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Codemonger

Will SETI ultimately fail ?

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I am no expert when it comes to SETI, but when it comes to digital communication I do know a couple of things and this is something that has been bugging me for a long time. Has anyone thought that if an ET civilization is broadcasting signals that the signal would probably be advanced enough to be an encrypted digital transmission and would lose any integrity of being recognized as a raw message. An encrypted communication signal, sent through radio or not, from point A to B looks identical to white noise.

I believe SETI may ultimately fail because of this oversight. Is SETI thinking too primitive or am I completely wrong ?

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Yep, I think that is a known problem. They are looking for basic radiowaves, fornwhat was us a fairly narrow gap of time.

They recognize the limits of the plan, especially since they are only able search a small section of the sky at any given time.

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I think SETI was doomed to failure from the start.

We set out with the assumption that other beings are going to use radio waves, record players and the like in order to communicate and it seems we are still operating under that assumption.

So..No, Codemonger. I don't think you are wrong at all.

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I respectfully disagree; the assumption behind SETI is that there are societies who want us to know about them. Therefore they would make it easy. That nothing has been found tells me only that no such society is anywhere nearby.

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I used to belong to SETI AT Home. Since I changed computers I haven't participated. It's pretty cool, though.

I don't know about encrypted messages, but it seems to me that any signal received would have to be sent on purpose by some Alien civilization. This is because the frequency SETI is tuned to is 1420MHz, the frequency Hydrogen atoms resonate, as Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. If Aliens communicate by electromagnetic radiation, who knows at what frequency they would otherwise commonly use.

The Wow! signal was a strong narrowband radio signal detected by Jerry R. Ehman on August 15, 1977, while he was working on a SETI project at the Big Ear radio telescope of The Ohio State University, then located at Ohio Wesleyan University's Perkins Observatory in Delaware, Ohio.[1] The signal bore the expected hallmarks of non-terrestrial and non-Solar System origin. It lasted for the full 72-second window that Big Ear was able to observe it, but has not been detected again. The signal has been the subject of significant media attention.
...on a linear scale it was over 30 times louder than normal deep space.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wow!_signal

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I dont think any alien broadcast could be understood - even if the signal hadnt deteriorated.

Kinda reminds me of the "Trial by Fire" Outer limits episode. Basically aliens make contact and turn up in their ships...No-one could understand their broadcasts and eventually nukes get fired at them, assumed hostile. So the aliens fire back...

Ive found a synopsis and heres the last paragraph where the aliens have just fired two objects

"In the final moments before the objects arrive, a fax comes through from the cryptanalysts, having decoded the alien's original message. They realize that the aliens do in fact live in a liquid environment and that they were in fact speaking in plain English. Having removed the liquid distortion from the message, Dr. Brevson solemnly informs him of what the original transmission said: "Let us be your friends". The episode ends on the last seconds of the impact countdown, while Halsey comforts his upset wife, regretting his decisions, as do the military officials.

Full synopsis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_by_Fire_%28The_Outer_Limits%29

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It seems to be a characteristic that we always assume that the Ets would be at the same stage of technomological development that we are at any given time, so we always seem to assume that They would use the same technology that we do, and there also seems to be a spinoff belief from this that therefore anything that we don't currently know how to do it, the ETs wouldn't either.

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Ultimately I don't think radio signals are going to be a practical way to communicate on a cosmological scale.

I've always wondered that if at some point in the future we were to discover a new way to send and receive communications over long distances for which the speed of light is no longer a barrier, that upon listening out for the first time we would gain immediate access to a plethora of galactic chatter that's been there for eons but that has been invisible to conventional radio receivers.

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Ultimately I don't think radio signals are going to be a practical way to communicate on a cosmological scale.

I've always wondered that if at some point in the future we were to discover a new way to send and receive communications over long distances for which the speed of light is no longer a barrier, that upon listening out for the first time we would gain immediate access to a plethora of galactic chatter that's been there for eons but that has been invisible to conventional radio receivers.

Reminds me of the of the Voyager probe in a way. Sent out of the solar system with a picture of a man and a woman and some information about where to find us.

I can hear them laughing now actually.

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SETI at home sounds like a cool thing.

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Reminds me of the of the Voyager probe in a way. Sent out of the solar system with a picture of a man and a woman and some information about where to find us.

I can hear them laughing now actually.

Which was the one that had a vinyl disc attached (or a gold disc anyway)? Was it that or Pioneer? Let's hope the ETs have reached that level of technology by the time they find it. :unsure:

Edited by Colonel Rhuairidh
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Reminds me of the of the Voyager probe in a way. Sent out of the solar system with a picture of a man and a woman and some information about where to find us.

I think Voyager 1 is going to end up in a museum - in a couple of hundred years it'll be retrieved and put on display as an important historical piece. Either that or it will be granted some form of protected status to stop someone going off with it.

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I think Voyager 1 is going to end up in a museum - in a couple of hundred years it'll be retrieved and put on display as an important historical piece. Either that or it will be granted some form of protected status to stop someone going off with it.

Or perhaps some (as I seem to recall, never actually identified) ET race will do that, and end up making a sort of shrine of it. I think they'll call it Vejur. :unsure2:

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Which was the one that had a vinyl disc attached (or a gold disc anyway)? Was it that or Pioneer? Let's hope the ETs have reached that level of technology by the time they find it. :unsure:

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 both had the Golden Record (made of pure gold).

http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html

If someone or something finds either Voyager and don't understand how to play it, there is also pictographs explaining how to play the disc and there is even a stylus included. Which I think is a nice touch!

I hope the SETI program will continue, even with no results, because perhaps as soon as we shut off SETI, we might miss something. Murphy's Law and all that!

Personally, I don't think we are 'ready' to listen yet. I agree with Saru in this regard and we must come up with a better more efficient way, depending on our future technologies of course.

Kind Regards:)

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Even a digital signal, which is essentially noise, without the aid of a decoding key, would be detectable as noise. I can hear digital signals on High frequency, VHF and UHF radio. I don't know the content, but the narrow band noise, as opposed to the usual wide band natural noise, and the on/off cycling of the signal are dead giveaways that a man made signal is present.

If SETI scientists heard such a signal they could confirm by various means that the signal was from stellar distance, thus confirming that it was artificial, but not man made. There seems to be no one, obvious, digital encoding scheme, so we might not be able to get at the content of the message, but we would at least know that there was other intelligent life in the universe.

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Even a digital signal, which is essentially noise, without the aid of a decoding key, would be detectable as noise. I can hear digital signals on High frequency, VHF and UHF radio. I don't know the content, but the narrow band noise, as opposed to the usual wide band natural noise, and the on/off cycling of the signal are dead giveaways that a man made signal is present.

If SETI scientists heard such a signal they could confirm by various means that the signal was from stellar distance, thus confirming that it was artificial, but not man made. There seems to be no one, obvious, digital encoding scheme, so we might not be able to get at the content of the message, but we would at least know that there was other intelligent life in the universe.

Thanks, I was hoping someone with radio experience would have some input on this !

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Even a digital signal, which is essentially noise, without the aid of a decoding key, would be detectable as noise. I can hear digital signals on High frequency, VHF and UHF radio. I don't know the content, but the narrow band noise, as opposed to the usual wide band natural noise, and the on/off cycling of the signal are dead giveaways that a man made signal is present.

But since it indistinguishable from noise, you can't prove that it wasn't produced by a natural source. Radio astronomy has shown that natural sources of RF noise are everywhere in the sky. Pulsars are examples of natural on/off cycling so we can't completely rely on that either.

Will SETI fail? Of course not. It can't. It can continue to search for signals until the end of time.

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Oh I think it has already failed.

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Oh I think it has already failed.

Keep listening to the skies!

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The beauty of it is, no one can say it has failed, they can just say it hasn't succeeded yet.

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Dr. Jill Tarter, a prominent SETI Scientist has explained that, it terms of the possible combinations of radio frequency, channel width, signal power level, and sky direction, we have barely begun the search for signals from other intelligences in the universe. She compares it to dipping a glass of water out of the ocean, finding no little fishes in it, and concluding that there are no fish in the ocean. Rather premature, it seems.

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Which was the one that had a vinyl disc attached (or a gold disc anyway)? Was it that or Pioneer? Let's hope the ETs have reached that level of technology by the time they find it. :unsure:

The whole point behind the Pioneer plaque and Voyager gold record was for them to communicate information as simple as possible.

You could in theory put indestructible DVDs onto a space probe and sent it into outer space for aliens to find. It would be much more technologically advanced but also complete gibberish to the aliens. They wouldn't know what MPEG compression is or that the disc needed to be read with a laser beam or that it's video footage at a particular resolution that needed a complex algorithm to render sensible.

However, you can put analog info etched onto a metal disc and add a pictogram to explain how to listen to it that doesn't required anything very advanced. What ET might make of the contents of the disc is another matter...

It's simple and not technologically advanced, but that's the whole point.

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While I don't think SETI has a high percentage chance of yielding something, I do think it's "better than nothing" I wish we had money and resources falling out of our ears so we could scan for signals in a multitude of different ways. But alteast we have some "feelers" out there, limited as they are.

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SETI as originally sold has long since failed; what we have now is a greatly broadened mission in order to keep the search going. There is no harm in that since the reward if they ever find something is so great, but I would not hold my breath.

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But since it indistinguishable from noise, you can't prove that it wasn't produced by a natural source. Radio astronomy has shown that natural sources of RF noise are everywhere in the sky. Pulsars are examples of natural on/off cycling so we can't completely rely on that either.

Will SETI fail? Of course not. It can't. It can continue to search for signals until the end of time.

One of the prime ideas of radio astronomy is that natural radio sources are wide, in terms of bandwidth, and that man made ones are comparatively narrow. SETI searches for narrowband signals. Having found one, it is very likely that they have a signal crafted by intelligence. Observing certain regular patterns in the on/off status of the signal, it might be possible to confirm its artificial nature. These would probably not be limited to simple, regular pulses.

Pulsars have regular pulses, but are very wide band in nature.

Edited by bison
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