Thursday, July 20, 2006
Plucky Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute waxes defensive in a new article at Space.com. Offering up the most common criticisms of the SETI initiative, Seth provides brief rebuttals for his anti-SETI "top 4".
1) Our technology (radio waves) is too primitive. We should be using...among other things... "Hyperdimensional Physics".
2) If they were "out there" they'd "be here"....the "Fermi Paradox".
3) Alien avoidance of contact due to disdain of human motives and behavior.
4) We're not looking in the right place...such as the Zeta Reticuli system.
Let's take a look at number 1...We're not using the right technology...
There is no question that radio encompasses a very narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Like looking for planets using visible light, the usable range of frequencies is infinitessimally small for any truly productive responses...unless we are really really lucky. Monitoring radio frequencies is barely more than the equivalent of hoping that aliens on other planets...like a cosmic Motel 6..."leave the light on for us".
Beyond that, any other form of monitoring is still limited by our own ignorance of how other worlds might communicate.
Seth takes an opportunity to mention "Hyperdimensional Physics". Here, Seth and I are in complete agreement. Of course, the most visible proponent of "HDP" is Richard Hoagland, so the chances of any advances on that front are hamstrung by the utter laughability of its major "fanboy". I think Seth included this simply to get a dig in on "Richard C". Deserved perhaps, but rather petty, IMO. Even so, Seth offers no rebuttal for the validity of HDP beyond his admitted ignorance of "what it is". Hmmm.
Number 2...If aliens were out there, they'd surely have visited here by now...presuming they are of an adequately advanced status to make the trip...so we're listening for someone who's not there.
Seth argues against this by using an analogy...there are no elephants in his parking lot, so should we presume that elephants don't exist, since they've had adequate time to "get here"?
Well, in this regard Seth's denial seems to ignore the evidence...as inconclusive as it may be...that aliens HAVE visited here, and perhaps ARE visiting here. Why would he ignore such evidence out of hand? Well...
If you hypothesize that aliens in fact ARE visiting, then one must presume that they do not use radio frequencies to communicate, else we'd be awash in alien broadcasts. Obviously, Seth cannot accept a hypothesis which invalidates SETI, so "they" cannot be visiting, can they? A rather convenient narrow-mindedness from a guy that listens for radio signals from aliens, no?
But my question is, how can Seth assert that the hypothesis that aliens use radio waves is more valid than the hypothesis that aliens visit here? If you take a brief look, the evidence extant for the former is far outweighed by that of the latter, no?
Perhaps, while in the parking lot looking for elephants, Seth should simply look UP. :)
Of course, he might state that the point isn't communication, but simply detection. Well, call me impractical, but spending millions of dollars to just "find a signal" without the further ability to actually communicate just seems ridiculous to me. And how could you even prove that the "signal" wasn't just interesting "noise" without continuing the "conversation"?
Number 3...Aliens avoid us because we're too violent, or primitive, or...
Seth claims that this is unlikely because OUR radio and TV broadcasts haven't had time to get far enough out there for aliens to have noticed us, much less to determine our tendencies and motives therefrom. Here is where Seth...and SETI as a whole...find an impassable chasm of logic.
If our signals take so long to get to any conceivably inhabited planet, this would mean that any signals we receive are centuries...if not millenia...old. If we were to reply using our same radio technology, we could not expect any response until we are long gone...presuming (implausibly) that our reply found the aliens using THEIR same centuries or millenia old technology.
If the effectiveness of our communication technology is so slow, why waste time looking for ancient signals from some faraway place since the data gathered cannot be acted upon in any reasonable time-frame? Seth's and SETIs argument actually invalidates their own mission.
At any rate, if alien civilizations have been and/or are visiting us, and obviously are not using radio to communicate, they would have very good reasons for not wanting to trust us, or even to announce their presence. Again, the hypothesis that aliens exist and HAVE been here negates SETI, so said hypothesis MUST be wrong, per Mr. Shostak.
And finally number 4...We're not looking in the right place, like Zeta Reticula...
Here again, Seth argues against this by using a tautology. He says that SETI HAS surveyed Zeta Reticula, and found "no one home". Let me break this down just a little...
SETI searches for primitive radio frequency transmissions from outer space.
Many people are convinced...Shostak notes the Hills (and Betty's star map) as an example...that alien life exists in the Zeta Reticula system, and that Zetans have been and/or are visiting the earth. These people claim to have been in contact with these Zetans both telepathically and physically.
Seth says that SETI listened for radio signals from Zeta Reticula and found none. He concludes thereby that there IS no alien life in the Zeta Reticula system. Plus...and importantly...he offers NO evidence to rebut the claims of those that are convinced that Zetans exist, and communicate, and travel here.
But how about this hypothesis...the Zetans have long since given up on the "snail mail" of radio or electromagnetic transmission altogether, in favor of a more effective system...a system like telepathy. The Zetans don't need to send out signals because they already KNOW we are here, and have been visiting for some time. The Zetans are skeptical of our baser instincts and tendencies and so stay fairly hidden from plain sight to monitor us without overt involvement. While the occasional sighting or experience is allowed or occurs by chance, the general concensus among Zetans is that they should remain a nebulous, "mythical" reality until such time as overt contact is deemed appropriate.
Now, answer this question. In light of the foregoing paragraph, do you feel that there is more evidence extant to support that hypothesis, or rather that put forth by Seth and SETI?
Which leads to this question...Why does SETI enjoy so much acclaim, financial support, scientific respect, and near adulation of its mission?
Perhaps...to paraphrase an infamous military man..."We can't HANDLE the truth".
Keep on listenin', SETI. Maybe one day you'll find an "elephant in the parking lot", after all.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
To another year gone by...
Well, it happens that sometime on July 18, 1960 marks the moment I first saw the light of day...well, besides the murky glow of the outside from the inside of mommie's warm, safe and secure womb.
1960 was to be the beginning of quite a decade here in America. The Cuban missile crisis, the moon landing, the Kennedy/King/Kennedy assassinations, the Chicago 7, Woodstock, LSD, Flower Power, Free Love, the British Invasion, the list seems endless.
And I was only 10 when it ended, ushering in the 70s...the deaths of Hendrix/Joplin/Morrison, bell bottoms, platform shoes, disco...well you know the rest.
So I stand here today...46 years adolescent...in a very strange new world. War, religious intolerance, misplaced moral outrage, political demagoguery everywhere, education in a dismal state, good health care exceedingly available only to a rare few, energy costs that dwarf anything seen here before, massive natural...and man-made...disasters in the news every...or every other...day.
And I dare to remain...upbeat!? What kind of fool must I be?
Well, I have the wealth that comes from loving and being loved by my two favorite people on this rock...my betrothed and my son...and I have friends...some that span 3 decades or more, and I have all my (albeit diminishing) faculties. I have all my fingers, toes and assorted limbs and organs...I even have my tonsils and my appendix. All I've lost are my wisdom teeth and the vast majority of my hair...and admittedly I shed a tear or two on occasion for the steady loss of that last. :( And perhaps I've lost a little youthful self-confidence..."VERY little", most of my friends would say. Fair enough. Regardless, I feel very wealthy indeed. :)
As I've noted to many before, I plan to be living well into my 150th year, so by that measure I'm just a presidential term away from the 1-third mark in my time on this mortal coil. A mere whipper-snapper still, in my view.
But the real reasons I find myself upbeat? The promises of which we stand on the very brink: Space travel in my lifetime; medical advances that could well eliminate disease, and deformity, and death from a host of environmental causes; scientific advancement in the elimination of many pollutants, new energy sources...or old ones brought to new and geometrically increased utility; changes in attitude; a renewed interest in the earth, its processes and our place in them; political winds shifting to a new...or ANY other...direction; and the knowledge that our younger generations...fraught with afflictions like video games, short attention spans, and increasing violence though they may be...will be FAR better prepared to face this uncertain future than was MY generation, or those before it.
I remain against all odds and common sense, in a word...Optimistic.
Perhaps I am further along toward old age than I think, and it is early-onset dementia that explains the couching of such an attitude. If so, fine. I accept that diagnosis, just as I commit to enjoying it for at least another hundred years.
My most fervent hope is that this decade...known as the "00s", the "aughts", or even "naughts"...ends with a whimper and not a bang, and that the damage done in this one is remembered, and serves as a lesson for all the decades to come. The millenium has not begun in so auspicious a manner. Let's hope that we can, as a species, do better.
I think we can...I think we can...I think we can. Lather, rinse, repeat...
To those that know, I Love you. To those that don't, I love you too!
Ok, then. Move along. Nothing more to see here...
[via my parents and everyone else who helped to make me]
Monday, July 17, 2006
UFO Reflections BOTW...#2
Stepping into the spotlight this week is a decidedly feline-esque lady from my extensive archives.
She purrs, growls and occasionally roars, in true "I am Woman" fashion.
And...as demonstrated here...can be quite a "handful". *ahem*
While she displays no stripes or spots (besides a few freckles), her quiet grace, lithe movement, and the aforementioned purrs, growls and roars bely the cat-like aspect barely hidden.
By the way, this image is from one of those old fashioned cameras...the kind that use film and stuff.
Believe it or not, it used to be the only way to get photos...and you often had to have a fairly open-minded clerk at the photo lab to get them home. LOL
Here's to this week's UFO Reflections Babe of the Week!
PS...any resemblance to last weeks Babe is purely intentional.
Until next week!
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Dr. Bruce Maccabee, a UFOlogical researcher for whom I have a great deal of respect in spite of a few "mis-cues" noted here before, has been deemed "the world's foremost UFO expert". While I doubt that Bruce himself provided that description, I do think it is a tad bit overstated.
A skilled optical physicist, it remains to be seen how he...or anyone for that matter...could be labeled a "UFO expert", since he has no more an idea of what UFOs are than anyone else.
Undeterred, the article then seeks to reinforce this assertion by adding that he,
"...works with the Roswell UFO Museum.".
You want to talk about "guilt by association"? The Roswell "museum" is nothing more than a tourist facility with lots of books on hand and a couple of hokey dioramae depicting UFOs and aliens. No academic staff, no research projects or field investigations, nada.
After viewing the frame of the video on the page linked in the title above, it seems a fair preliminary conclusion that the "object" is a bird. Of course, we will await Dr. Maccabee's expert opinion before passing final judgment.
Just for reference, the location of the sighting is the Auckland Viaduct Basin...it looks like this. Can you imagine a bird living in a place like this? Call me "gull"-ible, but I think perhaps so.
If I were video-taping the Viaduct Basin and a pigeon...or pelican :) ...flew across the camera frame (something I feel might occur with great frequency given the locale), I would imagine a frame-grab looking suspiciously like this image. But I could be mistaken!!
I'm just saying...
Druffel's Klass act...
Dr. Kelson and I are gratebul[sic] that the Heflin photos are
receiving so much attention, but unfortunately the attention
contains a flurry of uninformed speculation among the logical
questions that are being asked.
[Which could be easily corrected by making the photos available. Why withhold them any longer? Seems like it would be very constructive.]
We want to be professional and scientific as Dr. Kelson
completes his analysis of the originals. Those who have specific
questions about the photos are welcome to send these to us, but
they must be specific, and if these questions are something Dr.
Kelson can address in his second paper he will do so.
[Specific question: on what basis do you withhold the photos since they
are NOT Dr. Kelson's property, and since you promised that you would
make them available for Ufological study?]
Releasing the original images or digital copies of same into the
public arena at this time would not be constructive.
All best regards,
"...would not be constructive."? I am mystified as to how making the original photos available for others (as promised) could be anything OTHER than constructive. Oh, unless she means it would not be constructive for Dr. Kelson's book sales? Sorry to seem...umm...skeptical of her motives here, but good Lord.
Now, how does this square with Druffel's supposed promise to Heflin that his photos would be made available for the good of Ufology?
And notice not a word on the time-frame for completion of this epic 6 year old (as of today) re-analysis. Perhaps he has to keep re-starting his re-analysis when a new re-vision to Photoshop comes out? Re-diculous! :)
Since this is one very prominent UFO case where the ACTUAL evidence is still in existence, it seems far beyond the pale for its "caretaker" to be so flippant about the need for transparency, availability, and integrity. And so obviously deferential to ONE scientists "needs".
Ms Druffel's post above raises far more questions than it answers, IMO. Shameful, really.
[via UFO Updates]