Friday, December 02, 2005

Extra Extra! Read All About It!

If you get a chance, go out and buy this weeks edition of New Scientist magazine (Nov. 26-Dec. 2 2005) and take a gander at the cover story. In it, the author suggest that we will probably not find E.T. searching the physical universe for radio signals but we might find them in the "computational universe"--all the possible computer algorithms that exist.

Am I wrong or has New Scientist let the possiblitity of intelligent design slip through the editors? The following has kept me up at night thinking.

Talking about the complexity of alien signals, Marcus Chown writes:

" possible way to search for extraterrestrial intelligence is to look for artificial structures, such as giant triangles orbiting stars. These objects might simply be alien artefacts or a way for ET to communicate across vast tracts of the Milky Way.

[Luc]Arnold's idea is based on the fact that astronomers can already detect planets orbiting nearby stars if they happen to pass in front of their parent star, temporarily dimming its brightness. His work shows that you could distinguish the dimming caused by a strangly shaped object from that resulting from a passing planet, in much the same way that it is easy to spot the difference between objects we have built and natural phenomena--buses and trees, for example. That's becuase nature's artefacts are always more complex than our own. But Wolfram believes this will change in the future as we become more intelligent. 'All artefacts will be as complicated, if not more, than natures's.'

And that is bad news for SETI. The complex artefacts made by an advanced civilisation would be worlds apart from the simple, giant triangles Arnold envisages. In fact, they could look very much like natural objects. Which poses a remarkable question: are the stars extraterrestrial artefacts? 'They could have been built for a purpose,' says Wolfram. 'It's extremely difficult to rule it out.'" (Page 32)

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