Re: Probality one for SETI contact?

Bryce Anderson (
Mon, 26 Jul 1999 14:13:38 -0400 (EDT)

--- Ron Blue <> wrote:
> If the average position on an advanced civilization
> is one thousand light
> years sending radio signals that we can detect, what
> would the mean and
> standard deviation in time for locating that source
> using the current
> > seti@home approach?
> Ron

I'm new here, so for me to attempt to answer the question may be a case
of the blind leading the blind. You're getting the "1000 light year"
average from a guessed solution of the Drake equation. But the
equation only tells us how many civilizations in the galaxy are capable
of communicating. In order to find out how many civilizations would be
visible to a given search, you would have to add a couple of new
factors (fraction of civilizations sending beacons, fraction of time
that active beacons are pointed at us).

Mankind has been what the Drake equation might call an "advanced
civilization" since the early part of this century. And in the last
100 years, we've only had a "beacon" going for about 20 seconds (and if
I remember right, it was pointed at a globular cluster, so we won't be
getting a response in the near future). Perhaps we're unusually quiet,
but I can't imagine that any civilization would be transmitting
contact-strength signals in all directions at once. It would be a
rather heavy investment to take on, with virtually no short-term chance
of a response.

I'm under the impression that waiting for a beacon is going to take a
lot of patience. I prefer the idea of targeted searches. Hopefully,
they can be sensitive enough to detect radio waves that bleed out
during normal use. But the argument over which technique is better
reminds me of a famous quote by a clueless CEO: "Why can't we just
focus our resources across the board?"

Of course, I could be wrong about any of this. . .

Bryce Anderson

In a thousand years, computers are going to look back and
wonder why they ever put up with us.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Sun Aug 01 1999 - 16:28:46 PDT