Subject: Re: HELP!
To: None <>
From: der Mouse <mouse@Rodents.Montreal.QC.CA>
List: port-alpha
Date: 06/21/2001 12:38:24
>>> despite the fact that I think the idea is extremely cool.
>> The idea of using unused cycles, or the idea of searching for
>> non-existant (IMO) aliens?
> The latter.
> Oh, are you one of the last few "humans are so cool, we MUST be the
> only life in the universe" people?  Nothing personal, but that's
> ridiculous bordering on the absurd.

Thinking seti@home is on a wild-goose chase does not equate, even
approximately, to the position you (rightly, IMO) ridicule.  (Not that
you said it did, mind you.)

I don't think seti@home will turn up anything interesting.  But the
reason is not because I think we're alone in this universe; the reason
is that I believe the interval in a life-form's evolution during which
it emits anything seti@home could find is comparatively small, and it
strikes me as highly unlikely that anyone else is (a) close enough for
us to receive the signals from and (b) going through that phase at the
right time for us to get the signals.  Everyone in range is almost
certain to be either far behind us or far ahead of us.  (Or not
technologists at all; consider Larry Niven's starseeds.  And even
technologists might not use that band - consider the cheela from
Dragon's Egg, or the creature from Out Of The Sun, neither of which
would be very likely to send on any band seti@home would notice.)

Or as one writer put it, "We may find apes or angels, but never men.".
That's from memory and hence may be a slight paraphrase, but the
meaning is close.

But this also doesn't mean I think seti@home is useless.  Even though I
think the chance is very small, I don't think it's zero...and entirely
aside from that, like most of science, it's bound to have spinoffs.

/~\ The ASCII				der Mouse
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