13 February 2015 (Friday) - E.T. Phone Home

I woke feeling particularly snotty at 3am and a combination of backache, neckache and sniffles kept me awake for the rest of the night.
"Furry Face TM" seems to be getting the idea that he doesn't get toast in the mornings any more; as I scoffed hw flung himself onto my lap whilst carrying his bone (which is nearly as big as he is) ane he then chomped on his bone as I chomped on my toast.

I then took my little dog for a quick walk round the park. Usually we take an ant-clockwise route, but today in order to avoid Mr Misery-Guts we went clockwise. In all honesty it wasn't very different. Other than avoiding Mr Misery-Guts and watching Bernie triotting off to work we didn't see any of the usual "Viccie Park Massive".

I had planned to do final Wheri-testing before work this morning but overnight rain would have made the ground muddy, so instead I had a cull on my list of Facebook friends. I say "friends"; there was four hundred and twenty four people on the friends list. I went through it and deleted two and then sorted the astro club accounts.
I messed about working on yet another Wherigo adventure before finally setting off to work.

As I drove something on the radio boiled my piss. Scientists are recommending we should start actively trying to make contact with aliens. In theory a good idea; in practice it's doomed to failure.
First of all the only way to make contact would be to send a message; radio, laser light, microwaves.... whatever we send will be some form of electromagnetic radiation. The message will go at lightspeed. Which relative to the badgermobile is pretty fast. However compared to the speeds needed for interstellar communication it's peanuts. If a message was sent today, there wouldn't be a reply in my lifetime, or in that of the fruits of my loin. In fact anyone who's heard me lecture on the Drake Equation will know that we would expect a reply some time around the year 3600.
Mind you we would only expect that reply that soon (!) if we knew exactly where in the sky to send a message. That also presents a problem. Expert opinion (of three years ago) is that (on average in our part of the galaxy) intelligent civilisations will be (about) eight hundred light years apart. Assuming that aliens live in orbit around stars which aren't unlike our sun (a resonable assumption) means that we'd direct our message at sun-like stars which are about that far away. That presents a problem. Where do we point the trasmitter? For all that Kepler can tell us where other planets might be, we have no idea if anyone might be home there.
So not knowing in which direction to transmit, we'd have to send wide-angled shouts. That wouldn't be cheap. All this talk about how aliens could already hear us from the stray radio noise we've been transmitting for the last hundred years is drivel Due to signal degradation from the inverse square law any radio waves currently leaving Earth would be indistinguishable from the background radio noise on the galaxy at a distance of only a few light years.

The whole "communicating with aliens thing" is somewhat akin to randomly sending flocks of carrier pigeons from Kent randomly into the sky in the vague hope of making contact with another pigeon fancier in New York, Rio de Janeiro or Melbourne or somewhere else incredibly distant.
So why am I ranting about this? Because I can see what's going to happen. Leaving aside the questions of who exactly is trusted with sending a message, and what the message actually is, sooner or later someone's going to start transmitting. And after a *very* short time they will run out of money and enthusiasm for the project. And be laughed at.. just like the pundits on the radio laughed at the whole idea this morning...

Bearing in mind I had very little else to rant about today, you can see how dull today was...

1 comment:

  1. Whilst I agree with your rant, I still believe that we should try.
    Its ridiculous to believe that we are the only intelligent life in the galaxy (yet alone the universe).
    If we do not try, we do not succeed.
    There are many people who were laughed at or worse until they were proved right.