If a real signal is found...


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Profile Yanivicious
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Message 1239643 - Posted: 1 Jun 2012, 20:42:27 UTC

I've been thinking about it, and given the track record of the US Military with regards to the ET subject, how are we to know that if a signal really is found, the government isn't just going to swoop in and silence our results, basically making all of our time, money, and effort spent on this project in vain? I don't believe for 1 second that the US government wouldn't try to keep this sort of thing quiet, if one of us really did find something.. Kind of upsetting. Do we have any sort of "double proofing" or some way of making sure it goes mainstream in so that our results aren't dumped into the X-Files, and some of us crunchers and the staff at SETI aren't forced to sign a non disclosure document? I really think it is a valid question. To be honest, I think the answer we are searching for has already been answered, but is kept secret by the gov. I'm a part of this project because I think everybody deserves to know about it.
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Message 1239660 - Posted: 1 Jun 2012, 21:09:06 UTC
Last modified: 1 Jun 2012, 21:10:07 UTC

This discussion has been brought up by me and (many) others.

Basically what happens on our end, is a signal needs to be verified in the same part of the sky more than once, at which point the results will be passed out to the scientific community for scrutiny. If it's then verified to be a real life ETI signal, then credit is given to the people who's machines crunched the "winning" unit.

I also have the stance that I think the government has a lot to gain by hiding such an event from the public.. But the consensus here is that the internet and scientific community will know so much about the event, that it wouldn't be possible for any government to step on (hide) the news.
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Profile Gary Charpentier
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Message 1239693 - Posted: 1 Jun 2012, 21:50:36 UTC

Do I love conspiracy plots.

The government will find out the same time the scientific community finds out. A "telegram" (e-mail) will be sent out via the proper channels from the proper authority. That will have a distribution of thousands. It will alert others to please verify a signal at such and such coordinates. By the time the government finds out, it will be too late to cover it up. Shortly thereafter Eric will be in a tux visiting Oslo with a couple of lucky crunchers in the audience.

The complete procedure that will be followed is written up and on this website if you want to dig into the links from the home page.

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Message 1239727 - Posted: 1 Jun 2012, 23:27:32 UTC - in response to Message 1239643.

Conspiracies fall apart quickly. Most people simply cannot keep secrets and so the more people involved in any cover up means the more chance of the secret leaking out. Remember also there would be more than one government involved as there are people all over the world involved in the program.

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Message 1239773 - Posted: 2 Jun 2012, 1:29:48 UTC - in response to Message 1239693.

Gary, best case scenario and most likely.
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Message 1239873 - Posted: 2 Jun 2012, 3:24:55 UTC - in response to Message 1239773.

Thanks for the great responses guys! That about answers my concern... They can't stop me from continuing my search :)
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Message 1240021 - Posted: 2 Jun 2012, 6:31:22 UTC

Also, if a real signal is found and it is not directed at us in particular there won't be a lot anybody including governments can do about it. There will be years of analysis and then more years of debate over what, if anything we should do about it. But at least we will know, at least those of us who choose to believe.

If such a message is directed at us specifically all we will really be able to do is wait and pray.
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Message 1240189 - Posted: 2 Jun 2012, 15:58:13 UTC

That's a good point bob. Even if a signal was verified to be intelligent and extra-terrestrial, we would still have nay-sayers and skeptics. Perhaps more so than already. :-D


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Message 1240194 - Posted: 2 Jun 2012, 16:12:44 UTC - in response to Message 1240021.

Also, if a real signal is found and it is not directed at us in particular there won't be a lot anybody including governments can do about it. There will be years of analysis and then more years of debate over what, if anything we should do about it. But at least we will know, at least those of us who choose to believe.

If such a message is directed at us specifically all we will really be able to do is wait and pray.

Bob, I'm not sure if there would need to be any debate regarding what to do
about this signal if discovered. Other than to continually analyse it to glean
as much information regarding it's contents and source. Hopefully the signal
found will not be a one-off incident but a continual transmission of signals
sent over a fairly long period of time. There's not much we could actually do
in response to this signal purely due to time lapses but the scientific
census I suspect would be to plan to send some form of expeditionary probe out
towards the signals source. Naturally we would return a signal back to the
source to acknowledge receipt stating also that we are planning to send
a probe out their way.



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Message 1240478 - Posted: 3 Jun 2012, 1:19:00 UTC - in response to Message 1240194.

I think i'm going to watch "Contact" again tonight ;-)

Very proud to be part of the Carl Sagan team here on S@H.

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Message 1240493 - Posted: 3 Jun 2012, 2:17:49 UTC

"Why build one, when you can build two for twice the price?"
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Message 1240581 - Posted: 3 Jun 2012, 8:28:33 UTC - in response to Message 1240194.

Also, if a real signal is found and it is not directed at us in particular there won't be a lot anybody including governments can do about it. There will be years of analysis and then more years of debate over what, if anything we should do about it. But at least we will know, at least those of us who choose to believe.

If such a message is directed at us specifically all we will really be able to do is wait and pray.

Bob, I'm not sure if there would need to be any debate regarding what to do
about this signal if discovered. Other than to continually analyse it to glean
as much information regarding it's contents and source. Hopefully the signal
found will not be a one-off incident but a continual transmission of signals
sent over a fairly long period of time. There's not much we could actually do
in response to this signal purely due to time lapses but the scientific
census I suspect would be to plan to send some form of expeditionary probe out
towards the signals source. Naturally we would return a signal back to the
source to acknowledge receipt stating also that we are planning to send
a probe out their way.



I can see where there would be a great deal of debate if it is established that the signal is NOT directed at earth in particular or us specifically. First there would be the period of time wherein the content of the signal would have to be decoded followed by possible conflicting interpretation of it's meaning. Then those in charge would have to decide whether it would be in our (the earth's) best interest to make our pressence known. That alone could take decades. Then there would be the period of time during which the content of our but-in transmission would be composed or our decision to stay in hiding. Yup, there are a lot of issues that will have to be weighed before doing anything.
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Message 1240593 - Posted: 3 Jun 2012, 9:58:08 UTC

If a signal arrives, we should first decode it, not an easy task without a Rosetta Stone. For example, Crete's Linear A has not yet been decoded, while Linear B has been decoded using some hieroglyph which referred to Crete, which had trade relationships with Egypt.
Tullio
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Message 1240644 - Posted: 3 Jun 2012, 14:18:39 UTC - in response to Message 1240593.

If a signal arrives, we should first decode it, not an easy task without a Rosetta Stone. For example, Crete's Linear A has not yet been decoded, while Linear B has been decoded using some hieroglyph which referred to Crete, which had trade relationships with Egypt.
Tullio

You are assuming the signal carries information. It may only be a beacon.

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Message 1240649 - Posted: 3 Jun 2012, 14:32:32 UTC - in response to Message 1240644.
Last modified: 3 Jun 2012, 14:43:47 UTC


You are assuming the signal carries information. It may only be a beacon.

Pulsars are emitting beacons, but they do not imply any intelligence. I am making the hypothesis that any message coming from an intelligent source would contain some information.
Tullio
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Message 1240656 - Posted: 3 Jun 2012, 15:28:52 UTC - in response to Message 1240581.

I can see where there would be a great deal of debate if it is established that the signal is NOT directed at earth in particular or us specifically. First there would be the period of time wherein the content of the signal would have to be decoded followed by possible conflicting interpretation of it's meaning. Then those in charge would have to decide whether it would be in our (the earth's) best interest to make our pressence known. That alone could take decades. Then there would be the period of time during which the content of our but-in transmission would be composed or our decision to stay in hiding. Yup, there are a lot of issues that will have to be weighed before doing anything.

We sent a probe out into space many years ago telling the universe where we are
plus some basic details about us. So staying in hiding would not make
much sense here, would it. Any alien signal picked up here on Earth, due
to the great time plus distance this signal has traveled, must, I say, be a
signal wholly sent for the purpose of informing the recipient that another
intelligent life form exists, "Hey guys, if you get this then you know your
not on your own in this universe". Decoding this signal would be fairly easy
as alien logic is going to be the same as ours. Most probably we would be able
to establish, from this signals decoded contents, where the signal originated
from and how far away they are from us. To this end being afraid of the
consequences arising from the aliens receiving a signal back from us will
have little impact upon end results. If their one hundred light years away from
us then it will take another hundred light years for them to receive our signal
back. The feed back system here takes far to long for any aliens to be able
to formulate a worthwhile plan of, "Lets raid this planet Earth". Lets face
it, as technology advances so natural resources decline in line. If there are
aliens out there looking for a planet capable of replenishing their lost
natural resources then common sense will tell them, "Find an uninhabited
planet for a inhabited one will most probably have already used up most of
theirs".
What would be of most interest is if the received signal was anything other
than a friendly, hello we are here, message. Here possibly this signal had
all the makings of being a communication meant for another "body" and
not for us but we just managed to intercept it along it's course. Here again
this would be most unlikely due to the very slow and totally impractical
use of radio waves over extremely long distances.


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belong to a formal team so "fly their own kites" - as the saying goes.

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Message 1240678 - Posted: 3 Jun 2012, 16:36:54 UTC - in response to Message 1240649.


You are assuming the signal carries information. It may only be a beacon.

Pulsars are emitting beacons, but they do not imply any intelligence. I am making the hypothesis that any message coming from an intelligent source would contain some information.
Tullio

But if it's nothing more than encrypted packets, for example, it essentially won't really contain "information", instead it could just be some totally useless-to-us data.
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Message 1240694 - Posted: 3 Jun 2012, 17:07:52 UTC - in response to Message 1240678.


But if it's nothing more than encrypted packets, for example, it essentially won't really contain "information", instead it could just be some totally useless-to-us data.

I think that a message may contain information even if we are unable to understand it. If I see a Chinese ideogram, I am unable to capture its meaning but it certainly contains information. If we ever receive a message a scholar of ancient languages might be the person better trained to try to decode it. But this also might be impossible, there is no reason to suppose that an alien would use an alphabet or an ideogram.
Tullio
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Message 1240706 - Posted: 3 Jun 2012, 17:25:40 UTC - in response to Message 1240649.


You are assuming the signal carries information. It may only be a beacon.

Pulsars are emitting beacons, but they do not imply any intelligence. I am making the hypothesis that any message coming from an intelligent source would contain some information.
Tullio

I suspect the most likely thing for us to find is someone's radar. Radar does not carry information. It is however a narrow band signal unlike most everything in nature. It doesn't have to pulse with clockwork precision, but it likely will.
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Message 1240720 - Posted: 3 Jun 2012, 17:39:19 UTC - in response to Message 1239693.

Ah found the write up:
http://seticlassic.ssl.berkeley.edu/about_seti/about_seti_at_home_5.html

If a signal is observed two or more times, and it's not RFI or a test signal, the SETI@home team will ask another group to take a look. This other group will be using different telescopes, receivers, computers, etc. This will hopefully rule out a bug in our equipment or our computer code (or a clever student playing a prank...) Together with the other team, SETI@home will do interferometry measurements (it takes two observations seperated by a big distance) This can confirm that the source of the signal is at interstellar distances.

If this is confirmed, SETI@home will make an announcement in the form of an IAU (International Astronomical Union) telegram. This is a standard way of informing the astronomical community of important discoveries. The telegram contains all of the important information (frequencies, bandwidth, location in the sky, etc.) that would be necessary for other astronomical groups to confirm the observation. The person(s) who found the signal with their screen saver would be named as one of the co-discoverers along with the others on the SETI@home team. At this point we would still be unsure if the signal was generated by an intelligent civilization or maybe some new astronomical phenomenon.

All information about the discovery will be made public, probably via the web. No country or individual would be allowed to jam the frequency the signal is observed on. Since the object will rise and set as seen from any given location, observations from radio observatories around the world will be necessary. This will, by necessity, be a multi-national effort. All this information will be made public.

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