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Could Nearby Asteroids Be Hideouts for Alien Spies?

by Eric Mack                   March 26, 2019                   (cnet.com)

• The vast majority of asteroids orbit the sun in a wide belt between Jupiter and Mars. Some wander farther into the inner solar system near Earth’s orbit. There’s a rarer type of object called a “quasi-satellite” that may spend centuries or longer making oddly shaped orbits around our planet. One example is asteroid 2016 HO3, also known as “Earth’s Constant Companion” (pictured above). These ‘co-orbital objects’ have only come to our attention in the past decade, for the most part. (watch 1:14 minute video on asteroid 2016 HO3 below)

• James Benford, a SETI enthusiast (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has authored a paper that postulates that these “co-orbital objects [are] an attractive location for extraterrestrial intelligence to locate a probe to observe Earth while not being easily seen.” Benford refers to alien spies the sky as “lurkers.” We may not have noticed anything because any sort of ancient automated alien spy system could be dead or lie dormant for long periods of time.

• James Benford’s twin brother Gregory, an astrophysicist, also weighs in saying, “Lurkers from the far past may have done their duty and slowly failed … the ruins of Lurker installations, including mining for resources on nearby orbiting sites, may be visible, even though their animating intelligences are long gone.” “This means we should consider searches over decades-long time scales.”

• SETI focuses on looking beyond our solar system and essentially listening to distant stars for signs of life. James Benford argues that it’s much easier to prove or disprove some alien construction is in a near-Earth orbit. “We can observe them, ping them with radar, transmit messages to them, send robotic probes to them and visit them with human spacecraft missions,” writes Benford.

• Douglas Vakoch, formerly of the SETI Institute and currently president of METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence), which is funded in part by NASA, says, “The notion of searching for lurkers by transmitting to likely locations in our solar system provides an intriguing possibility for finding common ground in Active SETI.” “Some of the same individuals who have been cautious about Active SETI transmissions to other stars are advocates of pinging nearby aliens — on the grounds that the extraterrestrials would already know we are here.”

• The idea that an extraterrestrial spy satellite might be hidden near our planet isn’t new. The late Stanford professor Ronald Bracewell proposed in a 1960 paper that advanced alien civilizations might place artificial intelligence near inhabited planets to monitor the progress of less advanced worlds and perhaps make contact at some point.

• “What have we to lose by checking out these objects?” Benford writes. “Nobody has really looked at these co-orbitals, other than orbital calculations and faint images. We know almost nothing about them.” Benford plans to submit his paper to the Astrophysical Journal.

 

Plans are in the works to send a tiny spacecraft to another star system in search of alien life. But what if another civilization has already launched a similar mission to observe Earth without our knowledge?

James Benford, who authored the definitive book on high-power microwaves and has written about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, says in a draft paper that a “recently discovered group of nearby co-orbital objects is an attractive location for extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) to locate a probe to observe Earth while not being easily seen.”

              James Benford

In the paper, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, Benford refers to alien eyes in (or above) the sky as “lurkers.” He goes on to give several examples of co-orbital objects (all of which are probably asteroids) that could be worth checking for them.

Benford runs a company called Microwave Sciences that designs and consults on high-power microwave systems. He often collaborates on his SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) work with his twin brother Gregory Benford, a noted science-fiction author, and his son Dominic Benford, a scientist at NASA.

While the vast majority of asteroids orbit the sun in a wide belt between Jupiter and Mars, some wander farther into the inner solar system near Earth’s orbit.

There’s an even rarer type of object called a “quasi-satellite” that may spend centuries or longer making often oddly shaped orbits around our planet. One example is asteroid 2016 HO3, also known as “Earth’s Constant Companion,” which is detailed in the below video from NASA.

The idea that an extraterrestrial spy satellite might be hidden near our planet isn’t new. The late Stanford electrical engineering professor Ronald Bracewell proposed in an oft-referenced 1960 paper that advanced alien civilizations might place artificial intelligence near inhabited planets to monitor the progress of less advanced worlds and perhaps make contact at some point.

Of course, we have observatories keeping watch on the thousands of known near-Earth objects and discovering new ones almost daily. A handful of asteroids has been visited by spacecraft, including NASA’s Osiris-Rex and Japan’s Hayabusa-2 that are currently orbiting space rocks. So far, such observations have yielded no evidence of anything alien or artificial.

But the co-orbital objects that Benford said deserve more attention are relatively new discoveries, having come to our attention in the past decade for the most part. And we may not have noticed anything because any sort of automated alien spy system placed long ago could be dead or lie dormant for long periods of time, making it difficult to detect.

1:14 minute NASA video on Asteroid 2016 Ho3 – Earth’s Constant Companion

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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.

       Douglas Vakoch

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.

    Andrew Fraknoi

“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.

                  Seth Shostak

“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.

          Michael Michaud

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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Astronomers Are Asking Kids to Help Them Contact Aliens

by Sigal Samuel                   February 21, 2019                          (vox.com)

• In 1974, scientists at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico used the 1,000-foot-wide radio telescope to send a carefully crafted radio broadcast into outer space – a message of zeros and ones meant to alert aliens to our existence for the first time. In honor of the 45th anniversary of that transmission, researchers at the observatory are pondering how to design a follow-up dispatch. Rather than asking their fellow experts, they’ve launched a global contest inviting youth, from kindergarteners to 16-year-olds, to create the New Arecibo Message.

• Says Abe Pacini, a researcher at Arecibo, “Sometimes the scientists are so focused on their topics and they can see stuff very deep but they cannot see very broad… Students know a little bit about everything, so they can see the big picture better. For sure they can design a message that is actually much more important.” Teams composed of up to ten students plus one mentor must register by March 20th. The more diverse the team is, the more points it gets. The contest guidelines recommend using social media to find possible teammates in other countries or regions. The Arecibo scientists will determine which, if any, message will be selected to represent Earth.

• The 1974 Arecibo message was authored by Frank Drake and Carl Sagan and provided basic information about us, like the position of Earth in our solar system, the size of the human population, the shape of the human body, and the double helix structure of DNA. (The information about the nucleotides in DNA has since been shown to be false.) The message was beamed at M13, a globular star cluster 25,000 light years away. (But these primitive radio waves would take 25,000 years for the message to get there.)

• Another determination that the scientists will make is the “risks of exposure” inherent in messaging alien civilizations. Scientists like the late Stephen Hawking and technologists like Elon Musk have warned that communicating with extraterrestrials could pose an existential threat to the Earth if the message is received by hostile aliens. In 2015, SETI researchers, Elon Musk, and others released a statement saying, “We strongly encourage vigorous international debate by a broadly representative body prior to engaging further in this activity.”

• Astronomer and science fiction author David Brin, one of the most vocal critics of an Arecibo Message, says that, “[M]ost of us are much more concerned about the arrogance these zealots are displaying by presuming to speak for a civilization of 8 billion people without ever exposing their assumptions to normal debate and risk assessment.” Brin also noted, “Their instrument (the Arecibo Telescope) is funded by the taxpayers.”

• Douglas Vakoch, an astrobiologist who worked at SETI before splitting off to found his own international organization, Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI), points out that “[A]ny civilization that could do us harm would already know we’re here from our accidental TV and radio leakage.” Vakoch says that the most important aspect of this communication may be our announcing to the galaxy that we are ready to make contact. Known as the ‘Zoo Hypothesis’, this is the idea that extraterrestrials may be keeping an eye on our planet but are waiting for us to indicate that we want to be in contact and that we’re sophisticated enough to merit attention.

• Neither a 1967 Outer Space Treaty ratified by dozens of countries and adopted by the United Nations which laid out an anti-weaponization framework for space, nor a SETI post-ET-detection protocol drafted in the 1980’s, addresses any protocol for actively sending out messages to other civilizations.

• For Brin, all this anxiety over interstellar communication seems like a reflection of our anxieties about communicating with one another. Underneath the question of how to talk to alien minds is a question that’s much closer to home: how to make ourselves understood to other minds right here on Earth.

• On a bulletin board at the Arecibo visitor center where kids were invited to post messages, one child’s misspelled missive was especially poignant: “Earth is destroying it self. Help us! Please help! Send better knowledg.”

[Editor’s Note]   Sending radio waves into space is like traveling across the American continent in horse-drawn covered wagons. This is just another example of mainstream scientists pretending to be on the cutting edge of space exploration when, in fact, our secret space programs are hundreds of years more advanced in space technology. Also, this speculation as to what kinds of extraterrestrials are out there, and the hand-wringing at what hostile ETs might do to our planet if we are “found”, is just more disinformation. We already know that many, many types of ET beings have already been here throughout our human development on Earth, and have been actively interacting with Earth humans since WWII. All of this drama about searching for intelligent life in the cosmos is simply theater to placate a mind-controlled Earth populace.

 

The scientists at Arecibo Observatory, a gigantic radio telescope in Puerto Rico, are some of the smartest astronomers and physicists in the world. But they need help with their next big project — and for that, they’re turning to kids.
In 1974, scientists used the 1,000-foot-wide telescope to send a carefully crafted radio broadcast into outer space, a message of zeros and ones meant to alert aliens to our existence.

It was humanity’s first interstellar message intended to be picked up by aliens. We haven’t heard back from E.T. yet. But in honor of the 45th anniversary of that transmission, the researchers at the observatory are pondering how to design a follow-up dispatch. Rather than asking their fellow experts, they’ve launched a global contest inviting youth — from kindergarteners to 16-year-olds — to create the New Arecibo Message.

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

The grand prize? A chance to have your message broadcast into the stars, and to potentially become the first human being ever to communicate with aliens.

I asked Alessandra Abe Pacini, a researcher at Arecibo who helped generate the idea for the contest, why kids are the best people for the job. “Sometimes the scientists are so focused on their topics and they can see stuff very deep but they cannot see very broad,” she said. “Students know a little bit about everything, so they can see the big picture better. For sure they can design a message that is actually much more important.”

But designing messages to aliens is a tricky business, on multiple levels. How do you write a missive that an alien intelligence will be able to understand? Should you avoid including sensitive information about humanity, in case that emboldens aliens to come to our planet and annihilate our species? Should you avoid transmitting messages into outer space altogether, because even just alerting aliens to our existence is too risky?

These questions are at the heart of a long-running, and sometimes very heated, debate among scientists. There’s no consensus about any of them, or even about the meta-question of who gets to decide on the answers.

One thing is clear, though: The stakes are extremely high. As scientists like the late Stephen Hawking and technologists like Elon Musk have warned, communicating with extraterrestrials could pose a catastrophic risk to humanity. In fact, if we send out a message and it’s received by less-than-friendly aliens, that could pose an existential threat not only to the human species but to every species on Earth.

The Original Arecibo Message

When space scientists wanted to celebrate a huge upgrade that had been made to the Arecibo Observatory in 1974, two of their greatest minds stepped up to draft a memo to aliens. It would be broadcast from the telescope during a public ceremony. Frank Drake, who came up with the famous “Drake Equation” for estimating the odds that intelligent life exists in our galaxy, crafted the message with help from Carl Sagan, the astronomer and popular science writer who penned Contact and popularized the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) organization.

Written in binary code — a series of ones and zeros — the message was designed with the hope of being intelligible to any aliens who might be listening. It sought to give them some basic information about us, like the position of Earth in our solar system, the size of the human population, the shape of the human body, and the double helix structure of DNA. When you look at the message in pictogram form, you can see all these components and more.

But this interstellar postcard was directed at M13, a globular star cluster 25,000 light years away, which may help explain why we haven’t heard back yet — it’ll take 25,000 years for the message to get there and the same amount of time for any reply to get back to us. The scientists chose that destination partly because the star cluster was big and relatively close, and partly just because it was within the telescope’s declination range (the part of the sky it can target) at the time of the ceremony.

In other words, the scientists weren’t really aiming to communicate with an alien civilization in their lifetimes so much as they were trying to publicly showcase the fact that their telescope could now do something incredible: For nearly three minutes, it sent a cosmic hello from humanity into the sky, as the audience assembled on site was moved to tears.

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