Fear of What’s Out There Causes Big Split Among Space Scientists
by Peter Fimrite February 25, 2019 (sfchronicle.com)
• A faction of the San Francisco-based SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has split off to form METI, or Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence. While SETI traditionalists believe humans should only look and listen for extraterrestrials to avoid tipping off evil aliens, the METI group intends to broadcast messages to space aliens. The clash is the first major division in the tight-knit community of astronomers, astrophysicists, philosophers, psychologists and science fiction writers who are convinced intelligent beings are out there somewhere.
• SETI has been searching in vain for radio signals or some other sign of life beyond Earth from its Bay Area Mountain View headquarters for 35 years. Astrobiologist Douglas Vakoch, who split with the METI group, says, “What if [the ET’s] position is, ‘No, you are the ones who are new to this game. You send us a signal first.’” METI will employ radar and laser technology to beam more powerful multi-directional messages into space.
• SETI astronomers are worried that less-then-friendly extraterrestrials might be more inclined to enslave Earthlings and mercilessly plunder and destroy Earth. “We wonder whether the galaxy that we are in is maybe a dark forest, where it is dangerous to scream because there are creatures out there unhappy with new life forms,” said astronomer Andrew Fraknoi. “You don’t want to advertise your presence in a dark forest.” Stephen Hawking was among those who warned that aliens “may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”
• Vakoch formed METI after a vote in 2014 by the SETI Institute board rejecting his plans to broadcast messages. Vakoch and his supporters reason that any predatory civilization would probably have detected us by now, since our radar, radio and television signals would long ago have signaled our presence. They began sending active signals into space in 2017. “We may have to target hundreds and thousands and maybe millions of stars before we find anything.” Says Vakoch. “I view this as a reflection of the natural growth of SETI.”
• Using Earth’s current technology, it would take 80,000 years for an astronaut to reach the closest star, Alpha Centauri. Fraknoi speculates that self-replicating civilizations could travel through space for thousands of years and still be alive to tell about it when the trip is over.
• Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute who supports Vakoch’s work, says that given the enormous distances, we may never find intelligent life if we don’t get out there and look for it. “No transmissions into the sky because there might be nasty aliens out there.’ That’s just paranoia. Paranoia is not a good long-term policy.”
• The issue moved to the forefront in 1989 when SETI scientists published a declaration of principles on how international leaders should be consulted before anyone replies to an ET signal. A committee of the International Academy of Astronautics took it a step further in the 1990’s, urging consultations with world leaders before anyone attempts to broadcast a powerful message into space that is likely to be detectable by alien life.
• “Human history is littered with examples of societies disrupted by direct contact with others, even when it was led by idealistic missionaries,” Says Michael Michaud, former director of the State Department’s Office of Space and Advanced Technology. “Ignore the Hollywood scenario of reptilian aliens landing on Earth’s surface to conquer our planet. They would not need to use futuristic weapons; the correct pesticide would do.”
• [Editor’s Note] Could the real purpose for these “scientists” to labor in vain for decades be to simply to create a disinformation campaign to make people believe that ‘smart people’ are actively looking for alien beings, and since they haven’t officially found any, then we can presume that there are no aliens out there? Mainstream science willfully denies the ample proof that dozens of different extraterrestrial species have visited the Earth over the past seventy years. Some alien species are positive and some are negative. The positive ones abide by a galactic law of non-interference with a low-level developing species such as we humans on Earth. The negative ones however, which do include the Draco Reptilians, couldn’t give a hoot about galactic law. But their M.O. is not to wipe us out and take over the planet. They prefer to keep us mind-controlled, determining what we are allowed to know, and using us as slave workers to generate an economic and industrial resource that they can exploit to continue to build out their own secret space program, off-world bases and colonies. Also, the system is set up so that humans must perpetually endure emotional fear, confusion, hardship, conflict and war, in order to create a form of energetic sustenance called ‘loosh’, which the higher negative Archon beings require. If we all woke up, turned to the loving Creator, and denied these negative beings all of this negative energy, this perverted system would collapse virtually overnight.
A cosmic rift has opened between Bay Area astronomers and a splinter group of San Francisco stargazers who are hell-bent on contacting space aliens, hang the consequences.
The schism pits the traditionalists, who believe humans should only look and listen for extraterrestrials to avoid tipping off evil aliens, against a rebel faction that wants to broadcast messages to intelligent beings, assuming they are altruistic.
The battle is so heated that one prominent scientist quit the Mountain View group known as SETI, or Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, to form METI, or Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence.
“We’ve always assumed the extraterrestrials were looking for us,” Vakoch said. But “what if their position is, ‘No, you are the ones who are new to this game. You send us a signal first.’”
SETI has been searching for radio signals or some other sign of life beyond Earth from its Mountain View headquarters for 35 years, but with nothing to show for its effort, Vakoch and other restless alien hunters are insisting on a more active search, including employing radar and laser technology to beam more powerful multidirectional messages into space.
The problem, many SETI astronomers warn, is that, instead of an intergalactic kumbaya, intelligent extraterrestrials might very well be more inclined to enslave Earthlings and mercilessly plunder and destroy Earth.
Those who adhere to this dark theory imagine humanity as a childlike form of life lost in an Amazonian jungle crawling with skulking predators, said Andrew Fraknoi, a SETI Institute board member.
“We wonder whether the galaxy that we are in is maybe a dark forest, where it is dangerous to scream because there are creatures out there unhappy with new life forms,” said Fraknoi, an astronomer who will be teaching a course in April called Aliens in Science and Science Fiction at the University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute. “With every strong signal we send out, we advertise our presence, and you don’t want to advertise your presence in a dark forest.”
The clash represents the first major division in the traditionally tight-knit community of astronomers, astrophysicists, philosophers, psychologists and science fiction writers who are convinced intelligent beings are out there somewhere.
Vakoch and his supporters, including some astronomers at SETI, call the dark forest analogy silly. Any predatory civilization would probably have detected us by now simply by analyzing our atmosphere, they reason. Humans, Vakoch said, have been using radar, which can purportedly be detected 70 light-years away, since World War II. Television and radio signals would long ago have signaled our presence to malevolent space ruffians, he said.
Unconcerned about an invasion of intergalactic invertebrates who are out for our heads, Vakoch adapted a transmitter and used a Norwegian observatory in late 2017 to send a message 12.4 light-years away to Luyten’s Star, a red dwarf with a large planet in the constellation Canis Minor.
He spent years developing the message, combining mathematics and the fundamentals of language that he believes even a blind alien could understand. It was the first of what Vakoch hopes will be many signals sent by his group.
“Our goal is to say we are interested in making contact,” Vakoch said. “We may have to target hundreds and thousands and maybe millions of stars before we find anything. I view this as a reflection of the natural growth of SETI.”
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Alpha Centauri, Andrew Fraknoi, Douglas Vakoch, Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI), Michael Michaud, Mountain View, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), Seth Shostak, Stephen Hawking