Insights Into Tomorrow

Insights Into Tomorrow: Episode 5 "SETI"

May 11, 2020 Sam and Joseph Whalen Season 1 Episode 5
Insights Into Tomorrow: Episode 5 "SETI"
Insights Into Tomorrow
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Insights Into Tomorrow
Insights Into Tomorrow: Episode 5 "SETI"
May 11, 2020 Season 1 Episode 5
Sam and Joseph Whalen

What is the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, when did it start, is it worth what it costs and what happens if we find something?

We'll investigate these questions in this edition of the podcast while also looking at a history of SETI, radio astronomy and how academics, enthusiasts and the cold war drive America's efforts with SETI. We'll ponder the philosophical question of whether there is intelligent life in the universe and we'll talk about the Drake Equation and how many of it's guesswork variables are quickly forming up to be factual estimates based on current findings in our understanding of the universe.

We will also take a look at the costs of SETI, it's research and the bureaucracy that it depends on. We'll explore the benefits that we've seen from the efforts of people like Carl Sagan and Paul Alan to deepen our understanding of life in the universe. And we'll ask you the audience to decide if the investments have been worth the benefits.

In our final segment we'll talk about the various scenarios facing the human race should we encounter other intelligent life. We'll it be a peaceful and beneficial first contact like that depicted on Star Trek. Or do we face an apocalyptic Independence Day style catastrophic first contact? Are we as a civilization even ready for first contact and what impact could it have on us as a species?

We'll explore all this and more on this episode of Insights Into Tomorrow!

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

What is the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, when did it start, is it worth what it costs and what happens if we find something?

We'll investigate these questions in this edition of the podcast while also looking at a history of SETI, radio astronomy and how academics, enthusiasts and the cold war drive America's efforts with SETI. We'll ponder the philosophical question of whether there is intelligent life in the universe and we'll talk about the Drake Equation and how many of it's guesswork variables are quickly forming up to be factual estimates based on current findings in our understanding of the universe.

We will also take a look at the costs of SETI, it's research and the bureaucracy that it depends on. We'll explore the benefits that we've seen from the efforts of people like Carl Sagan and Paul Alan to deepen our understanding of life in the universe. And we'll ask you the audience to decide if the investments have been worth the benefits.

In our final segment we'll talk about the various scenarios facing the human race should we encounter other intelligent life. We'll it be a peaceful and beneficial first contact like that depicted on Star Trek. Or do we face an apocalyptic Independence Day style catastrophic first contact? Are we as a civilization even ready for first contact and what impact could it have on us as a species?

We'll explore all this and more on this episode of Insights Into Tomorrow!

Support the Show.

spk_0:   0:01
insightful podcasts, informative host insights into a podcast network. Welcome to insights into Tomorrow, where we take a deeper looking into how the issues of today will impact the world of tomorrow. From politics and world news to media and technology, we discuss how today's headlines are becoming tomorrow's reality.

spk_1:   1:00
Welcome to insights Into Tomorrow This is Episode five settee. I'm your host, Joseph Raylan, and my co host Sam Wells with me today Are you doing today, Sam? Okay, So said he was recently in the news, um, for shutting down their city at home program. And it it kind of made me start thinking about the significance of city in the history of city and and sort of where we're going with, you know, our search for extraterrestrial intelligence. So I thought it would be a good topic for us to discuss today s. So I guess the first thing we should probably do is to find what said he actually is said he is the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, which is a collective term for scientific searches for intelligent extraterrestrial life. For example, monitoring electronic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other planets, said he does not necessarily get involved in the popular UFO culture. However, I will confess to being a bit of an addict of ancient aliens watching that TV show. You ever watch that?

spk_0:   2:16
I've seen the means of the one guy like the Really? Yeah. The air. Yeah, but I can't say very watching. My problem with those shows is that, like, they're always like, this is the one we finally found them. And then by the end, there, like now, we didn't find anything next week,

spk_1:   2:30
right? Right. What I actually like about, um, this is a kind of off topic. But what I do like about ancient aliens is less the almost crazy on I found Alien State thing and more the technology that they look at, Andre, look at real world technology. Almost two to say I will. Maybe this is so advanced that it came from aliens. And okay, if you want to go down that path, you can. But the thing that I kind of like about it is seeing that technology and seeing what they're using to find or to search for aliens and stuff like that. So I don't necessarily think that there Let's say, barking up the right tree. Um, but I do think that there is some educational content there from at least the technology in a history standpoint, to make it worth watching.

spk_0:   3:26
It's better than like a Bigfoot show. What's taking off

spk_1:   3:29
her? Exactly? Exactly. Um so. But we're talking about Ceti, which isn't a legitimate, um, tax funder, tax payer funded scientific organization that the government had actually fund. And we'll talk about that, you know, in in the history section there. But city itself is almost exclusively radio telescope, radio emissions. And there's a practical reason for that. You know, we're really far away from other planets. Um, and as far as we know, from a scientific standpoint, nothing travels faster than the speed of light in the universe right now. So the one thing that could possibly get here theoretically would be radio transmissions. Um, you know, we as a civilization have been producing radio transmissions for little over 100 years now, Um, and we don't transmit them in any significant broadcast power outside of the planet. But, you know, there is our radio transmissions from the twenties and thirties that have probably hitting the closest um, stars nearby us at this point in time.

spk_0:   4:46
Yeah, that's that's really interesting to me, especially how that works with how time passes. So, like, you know, on a smaller scale, like when the astronauts went to the moon there, like they aged either slower or faster, I forget, slightly slower. Yeah, because

spk_1:   5:00
of the speed that they were going.

spk_0:   5:01
So even just I mean, the moon's obviously very far away. But compared to like the sun, just that small dilation you get that that time thing it was. It's an episode at one of the Star Trek where they're here in transmissions from a planet, and they're like, We gotta go rescue them. And then when they get there, they find out they've been dead for, like, 200 years.

spk_1:   5:20
Right? Right. Radio transmissions took so long, Um so well, we'll talk briefly about the history and where some of the science came from for it. We'll also talk about, um, whether there's anything that could be out there. But mathematically will talk about the Drake equation, which is really a big giant, scientific guess. You know, it's it's the great unknown, and we're trying to make things up as we go along, and then you know we'll talk about Is it worth it? You know, is all this money that we're spending looking for alien life really worth it because of everything that's going on here that could probably benefit for that money. And then we'll talk about the implications of what if we find something. Or what if something finds us, which Stephen Hawking thought was a a danger lurking out there. If we poke our nose where it shouldn't bay, so we'll take a quick break, we'll come back and we'll talk about the brief history of City.

spk_0:   6:36
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spk_1:   6:40
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spk_1:   7:40
brief history of setting I mean, said he everyone, when people think of aliens, they think of Roswell rights in 1947 or whatever UFO crashes and people think that that's really where we start studying aliens. Um, and this scientific study of aliens really doesn't take off with City Until 1959 Cornell physicist named Giuseppe Coney and Philip Morrison published an article on Major in which they were pointed out the potential for using microwave radio communication between stars. And this was right around the time that we discovered what's been coined as the mike microwave electric microwave background radiation. Basically, what's the leftover soup from the Big Bang? And in their people are are pointing out that there's signals that could be interpreted from that. In 1960 we had Frank Drake, who gave us the Drake equation. He conducted the first microwave radio search for signals in other solar systems. Um, and then, really, the United States kind of loses interest in at this point in time. It's kind of an academic study more than anything until the Soviets pick it up and the Soviets start looking at so immediately? The United States sees that and realise all too cold War thing. They're using it for weapons

spk_0:   9:11
space. Race two were in this time.

spk_1:   9:12
Absolutely. Yeah. Eso were at the height of this base race in the sixties into the seventies. Um in early 70 Ames Research Center at NASA, they produced the first comprehensive study known as Project Cycle

spk_0:   9:28
Ill Man, that sounds cool.

spk_1:   9:32
So it's at this point in time that the United States really starts the focus on it. You have more radio telescopes that are out there now. This is before the giant radio telescopes like Arus Ebo and and these other telescopes that we have today. So it's it was more like a pet project. More than anything, Andi was confined most of the universities because everything I wanted have the resource for 1977 to solve. Probably the most significant radio signal that we saw. In fact, it was termed the wow signal. When Jerry Airman, who was a project volunteer at Ohio State, picked up this signal, that was I don't want to get off the charge, but it was a significant signal. And when he got because of the time all your output was on paper. So where everything was plotted on a grid on paper, and this one signal was huge. And he wrote in the margins on the paper. Wow. And it became known as the while Sig.

spk_0:   10:37
Yeah, I've heard of this one before. Unlike those, like, you know, Clickbait top 10 signs of alien life, whatever. They always cite this one. And I think a lot of people have kind of taken it and ran with it And, like, made it more than it might have been. But it's still cool, cause there's the picture of it. What? You know, You see the guys handling you're like, Oh, man, right. But, you know, So

spk_1:   10:54
now let me ask you and your experience and you work in media now. So you worked with radio transmissions and stuff like that? What kind of power does the transmitter that you work with right now? Put out?

spk_0:   11:06
We have. So cause we're a college station. We were more of a low power, not quite low power FM in the traditional sense, but we're definitely lower power than, like, you know. Mm. Are some of the bigger Philadelphia stations. So when we do meter readings, I think we're within, like, nine. That, like, 700 to 1000 killer it's or whatever the kilowatts killed. Watch. I took my radio training test,

spk_1:   11:29
but I remember the unit.

spk_0:   11:30
I was not a write down the numbers, so we're definitely or low power. But we do transmit from Glassboro. I think we reach parts of the Jersey shore and then to the bridges in the feeling. So look around there. So we do have a sizable audience, but obviously, when you get the higher power stations you're going to reach, you know much for, I think, like MMR reaches always north. PH, I think. Right. Um and, you know, however for that isn't a jersey soon.

spk_1:   11:55
So now the power readings that you take on your transmitter You guys are licensed for a certain amount of power by the FCC, is that correct?

spk_0:   12:03
Yeah. Yes. So that's the point of the meter readings so that we don't go over because if we go over or under, will bleed into different frequencies. So we're like would be go out of our we'd bleed into, like, 88 5 Ex PM like we'd take over that because we're 89.7. So on the dial, if we go over or under with our power, we infringe on, it's almost like territory like spaces. Sure they have. So we'd be going into those You're

spk_1:   12:28
assigned a certain frequency that frequencies the term by the power that you transmit, and you have to stay within a certain range in order to stay on your free. Exactly so. And it's interesting to understand that concept of electromagnetic emissions when we talk about a signal that, by all accounts, reached us from billions of miles away. So if you're putting out how much did you say?

spk_0:   12:56
I believe it's within. I have been in the station and while obviously, but I think it's between 708 100 in like 1000 kilowatts.

spk_1:   13:05
So that and that reaches roughly ST 90 miles. Now can you imagine how much power it would take to reach the Earth from another planet

spk_0:   13:14

spk_1:   13:15
and have one like this signal here that stood out enough to write, well, a piece of paper?

spk_0:   13:22
And that's not even factoring in like weather like I know, like on a cloudy day. Or, if there's thunderstorms, that message with signals, so you'll pick up like you'll get bleed through in stations like the Contra Station X to you and W. Moammar 93.3 will bleed together sometimes. So just those environmental factors to mess with it. So it's a very it's so fragile again with and, you know, see this from however now you know how far

spk_1:   13:43
it's funny. You mention that because years ago when I used to be into CB radio before the Internet and everything, CV was like how you talk to people because no one used the phone? Um, we would do what was called shooting Skip. So under certain atmosphere conditions, the ionosphere would become charged before an electrical storm. And you used to because normally what happens is when you transmit on a radio transmitter. It's omni directional, so it transmits everywhere equally well when you shoot skip. What would happen is the ionosphere would charge with electrical particles, so when you would send a transmission up instead of it bleeding out into space, it would hit the ionosphere, bounce off almost like it was a satellite relay, and then allow you to send that signal further, and we would talk to people normally got about 20 miles out of, ah CB radio here. Lucky. And when we would shoot Skip, you could talk to people out in Kentucky.

spk_0:   14:37
No, wow,

spk_1:   14:38
which is like 1000 miles. So it's just the mechanics. The physics of radio transmission are intriguing and how it works. Um, but that was what made this signal so interesting was that something was able to produce a signal that strong and the other thing you have the mind in 77 you didn't have this huge web of satellites in orbit. Now

spk_0:   15:04
there wasn't like junk, all

spk_1:   15:05
right, so what happens now is when these signals come in, people pick up the signals on a regular basis, and then what they'll do is will traverse the satellite receiver, the radio receiver off Target back on target. And they'll do that from multiple vectors to make sure that it's not a sadly that they're getting a receiving signal from. And then what we'll do is they also contact other nearby satellites, radio receivers and have them triangulate that signal because of the all trying angling to the same spot in that spots on Lee 50 miles above the earth. Then you know you're hitting a sadly, and that's becoming a real concern. Especially now that you've got Ellen Mosque putting up thousands and thousands of satellites of everyone can get in there now. So that was the one of the biggest things, and that really got people very excited about it. NASA was still funding in at this time. Um, NASA, uh, aims. And the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were both running programs at the same time and then incomes. You're scientists, you know, you're famous scientist Carl Sagan being one of them founding the Planetary Society. And then the Planetary Society then took it upon themselves to start doing more of a serious scientific research into the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Through Radio Observatory's, they started developing the actual technology that is used today in 1981 1 of the ones they put out with that was a portable spectrum analyzer, which they named the suitcase settee. Um, and what it did was frequency wise. There's a monumental number of band wished that that we can receive on, and the problem is, is that really a receiver could only receive on one frequency at a time unless you have an antenna for every frequency. So what this action was able to do was actually frequency hop across 131 different narrow bands and monitor for signals with a single antenna crossed all these bands. So they started introducing some of the technology that would later become instrumental in this and that technology evolved through the eighties and 85 with the mega channel Extraterrestrial Array and then 88. NASA formally adopted and funded their own city program, which Congress terminated within five years. Uh, because Congress didn't see there was a benefit and it's hard. It's hard to make an argument fruit, and the problem is selling it right. It's just like selling a space program. You know, What's the benefit of the space program? What would you say is the number one benefit to the space program?

spk_0:   18:07
Fine, I guess now, in our modern times would probably be finding another habit of a habitable planet, probably

spk_1:   18:14
right, And that resources. You can explain that concept or congressman who means to get elected in two years,

spk_0:   18:19
especially when you look at much of cost right and public interest in general. I mean, after we're looking 1988. That's kind of when I could be wrong with this kind of when public interest in space programs, I kind of started the decline.

spk_1:   18:31
You know, this is this is surely this is right around the time that the challenger disaster half and so people were very gun shy about funding space. Um, but the real benefit to the space program has been and continues to be, the advances in science and technology that coming out. And I'm not talking about Tang, you know, the orange drink that the astronauts have wasn't actually invented for the space program, which was a misnomer. But the science of rocketry, aeronautics, computers, I mean, just the computer drive alone you figure when we put men on the moon. I have about 1000 times more computing power on my wrist with my apple watch right now. Then what they had in their guidance computer. Um, so said he was driving the same type of thing. It was an innovation race more than anything, and Congress didn't see it. Is that and well, and if they did, you know I'm not saying they didn't, but if they did, their idea was won't let the private industry that the private sector deal with that because the other ones, they're gonna benefit from it. Um, NASA was and still is a not for profit organization that holds thousands of patents. And those patents get turned over to the private industry for public use. So the government wasn't going to make its money back on that, and Congress didn't want to keep funding him. So we get into the nineties and said he is now a privately funded organization here. They're getting donations there getting, ah, money from the academic signed from universities and such. And they start collecting data and one of the antennas that they collected a lot of data from WAAS, the Radio Observatory in Mexico at Arus Ebow, which is a massive radio antenna that's built into the side of a mountain. Um, and it's interesting because it doesn't really move like you can. You can change the the vector of the receiver and stuff like that, but it's fixed in place and it's always looking at the sky, and they would gather radio data on this, but they couldn't analyze it. And they wound up with this glut of radio data. So the introduced what really was the first, um, civilian distributed computer program. And that was said he at home where what they would do is they would take this massive chunk of radio information. They break it up into small blocks, and then users could download a program run the program. It would grab a block of data seconds. You know, milliseconds of data churn through this, looking for a specific information that they had the criteria set for. And if it found whatever it found, it would then transmit back. And they started collecting all this data. And I remember when City at home launched I was an early member of it because I thought it was a really cool idea. And that again, that technology drove things. Blake. The Bitcoin industry. Now you know your all your distributed computing applications that you have now you're folding at home. We're folding at home. Is it exactly the same thing? In fact, of the engine sitting at home? Well, not using in the long run was the same engine that folding hommage is using and folding at home is now being used for distributed computing to find to analyze the Corona virus OK, on break it down. And the data from that and simulations is being used to help find a vaccine for so all that was a direct benefit from what these guys did in 1999 um, in, uh, 2009 city at home project had over 180,000 active participants volunteering over 290,000 computers. Now, I will say that that equation is probably conservative because people like me, I had probably 89 computers at home and probably six computers in my office that were turning away to do this so that you had. And then you had university groups, you know, they would. They had a leader board and you could go and look at that leaderboard. You could set up a team and people conjoined your team, and you competed to see who generated the most computing power. Um, and at one point in time, the city at Home project was the largest supercomputer in the world with all its computing power. You talk about computational power at 617 tariff flops, which is just not toe, you know, no pun intended, but it's astronomical to compute that stuff, and that's all being computed on home computers.

spk_0:   23:46
That's Ah, that's an interesting way to go about it, because, I mean, you're getting people from a business name when you're getting people to work for free. But you're also making it competitive so that you have incentive to do it. You know, it's it's ingenious.

spk_1:   24:00
Well, and at the time you didn't receive any material benefit for doing that, you receive bragging rights. Um, you do get a thank you letter annually from the board at City for donating your time, but really, you were doing it for the advancement of of all main calm.

spk_0:   24:17
And that, however small chance that you're the one that finds another while signal or something like

spk_1:   24:23
that. And to be honest with you, it was a really nice looking screen saver. It it was really cool screen scene. So that's kind of the history of it, you know, It started out by accident. Scientifically, you know, just just ah, hobby. Almost the US government that universities adopted at that point time serve funding it, then the U. S government didn't really get into it until the Soviets started looking into it on. Then, when Congress realized that they couldn't turn a buck on it, they basically gave up on it and it was turned over to private investors. So one of the biggest private investors that they had funding from was Paul Allen, who was one of the founding fathers of Microsoft. In fact, one of the largest radio telescope arrays in the world that said he uses is the Allen telescope array. Um, and when he passed away, it was last year he passed away. It was really probably the nail in the coffin for city at home. Now, the reason that that I bring this up is you know, there was a news article, uh, a couple weeks back, right around the time that the whole Corona virus hit. Um, that talked about sitting at home, closing up shop. Basically, they weren't soliciting information anymore. Any input because they've been piling up all this data and they haven't been able to finish their deep analysis on it. So they're moving into that later phase of their project where they've shut down all the solicitations for information. They're gonna do their deep analysis and probably in about five or six years will probably see what the results of that deep analysis are. So the shutting down of city at home after 20 years, 20 plus years, I thought was, was worthy of a discussion about the whole topic itself. Have you ever heard of any of any of the City of home project any of them were?

spk_0:   26:21
The only thing of city I've heard of and I mentioned this before we went on was an Independence Day. In the beginning, that movie there's a guy playing golf that works for city, and they obviously portray it. You know, in a more dramatic fashion like the point is to show how bored this guy because he's never encountered aliens. So then he gets the transmission he calls as a phone line directly to like the Pentagon or the president is like Israel is Mr President, the aliens are here, so that's the only city, uh, you know, depiction I've ever seen. Um, but hearing about the setting home, it's it's interesting that it was kind of like this almost underground. Ah, community thing, you know, and I think I think it's cool.

spk_1:   27:05
Yeah, it was Ah, it was a plot twist in several movies. Contact being another one with. The thing was, Jodie Foster is in there, or a lot of good portion of that movie was actually filmed at one of their radio will raise the V. L. A. The very large array and the interesting thing again. Kind of a side note about the technology in order to pick up signals that air so weak you need very large antennas. Well, it's difficult to build an antenna that's miles wide. So what they've started to do was they've adopted a, um, technique of using many intense a bunch of smaller Antanas that air arrayed in a pattern thick and then worked as a large one. Then there was work early on to take sadly dishes and people that have old traditional, you know, the big satellite dishes before the dish antennas came out to take those in people's backyards and through software, actually link all of those together. But I don't know if that ever got off the ground. Yeah, so you know, it's it's interesting that we've gotten some benefit out of it. and hopefully you know what we did with the distributed computing will help us with the Corona virus. Now, with folding at home,

spk_0:   28:27
you know, I just think nowadays it's more. The focus is, at least for profitability, is on Internet data and invent usage. So I could definitely see the throughout the years as the Internet becomes more dominant, the shift away from looking at radio frequencies and interpreting that data and instead putting those efforts into Internet data gathering and how that could be used. Not by study, of course, but just in general, the general climate, the general focus more on how that data could be used to sell stuff.

spk_1:   29:00
And that's really what it is. I mean, if you don't have the money, you need to have a business model. Everyone needs one of the function to get money in a business model and said his business model relied on charity. So So we'll take another quick break. We'll come back. We'll talk about Are they really out there? How we can tell us they are

spk_0:   29:30
insides into entertainment? A podcast. Siri's taking a deeper look into entertainment and media are husband and wife team of pop culture fanatics are exploring all things from music and movies to television and fandom. Well, look at the interesting and obscure entertainment news of way. We'll talk about theme park and pop culture news. We'll give you the latest and greatest on pop culture convention. We'll give you a deep dive into Disney Star Wars and much more. Check out our video episodes at youtube dot com. Backslash insights into things, our audio episodes at podcast insights into entertainment dot com. Or check us out on the Web at insights into things dot com.

spk_1:   30:32
So are they out there? Let me ask you, Do you think aliens exist?

spk_0:   30:37
Uh, probably. Yeah. I mean alien. I think there's some kind of living life out there I don't know about, like, little green men. But, you know, definitely like bacteria and stuff like that, and we'll get into it. I didn't know it was an actual equation. Forward spoilers, but I always just figured just from a numbers standpoint, there's got to be right. I mean, the universe is like in comprehensively like huge, you know,

spk_1:   30:58
right? You would think mathematically. Yeah, we can't be the only ones like for

spk_0:   31:03
that was always kind of stance I took on. It was there's something out there somewhere, but maybe the odds aren't really on. Our favorite ever encounter is

spk_1:   31:10
right that when I agree, I mean, that's I guess that's part of the problem is that the universe is so large that that life has to exist elsewhere. But the universe is so large that it's almost impossible for us to encounter it. And that's sort of where the Drake equation comes in. And we've mentioned Frank Drake in the first segment there he

spk_0:   31:30
was a

spk_1:   31:31
scientist that sort of went through this thought experiment of how do we know if there's life out there? So in his equation, he takes into account the number of civilizations in our galaxy which communication might be possible, which is a guess. Right then, he says on what's the average rate of star formation in our galaxy, which could be calculated from observation? Then what's the fraction of those stars that have planets now? At the time he came up with this, we had no technology whatsoever. It allowed us to actually find extrasolar planets, planets around other suns. Now we've got probably 1/2 dozen different techniques and we're finding planets everywhere now, which at the time he put this together, that factor that variable was a guess. Now they've got a pretty good idea of what that number is. So then he looks at the average number of planets that could potentially support life for star, which again we can determine because in the ones that we look at now we're seeing a lot of gas giants, which are the easiest ones to find. And one of the most common techniques is they look at the wobble of a star. So when you look at a star, we have high enough imaging of a star now toe, actually see if a large planet gravitationally pulls on a star and the star will wobble is that planet orbits it now those obviously we rule out because our definition of life is constrained, what we know. So we would not expect to see life on a Jupiter because the atmosphere just isn't conducive to it. Um, they then look at the fraction of planets that can go on to develop intelligent life, and then the fraction of civilizations that developed technology that can release detectible signs of its existence in this piece, which takes us back to the regular missions we talked about. And then you look at the length of time which a civilization can release detectable signals to space. That is really kind of a key because we don't know. That's basically how long does an advanced civilization last before it destroys itself? That's what it's being counter categorized as.

spk_0:   33:58
That's a difficult number to make up, you know, indeed, because

spk_1:   34:02
the only example we have right now is us. That's about 100 years.

spk_0:   34:06

spk_1:   34:08
So in the grand scheme of things, you have tohave enough stars with enough planets with planet stick and support life to form civilizations that last long enough to generate the technology that could then send a radio signal. Then that radio signal has to travel for hundreds of thousands of millions of years to get the US here. And as we all know, when we look up at the night sky, we're looking at a time machine. That light that, you see there is thousands or millions of years old.

spk_0:   34:43
Yeah, I think. What is it? If the sun went out, we wouldn't over like eight minutes or something like that. We're about nine minutes away from

spk_1:   34:49
the sun, depending on the orbit.

spk_0:   34:51
That's insane. And think of them

spk_1:   34:52
right. So the Drake equation really was was kind of a thought experiment to get people to think of what are the chances? But it's really just a It's

spk_0:   35:01
like a really smart guy. Was like All right, well, if I have to, I don't know. But if I had to put it in the mathematical terms, here's all the vehicles we need to employ, you know,

spk_1:   35:08
Right now, if you go on and you look at the best case scenario where everything was in favour of us, finding civil civil is on civilized life. Out there, you're looking at about 50 million civilisations could have existed from the Big Bang. Until now. Will we ever see any of them? I don't know, but mathematically, this is, and this is sort of where we're talking about. This is just our galaxy to this isn't talking about other Galaxies so mathematically we could very well see um, civilizations out there at some point in time. The problem I think that we have is we have a tendency of limiting what we think of his life.

spk_0:   35:59
I was just gonna bring that up. Yeah, um, but you got out. Please. Yeah, I think especially in, like, our depictions of sci fi and stuff like that. It's all, like, human inspired just cause we can't expand our minds. I guess in that past us, right? So especially like star Wars and star drag, all the aliens look like people just, you know, a different color or a different facial structures. Something like that. But I think I don't know. I've thought about it before. We're like, What if there is life, but we just can't I see it. You know, like what if we're just our brains or our eyes or something aren't calibrated to detect that kind of life, you know, or they're so small that we can't see them because the size of we are. Yeah, and there's there's so many variables. Once you stop thinking of it in terms of, would they look like us? Or would they fit the same definition of life that we have that you just fall down the rabbit hole? Kind

spk_1:   36:53
of Absolutely. And I think one of the problems we have is that when we think of life, we think of carbon based life. You know, carbon based life made up of enzymes and DNA and requires oxygen requires water requires a certain temperature. And it's difficult for human beings to think outside of that, even though we have examples of life that doesn't fit, really what that definition is, There's a lot of studies that are going on that look at organisms that live in this really toxic environment at the bottom of the sea, where the guests bull, uh, molecular structure down there is the temperature is ridiculously hot, the oxygenation is almost non existent. And these are these these items these organisms live off of methane and other what reconsidered to be poisonous gases.

spk_0:   37:59
Those the same ones that like when they shine a light on the like freak out because I've never seen like before because they're so deep.

spk_1:   38:03
Roots are so deep in the ocean. Yeah, uh, alien life. Absolutely. And they've conducted experiments on the international space station with certain life forms, um, Roaches being one of them that survive in space. But there's this this microscopic life form called tar degrades

spk_0:   38:23
Oh, yeah, the bears. Yeah,

spk_1:   38:26
and these tar degrades little microscopic life forms can live in space in the in. Radiation, no oxygen in a vacuum. They can survive for months in space on the outside of the space station, then be brought back in, brought back the earth and a drop of water put on them and they come back to life. So there's a lot to be said for the fact that there's life out there that doesn't respond to the environment, that where the humans do, Um, and this sort of leads into the whole idea of transfer me A. That life might have existed on other planets, and, uh, asteroid or comet impacts may have lasted in the space, and that's what seeded the earth and stuff like that. So there's a lot of scientific theories about that, which kind of leads you down the path that we might not be. Earthlings, you know, our origins bite actually have been from another planet.

spk_0:   39:24
There's I don't know if you're into the Witcher at all. It's on Netflix as a show, and then there's books and video games. But any this isn't science at all. It's fantasy, but and that it just reminded me of, because in that universe there's like different dimensions, and humans came from another dimension and then inhabited Earth. So we're not from Earth. So that just reminded me. I doubt that's what happened in our world, but

spk_1:   39:46
way we could get into the philosophical discussion of the multi verse and stuff like that. It fuels that as well their scientific excellent evidence to suggest that that's valid. But like I think what happens is we kind of need human beings to take a step back and say, What if something could be silicon based life? Yeah, you know, you look at our computers right now. Our computers are all silica based, so and everyone's talking about artificial intelligence right now. So what if we build a computer, a quantum computer that's silica based that has an artificial intelligence that does gain sentience? Does that become a new life form that silicon based life forms?

spk_0:   40:30
Yeah. I mean, it reminds you of how you know it was a Copernicus that said that the we go around the sun and it's not the other way around or where this there in the universe and nobody believed him for a long time and like son Galileo or Newton, one of them had They had to change the theory because it was based off of the old way of thinking. Sure, you know, So even we should always go with science. You know, don't ever distrust science because of that, but it's subject to change over time. You know, when new ways of thinking come about new technology, Um, we have toe allow ourselves to be able to think outside of that box. You

spk_1:   41:06
know, absolutely. And I think one of the problems we have with that is, um, science has a way of jumping to conclusions. And when they don't have a a nice, neat bow that they could tie on a package of knowledge, they kind of make things up. And we're sort of it that stage now where they can't explain the gravitational forces of the universe because there's not enough mass to account for when you look at all the equations we have with the Big Bang. But it's happening and they can't explain it. So we came up with this idea of dark matter and dark energy, and the equations fit it. But we kind of made up the concept of it, and it's one of those are, Well, let's make it up now that will prove it later. And that works. You know, Einstein did that. You know, Einstein's theories on relativity and stuff hinged on what he called the concept cosmological constant. And it was a concept that he had the plug into his equations to fix observations to make the equations actually work. Now granite years later. Decades later, it turned out that he was probably right after they were able to prove it. But I think that a scientist are tending in that direction of All right, let's just plug this number in to make these equations work so we can say we understand the universe. But really, we know the tip of the iceberg of what is about what the universe is about.

spk_0:   42:50
I mean, there's only so much you can do with the resources we have available, you know? So I guess for with stuff like that, like the cosmological constant, it's more of a placeholder, right? And then exactly once we figure out how to do it will go back and change it. That's exactly I think also just in terms of like a societal sense, we have a tendency to just believe it because it's science or even, like, you know, Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I think he's talked about how just because it's science doesn't mean you should automatically trust it all because science is always changing its fluid and you know, there's theories and hypotheses and stuff like that, so it shouldn't be taken as a absolute fact 100% of the time, you know? So it's like taking it with a grain of salt. Sure,

spk_1:   43:29
and as we learn mawr our understanding of nature chine yes, on our understanding of the universe. So, you know, I think we both agree that mathematically they could. They being life forms, whether they're intelligent or not, could exist in the universe. So take a quick break. We'll come back and we'll discuss the costs of these projects and whether or not they're worth it. For today. Civilization

spk_0:   44:03
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spk_1:   45:06
So is it worth it? Before I invite you to answer that question, let me run down some numbers for you. So the Alan arrange the Allen telescope that we talked about earlier, UM cost $50 million to build, and it costs about 2.5 $1,000,000 to run annually. The City Institute cost about two million per year to keep the research going. Uh, and it takes 20 year to keep the activities going. The actual observations in your observatory's and stuff like that, Um, one of the latest programs that they had was breakthrough Listen, which was another one to bring all these antennas together and expand our capability. That's a 10 year programme that has about $100 million in funding. So we're looking at roughly an upfront costs of 200 million and then about another five million a year to maintain. Based on those numbers and the benefits that we've discussed here, do you think it's worth it to continue funding City?

spk_0:   46:23
I would say no. Um, I do think that the research and the advancements are important, but I also think that we have a lot of bigger fish to fry. Currently. Um, every month it's like a new apocalypse. So I think that I mean, that's kind of a small amount of money in the grand scheme, like compared to everything else we spend money on. Um, you know, when it comes, like defense and stuff like that, which should also be for Tuesday, my opinion. But that's another show. Um, I think that that money could be probably redistributed to more important things. Now, These people, they are working for profit getting paid that employees are

spk_1:   47:00
getting paid yes, the organizations or not for profit.

spk_0:   47:03
Okay, so you don't want to get rid of all those jobs and those people their livelihood, you know. But I do think that that money could be better distributed to serve a greater, more practical purpose. Um, then this in the current world that we live in.

spk_1:   47:20
And I think for the most part, I would tend to agree with you. Um, I don't think that the money that we're talking about is huge. You look at, we just have what, a $4 trillion.3 trillion dollar stimulus package to go out? Um so clearly, the United States government can fun stuff like this. I mean, that's pocket change for our government. Um, I want to think that the benefit that we get is probably higher than that. It's hard to put a tangible number on on that, though. If that distributed computing project produces a writable vaccine or contributes feeling to it to Corona virus, I think it would definitely like the Human Genome Project used that scene distributed of computing project technology. So I think there's benefit there that's direct to the citizens. But I also think that there's an indirect benefit that we can't quantify at this point in time and to see a program that's really not very expensive. Go away. I don't think we're in a position at this point in time to know if we lose a significant benefit. What are your thoughts on that?

spk_0:   48:51
Yeah, I guess. When I said what I said initially I was thinking more of the space explanation exploration aspect of it. But, you know, you mentioned in the Corona virus and like the computing side of it, how it's, ah, data management kind of thing. I think that's definitely more of a more practical need. Like I was saying, Um, I'd be curious to see more specifically how this money is broken down like words going what its funding per year. But I guess from that standpoint, it definitely would be more useful. And it is pocket change. So to keep it running, I guess wouldn't really hurt anyone. And it would keep, you know, helping the families. Um, so yeah, I guess if they just redirected, they're focused more specifically, just a data management. It would definitely be better

spk_1:   49:36
now just to put things into perspective. I just did a quick look up on what Masses annual budget was for 2020. NASA's annual budget for 2020 is 22.63 $1,000,000,000 is

spk_0:   49:51
way more than I thought it would be. Yeah, so they're fine said he's fine thinking say they ground.

spk_1:   49:59
Yeah, I mean said, He's basically a, you know, a decimal point miscalculation in there. And they said he's the funding for studies Like the change that's lost in NASA's couch.

spk_0:   50:09
Yeah. How much money would like PBS, You know, because I know they're cutting

spk_1:   50:13
funds, that that's the thing. I mean, we're cutting for programs that that that we probably need.

spk_0:   50:21
Yeah, it's just it's when you see how it's all broken down and David up, especially cause what is it NASA doing nowadays? You know, like because I know they're competing with the private sector, like with space Six and stuff like that. So they're using to them because, you know, in a mosque is shooting off a rocket, like every week. And so it was

spk_1:   50:38
cards of the space

spk_0:   50:39
and everything. Yeah, I'm just not sure what NASA I'm sure they have. I mean, they have the ice s, they're part of that. They're in this international.

spk_1:   50:46
They're focusing more on commissions to Mars at this guy to as well, which again, you have to look at what the advantages. You know, there's not of eternal investment to be had there, so You have to hope that there's a scientific return on what you're getting out of there to send men to the moon, as opposed to sending probes to the moon, because we're getting a boatload of scientific information and break for his gesture of sending probes at this point. Um, so But that's that's a discussion for another podcast, I think, Um, so it might not be worth it, I think is our conclusion. But it doesn't hurt to continue funding because there are There are benefits that we get. Um when I'm not gonna goto another commercial here, let's just continue the discussion straight on here with the last two questions that I have. What happens if we find intelligent life? What do you think happens if we find intelligent life?

spk_0:   51:50
I have no idea. I mean, we can barely negotiate with each other on Earth. I mean, I think a halo first, uh, harvest right, you know, within like a day it was a full scale war. Um, and that might have been, you know, because in that book there's the politics of the aliens. Still like that contributed to it, but I think it would depend. I think we depend a lot on how they looked. Honestly, um, I think that we'd be very fearful if they looked like monsters. You know, like terrifying monsters. I think it would be very difficult to ah, like cohabitate with them. Not to mention the language. Like the communication issues. I read a book. It was like a pope action novel years ago. Um, and I dealt with, you know, the action hero had fights aliens basically, but the aliens communicated through math because math is universal, so that they would use math is hard. But good thing we pay Ceti four is no. They would use the crop circles they call. Yeah, Yeah, it ended up being that there was, like, ratios and, like, pie and stuff like that. So that was how they communicated. So I think if we could put something like that together to get over that language bear because I think that would there's the visual, have they would if they look like monsters? But I think then the biggest thing is probably language how we communicate with them at all if they wanted to communicate.

spk_1:   53:12
So let me ask you this. So back in the seventies and eighties, we had the planetary Society decide that we're going to send space probes out into outer space and on the space probes we are going to put they made a golden record.

spk_0:   53:28

spk_1:   53:28
well, these sounds and instructions how to play it. But they put a star map up there and they put a star map up with pulsars, which are constant c feed variables that you could actually navigate in three dimensional space with, and they basically put a map as to where we are. Do you think that was a good idea?

spk_0:   53:53
I don't know. I mean, that's assuming that if someone were to read that map, they'd be able to use it. Right? Um, I guess you're alluding to like an alien invasion kind of thing.

spk_1:   54:05
I'm not alluding anything because even after that, we had a situation in the eighties where we decided that we were going to send a message out to where we thought there was civilized life in the universe that we sent this high powered burst of radio message out to basically see Hey, we're here. Um, I guess my question to you is are we advanced enough as a civilization to want to advertise toe other people

spk_0:   54:37
that that stuff comes off like a vanity thing to me. Like it's more because it was mostly like celebrities, right? Like musicians and stuff that got well, no,

spk_1:   54:45
I mean, it was everything like they put sounds of the earth like that.

spk_0:   54:48
Um, I still think it's a vanity thing, like our pride, you know, because we think we have to feel like we're important, right? So we're the ones that say, Hey, we're over here. Here's our culture. Here's our planet. I think I don't really think it has anything to do with finding anything. I think it's us trying to validate ourselves, you know, and proved to ourselves that we are important in the grand scheme of the universe, which were not

spk_1:   55:16
well. The reason, I ask is you. You bring up Halo. You know, Hales of a fictional futuristic space world in In the Halo Universe. They have what's called the Cold Protocol, and the Cold Protocol was designed specifically to purge any information of references to where Earth Home Waas from any spaceships that might be taken over by aliens after they discovered aliens and The whole purpose of that was so that the big guys couldn't find where our homeworld waas where at the same time we're reporting spotlights out there and saying, Hey, you know, we gotta use car sales here. You guys want to come see what we got? Um, even Stephen Hawking commented on this before he passed away of reas. A civilization aren't ready for that. Um and the strange thing is, is like, there's a lot of controversy around the aliens, right? The Air Force just released footage from some Navy fighter some gun footage from new fighters showing UFO's obviously not declaring that they're alien objects or anything like

spk_0:   56:34
that UFO in the literal sense. Unidentified flying object.

spk_1:   56:37
Exactly. Exactly. And if you watch ancient aliens, you see all these references to what people think or interpreters aliens. But you also know of all the different, um, conspiracy theories will say of the government trying to hold that information up. And it even comes through a mainstream media. Um, where the president, When Clinton was in office, he wanted to go to see the alien bodies at Roswell and was told that they didn't have any and stuff like that and made public statements to the effect, which was interesting. Um, but there's this overall sense that the government doesn't think we as a civilization are ready to know about aliens, whether there are out there or not, you know? So if we're not, why are we shining a spotlight out there, advertising where we are?

spk_0:   57:41
Yeah, I just think I don't know. I still think it's a vanity thing and I think in terms of the government holding back secrets or whatever in the book I mentioned earlier about aliens using math in that book, they use alien technology to make like an Apple style corporation. So they take the only technology and they make super advanced tech with it. And the government uses it to make, like, you know, weapons, things like that, which I think is the more realistically it would go. Absolutely. Um, but

spk_1:   58:11
that's what some That's something Congress could wrap. It's head around because it could make money off

spk_0:   58:15
exactly. Um, and there's a movie. I don't if you've seen it. Section eight where so basically the aliens come to earth and they just over over South Africa. But then one of the main character ends up getting infected where he starts to turn into one of these aliens. So the first thing they do is they kidnapped him and they strap into one of the guns because only the aliens are biologically able to use the guns. So he has, like, an alien arm. They strap them down and force in the fire, you know, make weapons out of it. So I think those air, the more practical if we did for some reason have alien technology, how would use it? But it would be so obvious. I feel like if we had an early technology that it wouldn't be worth hiding. I think what the way scarier is the weapons for coming up with by ourselves, you know, you know, chemical agents, missiles, drones that can wipe out whole towns. You know, with the click of a button. I just think having no aliens and space, it seems like a distraction. Like, you know, we're ignoring the real issues or the bigger, more scary implications.

spk_1:   59:18
Need aliens to wait for perfect able of doing it are

spk_0:   59:21
says, Excuse me. It's like that episode of the Twilight Zone. Where would he thinks there's aliens, so they turn on one another. There's no aliens. But then, in the end, it's the aliens up on the hill being like, Oh, we got so I don't know. I think it's it's we should be more focused on being more unified, which going back to Halo the world unifies one thing. Show up. So

spk_1:   59:43
and it's funny because with all the Corona virus stuff going on now, a lot of references have been made to the fact that this is our alien invasion, right? This is that worldwide event that we have our chance in our rally around and bring people together and do what needs to happen and show that we can cooperate. Everyone can cooperate with each other for the betterment of mankind,

spk_0:   1:0:09
except we can't and we're not even in the United States, states air fighting over and it sure that's because of how that equipment is being distributed. But states are being forced to fight over medical equipment, so I just don't know. I think we talked about this in another podcast like uniting the world, that it was impossible, but I

spk_1:   1:0:28
think it. I think if you're going to the unite the world. It has to be something that is literally a world ending event. If you don't come together, we're all going to bite the bullet.

spk_0:   1:0:39
And I think it have to be not human. Like I think I know. It's just a really good alien. Yeah, that's like at the end of it, if you ever watched a red watchman, But at the end, it's set during the Cold War. So the beg spoilers for a 30 year old graphic novel. Um, the bad guys plan is to basically stage this alien invasion over New York. So a big giant squid falls out of the sky and kills like 30 million people, and it works for a time. But it it brings the world together, and stuff is the Cold War and stops us from blowing each other up. Meanwhile, the aliens fake. He made it himself, you know, he transposed from another dimension. It was a man that did that, but it looks like an alien. So you know, we all united behind it, and I think something like that might work. But even then, if we're going to use the technology for weapons, that makes another arms race, you know?

spk_1:   1:1:25
Yeah, Yeah, I mean, it's it's It's unfortunate that that's the way the human race codes. But anyway, I think that was all I have. Glamour leaving on a high

spk_0:   1:1:36
over here always ended.

spk_1:   1:1:40
Um, I will invite everyone to subscribe to us on Apple podcast. You can subscribe to our video podcasts at insights into things You could subscribe to our audio podcasts at Podcast Stott Insights into tomorrow dot com. We stream six days a week on twitch at twitch dot tv slash insights into things. You could visit us on the Web at www dot insights into things dot com Ah, where you can get our audio video, our YouTube or your director, youtube dot com slash insights and the things we have transcripts of our podcasts. You could hit us on Twitter at insights. Underscore things. You can hit us on Facebook at facebook dot com slash insights in the things podcasts. Or you can email us directly at comments at insights into things dot com, and I think that's it for us. Thank you for joining me this week. Same. I know we've kind of been on hiatus for a while, locked down. It's good to have you in studio a chance to talk to you again. Hopefully we should. We won't. We won't. At the wait is long for the next one. So that's it. We're done. Another one in the books.