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Is there another Earth out there?
USA Today ^ | Staff Writer

Posted on 06/04/2003 1:05:01 PM PDT by bedolido

Edited on 04/13/2004 1:40:43 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

Forget the next Star Wars movie. The real space sequel guaranteed to capture public attention, astronomers say, is the discovery of another planet like Earth in our own starry neighborhood -- and it is likely to happen within a decade.


(Excerpt) Read more at usatoday.com ...


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: crevolist; earth; planet; space; xplanets
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1 posted on 06/04/2003 1:05:02 PM PDT by bedolido
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To: bedolido
"The space people will contact us when they can make money by doing so." - David Byrne
2 posted on 06/04/2003 1:23:33 PM PDT by snarkpup
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To: bedolido
"The real space sequel guaranteed to capture public attention, astronomers say, is the discovery of another planet like Earth in our own starry neighborhood -- and it is likely to happen within a decade."

I'll bet ANYONE a million bucks that we don't discover another "planet like Earth in our own starry neighborhood within a decade". ANYONE.

What a load of hooey. I stopped reading after that sentence.
3 posted on 06/04/2003 1:30:09 PM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: bedolido
read later
4 posted on 06/04/2003 1:30:25 PM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: bedolido
Well, before the invention of superluminal transportation, this would be the perfect way to escape a totalitarian world government.
5 posted on 06/04/2003 1:30:57 PM PDT by Skywalk
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To: ConservativeDude
I'd be willing to wager a smaller amount -- say ten bucks. (I'm poor.) If interested, FRmail me a proposal.
6 posted on 06/04/2003 1:36:18 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: bedolido
I think it is highly unlikely there is intelligent life in the galaxy and maybe in the entire universe...excepting earth, of course.

It seems so obvious. Suppose, for example that it takes us 10,000 years from now to produce a space station that can travel to the stars. Further more, assume that each space station finds the resources to split into two space stations every 10,000 years. In only million years, that is 100 doublings. That would be hundreds of trillions of space stations for every star in the galaxy. To quote Enrico Fermi: "Where are they?"

If they were only a million years more advanced, they would have populated here already. Of course, there could be other explainations: Suppose there is something hostile to life in the space between stars. Who knows? But life explodes geometrically. There is no reason to think that truism about life is limited to non-technologically advanced life, right? So if they exist, where are they?
7 posted on 06/04/2003 1:36:41 PM PDT by BillCompton
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; *crevo_list; RadioAstronomer; Scully; Piltdown_Woman; ...
Old topic, new thread. [This ping list is for the evolution side of evolution threads, and sometimes for other science topics. FReepmail me to be added or dropped.]
9 posted on 06/04/2003 1:51:01 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Idiots are on "virtual ignore," and you know exactly who you are.)
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To: BillCompton
So if they exist, where are they?

How do you know they aren't here already? If said civilisation was one million years more advanced than us, say at the level of Homo Sapiens to Homo Erectus, what makes it so obvious that they would be detectable? Heck, stealth aircraft would be magic to people living in the 1500s. Multiply that by 1000.

10 posted on 06/04/2003 1:53:52 PM PDT by glorgau
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To: BillCompton
I think it is highly unlikely there is intelligent life in the galaxy and maybe in the entire universe...excepting earth, of course.

I agree, except for the "excepting earth" part.
11 posted on 06/04/2003 1:56:09 PM PDT by Dimensio (Sometimes I doubt your committment to Sparkle Motion!)
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To: snarkpup
Somewhere in a parallel universe the Red Sox win the World Series more than once every 100 years.
12 posted on 06/04/2003 1:57:17 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets ("ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS, WE PRINT")
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To: glorgau
How do you know they aren't here already?

My point is that if there were 100's of trillions of colonies of them around our sun, we would probably know about them. And our well-being would probably not be on their list. Ultimately, it will be a race to consume resources...biological systems always become that.
13 posted on 06/04/2003 2:03:27 PM PDT by BillCompton
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To: BillCompton
FWIW, in my estimation of The Drake Equation, there should only be some half dozen communicating civilizations at present in the Milky Way.
14 posted on 06/04/2003 2:04:32 PM PDT by AntiGuv ()
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To: Dimensio
I think it is highly unlikely there is intelligent life in the galaxy and maybe in the entire universe...excepting earth, of course.

>I agree, except for the "excepting earth" part.

You have obvously forgotten about the indisputable fact that Hillary Clinton is intelligent.
15 posted on 06/04/2003 2:05:59 PM PDT by BillCompton
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To: AntiGuv
FWIW, in my estimation of The Drake Equation, there should only be some half dozen communicating civilizations at present in the Milky Way.

This assumes that these civilizations, once they reach the ability to travel in space, don't go. If they go, and they multiply, they quickly consume the galaxy.
16 posted on 06/04/2003 2:08:29 PM PDT by BillCompton
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To: ConservativeDude
Within a decade you may be right, within 2 decades you're very probably wrong. Note that by "Earthlike" astronomers mean small, dense and rocky, orbiting close in to the star, like Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury. We may have to examine 100's or 1000's of such planets before we find one with an oxygen rich atmosphere.

The exo-solar planets that have been found so far are gas giants - Jupiters and super-Jupiters.

Oh and btw, given the size of our galaxy, I would consider anything within 1000 light years to be "our neighbourhood" :-)

Further reading in case you're interested (it's a bit technical):

The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia: http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/planets/

and their extra-solar planet catalog (108 current candidate planets): http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/planets/catalog.html
17 posted on 06/04/2003 2:15:12 PM PDT by alnitak ("That kid's about as sharp as a pound of wet liver" - Foghorn Leghorn)
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To: glorgau
Good point.

Although I don't think there are any hnau (C.S. Lewis' term for beings with souls) other than humans, there's no reason to assume that if there were any they'd be recognizable as such, either in appearance or in behavior.

My guess: If we ever did encounter a truly "alien" intelligence, odds are that their/its behavior and motivations would make to sense whatsoever to us. They might invade the Solar System, ignore all attempts at contact, and then leave as suddenly as they came -- after carving the entire surface of Mars into one huge, mysterious abstract sculpture. To my mind the actions of a truly alien intelligence would make no more sense to us than badminton makes sense to an amoeba.

A real alien species would probably be something more like a tiny virus than a giant lizard anyway. Any race or being capable of travelling between stars is going to be highly optimized for survival -- which means small, lightweight, and redundant, like a virus. If we as Earthlings were creating an organism designed for space travel, we'd do well to create a whole bunch of tiny, identical, fast-replicating virus-like Critters rather than One Big Thing. Big things are hard to get going, for one thing, and would require all sorts of complicated engines and things to get anywhere in any kind of reasonable time. Critters, on the other hand, could simply drift through space on plasmas or magnetic fields or be pushed along by a microwave laser beam from the Earth until they ran into something interesting -- an inhabited alien world, say. Instead of invading the alien planet, our Critters would instead let us invade the bodies of the aliens themselves, conquering them at the cellular level, injecting them with our RNA, and turning Them into Us from the inside out. Sounds like a Twilight Zone episode, doesn't it?

Come to think of it, no one really knows where real viruses get their start. How do we know SARS isn't an alien invader, bent on our destruction somehow?

I once saw a cartoon in which a scientist is looking through a microscope at a colony of bacteria, when suddenly the bacteria line up in formation and spell out the words TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER, HUMAN. Maybe the real aliens have been here among us all along...

18 posted on 06/04/2003 2:16:50 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: ConservativeDude
When they say "planet like Earth in our own starry neighborhood within a decade", they mean an Earth sized planet within a few hundred light years.

There are millions of stars in our "neighborhood", and it is almost certain that some of them have earth sized planets. (Our star has several)

19 posted on 06/04/2003 2:17:24 PM PDT by e_engineer
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To: BillCompton
That is an assumption which is not necessarily true. Your essential argument is a fallacy. It is the supposition that: because intersolar travel appears uncommon, extraterrestrial sentience is nonexistent.

First of all, it's worth noting that by 'communicating civilizations' I do not mean civilizations in contact with one another, but rather civilizations that emit any signs of their existence into extraplanetary space (i.e. radio waves, etc.)

Secondly, you assume that any extraterrestrial intelligence would have personality characteristics similar to our own (reproduction rates, exploration impulses, etc).

Third, you assume that hyperadvanced civilizations will operate in a manner similar to our own (corporeal, competitive, expansionary, etc).

Fourth, you assume that the rise of sentient lifeforms is evenly distributed across the lifespan of our galaxy, rather than steadily concentrated toward later (from our perspective, more recent) eras.

Fifth, you assume that superluminal or near luminal travel is something that is an eventual inevitability, for any given civilization. Moreover, that it is an attractive option for great numbers.

I could go on. The point of the matter is that your original thesis is a fallacy.
20 posted on 06/04/2003 2:18:41 PM PDT by AntiGuv ()
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To: ConservativeDude
What a load of hooey.

Of course they won't want to hype this like the Powerball Lottery. The implications are way too big. Even looking for another earthlike planet is bound to upset someone, put someone into a state of denial. Imagine if they actually find one. Not in 10 years, but maybe in 4 years. Who knows?

21 posted on 06/04/2003 2:19:03 PM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: BillCompton
So if they exist, where are they

They do exist but they are GUARDING Iraq's WMD.

22 posted on 06/04/2003 2:20:33 PM PDT by PISANO
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To: bedolido
There must be another Earth, holding all the smart people. It seems we have all the dumb ones here.
23 posted on 06/04/2003 2:22:55 PM PDT by PatrioticAmerican (If the only way an American can get elected is through Mexican votes, we have a war to be waged.)
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To: bedolido
''Finding another Earth will be the single most exciting moment in all of human history,''

The Second Earthing?

24 posted on 06/04/2003 2:23:42 PM PDT by JoeSchem (Okay, now it works: Knight's Quest, at http://wwwgeocities.com/engineerzero)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
more than once every 100 years

Accidentally leave out a couple zeros? Once an epoch, that's all they get. If Williams, Piersall, and Jenson can't do it, it's not meant to be.

25 posted on 06/04/2003 2:24:59 PM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: BillCompton
I think it is highly unlikely there is intelligent life in the galaxy and maybe in the entire universe...excepting earth, of course.

It seems so obvious. Suppose, for example that it takes us 10,000 years from now to produce a space station that can travel to the stars. Further more, assume that each space station finds the resources to split into two space stations every 10,000 years. In only million years, that is 100 doublings. That would be hundreds of trillions of space stations for every star in the galaxy. To quote Enrico Fermi: "Where are they?"

This line of reasoning presupposes that "intelligent life" implies interstellar travel. It doesn't. It doesn't even imply the existence of signals we might detect. Were humans in 3000 BC "intelligent life"?

The answer to "Where are they" could well be "grubbing around on their own little planet". Like ourselves.

"Earthlike" doesn't even imply intelligent life.

If it means earthlike mass, chemical composition, and earthlike orbit around a sunlike star, then inevitably there are countless earthlike planets. If we add the requirement of recognizable organic life, we have no way of estimating the probability.

However, the distance of the sun from the galactic center, the regularity of the sun's orbit, the paucity of nearby stars compared to the galactic arms, and the type of galaxy are likely factors in the possibility of life. Also, given the existence of life, consider the improbability of the chain of events that lead to ourselves.

Given the vastness of the universe, there might still be countless instances of intellegent life out there. Suppose the average per Milky Way type galaxy is say one million, more or less evenly distributed.

Barring interstellar travel, radio in most cases, and incerdible luck location-wise, we'd never know for sure.

26 posted on 06/04/2003 2:27:17 PM PDT by Salman
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To: BillCompton
If they go, and they multiply, they quickly consume the galaxy.

They might well consume what for them is the good stuff. They might have already passed through the solar system and mined it out of whatever they wanted and moved on. More than once, perhaps many times. So here we are living on a slag heap, getting ready to burst upon the unsuspecting galaxy. Think we'll do any better, not burn out after a few hundred lightyears?

27 posted on 06/04/2003 2:30:18 PM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: bedolido

28 posted on 06/04/2003 2:30:50 PM PDT by Ku Commando
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To: Salman
I agree. I love Star Trek as much as anyone, but I think that, realistically, interstellar travel simply isn't possible, and that even if there is another sentient advanced species "out there" that never the twain shall meet. And even if interstellar travel is actually possible, you have to have the will to actually do it, which I doubt that we do. It's been over thirty years since any human has even ventured out of low earth orbit.
29 posted on 06/04/2003 2:31:12 PM PDT by jpl
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To: Bisesi
Arthur fC. Clark ...

"if space creatures haven't evolved the high enough intelligence to communicate above pig farmers in overalls in swamps ---

I ain't gonna believe in em" !
30 posted on 06/04/2003 2:31:54 PM PDT by f.Christian (( apocalypsis, from Gr. apokalypsis, from apokalyptein to uncover, from apo- + kalyptein to cover))
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To: BillCompton
I think it is highly unlikely there is intelligent life in the galaxy and maybe in the entire universe

Extend that to complex life like animals and plants, intelligent or not and we can agree.

31 posted on 06/04/2003 2:33:34 PM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: AntiGuv; BillCompton
Guys, 2 issues here, the Drake Equation (estimate of number of earthlike planets in the galaxy) and the Fermi "Where are they" Paradox. In its most succint form, the Where are they? paradox may be rendered as [courtesy Dr. Jill Tarter]:

1. IF extraterrestrial civilizations have existed elsewhere and "elsewhen" in our galaxy,

2. AND IF interstellar travel/colonization/migration is
inevitable for at least one of them,

3. THEN simple calculations indicate that an expanding wave of colonization will fill the galaxy on a time scale short compared to the lifetime of the galaxy,

4. BUT we do not "see" them here,

5. THEREFORE (1) is wrong; there has never been another technological civilization anywhere or "anywhen" on our galaxy except the Earth!


As regards point 2, I would like to turn it on its head. If we posit that technological civilizations do arise fairly frequently, AND if the galaxy is not filled by [at least] one of them, then for that to be true we require that ALL individuals in ALL those societies eschew space travel for the ENTIRE existence of those civilizations. This is highly unlikely, to say the least.

All this assumes that interstellar space travel is possible: my feelings are that for a civilization that has harnessed the entire resources of its solar system (including its Oort cloud), it is.
32 posted on 06/04/2003 2:37:59 PM PDT by alnitak ("That kid's about as sharp as a pound of wet liver" - Foghorn Leghorn)
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To: RightWhale
>Imagine if they actually find one. Not in 10 years, but maybe in 4 years. Who knows?
"My roommates work for CBS News. Everbody in the biz knows something is up. The local stations reportedly are taking dozens of calls a day [by Jun 3] about that anomaly near the sun. Planet X is not hidden, if you can´t see it, you´re lying." [6/3 - "new" zeta talk]

Believe it or not,
ZetaTalk is still saying
Planet X is here,

and now they've added
a diagram of how it
will stop earth's spinning...

33 posted on 06/04/2003 2:41:25 PM PDT by theFIRMbss
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To: bedolido
I don't know about all this another Earth stuff but I'm sure there's another planet, ever talk to a liberal?

Jammer
34 posted on 06/04/2003 2:43:01 PM PDT by JamminJAY (This space for rent)
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To: theFIRMbss
I'll tell you, if Planet X wanted to sneak up on Alaska, this is the time of the year to do it. It's light out 24/7.
35 posted on 06/04/2003 2:43:59 PM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: jpl
Interstellar travel is possible (there isn't any magic wall keeping us in the Solar System). The question is, is it practical?
36 posted on 06/04/2003 2:49:17 PM PDT by Junior (Computers make very fast, very accurate mistakes.)
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To: theFIRMbss
From your link:

Today [Jun 3] from governmental sources in Kazakhstan we have heard that real goes motion a pole and beside us unrolled program of preparation to natural disasters.

Sounds like the aliens are already here...

37 posted on 06/04/2003 2:51:47 PM PDT by Junior (Computers make very fast, very accurate mistakes.)
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To: alnitak; BillCompton
First of all, there's every plausibility that life is common but that technological civilizations do not arise fairly frequently. Out of millions and millions of species on Earth, only one has developed a technological civilization. Moreover, that particular evolutionary tree took some 600 million years in order to accomplish the task..

Secondly, you again assume not only that other species would have personality characteristics conducive to interstellar expansion, but also that interstellar travel, migration, colonization, and communication are all relatively plausible, effortless, and attractive.

Consider if you will, an Earth where near-luminal travel were available - tomorrow. How many people would want to take such a trip? Where would they go? Let's say they hop on over to the next earthlike planet. They would be essentially cut off from Earth. One communication signal would take at least a decade to travel back and forth.

What would they do once they're on that planet? What if the planet turns out unsuitable? What if they have a mutiny along the way? A civil war? They have to establish the colony. For what? Are they dissidents, or whatever? Now, how long will it take for them to set up a another expansive, resource gathering civilization? In order to send out more colonies. What are their motivations? Or, do they wait for this new world to fill up first. What if their civilization collapses?

The questions proliferate ad infinitum. The fact of the matter is that: we do not see indications of other civilizations, which suggests that other civilizations do not expand to fill the galaxy, and we don't know precisely why that is...

38 posted on 06/04/2003 2:52:32 PM PDT by AntiGuv ()
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To: RightWhale
> if Planet X wanted to sneak up on Alaska ...

Maggie O'Connell
wouldn't be afraid of no
sneakin' rogue planet...


39 posted on 06/04/2003 2:54:45 PM PDT by theFIRMbss
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To: Junior
>Today [Jun 3] from governmental sources in Kazakhstan we have heard that real goes motion a pole and beside us unrolled program of preparation to natural disasters.

>>Sounds like the aliens are already here...

[laughs] I saw that, too.
I assume that's high-level,
NSA code talk...

(For real double-talk,
however, nothing beats their
date "explanation." [?!]

40 posted on 06/04/2003 2:59:05 PM PDT by theFIRMbss (;-)
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To: bedolido
Got our eyes to the sky here in California.

Photograph take from the Hadenuf Observatory, using a 10" Schmidt Cassegrain, catadioptric computerized telescope, eyepiece projection, w/ tele-extender, film format with Kodak 400 at 1 second exposure. Out of focus a little, but working on it.


41 posted on 06/04/2003 3:03:03 PM PDT by Joe Hadenuf
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To: alnitak; BillCompton
And, some more points. What if we are the first (assuming we're the first, since we don't know yet)? Someone has to be first.. What if there are half a dozen other civilizations out there, with perhaps one or two expanding - slowly? What if the one - or twenty - that are expanding simply don't find our system especially suitable for their interests? What if we just can't recognize their communications? (Especially if they have a superluminal means of communication). What if they have much more languid reproduction rates; much shorter lifespans; what if they're marine?

what if, what if, what if.. All we know is that at least one (but probably more) what ifs apply, assuming 'they' are out there, which they probably are..

42 posted on 06/04/2003 3:03:31 PM PDT by AntiGuv ()
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To: glorgau
How do you know they aren't here already? If said civilisation was one million years more advanced than us, say at the level of Homo Sapiens to Homo Erectus, what makes it so obvious that they would be detectable?

They'd be really sadistic bustards to keep allowing us to elect Clintons, and Ted Kennedy. Perhaps they use us for comic relief.

43 posted on 06/04/2003 3:04:07 PM PDT by Moonman62
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To: theFIRMbss
Okay, so they won't give the dates for fear the wealthy will get to safety and leave their poorer brethren behind. So, instead of letting anyone survive, they'll make sure we all die because otherwise the wrong people would live. And this makes sense how?
44 posted on 06/04/2003 3:11:56 PM PDT by Junior (Computers make very fast, very accurate mistakes.)
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To: Junior
Interstellar travel is possible (there isn't any magic wall keeping us in the Solar System). The question is, is it practical?

Practical for whom? For ourselves eventually, maybe. What about, is it desirable given non-infinite resources and other competing desires? Assuming no general reversion to barbarism (not a sure bet), I think we will eventually conquer the solar system. Beyond that is a helluva big leap and would require the whole human race to cooperate with a religious or quasi-religious devotion requiring unprecidented self denial.

That is barring the discovery of cheap interstellar teleportation requiring a complete overhaul of the laws of physics or some similar plot device :)

Suppose somewhere out there are a species fully our equals or superiors intellectually who happen to be marine invertibrates. Would they even ever know there is an "out there"?

45 posted on 06/04/2003 3:14:05 PM PDT by Salman
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To: ConservativeDude
I'll bet ANYONE a million bucks that we don't discover another "planet like Earth in our own starry neighborhood within a decade". ANYONE.

I'll take that bet. But with your attitude and closed mind, even if they discovered one, you probably wouldn't believe it.

What a load of hooey. I stopped reading after that sentence.

There is always the Martha Stewart thread....

46 posted on 06/04/2003 3:14:13 PM PDT by Joe Hadenuf
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To: AntiGuv
First of all, there's every plausibility that life is common but that technological civilizations do not arise fairly frequently. Out of millions and millions of species on Earth, only one has developed a technological civilization. Moreover, that particular evolutionary tree took some 600 million years in order to accomplish the task..

Exactly! That's what the Fermi Paradox argument says - there are no other civilizations in the galaxy.

Secondly, you again assume not only that other species would have personality characteristics conducive to interstellar expansion, but also that interstellar travel, migration, colonization, and communication are all relatively plausible, effortless, and attractive.

I'm not assuming anything, I'm trying to reason it out. Read my post #32, penultimate paragraph, again for why I think your argument about other technological civilizations not colonizing the galaxy is wrong.

Secondly, you're lumping things together to make it sound more impressive, but in reality interstellar travel implies migration, colonization and communication. There's really only one bone of contention - is interstellar travel possible?

I never said they were plausible, effortless or attractive. The only one of those three conditions we can comment on with any certainty is "effortless" - certainly, it won't be!

47 posted on 06/04/2003 3:19:47 PM PDT by alnitak ("That kid's about as sharp as a pound of wet liver" - Foghorn Leghorn)
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To: alnitak
Within 10 years, an Earth-size planet -- the size that scientists consider the most likely to contain oceans and therefore life -- is expected to turn up in searches by two scheduled NASA probes. Astronomers hope to be able to detect life, or rule it out, in such places within 20 years.

They said earth size, earth like planet. They didn't say with people and freeways. A planet with life, and even civilizations is very possible. Just because we here on the tiny planet earth have not yet discovered it, does not mean it isn't so.

Exactly! That's what the Fermi Paradox argument says - there are no other civilizations in the galaxy.

I don't care what some guy on tiny planet earth says, he like everyone else, has not a clue if life actually exists in our galaxy or beyond. Not a clue. No one on this planet knows this. They can speculate, but that is all they are doing.

48 posted on 06/04/2003 3:28:32 PM PDT by Joe Hadenuf
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To: Salman
>>Would they even ever know there is an "out there"?<<

Why not? We're exploring the oceans by putting on suits that keep us supplied with air, they'd just wear suits that keep air out and water in.
49 posted on 06/04/2003 3:33:21 PM PDT by CobaltBlue
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To: Joe Hadenuf
Joe...I admire your spunk! And, agree with you. My chip$ are on your side of the table.

I continue to be amazed that we still are among fellow mirror-fogging folks who are "convinced" our ever expanding universe, isn't.

If we're alone, it sure is a waste of space.

Mustang sends from "Malpaso News"..

50 posted on 06/04/2003 3:34:02 PM PDT by Mustang (Evil Thrives When Good People Do Nothing!)
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