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Are alien probes scouring the galaxy ?


Posted on Tuesday, 16 July, 2013 | Comment icon 149 comments


Image credit: NASA

 
How long would it take an alien civilization to explore the whole galaxy using automated probes?

Given that mankind has sent numerous robotic probes out in to space to explore the solar system it is reasonable to assume that any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial civilization would be doing the same thing. On that basis, if the aliens were advanced enough would it be possible for them to scour the entire galaxy ?

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have calculated that a fleet of self-replicating robotic probes traveling at one tenth of the speed of light could realistically explore the whole of the Milky Way galaxy in less time than the age of the Earth. Such a conclusion suggests that it is not outside of the realm of possibility that such a civilization would be aware of our existence despite the vast distances between star systems.

"The team’s simulations mean that our solar system should have been visited — perhaps more than once — well-before the dawn of man."

  View: Full article |  Source: Discovery News

  Discuss: View comments (149)

   


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #140 Posted by qxcontinuum on 3 October, 2013, 4:18
I think that must be totally absurd, the Earth is more than four billion years old already. One tenth light-speed seems terribly impractical, not even to mention that even IF their robots are self-replicating where would they get the raw materials from considering that these robots would need something more than air to replicate themselves from, and how would they ever pay for those resources ? How could any space civilization, no matter how advanced, pay for the debts for such an extended exploration of this galaxy which has two hundred billion stars ? And even IF they could gather data and i... [More]
Comment icon #141 Posted by Colonel Rhuairidh on 3 October, 2013, 6:58
And if probes have seen Earth, so what? What proof is there that aliens had landed, settled, colonized, mined, explored Earth? If an alien probe sends a signal into our TVs, emails, radios... or even lands in Times Square, fine, aliens exist, until that they do not. The whole point of this suggestion is that they're not interested in Making Contact, they'd just be studying from a scientific point of view.
Comment icon #142 Posted by Frank Merton on 3 October, 2013, 7:02
The whole point of this suggestion is that they're not interested in Making Contact™, they'd just be studying from a scientific point of view. Probes are cheaper I suppose but less effective, since as you point out, they are of little use in any sort of contact, and I would think that is where the real learning comes.
Comment icon #143 Posted by Colonel Rhuairidh on 3 October, 2013, 7:14
I was just thinking, now this topic's come up again, this theory actually rather ties in with the idea that was put forward by Seth Shostak off of SETI just recently, that any ET intelligence we might be likely to find would be in the form of hyper-intelligent Artificial Intelligences, doesn't it. Perhaps the probes mightn't just gather information, they might be intelligent in themselves and able to make contact if they decide that it's in their interest to do so. No, I agree, this theory of Seth's seems to be based on a very big assumption, since he seems to feel that the entire civilisation... [More]
Comment icon #144 Posted by Frank Merton on 3 October, 2013, 7:19
I have doubts AI will ever duplicate sentience (the experience of sensation and emotion) seen in many animals, but I suppose they might be able to do language and symbols and logic well enough. A more likely evolution, which we see happening already, is that we adapt our machines to be aids and supplements to what we do, even incorporating them into our bodies.
Comment icon #145 Posted by psyche101 on 3 October, 2013, 8:03
Why be hard nosed and worry about having to stick to what we know all the time? When it comes to extraterrestrial life, we don't know anything. All we can do it throw around entirely hypothetical to the point of being frankly made up stuff like, what was his name, Drake's equation and Fermi's theorem and what have you. We'd never make any progress in discovering anything new at all if we stuck to what we know. The whole point of discovering new things is that they're things we didn't know. Fermi and Drake did not just "make stuff up" they are carefully proposed thought experiments. Ufologists ... [More]
Comment icon #146 Posted by Frank Merton on 3 October, 2013, 8:17
I figure if aliens are visiting us, they will make their presence know when and only when they want to, and then there will be no argument. I see no sense in their hiding but if that is what they do, then they will do it and we will be none the wiser.
Comment icon #147 Posted by psyche101 on 3 October, 2013, 8:33
Indeed, yet I see no reason why they would hide.
Comment icon #148 Posted by psyche101 on 3 October, 2013, 8:34
Probes are cheaper I suppose but less effective, since as you point out, they are of little use in any sort of contact, and I would think that is where the real learning comes. Communications seem far more likely to me.
Comment icon #149 Posted by Colonel Rhuairidh on 3 October, 2013, 8:58
I figure if aliens are visiting us, they will make their presence know when and only when they want to, and then there will be no argument. I see no sense in their hiding but if that is what they do, then they will do it and we will be none the wiser. indeed, but they might have no wish to "hide", they may just not see any point, or any scientific advantage, in making contact, so they may just be content to study discreetly without making too much of a fanfare about it. If they ever did decide it was in their interest to make it known that they were doing so, maybe they'd do so.


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