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Alien mega-structures found?

Posted by  $  Zero 3 years, 6 months ago to News
94 comments | Share | Flag

I'm a Hard Science guy. This isn't flying saucer stuff.

Could be nothing - almost certainly nothing - but could be the biggest news in human history.

All eyes now turn to KIC 8462852.
SOURCE URL: http://www.space.com/30849-bizarre-kepler-signal-alien-intelligence-speculation.html?cmpid=NL_SP_weekly_2015-10-17


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  • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 3 years, 6 months ago
    Mankind is limited by what it knows to be real, what it has devised a way to measure, and what it can categorize into its perception. As we venture further into the unknown of space we will no doubt see and experience things, incomprehensible things, that defy the structure of what we've defined as reality. While speculation is fun, the reality that we may have actually come across something mankind previously has not seen or even ever thought of is as exciting as its is intimidating.
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    • Posted by  $  jlc 3 years, 6 months ago
      My metaphor for SETI is 'a bunch of natives, paddling a canoe around coastlines, listening for bongo drums to determine if there is anyone there'. Space could be full of signals that we do not recognize as such because we are still transmitting - and looking for - the sound of 'bongo drums'.

      We have been transmitting radio signals for about a century; I suspect that before another century is done we will have different methods of transmission and even we will not be transmitting bongo drum signals any more.

      We don't know what an interstellar society uses for communication, because we are not there yet.

      Jan
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    • Posted by  $  3 years, 6 months ago
      Personally, I think we'll find alien life to be much closer to ours than anyone ever expected.
      Evolutionary pressures will be duplicated time-and-time again, quite possibly resulting in similar outcomes.

      I'm not saying Humanoid per se (though there should be many humanoid species - why would we be the only one?) but UNDERSTANDABLE - recognizable.

      Except, of course, for those that aren't! (Also sure to be!)
      Ha!
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      • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 3 years, 6 months ago
        Consider this, what if "solidity" isn't a criteria for life at all? What if a loose collection of particles in a misty environment (Jupiter-like, Saturn-like), completely indistinguishable from its surroundings, can be alive and sentient? What if those particles reside on the surface or interior of a sun? What if they are floating around like a cloud in space? What if each of those use light flashes to communicate - much like we see lightning.

        While I think humanoid is the likely life-form we'll eventually encounter, the idea that we could have already observed life and written off as "nature" is a bit humbling.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 6 months ago
    We've only just begun -- to quote the song. Most "science" prior to the mid 19th century is pretty much useless. Only in the last 100 to 150 years have we made any real scientific progress, and then only sticking our toes in the water's edge of a great ocean. If we remain a viable species, there is no limit to what we will discover, and I'd be willing to bet that includes everything deemed "impossible" today. While I don't accept wild-eyed speculation, I have no doubt the universe doesn't accept "I can't." By the way, as to Hawking's caution, I can only say that his attitude of not attracting attention to ourselves would keep us in caves without fire unless we found it through no efforts of our own.
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    • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 3 years, 6 months ago
      Scientific speculation is only wild eyed to those with closed eyes. Scientific manipulation is only wild eyed to those not profiting from the gore.
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      • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 6 months ago
        To me, "wild eyed speculation" is the use of "science" to back up unscientific premises, using pseudo-science for political purposes, for example, such as global warming. I probably should have used a better descriptive phrase.
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    • Posted by plusaf 3 years, 5 months ago
      Herb, face it, until we develop a really FAST FTL drive, we're fucked.
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      • Posted by  $  3 years, 5 months ago
        Or perhaps it's not possible - and we're saved!

        Not sure which would be worse,
        to be consumed in a cosmic melee or to live and die alone in the darkness.
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      • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 5 months ago
        Fucked by science? Hmm, Is that good or bad?
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        • Posted by plusaf 3 years, 5 months ago
          No... if we don't develop an FTL drive, we'll run out of room from overpopulation or die off in the next Big Ice Age... It's called 'pressure relief' and virtually all positive sci-fi stories include diaspora themes like that, but lacking FTL is a roadblock to practicality.

          Science may save us; if Science fails, we're screwed.

          Sorry if that wasn't clear.
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          • Posted by  $  3 years, 5 months ago
            Population wanes when birth control is cheap and plentiful. Under-population pressures are the norm in developed nations.(America's continuing increase has more to do with immigration that internal population growth.)

            And space-borne solar shields and collectors will either cool or warm as needed.
            We'll have effective planetary weather control within a few hundred years - tops.
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          • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 3 years, 5 months ago
            We've yet to run out of food. Money to buy the food maybe and the distribution of food has been a failure. But I know for a fact we're not out of food. If we were why are we shipping so much overseas and why also then are people whining about starving children. The mendacity of the competing arguments is funnier than El Mono playing the part of a football.
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            • Posted by plusaf 3 years, 5 months ago
              I didn't mean 'feeding the US' I meant feeding the species... especially in the event of another Major Ice Age... picture 7-8 Billion people trying to live of a LOT LESS arable land...

              Sure, we proved that Malthus was a moron, but unless you reject historical evidence of solar and terran temperature cycles, .....
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              • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 3 years, 5 months ago
                scheduled for ten thousand years from now ...old news...mini ice age commences almost immediately .5 degree Centigrade change in averages ....old news...

                ho hum.......

                nothing new nothing interesting nothing to worry about the odds are exactly fifty fifty. It will or it won't nothing to be done about it but run around yelling the sky is falling the sky is falling..

                which sums up the chicken little party view quite nicely.
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    • Posted by  $  3 years, 6 months ago
      Hawking warned that superior species, friendly or not, cannot help but destroy us. Either through violence or culture shock. ("Primitive" people that managed to survive to modern times are nothing like their ancestors.)

      He's only saying not to broadcast our existence into the void.
      Look and listen and shut the hell up.
      Sounds like sage advice to me.
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      • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 3 years, 5 months ago
        The chances there aren't any others are clearly unbelievable but it's a question with no parameter. The chances are we are at the bottom rather than the top of the heap are just as clearly not worth calculating until someone comes up with data and not science fiction and divert attention scare tactics. The chances are exactly the same in each case 50 50. there is or there isn't. There are or their aren't we are or we aren't

        The rest is just advertising for a book.

        the last part is an updated let's hide behind the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. the chances that will be harmful rather than beneficial are 50 50.

        Now let's get serious...the chances are 10 to 1 the Republican half of the Government Party will try to sign them to a contract. The Democrat half will try to sign them up as unpapered alien voters. that run 50 to 1. The chances our government will start some kind of warwith them are 100 to 1......Those numbers I can work with.
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        • Posted by  $  3 years, 5 months ago
          "Top" and "bottom" is determined by who visits whom - not a coin toss.

          If THEY come here, they CAN come here.
          By that fact they will have in insurmountable technological advantage and we will be at their mercy.

          I don't assume they're Klingons - but I don't assume they're not either.
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          • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 3 years, 5 months ago
            Both are fifty fifty. May be they can come and maybv they come with fear also but also still come and maybe they come asking for help....The unknown is always fifty fifty what will be will be and taike not counsel of your fears for then your life will be in fear and you a prey for our own homegrown witchdoctors and looters to control.
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 3 years, 6 months ago
        ""Primitive" people that managed to survive to modern times are nothing like their ancestors."
        Once they see animals and tools allowing one person to do the farming of ten people and how the other people can learn science to understand the world and make better tools, they usually don't want to live like their ancestors. I agree with you, though, those people want to keep their ancestral lives surviving by hunting and gathering with some farming without animals or tools don't have that option after contact. Their unique and special world is gone forever. If the aliens were reasonably benevolent, that would happen to Earth too.
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        • Posted by  $  3 years, 6 months ago
          "If the aliens were reasonably benevolent" - And there we have it.

          Also, the Indian Tribes next door to me live own a tiny fraction of their previous holdings. What ever was "benevolently" left to them.

          I'd rather take my time and enter the cosmic drama a little farther along than stone-age men.
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          • Posted by plusaf 3 years, 5 months ago
            The assumption inherent in your warning and Hawking's is that they lack something we have.

            Even the Prime Directive in Star Trek encouraged the opposite of 'take it for ourselves' attitude. Energy was cheap and virtually no "Earthling" wanted for anything.

            The North American Natives 'lost' because the Truth is: Land ONLY "Belongs" to those who can defend it against ALL Comers. If you can, it's still yours; if you can't, it becomes Theirs.

            Period. Nobody has "rights" to land or territory other than the occupiers who can defend it, and any legal rights of its citizens comes from their own culture and laws protecting those rights and defining them FOR their 'own peoples.'

            Go review Star Treks for the optimistic view. What could a space-faring race want/need from US?! Use us as food?! Consider the expense of resources and time involved in THAT 'hunt and gather' kind of expedition! Silly! If they could Get Here From There, you think they'd come for FOOD?!
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            • Posted by  $  3 years, 5 months ago
              Any debate on the morality of alien invasion seems moot.
              If they want it, they'll take it.

              But it seems in your argument "rights" end at the border.
              Thank heavens for the Army.

              I gotta tell ya though, I really think the Poles had a RIGHT to their land when the Panzers rolled over it. But that's just me.

              As for what they'd want? I don't know.
              Not the raw materials, those are all over the place.
              Certainly not our water or our women.
              (Well maybe the women - have you seen the women!)

              But really, Intelligent Life is the one thing on this planet that might be rare out there.
              If they come for anything - they might just come for us!

              But even if they're friendly - it will be the end of US.
              Nothing about that encounter makes me want to hasten it.
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              • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 3 years, 5 months ago
                You just answered the question. We are being invaded by aliens every day and they are taking over so what's the big deal. I don't mind I'm living in their origins now myself. It's by far a better choice than where I came from so....hooray for Aliens.
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  • Posted by jdg 3 years, 6 months ago
    If there are aliens living there, I hope we're not in too big a hurry to tell them we're here. They might be hostile, and able to conquer or destroy us. Let's at least listen a while first.
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    • Posted by plusaf 3 years, 5 months ago
      As the saying goes, it's too late already...
      Some of the earliest signals that could have punched through the atmosphere and gone one their merry way were TV broadcasts of Hitler at one of the Olympic Games... MANY years ago.

      Fortunately, ANY "nearest possible civilization" is likely to not detect them or be too far away to get a clue about how much they really won't want to meet us... :)
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  • Posted by Abaco 3 years, 6 months ago
    Yesterday I was sitting with some office-mates at lunch discussing this. I made the point...What do you think more intelligent life would think of us if they have been watching us earthlings over the past several decades? I think they'd think we were a bunch of morons. I came to this conclusion based on a speech I recently attended by a retired astronaut. He is currently working on a globally-orchestrated effort to develop a method to deflect large (extinction-causing) asteroids. His biggest problem?...Getting the different nations to come together over this one issue. We simply can't do it. I'll not get into the more technical facets that really do require a multination agreement. Anyway...makes me chuckle...
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 3 years, 6 months ago
    Maybe we don't see radio waves from other civilizations because they very briefly use high-power radio and then abandon it for repeater based systems or other communications media. That's happening on earth.

    So then they don't become visible until they build something like this sliver of a Dyson sphere they're imagining. It's hard to get my mind around it. I imagine them developing long-lived probes that would go out and find civilizations, both living and long-gone. I imagine them still being confined to their solar system by Special Relativity but having very long lifespans.

    I can imagine them getting data back sent from one of their probes. They haven't visited Earth yet. This data is from some civilization on a planet with a thin atmosphere and less gravity. They developed a gestural and written language (the atmosphere being too thin for speech), began to urbanize, and then plague followed by a glacial period wiped them out, leaving the planet to non-intelligent animals.

    If such a civilization existed 1500 light years away and we're seeing something they were building 1500 years ago, are we on a list of Goldilocks planets to visit. There are no radio waves. They can't zoom in an see the Holy Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, or the civilizations in the Americas. By the time their probes get here, maybe they'll find our own energy collecting system and a civilization of people linked together by artificial brain interfaces, living thousands of years. I can't fathom whether any future humans would be weird enough to set out and spend its 3000 year lifetime on a trip to see KIC in person once they know someone is there.
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    • Posted by ProfChuck 3 years, 6 months ago
      There are a number of theoretical alternatives to electromagnetic radiation for communications purposes; modulated neutrino beams, gravitational radiation, quantum entanglement, plus all those that we have not considered. We have been aware of radio for a bit over 100 years, a blink of the cosmic eye as time goes, and we are already exploring alternatives.
      Freeman Dyson suggested that mega-structures could be a detectable characteristic of a class 2 Kardashev civilization. Maybe that is what we are seeing or maybe it is something very different. But what ever it is it's bound to be interesting.
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    • Posted by  $  3 years, 6 months ago
      Of course for that person the trip might be only a few years, relativistic time-dilation and all.
      And with real-time tele-presence (using entangled-particle technologies) you never even have to say good bye.

      Exploration is in our genes. Really.
      We'll go.
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    • Posted by  $  3 years, 6 months ago
      I've read that regular radio waves propagate so poorly over distance that even by the time our signals made it to Alpha Centauri (4 light-years) they were indistinguishable from noise.

      Finite power - transmitted in a vast spherical volume - diminishes to virtually nothing "very" quickly.
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 3 years, 6 months ago
        It follows the free-space path loss equation, which is actually pretty easy to work with. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free-sp...

        A typical high-power transmitter might be 80dBm. A good narrowband receiver will detect signals down in the -130dBm range. (By narrowband, we're talking about voice or low-speed data like GPS, not video or broadband.)

        I've only used it for terrestrial links of a few miles. I just tried it for an FM radio station, and I get a range of only a few million miles. But I know the Voyager probes worked over billions of miles on just 10W. It must be loads of antenna gain in the terrestrial antenna. Maybe someone can explain how RF-based SETI is even possible. Just running the FSPL equation quickly appears to confirm what you said.
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        • Posted by  $  3 years, 6 months ago
          Aren't Voyager's signals "directed" rather than transmitted "spherically"?
          That makes it travel much farther - but also makes it much harder to intercept.

          I'm winging this - way off base?
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          • Posted by CircuitGuy 3 years, 6 months ago
            Yes, that's exactly right. Most antennas are at least somewhat directed. You may see an antenna on a Wi-Fi router labelled 3dBi gain, which means out the sides you get twice the power (twice = 3dB) you would get compared to a theoretical isotropic that sends signals out equally in all directions. A small dish can easily have 20dB gain.

            Link budget arithmetic ends up being surprising simple. Power out + TX antenna gain - loss in the cable going to the antenna - FSPL - attenuation due to objects in the way + RX antenna gain - loss in that cable = the signal the receiver sees. The minimum signal required is the receiver's sensitivity. A typical Wi-Fi card needs -75dBm to connect, and -50dBm to get high rates. A GPS goes down to -130dBm, but it sends much less data per second.

            I think it's so cool that inexpensive receivers can pull 1Mbps of information from -90dBm (one trillionth of a watt) of signal.
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            • Posted by  $  blarman 3 years, 6 months ago
              Yes. The most common antenna is known as a Yagi - just think of the old Christmas Tree antennas people used to use for TV. It consists of multiple wires (usually one transmitting, one or two reflecting, and up to a dozen focusing) all parallel to each other and perpendicular to the direction of transmission. It's not unusual in a Yagi tuned for a specific frequency to see 20 db of gain and amateur radio experimenters have seen 100 db gains and more. They are common when trying to contact the International Space Station or when doing moon-bounce communications. Even a very basic 3-element Yagi is used for HF communications and commonly improves gain by 15 db or more. And just FYI, but for the uninitiated, the db scale starts at -170 dB. Spread spectrum typically operates at between-130 dB and -150 dB, relying on the frequency-hopping algorithm to sort noise from signal as opposed to the standard communications which rely on a noticeable difference between ambient noise and signal.
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    • Posted by robgambrill 3 years, 6 months ago
      "...because they very briefly use high-power radio..." That makes sense to me, maybe all advanced civilizations have cable?
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 3 years, 6 months ago
        Yes. We started with a few 100,000 W radio stations. We're starting to use mostly the internet over low power links to base stations that cover a very small area and re transmit it to the wired backbone. I suspect a few large RF carriers sending continuous one-way programming would be easier to detect than our internet of things world without countless transmitters, mostly transmitting with a small faction of a watt.

        This is the same with a typical public safety radio system. It used to be one tall tower that covered a whole metro area. Now it's a network of transmitters and receivers around town that each cover a smaller area.

        I think this trend will continue and make us harder for aliens to detect.
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        • Posted by Mitch 3 years, 6 months ago
          I would imagine an advanced civilization would use intertwined qbits for communication as this wouldn’t be restricted by the laws of special relativity and would also be impossible to detect the conversation let alone ease drop on a conversation.
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  • Posted by robgambrill 3 years, 6 months ago
    From a hard science perspective, Where are all the aliens? It's called the Fermi Paradox, with billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, why haven't we found sign of them yet?

    Personally, I think they wouldn't care about us. I mean do you go up and try to communicate with every barking dog? Maybe the only way we would get their attention would be to show up on their doorstep. Even then, they might just call animal control. 😸
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    • Posted by  $  3 years, 6 months ago
      It all comes down to faster-than-light travel. If it is possible - we could be in trouble. If it's not possible - then we have breathing room.

      As to where THEY all are - it's all about the lifespan of species.
      Even a rare thing will be plentiful if it lasts forever. But will be vanishingly scarce if short lived.

      Will we last another 10,000 years? Another Million?
      Neither is very long in ASTRO-nomical timelines (even greater than geologic time scales!)
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      • Posted by  $  Susanne 3 years, 6 months ago
        Part of the problem is that people imagine that any hypothetical aliens have an identical biology, including a biological clock and relative scale to ours... Imagine an alien species, highly intelligent,, from a very fast period planet where one of their days equals perhaps 9 of our seconds, the species consider themselves large at the size of gnats, and wonder why no one has contacted them via visible spectra lasers in the high UV band (which, to them, is visible light) or gravitationally altered proton waves (which they have been using for their communications for, well, millennia now)...

        Now reverse that. what if WE are the "gnat aliens" to every other species in the multiverses?

        Maybe the reason we don't hear them is because they aren't transmitting in cycles per second, but cycles per century.

        And that doesn't even come close to the phenomenon that we, as a sapient species, have been around for how many dozen thousand years - out of 13 billion? What if - the "interstellar age" has already come - and gone - before there was anything more than greyish-bluish-greenish mucas-ey lichen on our swelteringly steamy proto-planet, and we are truly extreme latecomers - too late to even be latecomers - perhaps the last of intelligent life.

        After all, it wasn't that very long ago on OUR scale that we thought the universe revolved around our big blue marble...
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      • Posted by robgambrill 3 years, 6 months ago
        Point taken, I have seen the drakes equation stuff too. Maybe the ability to reason is what will cause us to snuff it. Always seemed rather pessimistic to me.

        Modern humans (depending on who you read) have been around 40 to 100 thousand years. 10 thousand is possible. If our descendants make it a million years, I doubt they will still be the same species. Wouldn't expect evolution to stop.
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        • Posted by  $  3 years, 6 months ago
          Absolutely.
          Whatever we might be in a million years, it won't be US - anymore than we are Lucy.
          (I know, Lucy was more than a million years ago but you get the point,)
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          • Posted by CircuitGuy 3 years, 6 months ago
            I think about Arthur C Clarke's 3001. One technology he imagined 1000 years in the future (from the 1990s) was a box you could carry around and verbally ask it to look things up or put appointments on your calendar. It had a female voice called Miss Pringle. It's so hard to imagine even 1000 years ahead.
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            • Posted by  $  3 years, 6 months ago
              No doubt. I struggle with this very issue as I try to lay plot lines in a "future history" I'm working on. Eventually you just have to accept the limitation and just work the story. Beg the future for forgiveness.
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            • Posted by robgambrill 3 years, 6 months ago
              What a preposterous notion! The next thing you'll tell us is the box could show you where you were on the planet down to an accuracy of say four or five meters. Pure fantasy, it'll never happen!
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    • Posted by  $  jlc 3 years, 6 months ago
      robgambril -

      My first answer to the Fermi Paradox is the 'bongo drum' metaphor I explained above.

      I doubt that alien civilizations have the Star Trek Prime Directive of non-interference (which never made sense to me, other than as a plot device). They may have policies against initiating contact with any civilization below a certain threshold. We don't know what that threshold might be, but if we flew up to their planet and knocked on their door, I suspect we would have made the grade.

      Jan, liked the cat emo
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    • Posted by freedomforall 3 years, 6 months ago
      I agree. Even if we are 'noticed', what makes us more interesting than the millions of planets that are a lot closer to them?
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      • Posted by  $  allosaur 3 years, 6 months ago
        I think extraterrestrials would view humans as too messed up in the heads to bother with.
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        • Posted by jdg 3 years, 6 months ago
          What makes you think they'll be any better? Or even any different?
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          • Posted by  $  allosaur 3 years, 6 months ago
            The ability to obtain interstellar travel would suggest they also managed to keep affairs in order such as not running up a $19 trillion debt, idiots for leaders, endless wars and terror-mongering blood cult religions.That kind of stuff kinda bogs down progress.
            As for primitive primate worlds such as ours, I would speculate such is out there. A second Earth like ours won't be coming to see us.
            There might even be a post-apoplectic Mad Max: Fury Road planet out there. (Saw that on a rented DVD last night). .
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 3 years, 6 months ago
    I don't deny that there is a possibility that outer-
    space people exist, or that they have possibly been
    here before. But I don't think any of the specific
    cases claimed are such.

    Even if they do exist, I don't think they really
    should come here. Even on this planet, you are
    not allowed to just go from country to country
    without a passport (except I understand that there is some sort of agreement between Cana-
    da and the U.S.). One reason is the possibility
    of spreading diseases; a medical exam is need-
    ed. Who knows what kind of plagues they could
    bring down here, or for that matter, take back to
    their own people? (Then again, a germ in such
    a being might not be able to survive in a human.
    But who knows? And if if could blight plants and
    crops...)
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    • Posted by  $  3 years, 6 months ago
      I'm with ya, LB. I've seen no convincing evidence of alien visitation.

      Do they exist? Certainly.
      Do they care a rat's @$$ about us? Why would they?
      Will they come to see us? Welllll, that's the sticky part, isn't it?
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 3 years, 6 months ago
    I'm reminded of the Dyson sphere concept, which postulated the growth of a planetary system structure to capture as much as possible of the local star's energy. Dyson suggested that a complete system might even hide the star's emissions. Is this the first evidence of a Dyson sphere under construction?
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