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Message 1462674 - Posted: 10 Jan 2014, 18:45:10 UTC

Wanted to post this in "Where's THIS seti's science?" but since that thread is locked I will post it here.
Not to imply that this whole project is pointless - on the contrary this project has all the potential to being "the" most important one given it ever succeeds - but as with the thread I am referring to IMHO that there is no "wow"-like signal every week or whenever is not the problem. That there are "potential" signal being found and then debunked as originating from earth, is not the problem either.
I think the problem is (and I am kinda kicking a dead horse, as I understand from the previous debate) that when a person visits the SETI homepage there is no link to click saying something to the tune of "best SETI potential signals so far".
No I am not speaking of some wishful list of every single alien suddenly being listed there as in a telephone catalogue, but even the EXISTANCE of such list - even if it would contain 0% real ET signals and 100% debunked\wrongly detected signals would make this whole project worth the effort.

Now I clicked the link for NTPCKR or whatever it is called. Why is it not working? Is not the very existance of this page the most important point of SETI? I am not a scientist or in any way related to science, but I would assume that page with links showing detailed analysis of the signal could and probably would be the basis of the work that scientists around the world would do and thus generate more interest in the project.
With that page being empty for all I know (and I am not an expert on computers either) I was for the last few years donating computing power not to SETI but maybe the NSA to crack some governmental encryption algorithm. Sorry but since NTPCKR is not working there is little conclusive results to show me otherwise. I am of course joking here but this is a valid point.
Not to sound offensive but I do want to offend - because myself and many people have donated a huge amount of computer time, money in hardware and electricity costs to run SETI. Myself I maybe have "donated" the equivalent of perhaps 2k$ so far, yes I am pulling that number out of thin air but its probably not so far off.
And unfortunately as long as the "average joe" like me is not presented with some even most basic list of signals found or NOT found (debunked) so far, this all seems very pointless. This should be a very simple thing, and I may be assuming this out of ignorance to what is actually requited to make such a list, but I consider my point as still very valid.

If the question is money - fine. Make a big donation button, specifically for that purpose, and I will be the first one to throw in at least 100$ for that specific purpose. If all the other people here have the money to build expensive rigs to run excvlusively BOINC (and not a gaming rig such as I have), then they too would probably be very enthusiastic about donating for a purpose that JUSTIFIES their effort in crunching data. Kickstart it if necessary.

And if any SETI staff reads this please explain why has this not been done yet, or ever for as long as I have been contributing to this project.

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Message 1462678 - Posted: 10 Jan 2014, 18:59:05 UTC
Last modified: 10 Jan 2014, 19:02:24 UTC

Right now the team's focus is to get the two new SERENDIP receivers up and running at the Green Bank facility and to replace the Arecibo one. Then we'll have a new and targeted source of data.

The problem with the NTPCKR is that it needs reprogramming as it doesn't effectively reject known RFI sources, as well as other issues, so isn't public-facing as there are too many erroneous results.

So, the next thing I've also been thinking of as a fundraiser is one to get NTPCKR completely up and running. The SAH team has taken on grad. students so perhaps raising funds to hire one for a sufficient duration to resolve the NTPCKR issues may be in order. And, someone's already indicated they'd contribute matching funds for it... bonus!

I'm completely in agreement that it's essential as there's no point in processing all these millions of work units if they just sit in a database and aren't analyzed thoroughly. I bet there are at least a hundred "WOW signals" in there to be found.
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Message 1462756 - Posted: 10 Jan 2014, 20:36:42 UTC - in response to Message 1462678.

Well that certainly sounds good. Like I said I'm in for NTPCKR and I bet a lot of people would donate as well.

Also a thing I did not mention - PR. SETI does not exactly have a lot of it, and that also counts for general public interest, donations etc.
This is a project where "no result" is a result, unless the extraordinary happens, and reporting just that is important IMHO. Even if there are 100 wow signals like you said, and none of them conclusive/debunked STILL that will generate interest.

Like at work even if the job is not done it is a good practice to inform superiors of the progress even if there is none - but at the very least pass the information on.

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Message 1462836 - Posted: 11 Jan 2014, 1:01:35 UTC - in response to Message 1462756.

Also a thing I did not mention - PR. SETI does not exactly have a lot of it, and that also counts for general public interest, donations etc.


Maybe starting a grass roots effort would help? Instead of expecting the project to be able to do everything, why not start it yourself?

This is a project where "no result" is a result, unless the extraordinary happens, and reporting just that is important IMHO. Even if there are 100 wow signals like you said, and none of them conclusive/debunked STILL that will generate interest.


I think in the long-run this would turn into a detrimental thing for the project. Imagine if SETI doesn't find the signal in another 100 years. How much interest would there be then? Most people will say, "we've been looking for over 100 years, it's a wasted effort!" It could just as easily be seen as a marketing gimmick that people will start to get sick of hearing.

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Message 1462850 - Posted: 11 Jan 2014, 1:35:09 UTC - in response to Message 1462836.
Last modified: 11 Jan 2014, 1:35:28 UTC

Imagine if SETI doesn't find the signal in another 100 years. How much interest would there be then? Most people will say, "we've been looking for over 100 years, it's a wasted effort!" It could just as easily be seen as a marketing gimmick that people will start to get sick of hearing.


Given the scale of the cosmos and the number of planets out there, a hundred years is in the realm of possibility to find something. So is a thousand. So is tomorrow... we have no idea right now. I think we'll always keep looking as enough of us will realize that the chance of finding something may be very small, but it's zero if we don't look, or listen.

It took 358 years of improvements in technique to crack Fermat's Last "Theorem" but mathematicians persevered... we need that level of patience.
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Message 1462851 - Posted: 11 Jan 2014, 1:38:58 UTC - in response to Message 1462850.
Last modified: 11 Jan 2014, 1:39:28 UTC

Imagine if SETI doesn't find the signal in another 100 years. How much interest would there be then? Most people will say, "we've been looking for over 100 years, it's a wasted effort!" It could just as easily be seen as a marketing gimmick that people will start to get sick of hearing.


Given the scale of the cosmos and the number of planets out there, a hundred years is in the realm of possibility to find something. So is a thousand. So is tomorrow... we have no idea right now. I think we'll always keep looking as enough of us will realize that the chance of finding something may be very small, but it's zero if we don't look, or listen.

It took 358 years of improvements in technique to crack Fermat's Last "Theorem" but mathematicians persevered... we need that level of patience.


Completely agree... but humans have very short-term memories. Most, if not all, cannot think on long term scales beyond a single generation.

If the goal is to get more people interested by advertising all the possible signals, it will either turn into a huge fiasco of false positives and therefore turn people off the project or it will become a serious lack of patience issue.

While I think the project will end up doing something as has been suggested, I tend to disagree that it is a requirement to give this information to gain interest.

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Message 1462875 - Posted: 11 Jan 2014, 3:20:20 UTC

About the grassroots idea and that I do myself - I have just a little knowledge using the command prompt so in that sense making anything happen I am useless as far as helping NTPCKR goes. What I tried to point out is that as soon as SETI has a list of signals it can alaways show that that "yes we are looking, here are the results so far".

At the very least showing results and releasing the signal analysis data will create a way for scientists or students to run projects that study the signals by actively displaying this constantly updated "food for thought". Secondly you have to look at SETI at a regular company - what are the quarterly results? Imagine if a company said "we do not have time or resources to publish our financial figures". They would be bankrupt in an instant. Here however bankruptcy is not a danger, but diminishing interest due to not showing any results on an easely accessible page - is definately demontivating to those who want to contribute, donate, or just are curious about SETI.

As for the 100 years and no signal... for all we know this could mean a millennium without signals, ET is not something that is easely disproven or proven, this is a gamle like any other, but the slight chance of success means too much to dismiss it even after a 1000 years.

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Message 1462881 - Posted: 11 Jan 2014, 3:41:31 UTC - in response to Message 1462875.

About the grassroots idea and that I do myself - I have just a little knowledge using the command prompt so in that sense making anything happen I am useless as far as helping NTPCKR goes. What I tried to point out is that as soon as SETI has a list of signals it can alaways show that that "yes we are looking, here are the results so far".


I didn't mean grass roots as in do the programming. I meant grass roots as in doing the PR for them.

Secondly you have to look at SETI at a regular company - what are the quarterly results? Imagine if a company said "we do not have time or resources to publish our financial figures". They would be bankrupt in an instant. Here however bankruptcy is not a danger, but diminishing interest due to not showing any results on an easely accessible page - is definately demontivating to those who want to contribute, donate, or just are curious about SETI.


I've always disagreed with locking at science as a business. Cleary science is academically motivated while businesses are profit motivated. The only time science will ever go bankrupt is when people stop being curious. Personally, I think the fact that SETI has lasted this long without government funding is a testament to the project's success, despite this lack of results claim. Certainly there must be more than just me that is not demotivated by this.

As for the 100 years and no signal... for all we know this could mean a millennium without signals, ET is not something that is easely disproven or proven, this is a gamle like any other, but the slight chance of success means too much to dismiss it even after a 1000 years.


Agreed. Not sure that constantly touting "almost" signals will help in a positive way in the long term.

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Message 1463177 - Posted: 11 Jan 2014, 17:29:15 UTC

It seems that the famous OSU 'wow signal' could probably be classified as an 'almost signal' It appears to have generated a great deal of interest in SETI, for quite a long time.

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Message 1463186 - Posted: 11 Jan 2014, 17:53:43 UTC - in response to Message 1463177.

I never heard of the infamous 'wow signal' until after I joined, and my continued interest in the project does not hinge on other "possible" wow signals. Certainly I can't be the only one who feels this way.

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Message 1463277 - Posted: 11 Jan 2014, 22:12:57 UTC - in response to Message 1463186.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wow!_Signal
Wow! signal

Read about it.
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Message 1463282 - Posted: 11 Jan 2014, 22:15:38 UTC - in response to Message 1463277.

Thanks Lynn, but I already know about it now, and have for over 8 years. What I as saying was that it wasn't the Wow! signal that attracted me to the project, nor is it part of any continued motivation on my part to look for a signal.

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Message 1463302 - Posted: 11 Jan 2014, 22:57:19 UTC - in response to Message 1463282.

Thanks Lynn, but I already know about it now, and have for over 8 years. What I as saying was that it wasn't the Wow! signal that attracted me to the project, nor is it part of any continued motivation on my part to look for a signal.


Welcome. Dr. Seth Sostak, was on TV, last night. He thinks we will get a signal, today, tomorrow, or in 100 years, or so. My gut feeling tells me we are alone.
That is what I think now. jmho
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Message 1463401 - Posted: 12 Jan 2014, 5:24:16 UTC

I knew about the WOW signal before I heard about this project. The fact that it has not been repeated nor has any other potential ET signal been detected does not influence my decision to continue to participate in this project for as long as I have a computer with an internet connection.

Also I do not believe that the failure to detect the evidence of alien civilizations constitutes proof that they are not out there. If they are there and know anything about us I believe the most likely cause of our failure to make a connection is due to the probability that they choose not to communicate with us, at least for now.
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Message 1463460 - Posted: 12 Jan 2014, 10:02:30 UTC

I think there are a number of reasons that we haven't found anything.

    1. There is nothing to find
    2. We are looking in the wrong place
    3. "They" are hiding their existence
    4. We are using the wrong methods

It could be down to any one or combination of the above. As I understand it, if another WOW signal is found it will firstly be confirmed by repeated tests by the discoverers. Then other scientific institutions around the world will be asked to confirm the findings. At this point it is likely that the NSA and other countries equivalents will become aware, and clamp down on any further discussion on it. They will know that if the existence of a verifiable intelligent signal is made public you could have mass panic, breakdown of law and order, and major religions collapsing. They would be unlikely to risk that. And for the same reason, no intelligent ET that has conquered space travel would come openly knocking on our door.

Is Seti therefore a waste of time? Of course it isn't! If we never look we will never find. Mans quest is to discover more about the universe that we live in, and I would rather believe in Vulcans than Klingons and Romulans. The biggest question will be, what will the worlds leaders do about it? Will they all agree to return the signal and attempt contact or not? What is much more likely and mundane is more WOW signals that cannot be repeated or verified.

It is likely as Bob says that "they" are out there, but also likely that they will be so far away as to make contact virtually impossible. Unless of course there is a method of transmitting information over vast distances of space that our technical knowledge is not yet aware of. At present we are limited to the speed of light for anything, once we get beyond that barrier, and I believe we will one day, then we will really see!

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Message 1463664 - Posted: 12 Jan 2014, 19:26:34 UTC

I am kinda suspecting we are using the wrong methods to search AND to tramsit with Active SETI.
If you go to the wikipedia page listing active SETI signals you will quickly see that the time it takes to cover the vastness of space and reach "well within range" planets, constellations, clusters etc is anywhere from half a century to many thousands of years and even that is at the speed of light.

We know it takes ridiculously long time to send even within our own galaxy given that it is about 120 thousand light years in size. What kind of "messaging" within this timeframe can take place, if any, is rather questionable. I am not saying it's pointless because we do not have anything else but the simple reason why we have not found something so far is that any civilization that actually has the capability to communicate across such long distances is probably not going to do it with the speed of a snail. If it takes such a long time just for the message to arrive let alone be detected and ananlysed (or replied to) then whatever ET there may have been is probably not there or is at the very different ET that send the message to begin with given that thousands of years are time enough for anything from extinction to evolution.

I am afraid that even without considering IF we some day detect something that way, it will be a one-way thing excluding any reasonable means to communicate. This will of course solve the question if we are alone but that's about it.

We may just be awayting the magic message to arrive by pidgeon mail, horse&carriage while we should be looking at much more advanced alternatives.

Luckely we have at least in theory quantum communication that may be much faster, and if so that would probably be "it" when it comes to interstellar communication, or something else we don't know of yet.

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Message 1463685 - Posted: 12 Jan 2014, 20:21:47 UTC

On the other hand, if ET is looking for us or anyone else to contact, they will use the simplest most common means of transmitting messages. And like in the movie Contact the message will most likely start with a simple straight forward unmistakable message such as the first ten prime numbers.

But if we are trying to intercept advanced private communications we are probably doomed to failure, since I can't, for the life of me, picture a scenario where such a message would cross earth's path.
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Message 1463748 - Posted: 13 Jan 2014, 0:07:53 UTC

"crossing earth's path" means a directed energy message like using radio waves. If so, yes, that is unlikely because of its speed and various other factors. Quantum communication however IS possible to intercept and our interception of it would be detectable.

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Message 1463843 - Posted: 13 Jan 2014, 6:10:06 UTC

A simple question - what form of modulation would an alien us to send its set of prime numbers? There are just so many to choose from. Its far simpler to detect the carrier than decode the message....
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Message 1463893 - Posted: 13 Jan 2014, 11:09:16 UTC

In terms of results as in the thread title, it was always understood that once enough data had been gathered, the intention was to do a second sift of likely candidates using Nitpicker, and send those out to be crunched again. Nitpicker machines have been acquired in the past but have had to be allocated to other work to keep the project running. At present Muarae2 is disabled, and there is still work to be done on the algorithms.

But also if this second sift then produces candidates for further investigation, how will that be done? We don't have our own radio telescope, we piggyback onto the data from wherever Arecibo is pointing at the time. Would they allow us to say where it should specifically point for a second look? Or would any other scope in the world do so? We withdrew from the Allen Array in 2012.

Some things are constant throughout the universe as in draw a circle and the ratio of the circumference to the diameter is Pi, and the area is Pi r^2. We don't know if other civilisations use prime numbers they may not do. We are looking for signals that people like us might send, ET may not be like us. If there is effective communication in the universe, then given the vast distances involved it will be of a technology that we don't yet know about.

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