Friday, November 03, 2006

SETI : Fag Papers Blown off the Eiffel Tower?

Just added a bit toSETI - the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence, in Wikipedia.

It goes something like this:

The fifth assumption behind SETI is that intelligent life does not always destroy itself. The duration of human beings in relation to earth time has been likened to the thickness of a piece of cigarette paper placed on the topmost railing of the Eiffel Tower. Earth-time is the Eiffel tower, human history is the paper. SETI assumes that two pieces of paper exist at exactly the same height, but the planetary towers on which we stand are in fact of a hugely different. If a human civilisation capable of sending electromagnetic signals continues for hundreds of thousands of years, the paper becomes a little thicker and the likelihood that we will exist simultaneously with another transmitting/receiving civilisation is increased. If however, our civilisation destroys itself through nuclear war or as a result of releases of greenhouse gases and other erosions of our life support system, and if other civilisations have the same proclivities, then the probability of two competent civilisations coinciding in time and making contact with each other becomes vanishingly small.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Hi Richard,

Jared Diamond, in the 3rd Chimpanzee, has a fairly interesting view about SETI that hadn't occurred to me before.

He says that, given how technologically advanced human societies have tended to behave towards more primitive societies, it is folly to try and signal our prescence to some highly advanced alien species. From our own history, we can only assume we would be enslaved, and the earth taken over.
He says our best hope is to keep quiet and hope nobody notices us.

I think he is probably right, but my curiosity to know what's out there outweighs my fear of enslavement. The thought of advanced alien civilisations is just too exciting.