The Search For Life Beyond Earth

The Search For Life Beyond Earth


There may be other intelligent civilizations
capable of communicating with us. And impact on ourselves of contact with
another intelligent civilization is now being discussed
by serious thinkers the world over. It seems to me just perfectly natural
that we would not be the only manifestation of life in the cosmos. Out there is a million other civilizations
and they’re all a lot smarter than us. We now know without a doubt that the possibilities
for life are literally innumerable. And we haven’t begun to look. We have way more places still to go. So we take very large telescopes and we point them
at nearby stars or nearby galaxies and look for that special kind of radio signal
that we think is only produced by technology. It’s time to commit to finding the answer
to search for life beyond Earth. We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know. We are literally doing an experiment to find
out what the answer is rather than doing what we’ve done for millennia, which is to ask the priests
and the philosophers what we should believe
about life beyond Earth. Dr. Jill Tarter is part of a movement known
as SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. She’s dedicated her life to it. She’s also the inspiration behind Jodie
Foster’s character in the sci-fi movie “Contact”. So if it’s just us, seems like an awful
waste of space. Today, SETI is a mission involving scientists from around the world. So what SETI searches look for
is electromagnetic radiations like radio light that is different than radio signals that we get from natural objects like stars and galaxies
and quasars, and consistent with the kind of light or electromagnetic radiation
that’s produced by technology. Andrew Siemion heads up a team
at Berkeley University. We’re up to 8.8 petabytes at Green Bank, right? For 10 years they will be scanning the cosmos
as part of a $100 million privately funded initiative. Technological sources have a very interesting property, which is that they can compress electromagnetic
energy in time or in frequency. So you can have a lot of energy, a lot of
radio energy at just one place on the radio dial and that’s something that nature
doesn’t tend to do. The team’s work is the most comprehensive
search ever undertaken in nearly six decades of SETI efforts. And technological advances mean that the search
is finally building momentum. What we’ve done for a number of years, is
to go to a large radio telescope, presumably a national facility and rent time or figure out a way to piggyback on other
people’s observations. And so we wanted to get to a situation where
we were doing SETI 24/7. 290 miles north-east of San Francisco is
the Allen Telescope, a cluster of small dishes dedicated in large
part to SETI research. The Allen Telescope Array is the first time
we’ve ever built a large radio telescope out of a lot of small dishes. The joy of having small dishes is that they
look at a large area on the sky all at once. Ultimately, we’d like to have 350 of these
six meter dishes here. Right now we have 42. Alongside more telescopes, more powerful computers
offer a chance to expand the search. The quantity of data produced is staggering. With our next generation of radio telescopes we’ll be ingesting as much data from just one telescope as is coursing through the entire Internet
at any given second. So we collect a massive amount of data from
the telescopes that we observe with and some snippets of that data are actually
brought back to our lab here at Berkeley. Like there is this like gradual rollout. We have to look for the sorts of signals we
are trying to find and to do that we develop powerful algorithms, including algorithms that use things like
machine learning and artificial intelligence. Scientists now know that most stars have planets. Jill Tarter believes this radically increases
the chances life is out there. When I was a graduate student, we knew about
nine planets, those in our solar system but we didn’t know about planets around
other stars, not at all. Today we know that there are more planets
out there than stars. Every star has on average at least one planet
and usually more. So that is a huge game changer. The universe seems a lot more potentially bio-friendly and now lots of people are interested in the
question of life beyond Earth. There are more stars than grains of sand on
all the beaches in the world. If you look at one of these grains of sand
and say that’s the sun and the third planet around it is habitable and you look at the beach, I mean how could it happen in one grain of
sand and not in others? So we’re very optimistic about SETI, it’s probably just a matter of us being
able to recognize what a very advanced civilization would look like. Laurence Doyle was part of the NASA team that
used the Kepler space telescope to hunt for planets outside our solar system, but now he is bringing the search back down to earth. There are various kinds of intelligence, but
the one that SETI is going to detect is going to be communication intelligence. Everything communicates. All animals and even plants communicate. It’s just a matter of how complex is
that communication. I thought, “Well, why aren’t we studying nonhuman
communication on Earth?” So as a proxy for an extraterrestrial signal,
we proposed starting with bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales and squirrel monkeys to kind of design an intelligence filter for
SETI so that we can recognize the general rules of intelligence. So we’ve devised various ways of looking at
a signal, a message, and analyzing how complex the relationships
are between signals. In human linguistics, the relationships are
called syntax. If you’re missing a word, you can recover it. If you’re missing two words in a row,
you can still recover. Three, you can see it gets harder. If you go up to nine, there’s still a possibility
you could fill in those words, but there’s very low connection. If you’re missing 10 words, you might as well
just guess a word from the dictionary. So we go up to ninth order entropy, that is,
there are still connections nine words away of grammar and syntax. All animals, all people, all extraterrestrials,
they have to follow these rules if they’re transmitting knowledge to each other. And if and when we get a message, we can recognize
the complexity of that communication system. We can say ok, we go up to ninth order entropy,
word entropy. Squirrel monkeys probably go up to second order. Humpback whales, we don’t know yet. We haven’t got enough data. Extraterrestrial signal comes in and they’d
go up to 20th order entropy, then we are gonna know that their communication
system is to ours as ours is to squirrel monkeys. We are connected to this huge cosmos
and we want to know what else might have evolved out there. Were we to know for sure that the universe
actually many many times has given rise to some organism like us that thinks and asks
questions about the universe itself, I think it could very much change
our perspective on science and our perspective as humans. And I think the ultimate outcome of that change
in perspective could be truly amazing indeed.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

100 Comments

  1. What does it matter if there is life out there. Any intelligent life will be beyond our ability to visit or even communicate with. They have the same problem we do. Time and space.

  2. I just wonder who are the people or institutions that fund this expensive,sustainable and perhaps "non profitable" research ? And why they want to fund this research ?

  3. I believe there are aliens in the other planets in the space.

    But I don't think we can meet them.
    Just to look at how selfish we human kinds are, by the time the human kinds will use the technology killing themselves rather than have time to go out into the space.
    Vice versa, the aliens would kill themselves before coming to meet us.
    This is the destiny of being a product of evolution.

    If the aliens are really able to come to earth, they would only fly across like the UFOs.

  4. Alien contact hell they have been flying around on earth for decades if not centuries. Please they are already here. There are hundreds of videos of them right here on youtube.

  5. Wow! I am geeking out on Bloomberg right now! I would pay to see more of this content, especially with all of the depressing news happening on Earth! Love it!

  6. Interesting and thoughtful. I've just loved your recent space content.

    I have quite conflicted thoughts about this whole SETI endeavour. I'm glad they're doing it, and I find it very interesting, just about from every point of view, and the people doing it are super smart and interesting too. However, I don't rate their chance of success as being very high.
    Seth Shostak famously predicted that we would detect some form of artificial extraterrestrial signal within 20 years, or else he would buy everyone a coffee. He may regret saying that…
    One aspect of this enterprise that is very rarely discussed is whether an extraterrestrial species would ever allow any of their radio transmissions to be detectable from any significant distance. I would wager not. In an unknown universe, it would surely be near suicidal to advertise your presence. I mean, why would you? Why would you expend vast amounts of energy and resources to broadcast into the vastness of space? What possible benefit could it bring? And on what time scale? And at what risk?
    The most likely recipient of any powerful signal sent into space would be some kind of machine intelligence, or autonomous probe, both of which are far more likely to be found than their biological creators. Machines can outlive and 'out-travel' their living brethren by an exponential factor. But, in this case, what would be their response? The intentions and behaviour of any machine guided by strong AI could be very difficult to predict. And, if it ever became necessary, how would we communicate or reason with such a machine? With maths, or language, in binary?
    In addition to the things I've already mentioned, there is the issue of rarity. The more that we learn about the history of life on earth, the more we realise how unlikely we are. The most obvious and least understood event in the evolution of life was the jump from prokaryotic to eukaryotic life, which, after having taken 2 billion years to occur in what must be the most ideal conditions for life, is considered as a prime candidate for being the 'great filter', or at least one of them. This, in addition to a whole load of other 'precisely calibrated' events and conditions, means that we need to accept that the likelihood of technological species other than ourselves is incredibly small.
    How small? Impossible to put a figure on, of course, but I think that the idea that our galaxy, collectively, is teeming with alien civilisations, is optimistic, to say the least. In fact, I would consider it remarkable if there was just one such civilisation somewhere else in our galaxy. And if there was, it would likely be a very long way away. Just imagine, for a moment, how powerful their signal would have to be, if they were 50,000 light years away, for an unambiguous detection. And if they were on the other side of the galactic centre, would we be able to make any detection at all?
    So it is those two things; rarity, and the completely rational desire to stay 'hidden', that make it, in my view, so unlikely that SETI will detect anything, for a very long time to come.
    And yet, I am very happy that seti exists, that they do what they do. It is a tribute to human curiosity, science and engineering. In fact, I think there would be something very wrong if we weren't doing it. I think Seth Shostak is one of the most entertaining and interesting speakers I have ever seen. I wish them every success with it.

  7. I have doubts about the existence of other alien civilizations. Life is an ok assumption, but civilizations are totally different. The Fermi Paradox is just too real for that not to be at least likely.

  8. In order to detect other forms of communication it is essential to first attain an understanding of gravity. That is the clue to crossing the vast distance of space, time and civilizations. It is unlikely that they employ radio signals in the manner in which we conceptualize their use within a framework that is essentially fixed, a mono-dimensional universe concept.

    Footnote:

    Gravity is the elastic reaction of one material passing through another oblivious of the presence of the other.

    We are already familiar with this concept based on the behaviour of electromagnetic waves that we call light. Radio waves, i.e., electromagnetic waves, of shorter and longer wavelengths than light pass right through solid substances, as if this material did not exist. The elastic resistance might slow their passage or distort their path, but is insufficient to make these waves spring back. Electromagnetic waves in the frequency range of light waves cannot penetrate substances and are reflected back giving us vision, enabling us to see our surroundings.

    A similar principle gives material its properties, which makes the space it occupies mutually exclusive so that one substance displaces, mixes with or bounces off, but cannot penetrate another substance in a corresponding vibration range when brought into contact with each other.

    That radio waves pass right through is not surprising considering that material is 99.99¹³ % empty space. In a relative sense an electron is farther away from the nucleus of its atom than the most distant planet is away from our sun that by comparison is packed tight against it. So solid material is comprised of virtually nothing.

    It is not electrons spinning around the nucleus at a tremendous speed that gives substances their material properties. Material properties are the result of their rate of vibration. A difference in the rate enables a diverse assembly accounting for a range of distinct elements.

    Is outer space that we erroneously believe to be a vacuum in fact a solid material vibrating at a different rate than our 8 Hz fundamental frequency here on planet earth? Vibrating at a different rate we are unaware of its existence. That is why visitors to our planet have an impossible time maintaining a visible presence.

    The only clue that we have that the space surrounding our planet is an undetectable material is its elastic reaction when we attempt to leave earth. As we ascend upward from the surface of our planet this invisible and otherwise undetectable substance stretches like an elastic fabric or compresses like rubber that springs back into position when the force that keeps or propels us upwards is released slamming us back down into earth.

    That is gravity.

  9. Here's one thing to ponder….If there is a technologically advanced civilization out there,why haven't they come here and taken over? That's what we do when we find indigenous people who aren't as well armed.We murder them,enslave them,take their land and their natural resources. If there are aliens out there with a more advanced civilization,they're going to do the same thing when they find us. Why should they be nice to us when we're not nice to anybody on this planet?

  10. Imagine putting one ant 🐜 on one side of the world and another ant on the other side of the world and see how long it takes for them to find eachother.

  11. In case you guys haven't…. Please check Dr.Steven Greer and his speech… Before you talk about extraterrestrials

  12. This video would have taken so long to make. It has its own soundtrack.. This is a very high production for a YouTube video

  13. For the people of East Turkistan and those who still have humanity in their hearts. Chinese identity in East Turkistan is an invader, no debate needed. To call the invader a government is a form of betrayal to the human dignity. Because a government doesn't murder, doesn't kill innocent people by torturing them.

  14. This explanation of the issue is just basic, and it provides nothing for someone who has already thought about the subject much. Most scientists now don't believe radio waves will be the place aliens communicate. It's non-directional and thus wasteful.
    The point is that the distances are vast. In our searchable area, it's very unlikely anything will ever come up.

  15. what a waste of time and resources , the Contact Protocol is a biological one not technological , we aint making contact because we are not ready yet as human beings .

  16. Just take psychedelics, the intelligent life is all around you – the Earth itself, and you can reach the stars too. Change your inner antennae. Back to how people used to communicate with the 'other dimensions'.

  17. There is life everywhere it can be, intelligent life, that's another question…. I think we are probably the first intelligent life in our Universe. It took nearly 5 Billion years from our Sun's inception to get to us, which is more than a 3rd of the life of our Universe, with an astronomical amount of luck and circumstance. The chances of intelligent life appearing is just enormously insignificant. Even with Trillions of planets, it's insignificant. Our intelligence is not needed for life to thrive, its a double edged sword that is just a mis-step in evolution. Really isn't needed at all. Although saying that, it would be a travesty if it didn't happen. The beauty and wonder should be seen.

  18. I think life exists beyond Earth, though I think the aspect of intelligent life is one in a billionth trillion. We did evolve the way we did because Dinosaurs became extinct, so what are the odds that other life could be intelligent, if life itself is so rare. I think the ability to use tools and language is rare, and if it were so common, there would be more species of other animals that would have evolved with the same, if not somewhat different intelligence. Additionally with the aspect of life being rare in an astronomical universe, I think intelligence is just unique. Not impossible, just rarer than finding life itself.

  19. Well , kinda pointless effort if you ask me , they are searching for an advance civ with our same tech signal pattern …come on that’s pointless, aren’t they supposed to be more advanced?… our telecommunication sistem its almost useless in distances among our own solar sistem , if there’s any more advanced civ out there they can’t be using same tech ways and if there’s any civ with our same tech by the time we reach they signal that most be dead long time ago. So this is a waste of time

  20. It's a huge chance of Aliens to exist, but even bigger that they don't exist because we are living in a simulation (according to scientists and Elon Musk). Perhaps the biggest value is to figure out things on your own.

  21. the point of finding them becomes more ambiguous when they are far away because the signal lag will make communications with them a bit more than cumbersome

  22. Alas, but if I were a betting person, I would bet that the chances of intelligent life are vanishingly small, even if life is common. Our own existence was contingent on many chance events over the 3 billion years of life on earth. There is no evolutionary rule that says intelligent life is inevitable. We can only search in our own celestial back yard. If intelligent life averaged one or less per galaxy, we have no hope of finding anything.

  23. What would intelligent life want with a species that stupid it still believes and kills in the name of
    imaginary sky wizards…

  24. They can’t leave low earth orbit 🤦🏼‍♂️common people wake the fuck up disconnect from the indoctrination

  25. Stop listening to this corporate Bullshit. We already have and are communicating with our cosmic Family. Stop listening to this corporate fiction , LIES, Misinformation. These idiots can't even tell you What Gravity is? Why would you listen to anything they say?

  26. Man's arrogance is to think another civilization have radio signals like us. For all we know they created a form of communication far ahead of our time.

  27. I really dont understand the hype for finding intelligent life beyond our own planet at this time.

    If we find life as advanced than ourselves and neither can travel between planets yet, could it not spark a arms race between races?
    If we find life more advanced than ourselves and THEY CAN travel between the stars, than if we base a direction that could go from our own history, we would be subjugated in some form or another.

  28. I used to say the same a Jodie foster in the Movie, way before her, that it would be an awful waste of space if we were the only life in the Universe. Now I am not longer that sure. Now there is life beyond earth, after all the Universe itself is alive. It is a ginormous quantum computer packing ten to the power of 86 cubits of raw processing power. Its way, way smarter than we are. Yet it too has its limits. The speed of light for instance it cannot process the simulation it presents for us as reality any faster. So I think it is more than likely, it cannot process the simulation of reality of many more conscious beings, then there are on earth already.

  29. Very high intelligence uses your own symbolic vocabulary and projects onto your visual cortex. You probably wont see or hear anything let alone be able to record it.

  30. I remember seti before they turned it around onto us …. I used to look into space for hours… now I can’t see the stars,, all I see is the earth? Why?

  31. Put the boot on the other foot! To be truthful we are a parasite, and anybody with any brain would stay the hell away . It's not us the general population it's the minority people with pieces of paper and materialistic things think they have more say! do you have more say! Armies countries it's just greed greed greed . It's a shame if somebody come to our country to be quarantined locked away , be frightened of parasitic behaviour am I wrong?

  32. "The possibilities for life are literally innumerable." I've been saying this since the 7th grade haha. We only know 5% of the observable universe, so hopefully that will be 6% in the near future.

  33. Id guess that an advanced civilization would communicate telepathically…..They'd have no need for radio waves….Star Maps would likely be on a hard drive since satellites don't transmit far enough.

  34. Things I want to see before I die …
    Functional quantum computer (consumer level)…
    Nuclear fusion for energy source (feasible)

    And ET !

  35. Isn't this a waste of time and money? The idea that aliens exist was debunked a long time ago. Belief in aliens is part of a backward spiritual world view, or religion. I certainly hope these cult gurus aren't being funded by taxpayers.

  36. The problem with SETI is that they are NOT searching for life, they are searching for RADIO SIGNALS. Our world has had life for 4.5 billion years (in some form, it was pretty simple in the distant past) but we have only had radio signals for about a century. Life is probably common but most forms of life are not able to generate radio communication. Can you get radio communication from a kangaroo? NO YOU CANNOT. Can you get radio communication from a penguin? NO YOU CANNOT. Can you get radio communication from any human if that human was born 200 years ago? NO YOU CANNOT. See my point? They need to find ways to seek out life on other worlds EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT CAPABLE OF SENDING US RADIO SIGNALS.

  37. Neil Armstrong, for his entire life swore he said "That's one small step for A man…" not "That's one small step for man." He wrote it down. He rehearsed it for his brother. The transmission was incomplete and cut "A" out before "A man". How horrible, and ironic, that a scientific broadcast like this, explaining how broadcast information can be lost would quote Armstrong incorrectly.

  38. Problem with this is that all those stars you see are LIGHT years away, many are Billion LIGHT years away. Because of this, we are looking into the PAST and those stars you see were that way many years ago! So any frequency SETI gets will be slower to get to Earth because it will not be able to travel at the speed of light, making it really useless. So …….

  39. More than likely, other advanced civilizations have virtualized themselves, or have quarantined our sector of space; for we are savages.

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