The great silence: Just 4 in 10,000 galaxies may host intelligent aliens

Page 2 - Seeking answers about space? Join the Space community: the premier source of space exploration, innovation, and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier.

Catastrophe

"Science begets knowledge, opinion ignorance.

Just 4 in 10,000 galaxies may host intelligent aliens​


And if these aliens are/were as stupid as mankind in being unable to understand sustainable population, it is no wonder they don't/didn't last long.

Cat :)
 
I think that Classical Motion is in the "We can figure this out" school of thought, while Jan Steinman seems to be in the "We're all doomed" school of thought.

Count me somewhere in the middle, as "We may be able to figure this out, but humans are going to have to change behavior, not just technology, to succeed."

So, my question is whether we can see the writing on the wall collectively, and adapt, or if we will just collectively run into the wall as a species, even if there are some individuals or small groups who can see how to establish a stable population with a technological capacity in an ever changing environment.

Remember, we are talking about the "L" in Drake's Equation - the average lifetime of a technological species with the capability to communicate at interstellar distances.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cdr. Shepard

Catastrophe

"Science begets knowledge, opinion ignorance.
On average, and, in practice, average is not everybody,
Average wealth = total wealth/ total population. Simple maths.

With increasing health, lifetime increases.
With increasing time, total "wealth" increases.
At some time, each reaches a practical maximum (increase/time).

Thereafter, average standard of living decreases.

If humans are unable to control birthrate, most will suffer poverty.

Of course, Nature may take a hand in the form of disease, or war.

Cat :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Unclear Engineer
Unfortunately technology is the only thing we can change.
We do make some changes in accepted behaviors, but the changes are usually slow to come about and sometimes painful to accomplish. But, for instance, slavery is no longer the accepted norm, although there are still some who try to practice it in various ways.

And, cultures are different across the globe.

The Asian cultures tend to be more socially conforming and more comfortable with crowding than Western cultures. Which is not really surprising, considering that most of the people who came to the Americas from Europe were self-selecting to get away from what they considered to be abusive authorities. So, there is some significant differences in the reactions that range from "You can't make me do that!" to "I should do this to be a good citizen." when faced with social pressure to change behaviors.

But these days, there are so many competing concepts being pushed on the Internet that I am not expecting a consensus to develop across the globe. In fact it seems that it is becoming more divisive than consensus building.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Classical Motion
Mar 31, 2020
154
28
4,610
Visit site
We are one race, the human race. Intelligent lifeforms observing our world this is what they see. A collection of countries (tribes) all undermining each other throwing each other in disarray so that their tribe can do better that the next. Do we all do, what is best for the human condition, for humanity? No! If a few branches of a tree are healthy does it help, if we allow the root to rot? We have to come together as one. We are all neighbors and yet we allow 1 in 7 people of our world to live in extreme poverty. Let's take care of our own!

Take all the leaders today and vote for a global government. A council that has the power to run global affairs. Learn to integrate ideologies. Make decisions that are hard to make together, as one race. Tackle poverty, climate change and war head on. Allow alliances and friendship to dominate so we can achieve great things together. Is this very difficult ? Yes, Extremely difficult. Yet, look at what humanity has achieved. Humans are an incredible species we have dominated and thrived in every harsh condition and environment on this world. it is our world. Let's fix it. Take care of it. Together we all built the greatest spaceship in history, the ISS. Our greatest achievement to date. We did that together!

Our astronauts say it best. They look down on our world and they see no borders. They see one race. The human race.

Ask yourself this simple question if you were this intelligent lifeform would you contact us? This war mongering, climate destroying and poverty ignoring species that still walk around on their knuckles not knowing how important it is to embrace humanity.
 
Last edited:
On average, and, in practice, average is not everybody,
Average wealth = total wealth/ total population. Simple maths.
Just a couple of comments about understanding wealth distribution:

1. First, the average is not a good measure. If you average one Elon Musk or one Jeff Bezos with even a large number of people, the "average person" could still look very affluent. A better single number is the median, which half of the people are below, and the other half above. That will be a lower number than the average when there are a few unusually high numbers in the whole group. But, better yet is to look at the percentile values to see what fraction of the population is below some threshold level of concern.

2, Simply counting dollars per individual is not very meaningful. What is really useful is looking at the ratio of need to availability. For instance, people who live in the tropics and work in local agriculture do not need as much energy or even transportation as people who live in cold climates and work in jobs that require travel. And people who work in social systems that provide government support do not need as much individual funds as people who live in societies where they can only get what they can pay for. That makes it hard to decide who is in "extreme poverty" and who is just living a low need lifestyle. I think it really needs to be done on a more detailed basis, with considerations about having enough to eat, enough shelter, and enough access to health care. A grass hut may be enough shelter in the tropics, but not in temperate or arctic regions. But, maybe not if it is a desert region.

There is so much variability in the parameters involved in human conditions that it is hard to just take ratios of totals and reach a useful conclusion.
 
Jan 28, 2023
138
15
585
Visit site
People also have no achievements to prove intelligence. For about 50 years, there has been no progress in space. Just more of same. Until 50 years ago, people were still intelligent. Then intelligence ceased to be.
 
Being 'rich' is a function of inequitable distribution.
Without that fact the word becomes meaningless.
If everybody is 'special' again it becomes a meaningless term.

Relative social conditions are designated by their contrast.
 
Mar 31, 2020
154
28
4,610
Visit site
The truth is those who are lucky enough to live in a rich country, the overwhelming majority are rich. They simply go to the tap and have clean drinking water to bathe in or to drink with. Blessed to be free from disease. It is not that way for some people. Living on a diet that provides only subsistence to keep you alive is not thriving nor is it healthy. The main cause of death for people who live in extreme poverty. Malnutrition. These are people who work as hard we do, just to survive. They have little to no furniture in their homes. When you are blessed to be born with so much how must you know anything else? These people are our neighbors. Humanity. How we treat our own, tells a lot about us.
 
A very large part of the reason we have clean [excepting Flynt etc.], and sanitary systems
is because community concerned people put that upon government to facilitate those things.

Now corporations including a lot of rich people want to privatize & profit from infrastructure to the detriment of the majority of the population here & around the globe.

Civic stature and duty used to count for something.
Now it's get rich by any means & screw everybody else.

Burning bridges rather than building them.

The trouble with unchecked population growth it is almost intractable to aspire for more noble outcomes.
 
Nov 21, 2023
1
1
10
Visit site
The other side of the uncertainty band would be 20,000 advanced civilizations per galaxy.

What the headline writers choose to focus on is just a matter of their own personal biases.

The article does make a point that we might be extremely rare, and therefore should take care of ourselves. But, I think we are going to want to do that whether we are rare or not.

One thing that seemed to be missing from the article is the potential for something like the Thea collision hypothesis to be necessary for the start of plate tectonics on a planet. If it requires not just any collision, but some small probability combination of masses, velocities and center of mass offsets at closest point, then that could be extremely rare.
I am having a hard time accepting only 1 in 2,500 galaxies has a technological civilization, but here is the mind blowing part. Given that current estimates for the number of galaxies in the universe are 2 trillion, that would still leave us with 800 million technological civilizations in the universe.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cdr. Shepard
Jul 13, 2024
1
1
10
Visit site
Without plate tectonics, oceans and continents, complex life that is able to invent and master advanced technology might never evolve.

The great silence: Just 4 in 10,000 galaxies may host intelligent aliens : Read more
First title is wrong, it is not galaxies, rather stars in our galaxy.
This article is based on a paper which makes its conclusions regarding new factors in the Drake equation with a very problematic case. In particular, contrary to the paper’s contention, there is recent evidence for plate tectonics going back into the Hadean which is not cited (Maruyama et al. 2018. Initiation of plate tectonics in the Hadean: Eclogitization triggered by the ABEL Bombardment. Geoscience Frontiers 9 (2018) 1033e1048; Drabon et al. 2022. Destabilization of long- lived Hadean protocrust and the onset of pervasive hydrous melting at 3.8 Ga. AGU Advances, 3, e2021AV000520. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021AV000520). Further, continental land likewise was present going back into the Hadean, so the lack of land was not likely an obstacle to the emergence of complex life. Rather this obstacle was more likely a climatic temperature constraint, i.e., too hot for its emergence until more recent cooler conditions in Earth history, see my paper “Biospheric Evolution Is Coarsely Deterministic” at: https://jbh.journals.villanova.edu/article/view/2572. My paper concludes “The pattern of biospheric evolution argued here raises the potential of similar coevolutionary relationships of life and its environment on Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars.”.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cdr. Shepard
Nov 8, 2023
50
12
35
Visit site
I think that Classical Motion is in the "We can figure this out" school of thought, while Jan Steinman seems to be in the "We're all doomed" school of thought.

Count me somewhere in the middle, as "We may be able to figure this out, but humans are going to have to change behavior, not just technology, to succeed."

So, my question is whether we can see the writing on the wall collectively, and adapt, or if we will just collectively run into the wall as a species, even if there are some individuals or small groups who can see how to establish a stable population with a technological capacity in an ever changing environment.

Remember, we are talking about the "L" in Drake's Equation - the average lifetime of a technological species with the capability to communicate at interstellar distances.
I enjoyed all of this back-and-forth more than the article itself, and learned a lot (about what I don't know). Thanks for the passionate discussion everyone. Good for a fly-on-the-wall like me!
 
Sep 6, 2023
26
6
35
Visit site
Reading this I kept expecting mention of Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee's book of ~20 years ago, "Rare Earth". Or maybe a comment from either one.

They raise this and several other related issues. For example, plate tectonics may be related to our planet having a magnetic field (and a generally churning interior), which obviously shields us from a lot of harmful radiation. Is a magnetic field necessary for intelligent life to evolve over eons? We don't know, but it certainly helps.

I briefly corresponded with Ward via email ~18 months ago and there was mention of a new edition of the book coming out.
 
First title is wrong, it is not galaxies, rather stars in our galaxy.
Well, yes, the paper did only consider our galaxy, but extrapolating the low figure (0.0004) for this galaxy to all galaxies gives their 4 in 10k galaxies result.

But, as UE noted, the high-end stated is almost 20k per our galaxy!

https://jbh.journals.villanova.edu/article/view/2572. My paper concludes “The pattern of biospheric evolution argued here raises the potential of similar coevolutionary relationships of life and its environment on Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars.”.
Nice to have your expertise contributing!

IMO, there isn't enough science yet to even build a fence where someone like me can comfortably sit. :wink: Improved planet formation modeling will greatly help. Fortunately, the better IR space scopes, including the JWST, allow direct viewing of the early planetary formation process. This will greatly help these models.

The best models, with their retrodictive predictions, make it clear that our solar system, and likely most others, are very dynamic in their origins. The best description may be early planetary formation activity describe the activity analogous to a "pin ball machine". If so, I assume such great impact activity would enhance the likelihood for plate tectonics throughout galaxies.
 
When we see comparisons of the amounts of money owned by Musk and "destitute people" or even "average people", we need to realize that it is not an apples-to-apples comparison. The money controlled by people in the lower economic segments of society is usually tied up in things essential to their survival, including food, clothing and housing, plus some amusements , Musk controls large amounts of money invested in productive commercial enterprises, with clothing, food and housing being small contributors to his total.

If all of financial holdings of Musk and people like him could be converted to cash and evenly distributed to "people in need", what would happen? First, the things that Musk has invested in would cease to exist, because there would be no money to finance them. The "poor" would not be investing their handouts in Tesla or SpaceX stock. A technological society needs concentrations of cash to develop technologies, in order to pay for the costs of development, production, distribution, etc. etc. And, many jobs are created in the processes, so that people who do not control the finances still get some benefit from the projects existences.

On the other hand, if "poor people" could somehow be made less poor - let's say "comfortable", without needing to do any work to achieve that level of comfort, what would they do with their spare time. Work hard anyway? Probably not. And, if the level of support is dependent on the number of children, wouldn't that cause many to have more children to increase their income? We know that the reverse has been true, that "middle class" people have reduced the number of children to stay within their financial capabilities when they do not get subsidized. So, what would that mean for population control and the sustainability of the whole population within the limits of our planet?

And, what powerful central government would need to exist in order to control and distribute all wealth and resources. Given human nature, I expect that some fraction of people would want to abuse that power to acquire more for themselves, and so would be seeking that power, and probably get it.

There really is no perfect economic system because it involves imperfect humans. Basing an economic plan on an erroneous assumption about the perfection of human nature seems like a likely path to failure.

So, I suspect that the longevity of a technological society, the "L" in Drake's equation, depends upon the ability of the species to deal with reality realistically, without delusions of perfection. And that seems hard to do.
 
Mar 31, 2020
154
28
4,610
Visit site
In every single scenario we all act as a separate country (tribe) in all of our affairs. It does not benefit humankind to act in this manner. We need to stop going down this path.
When we are capable as a species, to respond best to the human condition, then we will have the chance to flourish as a species. We only have one race, the human race.
 
Dave, I think we agree on that. The question is whether humans can all agree on it and change behaviors that have been common practice since before recorded history, giving us a history of groups combating each other for as long as we know.

The change is not easy. It seems that there is genetically ingrained combative behavior to overcrowding in many species, particularly in social species like humans and wolves. That did tend to "advance the species" when there was room for a species to disperse and allow individuals more space. It drove the expansion of a species' territories so long as there was still more territory not occupied by that species.

But, once there was no more uninhabited space to expand into, migrating groups ran into resistance from indigenous groups. And, having greater numbers helped a group prevail over an adversarial group.

In addition, in humans, as opposed to other species, the development of technologies has allowed some smaller groups to prevail over larger groups.

So, the question in my mind is whether nearly all humans can recognize that we are all better off if we can peacefully settle on a smaller population of humans that does not disrupt the rest of the Earth's ecosystems faster than they can repair themselves.

I am afraid that is a "big ask" for a species that has a history of relying on increased population and better technology to ward off "others" competing for their space on the planet that they feel they need to survive.

I do see some hopeful signs in a few places, but the vast majority seem to be too self interested in their own immediate survival to be very altruistic about the survival of other members of our species who may be perceived as competitors, if not mortal enemies.

It is that sort of worry that drives the thinking that some of us have about Drake's L parameter probably being much less than the time before the Sun's physical evolution destroys the habitability of Earth in about 5 billion years.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Catastrophe
When we are capable as a species, to respond best to the human condition, then we will have the chance to flourish as a species. We only have one race, the human race.
Certain countries hold "liberty" and "freedom" in higher regard than "the common good."

Until we can fix this, I don't see how we can proceed.

(It's odd that the country that thinks they're "NUMBER ONE!" in freedom, is rated well down that list by independent agents.
 
Mar 31, 2020
154
28
4,610
Visit site
In our thought processes we often think in terms of our own country (tribe) and rarely beyond that. This thinking, its 'old school.' There is of course a true 'number one.' It is the larger tribe we all belong to - humanity. Humanity is capable of the 'spectacular.' It can even outlive the earth. The potential is there.

Intelligent lifeforms are observing us. We have only scraped the surface in our understanding of exoplanets, and the search for life elsewhere in our galaxy. When we begin to achieve the growth of becoming one as a species, we may give another intelligent species a reason to make contact. All thinking starts with a strong foundation. There is none stronger: than to better humanity.
 
(It's odd that the country that thinks they're "NUMBER ONE!" in freedom, is rated well down that list by independent agents.
Jan, I don't know who your "independent agents" are who are credible to "rate" counties on a list.

I tend to rank countries by who is trying to leave them and who is trying to get into them. From that perspective, Europe and the North American counties seem to have quite a high ranking on what I would describe as a relative desirability index.

But, living in one of those countries, I can attest that things are far from perfect.

About "fixing" the attitudes of people regarding their choice of priorities between "self and family" or "common good" for the whole world's population, the basic problem is that it cannot be done in one step. If a portion of the people are willing to sacrifice their own comfort, security or even lives, the other portion which are more self-interested will simply take them up on those sacrifices, and the more selfish will be the survivors. So, simply setting the example is only going to work in small doses, and probably will not be effective.

The other "fix" often proposed is to have some authoritarian power that simply tells people what they must do and kills the ones who don't comply. But, who would be that ultimate power? It would be sought by selfish people, who would then abuse it.

So, I am looking for the root cause of selfishness, and that seems to me to be over-population. It is both a strain on resource availability and results in the separation of people so that they do not understand the "others" with competing interests as fellow humans, but rather as simplified stereotypes that are "wrong" to oppose them.

Global communication can help bring people together. But note that the current authoritarian governments tend to oppose that, while the "free" counties allow it, but cannot seem to agree on what is "objective".

Tourism in small doses can be helpful, but the news these days is showing that the residents of desirable locations are getting overwhelmed and are resisting commercial tourism. Again, the problem is too many people.

Wars have an immediate population reduction effect, but the survivors then seem to increase even more rapidly. For examples, the "Baby Boom" following WWII and the displaced Palestinians increasing population by a factor of more than 7 following the creation of Israel.

Famines seem to be more lasting in effect, partly because they are really not over until conditions beyond the population's control change, and one of those conditions is the population's size.

But, wars and famines and plagues are not comfortable population reduction mechanisms.

It would be a lot better if humans could collectively recognize the ecological realities of being animals in an ecosystem, rather than masters of all they see.

So, maybe education holds the answer? To do so, it will have to be unprecedentedly realistic.

If human intelligence is sufficient to achieve that, then I think we do have hope for a long term technological existence. Otherwise, I think we are doomed to a horrific population crash that would probably snuff out the knowledge needed for technological continuity.
 

Latest posts