Sunday, February 19, 2012

ET and Search for ExtraTerrestial Intelligence

Searching for Extraterrestial Intelligence
Frank Drake 1974
NASA APOD 19 February, 2012

Intelligent humans aimed a radio signal containing a series of 0's and 1's at the Great globular cluster in Hercules (M13) hoping that the signal would be noticed and the code deciphered by someone with a developed brain somewhere out there. The intelligence is in the systematic use of repeated zeros and ones that does not resemble natural space noise.

Radio signals travel at the speed of light so we can wait a speedy answer already in 50.000 years.

"The above message was broadcast from Earth towards the globular star cluster M13 in 1974. During the dedication of the Arecibo Observatory - still the largest single radio telescope in the world - a string of 1's and 0's representing the above diagram was sent.

The above message gives a few simple facts about humanity and its knowledge: from left to right are numbers from one to ten, atoms including hydrogen and carbon, some interesting molecules, DNA, a human with description, basics of our Solar System, and basics of the sending telescope." (APOD).

The brilliant world of Frank Drake who initiated the SETI project and wrote the Arecibo message may lack something of the softness of humanity and religion that was present at his home when he was a child. It is filled with the necessary Laws of Nature and benefits of human engineering guiding also the realm of alien contacts. (There is no mention of God in the message.)

The other side of the coin, attempt to catch intelligent signal from someone with a developed brain or something corresponding to our brain somewhere out there has been going on for a while. Berkeley University in the USA has been involved with the SETI project and anyone wishing to participate to the search by giving CPU and band-with can download the software from SETI@Home.

"SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a scientific area whose goal is to detect intelligent life outside Earth. One approach, known as radio SETI, uses radio telescopes to listen for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space. Such signals are not known to occur naturally, so a detection would provide evidence of extraterrestrial technology.

Radio telescope signals consist primarily of noise (from celestial sources and the receiver's electronics) and man-made signals such as TV stations, radar, and satellites. Modern radio SETI projects analyze the data digitally. More computing power enables searches to cover greater frequency ranges with more sensitivity. Radio SETI, therefore, has an insatiable appetite for computing power." ( SETI@Home)

Intelligence and technology
While the project in itself is fabulous reach of humanity to the deep space the concept also nicely defines how the astronomers understand intelligence and expect to identify it out there. The key here is in the word technology i.e. "evidence of extraterrestrial technology".

This certainly reflects the high-tech and science world in which the project researchers live and is a practical approach to finding specific type of intelligence capable of generating machine recognisable sequences. 

Intelligence and humanity
Highly developed radiocommunications technology is certainly not the only type of intelligence the extraterrestials have. 

For example, how would we detect alien telepathic messages? By setting up a team of people doing transcendental meditation and receiving identical signals in different locations around the world? The problem is that our science does not yet have the tools to analyse such communications - if they exist.

For how do ants communicate, participate in that single communal brain if not through some sort of telepathy as yet unknown to science?

What about prayers? God hears them. Would some ET also be able to hear prayer type messages generated in our brains and hearts? They belong to the sphere of the spiritual man, faith and religion, and is another realm of reality our science has difficulty to deal with.

ET and Close Encounters
Steven Spielberg describes in his blockbuster movies Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET exactly such spiritual contact where human minds and hearts are affected by the aliens. There is almost religious obsession of Mount Devil in the mind of people who came to touch with extraterrestials and the relation between ET and the boy is deep in their minds, not just some high-tech gadget.

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