From the 'X-Files' Dept: Could ET Artifacts Be Camouflaged as Natural Objects?
- URL to an article in Daily Galaxy
Well, yes, but how would we know?
This has been somewhat of a staple in science fiction. What are some
stories with this as a theme?
First few paragraphs
"According to the British physicist Stephen Wolfram, intelligent life is
inevitable. But there is a hitch. Although intelligent life is inevitable, we
will never find it -at least not by looking out in the Milky Way. As
evidence Wolfram points out In order to compress more and more information into
our communication signals - be they mobile phone conversations or computer-
we remove all redundancy or pattern. If anything in a signal repeats, then
clearly it can be excised. But this process of removing any pattern from a
signal make it look more and more random - in fact, pretty much like the
random radio "noise" that rains down on Earth coming from stars and
interstellar gas clouds.
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Wolfram says that if someone beamed our own 21st-century communication
signals at us from space we would be hard pressed determining whether they
were artificial or natural. So what chance do we have of distinguishing an ET
communication from the general background radio static of the cosmos?
ET artifacts coordinated by computers would look far more like a natural
artifact. It is easy to distinguish a technological artifact such as a car
from a natural object such as a tree. The tree is far more complicated. But,
says Wolfram,"this is simply because our technological artifacts are
primitive. As they become more complex - with computer processors enabling them
to make a moment-by-moment decisions - they will begin to look just as
complex as trees and people and stars." We have slim chance, he suggests, of
distinguishing an ET artifact from a natural celestial object.
If Wolfram is right and ETs are out there but we will not be able to
recognize them - either in their communications or their artifacts - then of
course they could be here in the Solar System and we would not have noticed.
Wolfram thinks ETs will not want to travel to Earth - or anywhere else
for that matter. In Wolfram's view, everything in the Universe is the product
of a computer program. In fact, he imagines an abstract cyber-universe of
all conceivable computer programs, all the way from the simplest up to the
most complex. This "computational universe" contains everything from the
Apple Macintosh operating system to a programme for creating a
Wolfram believes he has found nature's big secret - how it generates the
complexity of the world, everything from a rhododendron to a tree to a
barred spiral galaxy by applying simple rules over and over again as a simple
computer programs. Wolfram came to this remarkable conclusion in the early
1980s when he discovered that the simplest kind of computer program - known
as a cellular automaton - can generate infinite complexity if its output is
repeatedly fed back in as its input. Wolfram has found evidence that the
kind of computer program that produces endless complexity can be implemented
"not just systems of biological molecules but in all sorts of physical
systems - chaotic gas clouds, systems of subatomic particles and so on. He
concludes that all over the Universe life - though definitely not life as we
know it - will spring up spontaneously. It is a fundamental feature of
(Just a pawn on the great chessboard of life)
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