18 January 2007

ET Where are you?

The simplest answers to questions may not necessarily be the best ones but then again… According the today’s Guardian, Danish researcher Rasmus Bjork believes he may the answer to the Fermi Paradox (the conflict between predictions that life was elsewhere in the universe and the conspicuous lack of aliens who have come to visit): Extra-terrestrials have yet to find us because they haven't had enough time to look.

A civilisation using sub-light speed probes would take billions of years to map out only a fraction of the galaxy. It might get lucky and pick up broadcasts that have leaked out into space but "… unless they can develop an exotic form of transport that gets them across the galaxy in two weeks it's still going to take millions of years to find us," said Mr Bjork.

What Mr Bjork has to say comes as no huge surprise. Unless ET really has Warp drive or can conquer hyperspace (I really must watch less sci-fi!) then we will probably wait a long time.


Elizabeth-W said...

Do you all get the new Battlestar Gallactica? They do things called "jumps". Until I married Shazzy I'd never watched anything sci-fi in my life--while I'm vaguely embarrassed to admit it, I think it's fun. The theory sounds good to me, by the way! ;)

jams o donnell said...

Oh yes! Series 3 just started last week and very dark and compelling it is. The not wife got me series two for Xmas.

I love some sci fi - The new Galactica (The theology of the old version was meant to be based on Mormonism I understand). Stargates SG1 and Atlantis and of course Star Trek (original series, next gen and DS9 but not so much Voyager and definitely not Enterprise). I never cared for Star Wars though

I do like the idea of the jump and the stargate in stargate.. Sad, eh?

Elizabeth-W said...

Yes, it does have some vague Mormon references.
It starts here this weekend. You're ahead of us!!
I'd never seen any star trek, and I pretty much gag over the original ones but I have developed an affection for Patrick Stewart and co., and DS9--I was so sad when Dax left--again, if I had known 11 years ago I would know any star trek character I would have laughed so hard--Never really liked voyager, and Enterprise was horrid!
We've never watched stargate. Did you ever watch Serenity, or oh gosh, what was it called? it was australian, and it had the big ship called Moya and a blue lady, and a little muppet named rigel who had problems with intestinal gas, and a guy from nasa named john crichton? It was only on a couple seasons but I reallly liked that one probably best of all the sci fi-ish stuff.

Steve Bates said...

jams, thanks for the Wikipedia link. I've run across many of those conjectures at one time or another, but that is the only place I've seen all of them laid end to end. (A Dorothy Parker quote about the girls who attended the Yale prom comes to mind.) Reading that wiki while simultaneously working my way through physicist Lisa Randall's book Warped Passages, about the possibility of extra dimensions in our own spacetime, has filled my head with possibly too many big ideas all at once. It's a great feeling.

In the Star Trek universe, I particularly enjoyed Next Gen and DS9. The original series eventually came to seem (dare I say it) quaint, and I never really managed to be hooked by either Voyager or (my least favorite) Enterprise. Now that rental DVD's are so readily available, I really should explore the various other series you and elizabeth-w named.

Elizabeth-W said...

I asked Shazzy when he came home and he helped me remember. It was called Farscape. Steve, it really was a fun show. It made fun of star trekky type shows in a subtle way.

jams o donnell said...

Interestingly (or not) Elizabeth we got the BG mini series several months before you did in the US. I think the fst series was also shown here before it reached US tv. Normally we are a few months behind (sometimes a few years - the original star trek was not shown in the UK until after it was cancelled in the US... TNG did not get aired here until 1990!)

TNG started dreadfully but developed into something superb. Episodes like the Inner Light (where Picard lives the life of a man on a doomed planet) were magnificent - it did have a fair few clinkers too though! DS9 was a little bit like a soap opera but it had great main and supporting characters. I loved the Quark/Odo interplay and I always had a soft spot for Garak. Voyager lacked appealing characters except the the EMH, seven of nine was an appealing character but that may have been for other reasons and I difgress!

Stargate is in its final series. It was a show that grew on me. There is now a close link with Farscape with two of the leading actors playing main roles in SG1 - The main star (I forget his name) and Claudia Black. I enjoyed Serenity but I have not seen more than a couple of episodes of Firefly

I must admit I have a blind spot when it comes to Physics Steve. I am fascinated by space travel (being a 6 year old when Armstrong fluffed his lines may have helped!) but the physics is way beyond my brain's abilities... Give me mammalian physiology (esp neurophysiology) and I have a a chance of comprehension (did my BSC in Physiology and Biochemisty). At the moment I am getting engrossed in Discworld - Bryan has a lot to answer for :) So much reading, so little time!

Steve Bates said...

jams, you might try the book I mentioned, Warped Passages. Lisa Randall, though tenured on the physics faculties of Princeton, MIT and Harvard (presumably not all at once), writes for an interested general public, not for physicists.

It has been about 15 years since I left off reading popular books about cosmology, particle physics, etc., and even longer since I took physics as part of the electrical engineering curriculum in college, but Randall writes so well that I am able to follow her explanations of all the stuff that has happened in the intervening 15 years... which is a lot.

(Randall jokes that her real claim to fame is that Stephen Hawking once saved a seat for her at a lecture. Well, I say, why would he not... how often do you find branes [sic] and beauty in one person!)

jams o donnell said...

Thanks Steve. I will look out for it. I hope it jas small words and big pictures then I might have a chance of understanding!