Monday, June 4, 2012

Talking to Outer Space: Listening To Outer Space

It gives away my age to say that I recall in 77 when they launched Voyager into space with photos and a gold record album to show other cultures on other planets what the Earth was made of. How do you sum up an entire planet and its entire history? Not an easy task, but Carl Sagan and Frank Drake took it seriously, even making the album of gold so it would last probably longer than the Earth will still be inhabited.

The recording included greetings in 55 languages and also the sounds of animals, a baby crying and other sounds of earth, as well as a message from our government and scientific information.

In the early 60s, Astrophysicist and astronomer, Frank Drake begin SETI and radio astronomy became a new study. In search of radio signals from space, he had us thinking about the possibilities of picking up signals from another intelligent planet.

Voyager hasn't brought us any visitors, but that's not too unbelievable when you consider the size of our Milky Way, the distance it must cross and the habitable planets it might encounter. In fact, it's rather like knowing the bad guy is somewhere in the state of Iowa, going over the state line and shooting a gun, hoping the bullet finds him. Then, we must assume that intelligent life even cares what's outside of its atmosphere enough to see or notice the Voyager travel and intercepts it successfully and makes sense of what's on it, is even more minuscule. That intelligent life might even have the same 5 senses we do is egocentric. We are designing everything with ourselves in mind, but can we truly believe that human beings exist anywhere else in the universe?

Will SETI have success? It's another enormous crap shoot to assume that another planet out there happened to have its own Marconi who would invent devices that use radio signals to send and receive information. What we invent depends on what we concentrate on. For our planet, we consider communication and transportation to be of highest importance. If we decided weather control and quieting volcanoes were more important, we would jump leaps and bounds in that arena. That another culture exists out there that has the same senses, the same dexterity, the same inventive thoughts and focus is as close to being nonexistent as can be.

Do we give up on life forms being out there? No. We might, however, rethink if we will hear them through radio signals or communicate with them through golden records.

More than likely, this encounter will take the form of something novel in which our senses and technology may not even be looking for it because we have no way to perceive of it in our limited 3-dimensional world with our limited 5 senses. It might be that right now, we have aliens amongst us and would never even know they were here.

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