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How will we know that we've found alien life?

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Rlyeh

Obviously it would need to meet the criteria for life.

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ant0n

00-Expect-the-unexpected.jpg

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Orphalesion

When it talks back, obviously.

But yeah, I'm pretty sure when and if we find extra-terrestrial life there is a very large likelihood that we will recognize it as being alive, particularly if its non-microscopic.

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Robotic Jew

It will be vaporizing us. 

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L.A.T.1961

 I guess the point he is making is that the approach used to selecting a method for detecting life has to be as broad as reasonably possible.

He says -  "Scientific observation needs to be directed somehow. But at the same time, if we are to "expect the unexpected", we can't allow theory to heavily influence what we observe, and what counts as significant. We need to remain open-minded, encouraging exploration of the phenomena in the style of Brewster and similar scholars of the past. 

Studying the universe largely unshackled from theory is not only a legitimate scientific endeavour it's a crucial one. The tendency to describe exploratory science disparagingly as "fishing expeditions" is likely to harm scientific progress. Under-explored areas need exploring, and we can't know in advance what we will find."

 

The problem with science is it is driven by various factors that are not always beneficial. Quite often something will become flavour of the month and a jumping on the bandwagon will happen just because one area is getting research grants. 

This uses up a lot of the bandwidth leaving less resources to look at other techniques.    

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ChrLzs
Posted (edited)

I'm sorry, but that article is daft.  May I be specific about some parts that particularly stood out:

Quote

Many results seem to tell us that expecting the unexpected is extraordinarily difficult.

Well, DUH!

Quote

"We often miss what we don't expect to see," according to cognitive psychologist Daniel Simons, famous for his work on inattentional blindness. His experiments have shown how people can miss a gorilla banging its chest in front of their eyes.

Yeah, that analogy is exactly like looking for life/biological signatures........ {sarcasm}

Quote

There are also plenty of relevant examples in the history of science.

And that gorilla example was a good example, was it?  :blink: OK, how about the next one..

Quote

For example, when scientists first found evidence of low amounts of ozone in the atmosphere above Antarctica, they initially dismissed it as bad data. With no prior theoretical reason to expect a hole, the scientists ruled it out in advance. Thankfully, they were minded to double check...

Which is exactly what one should do - if you see what might be bad data, you don't initially run around and scream "The sky is falling!!" - you recheck the data collection protocols and run the checks again..

And yes, of course science is sometimes/often affected by available funds.  As is every human endeavour.

Sorry, it's just a stupid article by a philosopher, with no decent examples to back it up..

Edited by ChrLzs
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L.A.T.1961
1 hour ago, ChrLzs said:

I'm sorry, but that article is daft.  May I be specific about some parts that particularly stood out:

Well, DUH!

Yeah, that analogy is exactly like looking for life/biological signatures........ {sarcasm}

And that gorilla example was a good example, was it?  :blink: OK, how about the next one..

Which is exactly what one should do - if you see what might be bad data, you don't initially run around and scream "The sky is falling!!" - you recheck the data collection protocols and run the checks again..

And yes, of course science is sometimes/often affected by available funds.  As is every human endeavour.

Sorry, it's just a stupid article by a philosopher, with no decent examples to back it up..

 

Its not about how much total funding there is but what its spent on and what method the selection process uses for picking new ideas. 

The examples in this piece may not be convincing but there are examples in science where the perceived wisdom has reduced research in valid areas because they were not fashionable.

 

The Argument for an Expanding Universe? - At a meeting in London of the Royal Astronomical Society early in 1930, de Sitter admitted that neither his nor Einstein's solution to the field equations could represent the observed universe. The English astronomer Arthur Eddington next raised "one puzzling question." Why should there be only these two solutions? Answering his own question, Eddington supposed that the trouble was that people had only looked for static solutions. 

In fact a few astronomers had been looking for other solutions to Einstein's equations. Back in 1922, the Russian meteorologist and mathematician Alexander Friedmann had published a set of possible mathematical solutions that gave a non-static universe. Einstein noted that this model was indeed a mathematically possible solution to the field equations. Later, Friedmann would be hailed as an example of great Soviet science. But through the 1920s, neither Einstein nor anyone else took any interest in Friedmann's work, which seemed merely an abstract theoretical curiosity. ;)

 

 

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acute

Obviously, we should look on extraterrestrial dating websites.

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Piney
Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, acute said:

Obviously, we should look on extraterrestrial dating websites.

I thought they just kidnapped you then left you all @#$%ed out in a alley behind St. Martins. :unsure2:

Edited by Piney
**** Trump
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acute
6 minutes ago, Piney said:

I thought they just kidnapped you then left you all @#$%ed out in a alley behind St. Martins. :unsure2:

Yes, in the firkin Bullring, and I have to get a taxi home!

But, if I complain, the drunken b******* will probably drop me off at St.Edburgha's or somewhere stupid.

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Korrelan

The jets of liquid emanating from Enceladus could be an attempt at communication and we would be non the wiser. Meh! Humans.

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ChrLzs
3 hours ago, Korrelan said:

The jets of liquid emanating from Enceladus could be an attempt at communication and we would be non the wiser. Meh! Humans.

If they're that powerful, yet that utterly stupid that they can't come up with a way to hint at some form of intelligent control.....

...

Hey, you're right, that sort of life form would be very, very dangerous...   :rolleyes:  

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Dejarma
9 hours ago, UM-Bot said:

Even if we were to discover evidence of extraterrestrial life, would we even be able to recognize it ?

https://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/news/333457/how-will-we-know-that-weve-found-alien-life

if the suggestion is we won't be able to recognise it, then why would we feel we've discovered something? the question is illogical 

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Manwon Lender
5 minutes ago, Dejarma said:

if the suggestion is we won't be able to recognise it, then why would we feel we've discovered something? the question is illogical 

Point well made, I don't even know why this subject continues to pop up. Let me ask you this Dejarma, when your people take humans aboard your ships do you guys really probe them?:D

Peace

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Dejarma
Just now, Manwon Lender said:

Point well made, I don't even know why this subject continues to pop up. Let me ask you this Dejarma, when your people take humans aboard your ships do you guys really probe them?:D

Peace

yep

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Manwon Lender
4 hours ago, Piney said:

I thought they just kidnapped you then left you all @#$%ed out in a alley behind St. Martins. :unsure2:

Hey  Bro, common on this is a sensitive subject, no one will admit to being butt Probed.:D

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Manwon Lender
1 minute ago, Dejarma said:

yep

Oh my.:w00t::D

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Sir Wearer of Hats
On 1/3/2020 at 6:18 AM, Piney said:

It would respirate, reproduce and grow.

Give the philosophy a break and study some biology. 

With the added caveat that if it’s intelligent life, it would be studiously avoiding us because we’re ****s.

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DanL

Life we might recognize but intelligence may be a lot harder. We are very egocentric about which of our senses can be used to communicate. There is no certainty that a totally alien species might use another sense than seeing or hearing as a basis for communication and there is not even a certainty that they would use a sense that we even have. Sharks can sense the electric pulses of a body. An alien might use this as we do speech and be yelling at us and we wouldn't recognize that it was even trying to communicate.

There might also be a difference in time scale. in a frigid environment, processes might be incredibly slow. A sentence might take a week to be said or conversely and entire conversation might be done in an instant.

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third_eye
Posted (edited)

Take me to your Burger King.... 

~

*Almost an alien*

Does that sound like a TV ad I'd like to see or what.... 

~

Edited by third_eye
Addendum

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thelion318

The octopus has a biology not like any other creature on Earth. It *could* be an alien life form and we currently do not recognize it as such. Same for many bacteria "discovered" each year. Bias blinds us

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GlitterRose
2 hours ago, thelion318 said:

The octopus has a biology not like any other creature on Earth. It *could* be an alien life form and we currently do not recognize it as such. Same for many bacteria "discovered" each year. Bias blinds us

Picturing an octopus flying a UFO is hilarious.

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ChrLzs
On 1/5/2020 at 1:28 AM, thelion318 said:

The octopus has a biology not like any other creature on Earth. It *could* be an alien life form and we currently do not recognize it as such. Same for many bacteria "discovered" each year. Bias blinds us

No, it isn't unlike any other creature.  Yes, it has an unusually large brain and a more 'evolved' DNA than most species, but that simply means that its environment and the evolutionary path it took was a bit more involved (or just plain 'luckier') than most other species.  It also uses, like several marine species, a method that allows changes to its DNA to happen more quickly than 'normal'.  Look up 'RNA editing'.

You should also maybe look up its closest relatives, and then examine other similarly unusual species - especially in terms of marine biology, like squid and cuttlefish.  Try Brittlestars for a rather cute example of what acts like a combination between octopi and starfish (seastars).. 

It's all just evolutionary diversity at work.

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