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A few days ago, NASA tried closing the gap between life on Earth and the possibilities of life elsewhere. The space agency and the Library of Congress brought together scientists, historians, philosophers and theologians from around the world for a two-day symposium, "Preparing For Discovery." Their agenda: To explore how we prepare for the inevitable discovery of extraterrestrial life, be it simple microbial organisms or intelligent beings.
... There has to be freedom to do science. Being a good scientist means admitting we never have the whole truth -- there's always more to learn." Consolmagno also doesn't think the public would panic when or if it's revealed that alien life has been found.
"I really think it would be a three-day wonder and then we'd go back to worrying about reality TV or the crazy things going on in Washington -- that's the way human beings are. Because I think most people are like me: we expect it's out there. And our reaction would be, 'Wow, thank heavens. It's about time."
Astrobiology has revealed new discoveries about our world and the solar system. Living organisms thrive in harsher environments on Earth than we ever previously imagined. Microbial biodiversity and extremophile life are now known to be ubiquitous and abundant. Beyond Earth, science has identified more than 1,400 exoplanets. That life thrives in multifarious conditions, coupled with these potentially habitable exoplanets and the detection of life-giving elements on numerous moons on asteroids, means we must face the possibility that simple or complex organisms may be discovered beyond Earth. How might we prepare for such a discovery? Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology Steven J. Dick convenes scientists, historians, philosophers and theologians from around the world for a two-day symposium at the Library of Congress to explore how we prepare to face new knowledge that may challenge our very conceptions of life and our place in the universe.
originally posted by: skunkape23
I don't really understand why so many are worried that everyone is going to freak out if life is discovered on other planets.
Am I missing something? What's the big deal?
originally posted by: Bleeeeep
a reply to: Arken
I would have loved to have known about the conference beforehand - could have learned a lot about where humanity is at psychologically.
Idk what the posters before me are thinking, maybe they assume we know everything that we could possibly know about aliens and that they wouldn't pose a threat to us, or us to them? But what if we/they did? And what if it wasn't just physical threats but psychological, as well?
What if the threats weren't as black and white as a virus to a carrier, or a common predator and prey relationship, but more veiled like the sociopathic elite are to the slave classes?
Or what if aliens are dicks and trolling people gets them high, and so once they have landed they refuse to leave because they love to trollolol, and we are physically incapiable of forcing them to leave and/or leave us alone? How could we trick them into leaving?
Or what if they are devout spiritualist, having a higher intelligence and sense of morality than we do, and as such, they refuse to harm any living thing, and maybe they have synthesized everything a human could possibly want, but they, for claimed moral reasons, refuse to trade with us? Do we take their stuff anyways?
What if they are beautifully peaceful, yet are naive enough to want to live amongst us? Should we run them off to save them from us?
...I could think of thousands of questions I could have asked those guys.
originally posted by: Arken
Prepare the humanity. Prepare the world-wide public opinion. Prepare for an imminent discovery or contact?
“Equating Culture, Civilization, and Moral Development in Imagining ETI: Anthropocentric Assumptions?” – John Traphagan, University of Texas at Austin
This paper considers ways in which anthropomorphized notions of culture, civilization, and morality have influenced and generated assumptions about what a non-human intelligence would be like, how communication with that intelligence might occur, and how culturally bounded notions of progress and development have shaped the imaginations of scientists and others when thinking about the moral nature of ETI.
“Communicating with the Other” – Douglas Vakoch, SETI Institute
If the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) detects an artificial signal from a distant civilization, our next challenge will be to understand any encoded message, and to decide what we may want to transmit in reply. Thus far, the few intentional messages humans have sent into space reflect the assumption that mathematics and science are universal. How accurate is this Platonic notion that our math and physics tap into universal principles? Even if we and they have commensurable scientific and mathematical concepts, how can we make sure they will recognize which concepts we are referring to?
Discussion + Q&A
originally posted by: JadeStar
It's highly likely that an advanced civilization could have synthesized everything they could possibly want or need. The idea of "trade" between a species a million years beyond us technologically is kinda silly. We'd have nothing they couldn't produce or get elsewhere.
originally posted by: Silicis n Volvo
a reply to: Arken
As far as I'm aware most people already believe there is life somewhere out there. Disclosure would just be like a "I knew it" moment for most people.
Unless a space ship appeared over London and started zapping people I don't think the discover of life on another planet would freak anyone out.
Hell if they invaded I'd probably freak out. At least until I go all Will Smith on their ass for shooting that green sh!t at me!
The fact that theologians are included is interesting, though does not surprise me. What the # have NASA and theology got to do with each other? Did NASA consult theologians when they decided to send out the Mars rover or the Voyagers?
originally posted by: HomerinNC
a reply to: skunkape23
They constantly refer to the panic from Orson Welles' recording of War of the Worlds back in the 1930's. It was a radio play told like it was happening live, and alot of people panicked, riots ensued. It was a simpler time; people usually didnt get news from other states for a few weeks , stuff from other countries longer. Even with today's rapid and instant communication, TPTB think we will have the SAME reaction.
I dont think so. Today we are more prepared to deal with ET. We watch movies, television shows, read books daily about First Contact. I think the thing that will possibly happen is people would stay home and watch it on the news then twitter or facebook it to their friends. I dont see any social collapse coming from First Contact.