During the beginning of this month of November, we have seen a barrage of news concerning the issue of extraterrestrials.
First and foremost, we have to mention the first official declaration of the government of the United States about the ET, coming from the White House, the most important tribune of the Federal Government of the United States of America.
I think that this declaration of the White House has no precedent, and it was the answer to two different petitions signed for many citizens.
Within the same second week of November, a series of scientific papers were published.
Those papers deal with two main questions: aliens, do they exist?, and if so, where are they? Where to look for?
By Ann Compton
Nov 8, 2011 10:28am
White House Declares No Extraterrestrial Encounters — Yet
The White House declares there is “no evidence that any life exists outside our planet” on a new official website, where thousands of Americans had signed a petition asking the government to reveal its search for extraterrestrials.
The declaration, written by Phil Larson, who is described as a “space expert” on the staff of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, also insisted that there have been no close encounters with aliens.
“The U.S .government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race,” Larson writes. “In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”
Larson goes on to explain that just because there is no “evidence” doesn’t mean the U.S. is not actively looking and listening.
“Many scientists and mathematicians have looked with a statistical mind-set at the question of whether life likely exists beyond Earth and have come to the conclusion that the odds are pretty high that somewhere among the trillions and trillions of stars in the universe there is a planet other than ours that is home to life,” says Larson. ”Many have also noted, however, that the odds of us making contact with any of them — especially any intelligent ones — are extremely small, given the distances involved.
“That is all statistics and speculation,” Larson writes, and that the official Obama administration position is there is no “evidence” of extraterrestrial life.
The White House’s new website for extraterrestrial matters, We The People, started a little more than a month ago, and so far more than a million people have offered or signed petitions asking for a government response, and 77 petitions have been answered by a team of senior West Wingers.
by Staff Writers for Penn State News
University Park, PA (SPX) Nov 08, 2011
Two Pioneer probes left our solar system carrying plaques about humankind, and two Voyager probes will soon join them to gather information about places far out in our galaxy. We can and will send more autonomous probes into outer space, but why have we never found evidence of other civilizations doing the same?
A pair of postdoctoral researchers at Penn State, approaching the problem mathematically, shows that we have not looked in enough places to ensure that no extraterrestrial artifacts exist in our solar system.
"The vastness of space, combined with our limited searches to date, implies that any remote unpiloted exploratory probes of extraterrestrial origin would likely remain unnoticed," report Jacob Haqq-Misra, Rock Ethics Institute, and Ravi Kumar Kopparapu, Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, in a paper accepted by Acta Astronautica and posted online on ArXiv.
So far, we have not found any nonterrestrial artifacts in our solar system. The Fermi paradox, originally formulated by Enrico Fermi, asks, if intelligent life is common, why have no technological civilizations been observed.
Answers to this question could include life is rare, intelligent cultures inevitably destroy themselves, intelligent beings have not gotten here yet or they are here but not revealing themselves.
Even without actual contact, like us, other civilizations could be sending unpiloted probes to quietly peek at our civilization.
These probes, like ours, would be small and might be hidden in a variety of places. In the asteroid belt they would probably go unnoticed, especially if these nonterrestrial objects are only 3 to 33 feet in size, weighing little more than a ton.
"Extraterrestrial artifacts may exist in the solar system without our knowledge simply because we have not yet searched sufficiently," said Haqq-Misra and Kopparapu. "Few if any of the attempts would be capable of detecting a 1 to 10 meter (3 to 33 foot) probe."
Haqq-Misra and Kopparapu use a probabilistic method to determine if we have looked closely enough anywhere in the solar system to definitively say there are no nonterrestrial objects here. The analysis is based on answering the question: How sure can we be that we should have already found any nonterrestrial objects lurking in the solar system?
They view the solar system as a fixed volume and figure out the percentages of that volume that would need to be thoroughly searched using a discovery capability small enough to detect these probes, assuming that the probes are not consciously camouflaged.
The researchers note that most searches to date have not been fine enough to locate such small probes or to totally rule out anywhere.
After taking into account a variety of potential biases, such as "the universe is teeming with life" or "life is rare," the team developed an equation that can be applied to a portion of the volume of the solar system and determine whether sufficient searching has been done to ensure that we can say there are no nonterrestrial objects within that volume.
The researchers found that it is, at this point, difficult to say that there are not nonterrestrial objects in our solar system.
"The surface of the Earth is one of the few places in the solar system that has been almost completely examined at a spatial resolution of less than 3 feet," said Haqq-Misra and Kopparapu.
But even as humans have spread across the solid surfaces of the Earth, there are still caves, jungles and deserts as well as the ocean floor and subsurface areas that have not been explored. Even with this, the Earth does have a high confidence that no nonterrestrial artifacts exist.
The moon and Mars have been searched to a small extent. An ongoing mapping project, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, is looking at the moon at a resolution of about 20 inches, so we may eventually be able to determine if there are no nonterrestrial objects on the moon. The researchers caution that surface maps may not be sufficient to distinguish between a space probe and a rock.
The surface of Mars is still mostly unsurveyed and the researchers' confidence in the probability of no nonterrestrial artifacts is low. Similarly, locations like the Earth-moon Lagrange points, the asteroid belt and the Kuiper belt might also shelter extra solar system probes, but the vast majority of the solar system's volume is uninvestigated.
Should we search for alien 'footprints' right here on Earth?
Scientist says looking for E.T. on our own planet could complement hunt in space
By Jeremy Hsu
Any intelligent extraterrestrial life that exists probably won't announce itself by blowing up the White House, or win over the hearts of children as a lovable alien with a glowing finger. Many scientists simply hope to find evidence of them by scanning the skies for a radio signal from a distant star's alien civilization. But such efforts may also risk overlooking clues of past alien activity right here on Earth.
If aliens did leave their mark on Earth by some wild chance, we could search for the possible "footprints" of alien technology or even analyze the DNA of terrestrial organisms for signs of intelligent messages or tinkering. Such a CSI-style forensics search could complement, rather than replace, the outward-looking search for extraterrestrial intelligence, said Paul Davies, a physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State University in Tempe.
"My proposals aim to spread the burden from a small band of heroic radio astronomers to the entire scientific community," Davies said. "Projects like genomic SETI are an attempt to complement radio SETI, not undermine it."
Davies wants scientists to broaden their thinking about how aliens could have left behind their mark. Having worked with SETI for three decades, he has written about his ideas in a book, "The Eerie Silence" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) and articles such as one that appeared in the online August edition of the journal Acta Astronautica.
But Davies does not think such intelligent alien life must necessarily exist. And his many years of supporting SETI have not stopped him from describing the needle-in-a-haystack search as "a search without any clue as to whether there is a needle there at all, or how large the haystack may be."
To their credit, SETI astronomers have not ignored the possibilities beyond extraterrestrials deliberately beaming a message straight at Earth. Suggestions over the past 50 years include extraterrestrial radio traffic that happens to pass by, or a powerful radio or optical beacon that sweeps the Milky Way galaxy like a lighthouse.
A very advanced alien civilization might have built huge astro-engineering projects called Dyson spheres to directly tap the power of stars. By putting a shell of material around a host star, aliens would not only trap much of the star's heat, but also create a unique infrared signature that Earth astronomers could detect. Just as Earth sends out robotic explorers, an alien civilization could have left behind dormant probes at strategic locations such as in the asteroid belt. Earth astronomers could try searching for such probes or even beaming "hello" radio messages to suspected locations in an attempt to "wake up" the probes.
There's also a chance that past visits to Earth by intelligent aliens left signs much closer to home. But probability and the length of the universe's age suggest that any such alien visit would have taken place before humans ever emerged on Earth, Davies said.
That means any traces of an alien visitation would have had to survive for hundreds of millions or billions of years for humans to still find them today.
"If there is another form of life on Earth, we could find it within 20 years, if we take the trouble to look," Davies told Astrobiology Magazine. "Of course, it may not be there, but searching our own planet is far easier than searching another one."
Non-human deposits of nuclear waste consisting of plutonium would point to artificial origins, because natural deposits would have long since decayed, Davies said. Scars of mining or quarrying could remain buried beneath the Earth or on its moon.
Alien "messages in a bottle" or artifacts similar to the monoliths of "2001: A Space Odyssey" would seem less likely to survive for hundreds of millions of years on Earth because of geological and weather forces.
Perhaps the most fascinating possibility is if aliens used bioengineering to leave behind unintentional or intentional traces or messages in the DNA of life on Earth. The self-perpetuating nature of life forms could help ensure survival of any such biologically embedded messages.
Citizen scientists and school students could pitch in to run genomic versions of SETI programs to find any such traces, Davies said. Data-mining software programs could do much of the heavy lifting as just a small part of the usual genomic analyses going on in everyday research.
Alien bioengineering might have also created a "shadow biosphere" of life built upon biochemistry separate from that of Earth life forms. Examples would be life forms that don’t use DNA or proteins, or incorporate different elements in their biochemistry than all other known life forms on Earth do. Scientists have already begun major efforts to find shadow biospheres, but of natural rather than artificial origins.
If scientists find "weird" shadow organisms that arose separately from the Earth life forms we know, that won't necessarily suggest intelligent alien involvement. But such a find could give more credibility to the idea that life has a good chance of arising when given the right circumstances, rather than simply being a one-time freak accident, Davies said. And that might make everyone feel a little less alone.
City lights may aid in search for extraterrestrial life
20:37 November 7, 2011
It's difficult to look at the night sky and not wonder whether intelligent life exists out there. Indeed, the odds are very much in favor of there being countless civilizations scattered throughout the heavens, but the challenge remains in proving it. Recently, two scientists hit upon the novel but common-sense idea of searching for city lights on the dark side of distant worlds - a task advanced next-gen earth and space-based telescopes will likely be able to tackle in the not-too-distant future.
We've all seen the beautiful images of Earth's nighttime tapestry and, indeed, science fiction abounds with the imagery of developed planets glowing at night. Still, Harvard astrophysicist Abraham Loeb and Princeton astronomer Edwin Turner hadn't considered the possibilities lit-up alien cities might offer until they attended a meeting with their colleagues in the Middle East.
"Both Ed and I were attending a conference in Abu Dhabi about novel ways to detect life, and we had a tour guide on a trip to the nearby emirate of Dubai who bragged that it was so bright at night that you could see it easily from space -- that's what gave us the idea," Loeb told Astrobiology Magazine .
To test their concept, Loeb and Turner made calculations based on a non-existent planet in the Kuiper Belt, a region in space that contains billions of comets and extends from about 30 to 50 astronomical units (AU). One AU is the distance from the Earth to the sun, almost 93 million miles.
They found that with existing telescopes, a city roughly the size of Tokyo, approximately 30 miles (50 km) wide, would be readily discernible on a Kuiper Belt object at about 50 AUs distant. With the powerful Hubble orbiting telescope brought to bear, that same city could be visible up to 1000 AUs away, out in the Oort Cloud (another comet-laden region) well beyond our solar system.
"The closest star is 100 times farther than that," Loeb said, pointing out that the day side of our planet is about 600,000 times brighter than the night side. "To see nighttime city lights as bright as Earth's on a world in the habitable zone of the closest star, you would need a telescope with optics at least 100 times wider in diameter than the Hubble Space Telescope's."
The artificial lighting we use on Earth falls into two categories: thermal (from incandescent bulbs, for instance) and quantum (from fluorescent lights and LEDs). Both forms have color spectra that are readily distinguishable from sunlight and could indicate the presence of something other than natural illumination.
It's rather ironic to note that Loeb and Turner's proposed approach to detecting extraterrestrials uses what is essentially light pollution, the very phenomenon which renders ground-based astronomy unfeasible on so much of the Earth today. Hopefully, any aliens that zero in on our lights will turn out to be the friendly sort!
First of all, I think that the White House declaration is honest.
Suffice to think that there would be many governments that would be eager to refute it if they could, but it did not happen and won’t happen.
But the biggest argument about the truth of the White House declaration against the void argument of those who only can say “off course!, the White House will always deny!” lays in the different honest and sincere research done by scientist from different institutions that have posed themselves the questions: are there extraterrestrials? Where are they? Have they been before on Earth?
The first thing that it’s quite clear is that scientists are dealing with these questions. But the second thing that is also clear is that if they are posing these questions, they in constitute a clear NO to the idea that extraterrestrials are among us here on Earth as believers tend to think.
The difference is evident between a scientific approach and a believer’s approach.
The believers are those who take a picture or a video of something they don’t see at the very moment but later when they look at the pictures or videos on their PCs. They don’t bother to submit their graphic material to serious and responsible investigators in order to determine what is there. They just put it on YouTube or on line for others could see it. And they label whatever could be in those pictures or videos as “U.F.O.” in a total deviation and distortion of what the acronym means by itself. Because for them UFO means extraterrestrial spaceship.
And by the way, intentionally or unintentionally, they are contaminating the culture in relation with this issue.
All in all, the search for ET continues. The ways proposed by these scientists are brand new and original but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones or the best. Any other scientist or a person seriously interested in this search could come out with another proposal.
Italian astrophysicist Massimo Teodorani, whom I second in his proposal, forwarded the idea to use a group of instruments to capture, track, get the spectrum, photograph, and take on video, etc. certain luminous phenomena that are recurrent in very particular places of our planet. Afterwards there is the task to determine if those phenomena are of natural origin (like the Hessdalen lights) or if they are the product of a technology, and therefore if we are dealing with human or non-human technology.
I find this an alternative a much more feasible way to explore the possibility that an extraterrestrial presence could be detected. But we have to be aware that may be this kind of search also could and in a failure in detecting other intelligence and proof it with undisputable scientific validity. Nevertheless I think it’s worthwhile to try it!
I personally will not throw away easily 55 years dedicated to investigate and study the subject!
Milton W. Hourcade