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  • The mystery of are there aliens? Are we alone?

  • This is one of those fundamental mysteries

  • that I think is going to bother us

  • until we have systematically explored

  • every planet in our solar system and every world beyond

  • and either found that life or ruled it out.

  • Because we want to know; are we alone?

  • It was Fermi who first put it bluntly:

  • Why in a universe so full of stars we didn't see,

  • well, evidence that aliens had colonized the solar systems

  • as readily as humanity has colonized

  • every square scrap of land on this planet?

  • And the fact that we don't see life

  • and we're finding now, planet, after planet, after planet,

  • raises the terrifying possibility

  • that either life is extraordinarily rare

  • or really good at killing itself off.

  • How would the discovery of intelligent life

  • change the way we view our position in the universe?

  • We see, in movie, after movie, after movie,

  • this transcendent moment where people have this,

  • the universe is so much greater than we are realization.

  • That of course, is the grand gesture way.

  • Because in all likelihood,

  • when we do first detect intelligent life

  • it's going to be something so far away

  • we can't communicate with it, we can't go visit it,

  • that people are like, 'meh, that's good,'

  • and then they're just gonna move on with their day.

  • Already people see the discovery of another planet

  • as just another day.

  • What are the current, the most exciting

  • efforts going on right now in terms of hunting

  • for any kind of extraterrestrial life?

  • There are teams, recently a group in Japan did models

  • looking at what has our planet looked like

  • in each of its phases of evolution.

  • When the JWST finally is able to launch some day,

  • it may be able to look at alien atmospheres and say,

  • there be things that are like trees.

  • And this world, it looks like it has a bunch of people

  • that pollute the same way we do.

  • This may be the first way we discover intelligence,

  • is through the pollution they leave in their atmosphere.

  • Well, simultaneous to all this, of course,

  • has been China's rise as a superpower.

  • has been China's rise as a superpower. How has that affected the world's

  • How has that affected the world's

  • search for extraterrestrial life?

  • They are systematically building space stations

  • and looking forward to going to the Moon.

  • While on the ground they're building great new telescopes,

  • including the single largest radio dish in the world.

  • This is a facility that takes the idea

  • of the Arecibo radio dish that we've seen in so many movies,

  • whether it be Contact or James Bond,

  • this giant dish in the mountains in Puerto Rico.

  • They took that idea and scaled it up

  • to truly magnificent sizes.

  • And with this massive dish, what they've gained

  • is the ability to listen in on even fainter signals.

  • If it's the search for radio signals though,

  • China is so far out in the lead

  • with that big dish they've built,

  • I don't think any of us can catch up right now.

  • Would it be sensible for maybe the two nations

  • to be working together, or are we likely to see

  • a two-horse race not a million miles away perhaps

  • from the space race a few decades ago?

  • As is true of so much of science,

  • the scientists desperately want to work together.

  • And often there are people figuring out

  • how to find backdoor ways to do work side-by-side

  • that builds towards the same goal.

  • There's currently federally invoked

  • limitations here in the United States

  • where we aren't allowed to share technologies,

  • including a lot of software that we write,

  • with our collaborators in China.

  • These are what are referred to as ITAR regulations.

  • As long as these governmental regulations

  • restricting how funding can be shared,

  • how technology can be shared are in place,

  • we're gonna be forced to work side-by-side but not together.

  • Even more broadly than just

  • the search for extraterrestrial life,

  • but if there's one thing that somebody should immediately

  • go and Google, or look up on Twitter,

  • or search for on a website,

  • what should people know about right now?

  • We're at this really curious time

  • where we may or may not have our fundamental understanding

  • of how our universe is evolving turned over on its head.

  • Back in 1998, there were discoveries made

  • that seemed to indicate that our universe

  • is accelerating apart thanks to this entirely new

  • thing that we don't know how to describe

  • that we have labeled dark energy.

  • And this piece of research, done by multiple teams,

  • was based on the single concept

  • that exploding white dwarf stars,

  • the leftover cores of dead stars like our sun,

  • when you put enough mass on them,

  • they all explode the exact same way,

  • having more or less the exact same amount

  • of light being given off,

  • allowing us to use them to measure

  • distances throughout our universe.

  • Well, we're now getting more and more hints

  • that maybe that's single underlying premise wasn't true,

  • and that maybe this revolution we had in '98 that said

  • no, our universe is expanding apart, might get taken back.

  • And there's new work hinting that, even without that idea

  • that we don't understand how our universe is expanding,

  • it gets worse.

  • Because there are hints that maybe

  • different parts of our universe

  • are expanding at different rates.

  • We don't know who is right and who is wrong

  • in this current debate over fundamental questions

  • about how our universe evolves,

  • but I'm betting that we're gonna settle these questions

  • in the next five years

  • and it could be even in the next five months if we get lucky

  • and the right people get the right telescope time.

The mystery of are there aliens? Are we alone?

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Why We Search For Aliens

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/04/29
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