Profile: William Rothamel


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Personal background
Retired Electrical Engineer. BSEE from The Citadel, Master of Science in EE from Duke-ABD in Operations Research from University of Illinois. Age 70 married. Recently sent two kids through college. Teaching Mathematical Reasoning, Business Math Foundations, Quality, Physics, Algebra and Statistics at Nashville-area Universities during the past few years. Looking for a full time teaching position.

Interested in theoretical physics, particle physics, string theory, quantum mechanics, cosmology.

Hobbies include cooking, crosswords, automobiles and trying to get Comic Cartoons and fiction published.

Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home
If there is or were persistent, intelligent life in the Galaxy they would have visited earth by now. But only if there were sufficient way stations along the route. I would estimate that it should take on the order of 500,000-1,000,000 years (others have estimated 50,000,000 years --it dosen't matter) to populate the galaxy once a civilization became maybe 1000 years more advanced than we are now. The Milky Way Galaxy is perhaps only 100,000 light years in diameter. I believe the estimate of the age of the Universe is close to 14 Billion years ( at least ). Thus there would be time for colonization if a civilization refrained from destroying itself long enough to become technically sophisticated. We are probably 50,000 years removed from the cave-man level and arguably 5 to 6 million years removed from the apes from which we branched off on the evolutionary tree. So it appears that there would be adequate time for the development of super-intelligent life once a habitable planet produced a variety of fauna. So to echo Enrico Fermi. "where are they or where are the signs of these visitations?"

If a civilization became advanced early on, and were near the center of the Milky Way they could easily meet these time schedules for exploration of Earth. The stumbling block would be if great distances between the habitable planets were a fact. This state of affairs would require multi-generational trips to possibly unknown regions. I conclude, therefore, that habitable planets are spaced more than 10 and maybe as much as 100 or more light years apart. Or perhaps we are in such a place in the galaxy that does not have a "chain" of nearby habitable planets that extend back to an advanced civilization. 1000 year trips would be too daunting for us and our alien friends (assumes one tenth the speed of light travel speed). I suspect that in 1000 more years we would be willing to launch a 100 Year trip if we knew where to go. It wouldn't do us much good if the nearest planet of interest were 100 light years away. So even if there were a large sprinkling of civilizations in our Galaxy, could we detect them if they were 100 light years or so away? In fact there is of the order of maybe a few thousand stars within 100 light years from earth--this does not bode well for eavesdropping--we may well detect only a powerful beacon from distances greater than this.

For sure, the dinosaurs lived as long as 250,000,000 years ago. The Earth has been around for maybe 5 billion years and habitable for maybe a billion or so at some level. Perhaps we should look for signs of this visitation right here on earth. Or do we conclude that we are the most advanced form of life at least out to 100 light years or so. If we can rule out a visit here on Earth then this would tell us a lot about what we may expect to find doing SETI and what the spacing between habitable planets must be.

Of course we could also conclude that we are among the most advanced civilizations right now and not enough time has gone on for inter-stellar space travel to have become a scientific possibility.

I would like to see a prominently displayed explanation of what we are doing with this Seti @ Home. Details on the methods, signal processing, and premises etc. How far out have we looked, at which frequencies, and at what sectors of the sky. Also a tally of what planets we think that we have found and how far out they are.

It is a travesty that we are not broadcasting a beacon message continously out to promising directions in the sky. We are most likely the only ones out to maybe 1000 light years; so what are we worried about ?. A dialog is next to impossible, and the best we can hope for is knowing that someone else is out there. If all civilizations felt as we do then SETI is a waste of time. Any threat to Earth would come thousands of years in the future over many generations--by then they would have mastered their hostility or destroyed themselves.

Cosmic rays will be a serious problem to even explore Mars.

We should plan a new space station that looks like a rotating bicycle wheel so that artificial gravity could be provided. I am assuming that problems with vertigo could be overcome through training. The current tinker toy station is an abomination. We need a program for this space station as well as a permanent Moon base and then on to Mars if we can solve the Cosmic Ray problem.

lately I have become an agnostic about ever being able to find out if anyone is out there anywhere. I believe that there may be several dozen unique parameters that must take on narrow ranges in order for intelligent life such as exists on Earth to exist and evolve. I do not think that we will find what handful of such planets exists in the Galaxy since they would most likely be too far away to ever see or probe. At 100 light years there just aren't that many main sequence stars. At 1000 light years we probably couldn't detect spurious radiation. I await a more thorough list of requirements for life from exobiologists and a catalog of Habitable planets and how they match up to these requirements.

For now I would be thrilled to find fossils of plant life on Mars--perhaps buried or in caves.
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