archive: Re: SETI The assumption

Re: SETI The assumption

Ed T. Toton III ( (no email) )
Fri, 14 May 1999 12:44:14 -0400 (EDT)

On Fri, 14 May 1999, Jas wrote:

> Being new to this discussion, I will undoubedly raise questions that have
> already been discussed.
> I will certainly use the screen saver, given the choice between flying windows,
> etc.
> The premise of SETI is that any civilization will eventually discover, use and
> emit high frequency signals into the universe. What if this (fact) is merely a
> temporary phase for a century or two, followed by discovery of something much
> better? After all, space exploration will require something much faster than
> the speed of light to travel and communicate.
> The search could be for something so rare that discovery is nearly impossible.

In a way this has already been acknowledged. You're absolutely right,
that there is no way of knowing for just how long a given civilization may
use such methods of communication. In the Drake equation, there is a
factor for average lifetime of a technological civilization. It's best to
look at this as lifetime of the use of the technology, rather than of the
civilization itself. If a species uses radio for 200 years before moving
onto something better, than the window of opportunity for detection using
our current methods is very small. But even taking this into account, you
can still get some promising numbers via the Drake equation, IMHO..
(promising in that there may be much to find, though not necessarily
within our lifetime).

Bones, Ed T. Toton III, System Programmer -- UUNET Server Operations
"I have not lost my mind! It's backed up on disk somewhere."