Just realised that it’s a Sky at Night night. BBC4 at 10pm. “The Hunt for ET“
I enjoyed that episode once again. It complemented the previous day’s Exoplanet lecture that I attended!
But there was a really good documentary on the history of comets that followed straight after, I recall seeing it before so it must be a repeat from a couple years ago or so. Anyone catch that?
Back to Sky at Night, Pete’s Andromeda Galaxy imaging demo was cool, of course he cant go into detail but I liked how he showed how different length of exposures brought out more and more features and details. He could have mentioned what you need to achieve those long exposures but its only so much you can fit in with a small budget of on-screen time that he gets!
I will certainly look out for that Mars conjunction with Antares which he explains that Antares was deemed to be a Mars impersonator. I have looked at other September sky guides and while they mention Antares, they seem to have missed a beat with mentioning the impersonation characteristic. Will you mention that this evening, Mike? 😉
Yep, must admit, I enjoyed that S@N.
No Tej, I won’t be specifcally mentioning the Mars / Antares conjunction… not enough time to fit everything in… we’re covering:
That’s certainly more than a handful. Look forward it, notebook ready at hand
The one thing that disappointed me was that though they talked about the Drake equation they did not mention the Fermi paradox. http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEwQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fermisparadox.com%2F&ei=pvIWVK3EJKmw7Aa2m4GoBQ&usg=AFQjCNGmtPP76tIs42Wa5Gc6n6_U5eCE-Q&sig2=ru04WFPXZNyh-aZI_Mkd3Q
I’m perfectly prepared to believe that there are alien life forms capable of transmitting some sort of radio waves, but the question that immediately occurs to me is, why would they deliberately try to make contact with us?
From their point of view, there is a little rocky planet that might have a working atmosphere and it’s within what they might calculate as the Goldilocks zone of a medium-sized star (our little blue dot suddenly seems even more insignificant).
So far so good – but they wouldn’t be detecting any signs of intelligent life from us unless they were within 60-100 light years away. And if they responded instantly to broadcasts from the BBC Home Service, or Marconi’s transatlantic experiments, it would be another 60-100 years before we knew about it. Which isn’t much time or distance on the cosmic scale for us to be making contact with anyone – or them with us.
In reply to Brian’s post (sorry I just cant seem to get the quote working) Yeah, you’re right, Brian. The thing is though, I think Sky at Night deliberately presents a more optimistic inclination in its reporting on all subjects to enthuse the audience and so would play down on any “negative” theories that are around, or unexciting theories if you know what I mean. That’s my suspicion. Documentaries like Horizon and Arena etc would definitely cover those angles without bias but Sky at Night is about accentuating the exciting angles for the casual viewers.
For some reason I laughed out loud when he gave an answer to the Drake equation, answer being 5. I dont know why…maybe something to do with Hitchhikers!
@Andy: Thats a great thought but if say we detected a civilised world through alien radio signals and we know that the signals originate several hundred years in the past then assuming we want to make contact (because there are some who would be cautious of doing so) then we would absolutely still want to communicate with them in the hope that their future generations are aware of us. We would then ourselves pass down the knowledge of this initial contact from our generation to generation with an alerted possibility of a return message sent back to us, albeit another thousand years down the line. The desire for our future generations to maintain the ultra long term CB radio style contact will be there and no doubt create new political and religious fanatic movements. That desire to communicate through the eon of time may also be mirrored on the other world.
Its like our scientific forefathers leaving historical messages to newer generations to look out for certain celestrial events. Haley leaving a prediction that a comet will visit us for instance, which came true long after his passing. Or the messiah will come again in 2000 years. That last example is religious but I am just emphasing that long term several generation anticipation can be strong.
Of course there are some who would not want us to make contact for security reasons which reminds me of the fascinating story about the Cambridge team in the 1960s who were recording radio signals from quasars, when Jocelyn Bell, an undergraduate, discovered strange radio blips that didnt it the nature of quasars, the team couldnt rule out the possibility of the signals being man made…but not of this world. The head of the faculty (or one of the head committee, cant quite recall) was fearful of the possibility of alien invasion and intent to keep the findings quiet, from public knowing that most of the authorities would want to try make contact. Of course the signals turned out to be the discovery of Pulsars but the story behind it is a fascinating hint of what kind of reactions we could expect if intelligent life was detected.
My personal feeling is if we do find a world with potential intelligent life…lets send a message, even if it will be posthumous for our generation, we die knowing that we are reaching out and we should have no fear of being invaded because we are so damn far away.
We might also find ways to use space-time warping to send world to world greetings quicker! Who knows, given our rapid progress in technology and the knowledge of “quantum entanglement”, instantaneous communication might be possible within the next hundred years!
Ignore, this…was a duplicate. having problems posting sometimes.
Tej, are you writing using the ‘Visual’ or ‘Text’ tab? And on what sort of machine? PC? iPad? It would be good to get to the bottom of this formatting issue.
I’m guessing you hit ‘Submit’ twice as it was slow to load?
Yeah, its a bit of a rocky road sometimes trying to post. I’ve sometimes posted thinking it has gone through only to find it hasnt later on. I’ve been using the Visual tab because Andy, I didnt notice there was a Text tab until you just mentioned it! I cant seem to use the quote or reply button effectively. I’m using Google Chrome because I like how my favourites are synced on my android mobile devices.
I’ve cleaned up the horrible characters in my last post now, Andy, sorry about that.
Edit: And yes, Andy, posting is slow to load, I did indeed hit submit twice. I’ll drop by the feedback thread once again 😉
Oh and I think I know what caused the characters to appear…its because of my paranoia of losing my post, I get into the habit of copying to the clipboard now and I think I might have pasted back onto the posting window which also propably included the nonsense formating characters.
instantaneous communication might be possible within the next hundred years!
It might take that long to sort out the performance issues on this forum 😉
Ha, I have a lot more faith in you than that, Mike!
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