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Prof. Kaku's approach on why we haven't met intelligent E.T. life.

  1. Mar 21, 2003 #1
    I have recently listened to the tapes of the "Journey through the Tenth Dimension" lecture, given by Michio Kaku in 1989 (I think). He gave his idea of why we haven't found intelligent, extra terrestrial life.

    He used an illustration of an ant-hill. If you see an ant-hill, do you feel compelled to bend down to the ants' level, and teach them about technology, science, philosophy, and art? An intelligent extra terrestrial with space flight capability, is probably as far beyond us as we are beyond an ant.

    It's something to think about anyway (and I definitely suggest getting ahold of a copy of the "Journey Through The Tenth Dimension" lecture).
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2003 #2
    Prof. Kaku also mentioned another reason. He said that the probability of a species' destroying itself, is extremely greater, once this species discovers Uranium. Eventually, these intelligent E.T.s (who probably have come into existence plenty of times), discover Uranium, and the chances of their surviving much longer are small.
  4. Mar 21, 2003 #3

    There is a problem with that Mentat. If we were looking at an ant hill then yes that is true we would not teach it about science technology math philosophy and art. But we know that Ant's are mostly non intelligent creatures. Humans are fully capable of learning everything and we are very intelligent species. An example: We went from a simple airplane capable of flying only a few hundred yards (write brothers) in 1903. In less than 60 years we were going into space. Is that enough proof?
  5. Mar 21, 2003 #4


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    But Nicool, there is an alternative conclusion that can be derived. Perhaps the fact we made so many developments so recently, that our population is ballooning out of control, that we have had countless wars in the last century is PRECISELY the reason aliens have been avoiding us.
  6. Mar 21, 2003 #5
    That's an interesting concept.

    Are you referring about the capabilities of building nuclear weapons or the radiation exposure or both?

    I have two words why aliens would want to visit Earth: Led Zeppelin
  7. Mar 21, 2003 #6
  8. Mar 22, 2003 #7
    Perhaps FZ but there is an alternative to that alternative. They could help us in technology they could probably help us see reason. But wars have happened all through history it is just more apparent now because we have more high-tech weapons. Why would aliens mroe advanced than us fear our weapons?
  9. Mar 22, 2003 #8
    BOOM!! :wink:

    Nuclear Weapons, to be more specific.
  10. Mar 22, 2003 #9
    And yet, a civilization with space travel capabilities (probably at least a "type 1" civilization) might think of us as pathetically un-advanced.
  11. Mar 22, 2003 #10
    The mistake that I see in this argument is that the inherent propeties of human beings are implicitely supposed to be the same for any extraterrestrial intelligent form of life.
  12. Mar 22, 2003 #11


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    There is no physically accepted method of space travel, and it is at least possible that no such method exists, for us or for aliens. The rocket equation shows that there isn't enough available matter in the solar system for a rocket based propulsion to reach astronomical differences in human lifetimes. And no other method of driving a ship in empty space is known.

    Meanwhile we are currently experiencing the necessities of preventing nuclear war in our own time. What will human civilization be like after, say, a thousand years of enforced non nuclear peace? Would curiosity still be an admired characteristic? would creativity be devoted to poetry and abstract logic chopping as in the Chinese Mandarin age or the Western Middle Ages? Would we still look to the skies (a brilliant supernova appeared in 1006 CE; it was recorded in China and the middle east, but no one in Europe noticed it)?

    It's parochial to impose our current cultural standards on our own descendents, much less upon completely unknowable aliens.
  13. Mar 22, 2003 #12
    We imagine ourselves to be intelligent, but are we even considered intelligent in the eyes of the extra-terrestials? For all we know, we could appear as otters using rocks to break open shellfish. A spark of brilliance but nevertheless, "un-intelligent".
  14. Mar 22, 2003 #13
    i'd heard the theory about no species surviving beyond a certain level of technology before, the fatefully sad consequence of this is that as we get closer to interstellar space travel we are in effect signing our own death wish as no species can actually reach this stage of developpement...

    we should have stayed in the caves
  15. Mar 23, 2003 #14
    I propose that intelligence and sentience are defined by how one treats "the least of these" in the universe. An alien of unsurpassed intelligence would overlook us for the truth of humbler beings - ants, unicellular organisms, even seemingly inert matter.

    We are too chaotic and too selfish ordinarily to be in touch with such entities. Our shared sentience hopefully will grow in proportion to our compassion and awareness of lesser and greater nature.
  16. Mar 23, 2003 #15
    Well, you are actually defining wisdom and caring, as opposed to intelligence and sentience.
  17. Mar 23, 2003 #16
    Right on, Mentat. Hopeful thinking on my part. Might wisdom approach intelligence and caring approach sentience as adaptations toward survival and finally, coexistence.
  18. Mar 24, 2003 #17


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    This is an assumption based on HUMAN nature. Presumably, ET is not human so you can't assume he is psychologically similar to us.

    Furthermore, despite our discovery of uranium (and worse yet plutonium and tritium) we have NOT destroyed ourselves (unless I missed it). And given the recent thaw in the cold war I don't think it is likely that we will any time in the near future.

    Certainly nuclear weapons make it POSSIBLE to kill most life on Earth, but I think it is a huge logical fallacy to consider it likely on for humans and especially for ET.
  19. Mar 24, 2003 #18
    Well, actually, all Prof. Kaku said was that the chances of destroying themselves drastically increases. He didn't say that they would have to destroy themselves. However, he did make humans seem to be something rare (in that they have avoided their own destruction).
  20. Mar 25, 2003 #19
    this reminds me of a thread i started in the philosophy section called "deconstructing human sentience".

  21. Mar 25, 2003 #20
    Hey Mentat. Nice thread.

    However, my thread on ETs proposes another scenario. It's true that we are not at all interested in sitting down and explaining to an anthill our philosophies and scientific discoveries. However, within a few hundred years every anthill on this planet will be within a few miles of the nearest human. It is already quite obvious to ants, if they were intelligent as humans, that humans exist all over this planet.

    As Enrico Fermi put it, "If they existed, they would be here."

    Take care. --Carter
  22. Mar 26, 2003 #21
    Thanks, CJames.

    Not a perfect analogy, because space itself is much bigger than Earth. Also, ants have been colonizing Earth for their entire existence, we have yet to colonize other galaxies (or even other planets).
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2003
  23. Mar 26, 2003 #22


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    Fermi had already been able to calculate that if there were space-capable species in our galaxy it would only take them a few thousand years to visit, and presumably colonize, every habitable planet in it.
    This is based on a few years to visit the closest star system, a few generations to expand to scores of star systems, etc.
  24. Mar 31, 2003 #23
    Yep. The galaxy is huge on the human lifespan, but it's really quite small for a species' lifetime. Of course, a few thousand years is a little bit of a stretch, but a few million is way more than plenty 'nuf. My guess is a few hundred thousand years.
  25. Apr 4, 2003 #24


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    Greetings !
    This is wrong. There are plenty of methods known
    to travel at high relativistic velocities. We have
    not yet developed them enough. Some of them
    include electomagnetic plasma propulsion with high
    exhaust velocities and photon rockets (emmiting
    electromagnetic waves). The power for such systems
    can come from nuclear fission/fusion or stored
    anti-matter energy sources. The concepts are
    readily availible but the technology is still
    decades and centuries away.
    Again, although it is impossible to disagree with
    any possibility about stuff we simply don't know,
    there are other options.

    For example, if my civilazation were very edvanced
    then purhaps we would stop procriation totally.
    Having so many "people" already and the ability of
    keeping them alive for very long time periods
    and considering the potential knowledge and experience
    of such "elders" and the lessened role of "mother
    nature" as an influence on such an advanced civilazation.

    Further more, this may be a forced rather than a
    spontenuos move. Maybe, the civilization has
    overpopulated it's own planet and was forced
    to make such changes before it was able to expand.

    In addition, just consider this - you have a great
    advanced civilization running in the galazy.
    Why (on Earth ! ) would you want to complicate
    your life with making contact with these pathetic
    unadvanced creatures who are stuck on their
    homeworld for now ? They have nothing to contribute,
    you have no intrest in killing them or taking their
    planet (in an advanced civilization :wink:). And, any
    contact or hint they recieve from you will complicate
    your life - so why do it ? If all goes well they'll
    come to you when it's time.

    Just a couple of many ideas...

    Live long and prosper.
  26. Apr 5, 2009 #25
    Obviously, Prof. Kaka is not an _entomologist_
    (and very certainly not a myrmecologist)!
    I think we all know
    that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people
    who would like nothing more
    than to spend all day
    hanging out with the citizens of an ant hill.
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