Lost haltonarp.com discussions – Fermi’s Paradox and Arpian Cosmology

This is part of a reconstruction of some of the discussions that went on in the discussion board of haltonarp.com. Few years ago the site was reconstructed and the discussions went offline. They haven’t been seen since until now.

Fermi’s Paradox and Arpian Cosmology

nick white 2005-02-08 22:42:23

Has anyone ever pondered whether Arpian cosmology has something to say about Fermi’s Paradox or not? I would be interested to hear your opinions. http://seti.astrobio.net/news/article105.html

Does Arpian cosmology lead to the conclusion that humans are the front runners in space travel? Or does it not put such heavy constraints on such matters. Should we have expected to see ET by now in an Arpian cosmos? Regards!

Ari Jokimäki 2005-02-09 08:00:28
When you colonize a galaxy, do you colonize every planet of every solar system?

When do you colonize a galaxy? Is 10 billion years old galaxy old enough to be colonized? Or is it too old for staying, perhaps everyone are gone already?

Is Earth appealing to other civilizations? Atmosphere of the Earth is filled with oxygen, which is quite dangerous gas because it is very reactive. Is life on Earth special because it can utilize oxygen, or is oxygen utilization universal feature of life?

Is curiosity universal feature of life? Maybe most civilizations don’t ever leave their home planet even if they would have the capability to do so.

Has the Earth been colonized already? Is it best way to colonize a planet by planting a seed of life there and wait for it to evolve, and then contact the place after 5 billion years?

If colonization is not going to happen, then it is a question about how long period of time there is on average between visits from other civilizations. In that case we are dealing with average distance between civilization, average lifetime of civilization, etc.

Ritchie Annand 2005-02-09 09:59:02

Quoting nick white:
Has anyone ever pondered whether Arpian cosmology has something to say about Fermi’s Paradox or not? I would be interested to hear your opinions. http://seti.astrobio.net/news/article105.html

Does Arpian cosmology lead to the conclusion that humans are the front runners in space travel? Or does it not put such heavy constraints on such matters. Should we have expected to see ET by now in an Arpian cosmos? Regards!

Given the way humans spread, and the rate at which that spread is increasing, it might not be unreasonable to assume that we could be the first intelligent life… in our galaxy at least. That’s assuming a diaspora, and the math would seem to indicate intelligent life would have spread in this time.

However, if they were either not given to colonization, or the spread was really slow, then we haven’t a hope of detecting them unless they’re looking – long distance communication has tended towards the undecipherable even here on Earth in the short time we’ve had it.

We’ve also tended to slow down population growth as our species matures. Certainly there will be a bit of a frontier attitude helping spread population on new planets, but that only goes so far. If no FTL communications end up being possible, then maintaining a government over such vast distances might be problematic – which also might serve to limit the spread of a species (although that does shut the door on some of our science fiction fantasies 🙂

More sinisterly, if Arp’s variable mass hypothesis was in effect, would that end up being inimical to life over time? 😉

Just speculating 🙂

— Ritchie

nick white 2005-02-09 20:46:38

Hi all. If we consider all the Sun-like stars in the Galaxy which are 500 million years *older* than the Sun (for argument’s sake), and a small fraction harbour life, then I think it’s reasonable that some of that life must be able to move around the Galaxy. There are many many possible reasons for why we’re unaware of them but all those reasons have to mop up all the civilisations possibly out there, so as to obscure them from us, as it were. On balance it seems to me, given the possible numbers out there, that one, and that’s all it takes, just one, civilisation has been all over this Galaxy. The timescales are very favourable.

A drastic way out of this situation is to argue that we’re the only ones here. I’m not aware of any fundemental physical reason as to why such travel can’t be undertaken, but as pointed out above, could Arpian cosmology that involves variable mass put a timescale on how long life can last in the Galaxy once it’s got going? More generally, if we think along the lines of anthropic principles, does us being here say something about our universe that allows us to constrain Arp’s ideas in some way?

Edward Duffy 2005-02-13 02:25:10

Given the fractal nature of everything else in the universe I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that life evolves in a somewhat parallel manner throughout the galaxy. The fact that we haven’t come across any yet may be because we are at the forefront of technological development, along with many others. If so, first contact will likely cause a frantic tech race among civilizations and things will develop quite rapidly for a while. That, or we’re the backwater ignoramouses of the galaxy, interesting to observe, but not to strike up a conversation with.

nick white 2005-02-15 10:47:35

Edward, seems odd to me though if ET has been out there for millions of years that we haven’t picked up signs of them, ie. signals not actually intended for us. When I started this thread I hadn’t read the new Arp articles on this site, one of which discusses briefly this issue – would seem Arp thinks we’re unlikely to recognise signals from advanced civilisations. However, there’s surely a range of intelligence out there, some of which we could pick up on. Only one civilisation is needed to take a passing interest in Earth.

The trick is to look/send signals which are sufficiently similar to those created by natural phenomena that someone might be tuning in, but not too similar so that we actually think the signal is natural. For example, with hind sight, initially thinking pulsars were ET signals was a mistake because what ET would send a signal that is so similar in appearance to that of a pulsar? Somebody somewhere would be saying “Don’t transmit that, they’ll just think it’s a pulsar”.

I briefly had a *wild* idea that some quasars might be the result of continuously pumped lasers being beamed in our direction – inspired by ideas concerning some quasars being in our galaxy (laser stars) and those concerning ET communication using laser pulses. I then thought, “Yeah, but then the signal would just look like an extra-galactic quasar, so what’s the point?”.

ted rusk 2005-02-16 16:06:37

When we study an ant colony, we do not attempt to contact the queen; any civilization millions of years older than we would likely take this view. But it is quality of intelligence, not quantity, that really matters. A whale has a brain the size of a minivan, but we do not talk with them, and they’re right here. Now, the fundamental difference between us and whales is that they float around in an all-encompassing ocean, singing songs and sucking up krill, practically invulnerable due to their great size, while we are tiny little surface dwellers; not strong, not fast, not fierce, not armoured, substandard physical senses and so on; subject to a far greater range of calamities than ocean-dwellers, needing to find food, shelter, clothing, transportation, extended education, defence, entertainment, etc., etc. Whales in their imperious majesty need none of these things, and so we have little in common and they basically ignore us. But it is our very neediness which has caused us to develop an advanced material culture, a seeking curiousity, and most of all modes of co-operation; these are the qualities which truly define us, and which make possible any kind of cosmic exploration. Whether ET is like us or like whales will be entirely dependent on these environment-driven factors. Water, oxygen, sililcates and so on are ubiquitous, but they do not always function the same way. On Titan, for instance, methane is water and water is rock. Considering the vast distances and near-infinite possibillities for evolution, it is not perhaps so surprising we have not found our cosmic doppelgangers, especially since we have only been looking less than fifty years…

nick white 2005-02-19 16:38:14

Ted, at face value the odds still look favourable that we’d see some sign of some intelligence out there. As I keep stressing, it only takes one to show sufficient interest, even if the relationship ends up like that between man and dog, with us on the wrong end of the stick. We’ve only been flying for around 100 years and have already reached the Moon, although grabted millions of years have passed before we got that far. A similar life form to us which is only a few tens of thousands years more “advanced” would perhaps be sufficiently similar to ourselves as to be interested in us. I use the word advance with some caution since it’s easy to slip up and see evolution as a means of permanent advancement, rather than an adaptation process.

If evolution contains a convergent aspect to it, as outlined here regarding eyes, http://www.karger.com/gazette/64/fernald/art_1_5.htm then maybe aliens will not be so different from us.

BTW, I’m no closer to knowing whether Arp’s cosmology offers a fundemental stumbling block to communication with ET.

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