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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2010 > Oct > Oct 4

Cosmic Loneliness

From: Diana Cammack <cammack.nul>
Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2010 18:21:08 +0200
Archived: Mon, 04 Oct 2010 12:57:15 -0400
Subject: Cosmic Loneliness

Source: Discovery News

http://tinyurl.com/2g9ghg5Discovery News

Mon Oct 4, 2010

Will We Die Of Cosmic Loneliness?

Analysis by Ray Villard

Top astronomy news items last week wrestled with the question of
whether we are alone in the universe.

One story gave a dire warning that aliens are already here
because they are mad at us. The other report, that inhabitable
planets are everywhere in our Milky Way galaxy.

In reality, our own civilization's biggest threat to long-term
survival may be cosmic boredom, say a pair of theorists.

Things got started in a highly publicized event at the
Washington Press Club where UFO investigator Robert Hastings
offered spooky testimony by several retired military officers.
They described seeing flying saucers shaped like "pregnant
cigars" snooping around and sabotaging our nuclear missile

His hypothesis: aliens are upset that we are "playing with

How aliens would have become aware of our warlike shenanigans
went unexplained. The burst of light from the first atom bomb
test in New Mexico is presently only detectable to a distance of
65 light-years from Earth. What's more, it would be
indistinguishable from the flash of a large meteor exploding in
our atmosphere.

Later in the week, a team of astronomers announced the
culmination of a 12-year search for the first planet found in
the habitable zone around a star. This is a world where water
oceans might exist. The super-Earth orbits a red dwarf star, as
I predicted last July.

The big news is that the world lies just 20 light-years away.
This implies that planets in the "sweet spot" around stars are
very common in the galaxy.

But if this is true, why don't we have any bona fide evidence
for intelligent life beyond Earth?

A pair of Russian theoreticians, I. Bezsudnov and . Snarskii,
believe they have an answer. Alien civilizations might simply
die of loneliness if they don't make interstellar contact with
another intelligent species.

Extraterrestrials may wither away due to a loss of interest in
the universe around them, or the atrophy of technological
capability. Their brains might turn to mush as they become
totally preoccupied with their versions of Facebook, World of
Warcraft and reality TV shows.

The team ran a computer model that factored in a finite
longevity for alien races. Contrary to other simulations that
assume civilizations go on indefinitely, the new simulations
have alien cultures rise and fall according to a common modeling
algorithm called cellular automata. This approach simulates the
birth, development and death of organisms based on certain

In the model, intelligent species that contact each other across
interstellar space had their lifetimes boosted. "The meeting
between civilizations generates the new purposes and objects of
knowledge, necessity to use an intellect," the theoreticians

My caution is that other civilizations would be, well, too alien
to care about us. We'd have to look for beings very much like
ourselves with a comparable level of evolution and technology,
similar curiosity, and parallel mastery of mathematics. Though
there are likely many inhabited planets nearby, the odds of
finding a species we can have a meaningful conversation with
might be quite small.

On the other hand, the mantra to "seek out new life and new
civilizations" is the embodiment of Star Trek's imaginary
universe. Trek's United Federation of Planets is a cluster of
inhabited star systems undergoing an interstellar Renaissance
that engages them in cross-cultural activities, commerce, and
exchange of species.

In the coming decades our cosmic loneliness and curiosity will
drive us to spend many billions of dollars to build ever larger
space telescopes to seek out inhabited planets. This will
eventually lead to autonomous, miniaturized, life-seeking
interstellar probes.

The Russian team's hypothesis is antithetical to the idea that
extraterrestrials would devote an enormous amount of resources
to physically travel here only to snoop around, be mischievous,
yet avoid direct contact.

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