ARCHIVE: Signals from space aliens or random chance?

Nathon Detroit

New member
Technically I'm in the same boat as arglebargle. I indulged your hypothetical, but I do agree with everything he/she said.
Lets not get off topic so please don't respond to this (unless you want to start another thread to discuss it) but it isn't "highly likely" as arglebargle asserts that there are other planets that could support intelligent life. In fact it's just the opposite. New discoveries in science are demonstrating that our planet may be one of the few in all the universe that could support intelligent life. Do yourself a favor and watch The Privileged Planet (it's a secular show so don't worry it doesn't preach anything and it's less than an hour long).

Any hooooo... that's a topic for another show. :)
 

SUTG

New member
Now, I am pretty sure that a signal coming from outer space that had 40 words in a comprehensible order... (i.e., "people of earth, we would like to introduce ourselves to you we are a race of intelligent creatures that lives in a galaxy far, far away and we want to communicate to you that you are not alone in the universe.") is still FAR, FAR, FAR, more likely to occur by chance than a tennis ball passing through a brick wall or a picture of Marilyn Monroe juggling fish, accidentally generated on a computer screen by random pixels.

Well, first, of course, the actual probabilities would have to be figured out. What does the noise, or the random signal look like? I am assuming that SETI is looking at electromagnetic waves. I do not know enough about their project or cosomology to know the probabilities involved. Since this is just a thought experiment, is it OK to assume that the "bad" signals are just strings of random characters, like "hwer8984yrqnplksjvansfd..."? Then, we can figure out the odds. We also need to know how much data SETI has gone through before they came across this message.


Would you be able to determine based on that signal from space that their was intelligent life in the universe, and they were trying to communicate with us? Or would you deny the existence of intelligent life and write off the message as being merely the product of random chance that was "bound to happen"?

As I said before, the crux of the matter is in the actual probabilities involved. Also, it depends on how likely one thinks that extraterrestial life is.

How's that for a non-answer? :chuckle:

Taking all of that into account, I think your problem can be generalized to ask "How unlikely of an even would need to occur before you would agree that intelligence (as opposed to complete randomness) was involved?"

But to be honest, to really answer your OP, I would have to ask a bunch of annoying questions, especially about the random data set and the sample size, and try and determine the probabilities.

Let's just say if the likelihood of the message arising randomly, considering the size of their sample set was less than one in a trillion (give or take), I'd say intelligent aliens. If it was more than a one in a million, I'd gather more data.

annoyingly yours,
SUTG
 

Nathon Detroit

New member
Well, first, of course, the actual probabilities would have to be figured out. What does the noise, or the random signal look like? I am assuming that SETI is looking at electromagnetic waves. I do not know enough about their project or cosomology to know the probabilities involved. Since this is just a thought experiment, is it OK to assume that the "bad" signals are just strings of random characters, like "hwer8984yrqnplksjvansfd..."? Then, we can figure out the odds. We also need to know how much data SETI has gone through before they came across this message.
Did you see the picture I provided in the opening post?

That was a sample of a signal that they (SETI) determined to be different than "normal". The signal I am describing in this hypothetical would be similar to that except far more comprehensible.

As I said before, the crux of the matter is in the actual probabilities involved. Also, it depends on how likely one thinks that extraterrestial life is.
Actually the crux is how likely is the possibility that a signal such as that could be generated randomly.

How's that for a non-answer? :chuckle:
I have come to expect that from you. ;) (you know I'm kidding ya!!)

Taking all of that into account, I think your problem can be generalized to ask "How unlikely of an even would need to occur before you would agree that intelligence (as opposed to complete randomness) was involved?"

But to be honest, to really answer your OP, I would have to ask a bunch of annoying questions, especially about the random data set and the sample size, and try and determine the probabilities.

Let's just say if the likelihood of the message arising randomly, considering the size of their sample set was less than one in a trillion (give or take), I'd say intelligent aliens. If it was more than a one in a million, I'd gather more data.

annoyingly yours,
SUTG
Yet on the other thread I argued that a picture of Marilyn Monroe juggling fish would NEVER be generated on a computer screen if you were feeding the display random pixels. Each and every one of you claimed I was wrong and the picture would indeed occur.... eventually.

Yet now you are having a hard time admitting that a much more simple example of a pattern could come to pass by random chance.

How about this....
Just give me you best guess (i.e., gut feel).

Would you say the hypothetical message received by SETI was more likely generated by intelligent life or by random chance?
 

Layla

New member
Yet on the other thread I argued that a picture of Marilyn Monroe juggling fish would NEVER be generated on a computer screen if you were feeding the display random pixels. Each and every one of you claimed I was wrong and the picture would indeed occur.... eventually.

I asked you not to put words in my mouth. All I said was that it would become far more likely with time. I did not say it would definitely occur.
 

PKevman

New member
In the hypothetical, I'd definitely have to say that it was evidence of intelligent life elsewhere.
 

SUTG

New member
Again, I hate to be annoying, but it comes down to the probabilities involved. (That is why I waited for ThePhy to answer the tennis ball question)

As I said, I am guessing that SETI is looking at EM waves. I'm too lazy to Google it, and it is irrelevant anyways. But what is relevant is the actual probability of the signal received in the amount if data examined. How do the electromagentic waves correspond to the letters in the message you posted? What types of patterns are they looking for? Is it encoded in ascii?

So, we are disregarding a hoax, and I assume we are disregarding the whole issue of the fact that the message is in English...or are we? That is what is unclear.

If we assume that the signal stream is all lower case letters, commas, spaces, and periods, we sill still have enough characters to generate Knight's hypothetical message. His message is 211 characters, with 29 possibilities for each position, so I'd say it is pretty unlikely. :chuckle: A random string of 211 characters from the character set would have a one in 29^211 chance of being Knight's message.

There you have it, or at least pretty close. The messages in a continuous stream of characters could be any length, not just 211, so I think the probability of a similar message randomly occuring would be higher. I'll agree to ignore that.

So, if they only looked at 10,000 characters, and their equipment was not faulty, there was not a hoax, etc., and my only two choices were random event or signal from aliens, I'd go with the aliens. If they looked at 29^1000 characters, I'd be surprised if they didn't find Knight's message.
 
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dreadknought

New member
This is a bit long, I apologize in advance for that but there is no way for me to ask this question any more brief than this.


And in all those years the SETI project has had really only one "wow" moment where a signal resembled something "other" than random noise. Now of course this "wow" moment didn't really amount to much other than a few characters lined up a tad more orderly than usual. I attached the "wow" signal below so you could see the minor order in the sea of randomness.

But lets imagine that on the weekend you were visiting something much more than a "wow" moment occurred. Lets imagine that a signal was detected emanating from the depths of space that read.....

"people of earth, we would like to introduce ourselves to you we are a race of intelligent creatures that lives in a galaxy far, far away and we want to communicate to you that you are not alone in the universe."

Obviously, this message would be one of the most incredible discoveries in the history of mankind.

But what would you believe? Would you believe it was actually sent from an intelligent life source from another galaxy? Or would you believe it was merely an amazing coincidence of chance that caused a random signal to just appear to have that amazing understandable order?


Therefore, I would love an honest answer from all of you to the following question.... (finally I get to my question)

Would you be able to determine based on that signal from space that their was intelligent life in the universe, and they were trying to communicate with us? Or would you deny the existence of intelligent life and write off the message as being merely the product of random chance that was "bound to happen"?


What would be your assumption and why?

Thank you in advance for your honest answer.
 

Johnny

New member
The short answer is that although it is possible that the message is random, it is far more probable that the message is the result of intelligence.

But as ThePhy correctly noted, given enough time, the chance of any possible scenario in the universe happening approaches 1.
 

zoo22

Well-known member
KNIGHT ,

They are just different kinds of DEMONS that are have been Imprisoned here

since Satan's Rebellion. They are just trying to deceive people into thinking

that they are from outerspace but they are really stuck here until God and Jesus

come back and throw them in the Fire.

:plain:

Also, why is ""Imprisoned" capitalized? I don't understand some capitalizations around here sometimes. Or was it a random capitalization mistake?

All that aside, I think that receiving a transmission like the one Knight describes would be pretty solid as far as it being real (that would be exciting!). And I'm sure would be interpreted that way. I also believe there would be a lot of investigation into whether it was a fluke. But if it were received in conjunction with a number of other similar, but proven as random transmissions, it would be different. For example, if there had been a number of transmissions we had already determined to be "close-but-no-cigar," there would be reason to really question whether the transmission was real or random.

A difference between random radio-wave transmissions from outer space and the chemical formation of life on Earth is condition-related. If there were specific conditions that we had determined were optimal to result in "random" radio-waves being received as strings of words, and we were scanning in an area where those conditions were optimal, there would be good reason to believe that it was not an actual transmission.
 

PlastikBuddha

New member
ThePhy, Layla, SUTG, arglebargle, mebrainhurtz, are arguing that random chance WILL produce such events, they say it is inevitable. In fact they argue that far more less likely events will happen (like a tennis ball passing effortlessly through a solid brick wall because their atoms lined up "just right").
Actually I think a quantum event of that magnitude would be highly improbable even within the entire lifetime of this universe from the Big Bang until the last sun fizzles out.
Therefore, the mechanism is either intelligence, or chance.
I think a message emerging from nothing with no possible mechanism for its construction is more improbable than the tennis ball trick.
That is the question. :) You tell me, what would you answer be?
I would say intelligence.
 

wholearmor

New member
A hoax is ruled out.

It's either....

- A real signal from intelligent life.

Or...

- A product of random chance.

"people of earth, we would like to introduce ourselves to you we are a race of intelligent creatures that lives in a galaxy far, far away and we want to communicate to you that you are not alone in the universe."

A real signal from intelligent life who needed a lesson in capitalization and punctuation.
 

Stripe

Teenage Adaptive Ninja Turtle
LIFETIME MEMBER
Hall of Fame
The opening post denoted intelligence. Anything to do with SETI I'm suspicious of, but for the question posed I would also answer with intelligence :)
 

Pekkle

New member
I would believe it, seeing as background interference from stars would not form itself into anything resembling a coherent coherent sentence.
 

SingedWing

New member
I hate to get thrown off the theology forum on my second post. But Knight the information theory and seti argument is not a good argument against evolution. It sounds wonderful like most of the probability and incredibility arguments but that's because few of of us really know anything about probability and information theory.

Intelligent messages in background radiation have nothing whatever to do with biology on the planet earth.
 

ThePhy

New member
This is a bit long, I apologize in advance for that but there is no way for me to ask this question any more brief than this.

Imagine that you visiting your friend for the weekend and your friend works for the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), I am sure you are all familiar with them, they sit around all day, everyday for the last 48 years or so scanning the universe for signals that come from the darkness of space …

Thank you in advance for your honest answer.
Sorry, I was away till late yesterday. After I got back and found this thread, I wanted to read the to-date responses so I didn’t end up plowing already-plowed ground. So recognizing that most of the technical errors in Knight’s scenario have already been addressed, and he has made adjustments for them – I (and a whole lot of other SETIsts) would be ecstatically happy at what (barring any later disproof) was our first recognized extra-solar contact.
 

Pekkle

New member
I'd be less than pleased if the intelligent life we find is as fanatically religious as (intelligent?) life on earth and even half as intent on converting us.

We'd soon be hearing that science cannot disprove the existance of Tac, the tentacled reptillian father above.
 

SingedWing

New member
I'd be less than pleased if the intelligent life we find is as fanatically religious as (intelligent?) life on earth and even half as intent on converting us.

We'd soon be hearing that science cannot disprove the existance of Tac, the tentacled reptillian father above.

How would you feel if they were not hominid but had sexual reproduction, cared for their children, believed in good and evil, and spoke of a creator who had sent a prophet to them about 1-3000 years ago?
 
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