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Response to the common skeptic's argument that interstellar travel is inherently unfeasible.

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posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:07 PM
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Hello Everyone,

I’ve been reading these forums for a while, but this is my first thread. I’m writing this in response to an argument I commonly see from UFO skeptics which always drives me nuts, specifically, the “they can’t get here from there” argument.

Many skeptics argue that because there is such a great distance between stars, it would take an unrealistic commitment of time and energy in order to reach other star systems, and that the time such a trip would take would necessarily make the journey a one-way trip. But even assuming, for the sake of argument, that the only way to get from point A to point B is by accelerating an object and that, regardless of how advanced knowledge or technology becomes, the speed of light is a limitation that cannot be broken, this argument still relies on the implicit assumption that alien life would have roughly the same lifespan as humans, and for some reason, I can’t recall ever hearing anyone counter this seemingly unjustified assumption. Consider the following:

a) Even on our own planet, there is a very wide range of lifespans among various organisms. There are animals that live for hundreds of years, and some, such as the lobster and the Turritopsis nutricula jellyfish that are considered to be biologically immortal (meaning that they won’t die of old age, even though they can be killed by injury, disease, etc.). There are trees that are thousands of years old, and we currently don’t even know if these trees have a maximum lifespan based on aging processes. I believe the oldest living organism that we know of is an 80,000 year old colony of Aspen Trees. Granted that we usually find that more complex life on our planet has a relatively short lifespan, but from the data we do have demonstrates that this limit is certainly not a constant.

b) We still really don’t have a solid idea of how life forms in its initial stages, and we have no way of knowing if the replication errors that occur in life on Earth that we generally attribute to aging are universal, or even common. It could be that the evolution of life on other planets has allowed for even more complex organisms to live for thousands of years, or maybe indefinitely, barring death by some other external means. Or it could be that these processes that lead to aging are universal and unavoidable. The point is that we really don’t have enough data to estimate an maximum or average lifespan of intelligent life on other planets.

c) I would argue that it’s not only plausible, but likely, that civilizations that have reached a high degree of technological development sufficient for long-distance space travel would also have developed a fairly strong ability to artificially compensate for inherent biological problems. Things like artificial organs, cybernetic implants, genetic manipulation, and suspended animation are all things that we have either done to some degree or are within our grasp in the foreseeable future, and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to allow for the possibility that at least some advanced alien civilizations would be able to significantly lengthen their natural lifespan through technological means.

Now, assuming that an alien lifeform did have a lifespan significantly longer than a human’s, travel to distant stars would suddenly seem much more feasible. A journey might take up the entirety of a human’s life could only consume a small portion of an alien’s, and perhaps a willingness to travel at slower speeds could conserve energy, etc.

Please don’t misunderstand my argument. I’m not trying to argue that aliens have actually visited us, as there are many other threads for that, and I’m not trying to argue that there is necessarily alien life with a much longer lifespan than humans. It could be that humans are the longest living, or only, beings in the universe saying that all aliens have longer lifespans than humans, although I’d personally surprised and quite disappointed if that somehow turned out to be true. I’m simply saying that, given our knowledge about life on earth, the potential for technologically manipulating biological systems, as well as our general ignorance of how life actually may have formed on other planets, it’s completely unjustified to assume that a time period approximating the human lifespan would necessarily be a universal limitation on space travel, and thus the routine dismissal of alien visitation due to the supposedly universal infeasibility of space travel is completely without any legitimate basis.




posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:14 PM
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Very interesting post.

I will not disagree with what you have stated, but i will point out that the lifespan of a species is not the predominant factor in determining length of space travel, in my opinion of course


Technological development is they key to this quandary. If a species learn to manipulate space and time, our life spans become irrelevant at that point.

Though being able to live for 80,000 years would certain be a plus to long space faring journeys. But i would presume that a species advanced in space travel has developed some for of stasis they can enter to endure long travel times.

Fun topic though!
edit on 7-9-2012 by MDDoxs because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:16 PM
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reply to post by Nanocyte
 



Response to the [color=D4FFC7]common skeptic's argument that interstellar travel is inherently unfeasible.

There is no shared consensus amongst those who prefer to use common sense and logical reasoning, as opposed to blind belief.


In other words: There is no such thing as a 'common skeptic argument'.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:18 PM
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Good point!

What gets me is that people will say it is impossible going by 'our' laws of physics. What makes our physics so perfect and final? We are an under evolved race, therefore our laws of physics are under evolved. Just my 2 pence.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:24 PM
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reply to post by Nanocyte
 


I dont think it neccesary to even consider longer lifespans as a way of achieving interstellar travel.
Considering the age and size of the universe it is likely that intelligent civilizations out there are tens of thousands, or millions of years advanced beyond us. They would have an understanding of the universe and Physics so far beyond ours as to be completly incomprehensible to us, like magic, as Arthur Clarke stated.

They may be able to manipulate time and space allowing them to traverse the stars in seconds, minutes, days who knows? Who are we to say what is impossible? How arrogant of us.

Humans tend to limit their thinking relative to their own limited understanding of the world around them. They forget, that what is common understanding of how things work today, would have been considered impossible or worse (heresy) years ago.

We have zero right to say anything is impossible..literally... anything.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:25 PM
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Sorry, perhaps I should have phrased that differently. I meant an argument that I commonly see used by skeptics to dismiss UFO claims. I didn't mean that it was necessarily an argument used by all skeptics.

As far as getting around the laws of physics, I personally don't necessarily believe that the speed of light is an impossible barrier to break, but I realize that obviously I don't really have any concrete knowledge on how one would manage to get somewhere faster. I just don't think we have enough knowledge to definitively rule things out. On the other hand, if it is an absolute limitation, I do think that the lifespan of a species would necessarily have a large impact on their society's willingness to travel long distances, but it seems very conceivable that that lifespan could be much longer than humans.
edit on 7-9-2012 by Nanocyte because: rule out, not on



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:27 PM
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reply to post by Nanocyte
 


I'm sorry, but could you point out where "many skeptics" have said that it's impossible for interstellar travel on here?

I have seen that argument used, but most of the time where I've seen it used is by scientists in docus (not skeptics).



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:38 PM
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Originally posted by OpenEars123
Good point!

What gets me is that people will say it is impossible going by 'our' laws of physics. What makes our physics so perfect and final? We are an under evolved race, therefore our laws of physics are under evolved. Just my 2 pence.


Same here, i tend to think, why are our laws of physics considered definitive? Slightly off-topic but its something i just want to get off my chest, its not worth making a thread for. My gut feeling has always been that we will be the generation that will see the most significant event that has happened to mankind, namely proof that we are not alone in the universe. Recently though, ive started to think that this will not happen,( and i dont know why, perhaps im getting older (44)) and more cynical, but it saddens and depresses me, i want to see it SO MUCH.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:44 PM
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reply to post by Nanocyte
 

Sure. Then you've just got to account for them wondering "is it even worth bothering???" when they run the analyses of possible different forms of life (yielding a literally astronomical number of possible placed to look - pun only slightly intended), limitations on range & speed of detection features (primarily radio waves in our case), and the like.

It's like looking for a single grain of sand somewhere on earth. Sure, you might be convinced it's out there, but...what makes it worth THAT much of an undertaking and expenditure of time and resources?

It is these facts that strongly call the UFO phenomena here on earth into question for me - I have no doubt it's occurring - but I am strongly forced to doubt its naturalistic/extra-terrestrial origin...



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:55 PM
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The problem I have relates not to the life span of any potential visitor, but the sheer vast enormous magnitude of the universe and the time scales involved.

For instance, if you could count one star each second in the Milky Way, it would take you over 10,000 years to count all the stars in just our galaxy.
Spread that out over Hundreds of BILLIONS of Galaxies, and it would take several orders of magnitude longer than the age of the universe itself to explore even a small portion of the total universe, even if you could visit/count one star a second.

By the time you explored even 1% of the universe at that rapid pace of 1 star per second, so much time will have gone by that places you've already explored and found lifeless may have already developed into advanced technological civilizations.

The universe amazingly vast.
It would not be surprising were there entire galaxies exactly like [insert favorite science fiction movie series here], but due the vast enormous scale of the universe, finding such places in all of the entirety of the universe is exceedingly improbable regardless any science fiction technology you may wish to dream up to facilitate such a search.

Earth is not some galactic civilization which would be far easier to find.
Earth is not even a speck of a fraction of a speck lost in an ocean of spots that are swarming with specks.

The universe may very well be absolutely teeming with life, but, due the scale, probabilities for any one technologically advanced civilization finding another during the periods of time that either civilization is active, are likely diminishingly small.



Not only is there Space and Time to deal with, but, also Time-Scales.


edit on 7-9-2012 by Druscilla because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 06:00 PM
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I don't know why humans think that our science is sufficient for extrapolating the entire universe.

In all reality, you or I probably don't really have much more an idea on what's going on than the keyboard we're typing on.

In math any number over infinity is considered 0. So, even if I were to have a knowledge of a thousand trillion things, in the context of an infinite or near infinite universe this amounts to zero.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 06:02 PM
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Nice arguement. You could also consider the idea of cryostasis?



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 06:25 PM
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I'm reminded of some SETI idiot talking down to us in a video I saw. He claimed that ET couldn't get here because an engine with enough power to travel even NEAR light-speed would have to be as big as the Queen Mary.

First of all, perhaps that's true--if ET were using our technology. Which... I mean, why would they?

Secondly: So the **** what? Space is vast. Why would they care if it was big as a putative ship? Why would they care if it's as big as a planet? A sun? Bigger? I mean, so what?

Thirdly: That kind of blindness is inexcusable in a "scientist." Who's to say that you have to travel faster than light? Even WE, as technology backward as we are, are already dealing with quantum entanglement; and have already gotten up to (what was it?) 89 miles? Where will we be in a hundred years? A thousand?

And as to the argument of how incredibly vast the universe is: That's also irrelevant. Who are we to say even ET finding each other can't be done? I assume they have done so somehow. I assume they've even set up trade routes. And for all we know, Earth could have ended up smack in the middle of one of the trade routes, and they're whizzing past here every minute of the day. Why wouldn't they stop in....?
edit on 9/7/2012 by Ex_CT2 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 06:38 PM
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reply to post by thedoctorswife
 


Originally posted by thedoctorswife

.......why are our laws of physics considered definitive?
This is something that I have wondered for awhile also. We don't even positively know that the Laws of Physics which we believe to be true, are consistent within our entire Solar System.

Those 'Laws' within another Solar System, another Galaxy, another Universe, etc.. etc..... could be completely different from ours. Those differences could even possibly be unimaginable to us.


I don't actually know much about Quantum Physics, but I'm pretty sure that some of the Laws of Quantum Physics completely disagree with Newtons Laws. That in itself should be enough to make it at least plausible, that our laws may not hold true within all other areas of this vast Universe.




All I really know is that it is highly likely that I will never know.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 07:07 PM
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Originally posted by BrokenCircles
reply to post by thedoctorswife
 


Originally posted by thedoctorswife

.......why are our laws of physics considered definitive?
This is something that I have wondered for awhile also. We don't even positively know that the Laws of Physics which we believe to be true, are consistent within our entire Solar System.

Those 'Laws' within another Solar System, another Galaxy, another Universe, etc.. etc..... could be completely different from ours. Those differences could even possibly be unimaginable to us.


I don't actually know much about Quantum Physics, but I'm pretty sure that some of the Laws of Quantum Physics completely disagree with Newtons Laws. That in itself should be enough to make it at least plausible, that our laws may not hold true within all other areas of this vast Universe.




All I really know is that it is highly likely that I will never know.







If we assume that life (like everything else in the universe) is reasonably common, and we take a sample of, say, 100 million intelligent civilizations of widely varying levels of advancement, and then we choose one of those civilizations at random, what might be the likelihood of that particular civilization's overall understanding of the universe being accurate and complete?

Just something to think about.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 07:09 PM
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reply to post by Druscilla
 

i just want to say, (because i think you deserve it), i used to not like you very much for the way you d stomp around threads wearing your ultra skeptic hat. but aside from that , ive come to realise that you are one clever girl, your knowledge of ats type topics is second to none,, you really know your stuff. So for the time being im not gonna dislike you anymore (well for the time being at least).


May i ask, how old are you? because your heads on wise shoulder.
Please stay new Drusilla not old drusilla



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 07:21 PM
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Originally posted by PatrickGarrow17
I don't know why humans think that our science is sufficient for extrapolating the entire universe.


We don't. Only those who have a poor understanding of science believe scientists think that. If any scientist thought science as it stands was sufficient enough to explain the entire universe, there wouldn't be any scientists. Science would, in effect, stop.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 07:28 PM
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We are just now taking an upright position and we have the brass to say that interstellar travel cannot be done. Now how many times in our history (mankind's total) have we busted barriers that just could not be done.

I believe that everything that we have dreamed in the past we have pretty much accomplished which in turn causes new dreams to be envisioned for us to strive for. It is the ultimate in hubris and vanity to say things cannot be done in this Universe IMHO.

I mean, we are just now getting to the interesting stuff with quantum mechanics and just recently discovered a large array of sub atomic particles which just mere decades ago weren't even thought to exist. Just 500 years ago we had no clue of microscopic viruses. 100 years ago we thought the Milky Way WAS the Universe. What will we "know" in 100 more years? 500?

People are still scrambling with mathematics and trying to unify the macro with the micro in both extremes and developing a unifying equation for it all. Hell, we haven't even fully explored the first baby step into E=MC2 yet which does leave the door wide open for time travel as well as folding space and wormholes and possibly things we haven't even thought of yet and here we are closing doors even before we can open them?

Pfft...

If we don't destroy ourselves or we aren't wiped out there will come a day when we will be able to fling ourselves anywhere (and possibly anywhen) without the need for static travel methods. We just need to understand the Universe much better than we currently do.



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 07:30 PM
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Originally posted by OpenEars123
What gets me is that people will say it is impossible going by 'our' laws of physics.


There is no such thing as "our's" or "their's" when it comes to science. It is universal. What we find to be true others will find to be true as well.


Originally posted by OpenEars123
What makes our physics so perfect and final?


Who said our understanding of physics is perfect and final?

Please, do not say "scientists." Give us a direct quote.

I'll save you the trouble. You will not find a single, credible source saying our understanding is perfect and final. Only what we understand to be true, to the best of our knowledge. And the best of our knowledge is constantly being refined, constantly improving.

Not one scientist, despite the straw-man claims of the UFO believers, says our understand is perfect and final.


Originally posted by OpenEars123
We are an under evolved race, therefore our laws of physics are under evolved...


How would you know? Do you have evidence to support a revision of our understanding of physics?



posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 07:37 PM
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There are many possible ways of faster than light propulsion.

We do not have access at the moment because of our level of technology. We only learnt to fly just over 100 years ago.

Even today we have theories on FTL. Warp drive, wormholes etc. These are not science fiction, they are mathematical fact.

If we survive, we will make it to the stars. And god help anyone we meet.




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