image, so maybe one of us can investigate further?



markabaddon wrote:I am unsure why we would not be able to detect each other if there were a civilization on Alpha Centauri (AC). If there were emissions of some kind emanating from AC, be they radio or some other type of electromagnetic emission, wouldn't one of the radio dishes pick them up, as they scan many EM frequencies?


Ummm . . . I was wondering if the mere fact that there are nearly an infinite number of directions one could point one's signal might mediate against its being easily picked up elsewhere?
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Duane
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Postby Duane » Wed May 31, 2006 2:50 pm

My previous avatar can be found here. I picked it up originally from a website called rushmessageboard.com, a fansite for the band Rush. The board has been down for a while, though, due to bandwidth concerns. It should be back up soon.

I have some thoughts on what I posted earlier, but they will have to wait while I pretend I'm working. Suffice to say that our "commercial" broadcasts, ie. tv and radio, are very weak (compared to what we could put out if we were to deliberately broadcast a message) and omnidirectional (ie., radiating out in all directions), so it would take an antenna several orders of magnitude (10, 100 or 1000 times) larger than Arecibo to pick them out, even from Alpha Centauri.

Here's an article by Seth Shostak that talks about how an alien civilization might go about letting us know about its existance.

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Postby Douglas Harrison » Wed May 31, 2006 2:53 pm

David Loftus wrote:Duane, if you can't identify her, can you at least tell us where you got the image, so maybe one of us can investigate further?

Oh, for heaven's sake. She was no Winona Ryder.

D.

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NeonMosfet
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Postby NeonMosfet » Fri Aug 25, 2006 12:34 pm

There is probably sentience out there, though we've found few if any sort of planet that comes close to resembling Earth. Probably on some distant Moon. Here's the bad news. If there's any credence to the UFO sightings, WE might be number two, meaning, most of the sentience could be Post Neanderthal Neolithic, or thought provoking TREX, who didn't make it here, because an asteroid destroyed the planet. Asssuming sentience can survive asteroid whacks, and AlQuaida, the chance of any of it visiting us, seems very slim.
Myopia Through Convexed Harlequins

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Fri Aug 25, 2006 12:45 pm

Douglas Harrison wrote:Oh, for heaven's sake. She was no Winona Ryder.



Yeah, but neither is Winona Ryder . . . anymore.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Fri Aug 25, 2006 12:51 pm

I would have cut off a finger to have Winona Ryder make out with me.

There are no ETs floating around our planet, but they could be out there somewhere; way far away, though.

Now you know Harlan doesn't like being called a Science Fiction writer. Shh.

Eric_Martin
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Postby Eric_Martin » Fri Aug 25, 2006 12:52 pm

There's nothing out there. Someday there will be, but it will all be descended from Earth.

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Fri Aug 25, 2006 1:59 pm

It's out there, it's called comedy. Laugh at the cosmos, because the joke is on us.

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Fri Aug 25, 2006 3:04 pm

I have every confidence that if there is sentient life out there . . . and we don't destroy our own species here first . . . we'll hunt it down and kill it.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

Douglas Harrison
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Postby Douglas Harrison » Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:38 pm

David Loftus wrote:
Douglas Harrison wrote:Oh, for heaven's sake. She was no Winona Ryder.



Yeah, but neither is Winona Ryder . . . anymore.

Oh, David, let me have Paris.*

*This is not an entreaty to make Paris Hilton jokes. But feel free.

D.

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Duane
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Postby Duane » Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:50 pm

FrankChurch wrote:I would have cut off a finger to have Winona Ryder make out with me.


You wouldn't have to cut it off. She'd do it for you and run out the door with your wallet.


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