In the discussion thread: The 'Wow!' Signal: One Man's Search for SETI's Most Tantalizing Trace of Alien Life [View all]
Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)
Mon Feb 20, 2012, 11:01 AM
Peace Patriot (21,822 posts)
8. Thanks for the update on the "Wow" signal!
Last edited Mon Feb 20, 2012, 11:02 AM - Edit history (1)
It's a very good article--clear, straightforward, very informative. Gray makes an interesting analogy to fishing. The "Wow" signal was like getting a tug on your fishing line. You've got something but you're not sure if it's a fish or what. So you keep your line in that spot, rather than in some other, in the reasonable hope that the tug you felt was a fish. Human efforts to pick up an extraterrestrial signal were too random, too limited and too short in duration (a minute per spot) to be good follow-up to the tug on the line of the "Wow" signal.
He makes another useful analogy to a "lighthouse" signal. If extraterrestrial economics are like our own, those possibly broadcasting a radio signal don't have the huge amounts of energy available to broadcast a continuous signal in every direction all the time--but might be broadcasting something like a lighthouse beacon--an intermittent signal. Thus, it might come back round again at some unknown (by us) time interval. And in that case, the absence of a repeat of the signal does not mean that it wasn't a signal from intelligent beings. It might mean that they had to fatten the pockets of their big banksters and war profiteers and other leeches on public funds, first, and were thus short-funded for the most important scientific pursuit, ever. They may not be "gods." They may not be so far advanced that they can rope the power of suns to their will. They may be struggling to push their society to higher pursuits, against the power of greedbags and their hired "creationists," just like us.
Gray makes another interesting observation--something else I didn't know (as to the fate of this signal in later scientific efforts):
Over the years I've talked to a lot of astronomers and a lot of people involved with SETI, and whenever the topic of the "Wow!" comes up, they seem to believe that everybody has looked for it, that it's been checked out. But I've never been able to find anyone else who looked for it. In fact, nobody other than Ohio State seemed all that interested in trying to confirm it at all. Now fortunately that created a situation where I was able to convince several scientists to help me look for it, using various kinds of radio telescopes, including the Very Large Array, the Mount Pleasant Radio Observatory in Tasmania, and the small one that I built myself. So it's possible that what I bring to this is simply the willingness to go out and look.
In a hundred years from now it's likely that we won't be limited to these giant dish things that stare at the sky and only see one little spot. It's possible that there will be some sort of technology that can look at the whole sky at the same time, with the same sensitivity as you get with a big dish, and perhaps, when we look, at some interval we'll see a flash, a signal, and maybe that's the way we'll find broadcasters, if any are out there. But in the meantime, you know, you have to keep a line in the water.
He presumes that our civilization--the most technologically advanced in human history--will still be around a hundred years from now, and will have continued to advance in technology and scientific pursuits. Enlightened Romans of the 4th or 5th centuries A.D. might have thought something similar--that Roman civilization would never end. Rome was so amazing at building roads, aqueducts and public works of every kind, at very widespread education of the populace, at the accumulation of knowledge (for instance, the Alexandria Library), at utilizing Greek advances in medicine and mathematics, at communications, at safe travel and other achievements such as the legal system and the governmental system (which even granted the "plebians" some political power) that were the pride of Rome, they may not have seen the coming disintegration of the Empire that, when it happened, was so precipitous (the "fall of Rome" in the 5th century).
We have a lot of symptoms of decline, very like Rome, and have added some of our own self-destructive portents--such as deforestation, overuse of fossil fuels and destabilization of earth's climate--and our fabled "democracy" clearly has been hijacked by the forces of greed and disabled as a corrective force. "Democracy," which is the best system of government ever devised, to be able to correct the course of the "ship of state" when it is foundering, has been strangled. And, looking around at today's U.S.A., you most certainly get the feeling that our "ship of state" is heading for an iceberg, so to speak.
When Rome fell, the result was a thousand years of darkness--ignorance, disease, widespread servitude on Medieval estates, no options for most people, travel made impossible, vast, indeed, catastrophic loss of knowledge, trashing and looting of public works, rampant persecution and repression of science and of all humanistic pursuits, the rise and triumph of an extremely repressive form of Christianity, the failure of trade (which often promoted progressive values), and many other horrors, which made Rome's "sins" (slavery--albeit non-racist slavery, with the possibility that merit could free someone from slave status; territorial wars; and loss of the ideals of the "republic") pale by comparison. Anyone who thinks that the Church's monopoly on literacy and manuscripts somehow redeems life in the Middle Ages ought to be required to go back in time, and live then. Modern people (us) would understand and be able to survive in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. Not so Medieval Europe and England, where we would quickly go insane (or be burned at the stake). There was such a prison around the human mind and spirit, that we would despair of humanity ever breaking out of it. And it took a thousand years to do so.
I think, right now, that it's very unlikely that, a hundred years from now, the U.S. will have developed "some sort of technology that can look at the whole sky at the same time," or any other such advancement. Possibly some other civilization (China, if they survive climate change?) will do so. But I think it's likely that a Medieval-type darkness will descend on the whole planet. Climate change and various plagues, and wars, will wipe out billions of people. If human life continues, it will be in isolated communities characterized by ignorance and tyranny (for the most part). It will replicate the catastrophe of the fall of the Rome, on a world-wide scale (because of the reach of U.S. civilization).
The fact that the U.S. has already sacrificed its space program to the awesome greed of the 1% is one item in my unhappy "crystal ball." There are others that we are all aware of, to some degree--the loss of U.S. manufacturing, the export of war, the corporate-run, 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines, the prevalence of homeless in an alleged democratic country, the vast discrepancy between rich and poor, the utter unaccountability of leaders (for instance, those who lied us into an unnecessary and unjust war, and into torture and egregious violation of our own laws), corporate media promotion of hostility to science, rational thinking and secular government, the enforced dependence on a vanishing resource (oil), the completely undemocratic licensing of more nuclear power plants in the face of the Japanese nuclear power horror, the decimation of budgets for education, and more.
It's difficult to find ANYTHING that portends progress and MORE enlightenment--although I have to say that the corporate media deliberately (I think) suppresses information about progressive movements and hopeful signs. They have almost entirely suppressed information about the vast, awesome, leftist democracy movement in Latin America, for instance. Our democratic ideals are as hard to kill as were the higher ideals of Roman citizens two thousand years ago. MAYBE our enlightened democracy (as it still exists in the hearts of our people and other people) will somehow renew itself, and will find inspiration in science's highest pursuit: life elsewhere.
Gray is too optimistic. He presumes that this will happen. I think it's very iffy--but I have some hope that our civilization is merely in a trough, not headed into an infinitely dark black hole.
"Organized money hates me--and I welcome their hatred!" --Franklin Delano Roosevelt
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|Surya Gayatri||Feb 2012||#5|
Thanks for the update on the "Wow" signal!
|Peace Patriot||Feb 2012||#8|
|Peace Patriot||Feb 2012||#11|
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