Profile: Fr. E


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Personal background
50+ years old, retired hippie, educated as an engineer, now working to help educate the next generation (trying to overcome the efforts of the US "Education President"). I enjoy world travel, and the best reason to travel is to try what other folks eat (I Ching 27) -- it's a remarkably direct route to understanding another culture. I like science fiction, and anticipate living long enough to see much of today's fiction become fact.

I was an engineer long before I ever went to school, analyzing problems and insisting on evidence to justify the answer, much to the chagrin of my elders and teachers. I impose that same rigor on others; you can say anything you want to me, but you'll need to support it with evidence or an honest "I don't know". Don't bother me if you can't support your claims with a reasoned argument.

For discipline and exercise I train almost daily in Aikido and Kashima Shin-ryu sword.
Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home
It's highly unlikely that our planet is the only one with life. Even on this planet, living organisms have been discovered that certainly would not have been considered "life as we know it" just a few years ago. If life can exist and thrive in high temperatures and without oxygen on this planet, then why should we expect life elsewhere necessarily to fit our narrow definitions? Especially since our narrow definition of "Life As We Know It" has changed in just the recent few years!

Similar questions arise regarding the SETI search itself. Using radio-telescopes to search for signals in RF radiation is by definition very limiting. What if the other intelligence doesn't use electrical devices, and RF for communication?

Given that the predominant behavior of our own species is to attack, I am not sure we should go out of our way to advertise our presence -- other species may share our predilection! But since our technology is broadcasting our existence, it's too late to worry about it.

Consider this: pretend that we do not have TV, but do have AM radio-telescope capability. We wouldn't know about the horizontal and vertical scanning system, the sync convention, all that video stuff. Now we receive a radio signal from "Out There", which is a TV video signal in this format that we don't recognize. How likely is it that we would be able to figure out what that other civilization is transmitting? Could we determine if the transmission is meant for us, or just noise?
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