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Are alien probes scouring the galaxy ?

Posted on Tuesday, 16 July, 2013 | Comment icon 150 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 (150)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #141 Posted by Colonel Rhuairidh on 3 October, 2013, 6:58
The whole point of this suggestion is that they're not interested in Making Contact(TM), they'd just be studying from a scientific point of view.
Comment icon #142 Posted by Frank Merton on 3 October, 2013, 7:02
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... [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
Fermi and Drake did not just "make stuff up" they are carefully proposed thought experiments. Ufologists "make stuff up" and it does not help at all. The Voyager Probes and SETI are the ones trying to make progress, and IMHO, are far more likely to actually find something. Actually looking into space has to be more accurate than sitting on the ground dreaming about it. When the brains that seriously make these propositions go to work, they do not "make stuff up" they explore the parameters of known combinations of real possibilities. They may have holes yet to b... [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
Communications seem far more likely to me.
Comment icon #149 Posted by Colonel Rhuairidh on 3 October, 2013, 8:58
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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