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A simple logical argument for extraterrestrial life?

  1. Jan 9, 2008 #1
    Hi, I’ve always had a curious interest in the possibility of extraterrestrial life. As the many years have passed by I have always kept a curious eye out for “incontrovertible” evidence that such life actually exists. One day recently, a logical argument hit me which upon some reflection seemed to me to strongly suggest that there is indeed intelligent extraterrestrial life. It is not based on any new evidence or discovery but rather a very simple realization/deduction relating to evidence that is already out there. I ran the argument by a physicist friend of mine who admittedly did not have anything other than a rather exotic possible explanation (microscopic black holes) for the phenomenon. So, I thought I would mention the argument here to see if any of you can come up with a logical explanation. The conclusion is based upon the following 2 premises:
    a) Numerous objects have been observed in outer space (little or no atmosphere) which are indisputably not of human origin
    b) A number of these objects have trajectories which are clearly not gravitational i.e. they do not move in a straight line or in a trajectory induced through gravitational forces

    Assuming the above 2 to be true, very simply premise b) in particular forces us to conclude that there is some intelligence there. Is there some principle of physics that I missed?
     
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  3. Jan 9, 2008 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Yes, the principle missed is that there are no such known objects.
     
  4. Jan 9, 2008 #3

    CRGreathouse

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    I do not accept premise b), nor that b) implies the existence of ET life. I'd like to see more evidence for the first and more argument on the second point.
     
  5. Jan 10, 2008 #4
    I am a little surprised by the lack of response to my initial comments. What I find even more surprising is the lack of acknowledgement of the existence of objects satisfying b). Before making any strong assertions I would like to preface my comments by saying that I have not done any serious investigation yet into the existence of objects satisfying b) on the one hand. On the other hand I, informally over the years, have heard story after story of numerous objects apparently satisfying b). Understand that of the stories I heard it was not the narrator's objective to establish b) or not. The narrators were simply relating the unidentifiability and strangeness of these flying objects as they were observed in passing. In listening to the narration it sounded very much like the trajectories were anything but gravitational. For specificity sake I will relate one such well known incident which I presume upon further investigation would reveal the correctness of b). The incident I am referring to happened during the term that Eisenhower was president. A half dozen or so UFO's were observed on radar to be approaching the White House. They came so close that US Airforce fighter jets were dispatched to "intercept" these UFO's. As the jets came close to the UFO's they immediately receded back into outer space. The jets were unable to follow the UFO's and returned to their base. No sooner did the jets return then again the UFO's began to approach the White House. Again jets were dispatched and again as the jets came close the UFO's receded into outer space. Now, I did not contact the radar station and ask them for some copy of the trajectories of these UFO's to ascertain whether or not b) was true. But, from the way the story is related it is hard to imagine how b) could not be true. Certainly there are many more details to the story than I am relating here or that I even know about, some of which I would presume would make the validity of b) all the more likely. There are numerous other stories of UFO's tracked on radar. To lay the matter to rest I suppose one would need to find two or more radar stations that tracked the same object in outerspace along a nongravitational trajectory.

    CRGreathouse, what would you suggest other than ET life to explain a phenomenon like b)? Correct me if I am wrong, but according to Newton's laws, inanimate objects (other than atomic particles) travel along gravitational lines.
     
  6. Jan 11, 2008 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    Yes, there are accounts like those mentioned; in fact if you check the UFO Napster at the top of the page, you will find many if not most of the credible reports like this that exist in the public domain. However, each case has to be taken on its own merit, and each case can be challenged. For example, it has been suggested that the famous case of UFOs over DC was caused by RADAR anomalies. Now, we can't prove that this is the case, but we can't prove that it was something else either. So we have many seemingly compelling accounts, but none that can stand as proof of anything.

    Also, you have to be very careful with the facts here. There is documented evidence that tells us something about the events that allegedly transpired. Then there are seemingly compelling first hand anecdotal accounts which can never be used as proof for a claim. And as we move down the line, we end up with great volumes of folklore and internet myths that with effort can be debunked. What we find is that upon close examination, the popular perception of an event can be quite at odds with the supporting evidence, and in fact we really can’t be sure of the proper explanation. We certainly don’t have any proof that ET has visited. We do have plenty of people who will swear to these claims, and we have some supporting evidence for them, but we have no proof.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2008
  7. Jan 11, 2008 #6

    DaveC426913

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    Couple of flaws:

    1]
    "...Numerous objects have been observed in outer space..."
    You establish that you're focusing on outer space where, presumably the only likely force is gravity.

    "A half dozen or so UFO's were observed on radar to be approaching the White House."
    But your example involves phenomena much nearer, where there could be all sorts of other forces.

    2]
    But the big flaw is that you seem to presume a 1-to-1 ratio between "unexplained" phenomena and "ET" phenomena. You presume that any phenomena that we can't explain must ipso facto be a sign of intelligence. You don't allow for any form of observer error, any rare natural phenomena, any combination of the two, any natural phenomena that we have simply never observed and don't how how to interpret, etc, etc. for example, you to presume that those UFOs were "real" objects of a certain size, mass and solidity and thus had to obey the physical laws you demand - as opposed to a combination of radar error, atmospheric phenomena, optical effect, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2008
  8. Jan 11, 2008 #7

    jim mcnamara

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    Consider learning about Occam's Razor - in a nutshell - don't invoke wild explanations when already proven ones work perfectly. This was the major flaw in fluff published in the trade press by folks like Eric Von Daniken. He was not a scientist per se, but decided to invoke aliens as the root cause of things like the Nazca lines:

    http://images.google.com/imgres?img...nes&um=1&start=2&sa=X&oi=images&ct=image&cd=2

    This kind of junk science sticks in the collective memories of the non-scientist TV watcher. And it is most of what you see on internet sites about UFO's. If you notice, since we have gotten radically improved radars, satellite imaging, and digital cameras in the hands of half the cell phone users in developed countries, the level of this kind of reporting has dropped off. So UFO'ers adopt similar, older reports which are harder to debunk. Due to a lack of unbiased data, mostly.
     
  9. Jan 11, 2008 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    I would question the notion that we always have alternative explanations. Consider the UFOs over DC case. It may have been faulty RADAR, but that doesn't account for all of the facts. Then again, it is a big leap going from that to ET.
     
  10. Jan 11, 2008 #9

    DaveC426913

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    ? Did someone state this?
     
  11. Jan 11, 2008 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    It seemed to be implied given that this thread is not about the Nasca lines.

    Within the context of the OP, I found this statement to be misleading.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2008
  12. Jan 11, 2008 #11

    DaveC426913

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    I see, yes.

    "Unexplained" is a perfectly valid conclusion, lying in the gap between "mundane explanation" and "genuine sighting".

    If there were an omniscient observer, there would be only two categories (it would iether be an ET event or a natural one), but there isn't.
     
  13. Jan 11, 2008 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    I see it as being even broader than that. Within the gap there may be new science. I don’t see this as being either ET or nothing interesting [mundane]. As you probably know, my suspicion is that unidentified, exotic, and fantastically interesting but earthly phenomena may be involved in some of the most compelling cases. I don't see how else we can account for some of this stuff - esp highly credible accounts like Iran '76,
    http://www.nsa.gov/ufo/ufo00020.pdf

    or Bentwaters/Woodbridge '80.
    http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/ufo/dep_ba1.pdf

    The UFOs over DC case may be another example. I really don't see that we can explain that case without cherry picking the evidence.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2008
  14. Jan 11, 2008 #13
    Biodiversity

    The strongest argument for the possability for E T is all around us imho. There are millions of unique and wonderous species of life on this, our very own planet. Each has evolved in its own special way to maximise the energy available to it. There is life that needs no oxygen, near vents in the ocean floor, There is life that thrives in the immense pressures and cold of the deeps of the oceans as well. There is life on the coldest places on the planet as well as life in places that never see light such as caves and of course the deeps of the oceans. There is life in salt water and fresh, In hot dry areas to rainsoaked and humid. I cannot say for sure but i surmise there is life of one sort or another in the very highest and thinnest atmosphere of this planet. I may speculate that there may be life deep within the earth using what energy it can find in its surroundings and doing what life does. Live, survive, breed and die, struggling to get better adapted and flourish. To suppose it can only happen here? I doubt it. Its out there,,maybe still crawling in a sulferous mud pit or floating in a methane cloud somewhere, I for one believe it exists and is doing what life does.
     
  15. Jan 11, 2008 #14

    DaveC426913

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    Sorry, yes. My category of the "mundane and natural" was intended to subsume the subcategory of "phenomena we have never encountered before". But you could separate that out as its own category. The semantics aren't as important as recognizing that there are natural phenoms we haven't seen yet.

    Sprites elves and blue jets for example are quite new to science.
     
  16. Jan 11, 2008 #15

    DaveC426913

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    The trouble is that, as far as we know, it all has a common origin. It adapted to these remote spots.
     
  17. Jan 12, 2008 #16
    Thats my point.
     
  18. Jan 12, 2008 #17

    DaveC426913

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    How could it be? Your argument says nothing about ET life at all.

    Adaptation is great, but it can't operate on an initially lifeless planet. We have exactly one example of the spontaneous creation of life.
     
  19. Jan 12, 2008 #18

    Integral

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    If you wish to believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life you do not need to look for earth bound phenomena to justify it. It is very easy for me to believe in exterrestrial life with absolutely NO evidence. I cannot believe that our earth is unique in the universe. Believing that is even more fantastical then believing that extraterrestrial life has stumbled across this tiny grain of sand on the cosmic beach we call Earth.

    If indeed we were having visitors to our planet, a better explanation would be time travel from some future earth. At least time traveler would not have to find the earth in the vast cosmos.

    I believe that the energy requirement for either inter galactic or time travel would make them equally impossible to physics as we know it. Therefore equally impossible, or equally likely depending upon your belief system.
     
  20. Jan 12, 2008 #19

    DaveC426913

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    Well, I think the OP is looking for more than belief; he seems to explictly be looking for a logical argument that leads to the conclusion.
     
  21. Jan 13, 2008 #20

    Integral

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    He may be, but what he wants and what the universe has to offer are 2 different things.
     
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