How To Commit Planetary Suicide
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2018-11-08 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Stupidity , 173 references Ignore this thread
How To Commit Planetary Suicide
[Comments enabled]

There is dumb.

There is really dumb.

Then there is planetary suicide dumb.

Those proposing the latter need to be taken out and shot should it ever be demonstrated that they're serious, as the alternative to doing so is the literal end of our species on this planet.

Scientists want to build a laser that could guide an extraterrestrial civilization and bring them to Earth.

A new research paper from an MIT graduate student suggests that humanity could theoretically build an infrared laser that could be both hot and bright enough to attract the attention of intelligent civilizations, if it was aimed at nearby exoplanets. James Clark, the study's lead author, believes it would "certainly attract attention."

We have the technology to detect and reasonably determine that a planet orbiting around another sun is in the "habitable zone" and we're getting closer to being able to narrow the probability to a very high degree that said planet has water on it.  Those two things together make a planet capable, in theory, of supporting life.

The problem is that it's theory.  It won't tell you, for example, if the atmosphere is full of poison gases, which under low concentrations (likely invisible to said distance-based imaging techniques) will kill anything that tries to live there.  It also is likely incapable of telling you whether said planet has a rotating, molten, magnetic core, which is necessary to produce the radiation shield that not only keeps our atmosphere from being stripped off over time by solar wind it also provides the necessary radiation shield so anything living there is not killed.

This probability stack inhibits random "check it out" sort of trips; if the odds of a "habitable zone" planet being actually able to support life is 1 in 10 or even 1 in 1,000 your odds suck and the cost of the expedition is very real.  Taking a 1-in-1,000 shot is utterly insane until and unless your ability to do so, and the incremental cost, starts to approach Star Trek type technology.

There is another gating factor and that is FTL travel, or at least, what appears from our frame of reference to be so.  Actual travel faster than light has never been demonstrated and the laws of physics say you can't.  But what you can do, if you have enough energy, is cheat.

The nightmare scenario is that we build such a beacon, it is actually noticed and the "things" that notice it have mastered the energy production and control necessary to cheat on FTL travel.

That is, they're not 10,000 years away from us (at best) as first appears they're just a few years away -- or less!

Having determined that our planet is not only in the habitable zone it fits all the other requirements too -- because we're living on it -- they decide to "pay us a visit."

That visit may not be peaceful and if it isn't we're all dead.

Every last one of us.

We have a zero probability of being able to stop any such invading force.  Any society that has managed to resolve the energy problem required to cheat the FTL barrier can trivially wipe out any society that has not similarly managed to solve the same problem.  This is not conjecture or science fiction it is fact.

We would be literally betting the life of everyone on the planet to put up such a beacon.

No, no, no and anyone who seriously tries to build such a thing before we manage to solve that energy problem ourselves must not be allowed to do so -- and it does not matter what has to be done to stop them from doing so, up to and including eating them.

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Sancho
Posts: 38
Incept: 2013-12-06

Way, way south of Rio Grande
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But... but...
If they reached that level of technology they must be peaceful. They are the civilization of peace. They will teach us love.
You are just an Alienphobe.
/sarc

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Face a bear robbed of her cubs,
but never a fool in his folly!
Proverbs 17:12
Mminlamesa
Posts: 4
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w texas
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And these jackwads are supposed to be intelligent? Lordie.

Years ago in a sci-fi book, an auction was held for a Pioneer spacecraft we launched which gave directions to earth. The winning bid came here and decimated civilization.

Think it can't happen?

Let's just stay on the down low for a while-we've got plenty of problems here without crap like this bringing the roof down on our heads
Elsrog
Posts: 30
Incept: 2012-07-11

New Jersey
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I agree with everything except the eating part. I suggest we feed them and any politicians and media involved to pigs . then eat the tasty pigs not the nasty humans. Has anyone read Scott Sigler Infected ,Contagious and Pandemic ? visitors from other planets may not be friendly..
Vernonb
Posts: 2261
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East of Sheol
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I always amazed at the wild eyed scientist having come from their sheltered lives that think all is well and nothing can or will harm them/us. The universe is a dangerous place.

It's bad enough when the dangers are natural but unintelligent. At least in a case like that it becomes a random crap shoot if you are next for dinner - wrong place at the wrong time.

Then we have the case of the civilization drawing attention to itself. Something unintelligent would never respond unless it is something like a gravity beam that captured some random object.

Intelligence life can take many forms also. At best they'd likely choose to ignore us. The worst case they may decide to serve us for dinner. Too many people believe that highly intelligent life must somehow be friendly, or loving, or compassionate. What if what responds is some type of machine or possible space microbe also? It will not be truly intelligent and is simply a slave to its programmers. Who knows what will happen. It might be a planet cracker looking for a special signature.

No one on the planet has the right to make that decision for all of mankind.

If anything the longest lived civilizations also tended to have a warring nature on this planet. Better ask how these "space saviors" got to be the top dogs also. It didn't happen by random chance.

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"Mass intelligence does not mean intelligent masses."
Radiosity
Posts: 147
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Sunny UK
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It's like people look at humanity and DON'T immediately think 'wait, what if other races out there are just as nasty as us?' before they propose these hare-brained ideas.

Before we start looking out there, we should probably fix the million and one issues HERE first. Sure, a planetary invasion type scenario might be enough to bring us together as a species... but for how long? The approximately 30 seconds it'd take for a fleet to orbitally bomb us off the face of the planet using something like mass drivers? No, thanks.
Quik49
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Oh come on KD....Will Smith has our back....


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Long Vaseline....

Onelegged
Posts: 467
Incept: 2009-11-13

NW Colorado
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On the upside; invasion by a hostile alien race would make us forget all about our health care issues and the deficit in short order! ")

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Tripseven
Posts: 89
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Even if they don't wipe out our civilization by attack, it is likely they would want our resources.

Best to leave it alone and assume WE are the unintelligent beings in the universe.

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Please God, take it all away...we don't deserve what we have!
Tickerguy
Posts: 154887
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A True American Patriot!
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Well, maybe. There's a basic assumption that they're interested enough to come all that way. But there is a potential problem in that if they have a dying planet (maybe by their own actions) and know the odds of a habitable-zone rock ACTUALLY being inhabitable that their motivation may not just be hostile but in fact survival-driven, in which case we're REALLY ****ed.

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Winding it down.
Ckaminski
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Yeah, Macs don't have useful ports for interfacing with alien craft anymore, so Steve Jobs won't be able to save us from the invasion.
Jacksparrow
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4116 Libby Rd NE, Olympia WA 98506
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Dr. Brandenburg's analysis of the mars rover data confirms that it was nuked to oblivion in the distant past. That said, we have some bad apples in our part of the cosmos already.
Tickerguy
Posts: 154887
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@Jacksparrow -- Oh bull****.

Mars lacks a rotating, molten core. It is not inhabitable for that reason more than anything else.

Learn something about how this stuff all works.

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Winding it down.
Ckaminski
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Quote:
it is likely they would want our resources.


seriously? What do have that can't be more easily gotten from space itself, other than life. Iron, lithium, water - all plentiful in space.

Quote:
if they have a dying planet


I've long been a proponent of the "once you've gotten off earth, stay off" simply due to the energy costs. A civilization that has Star Trekium technology? You have everything you meed to build space megastructures, grow food industrially, etc. especially if you're looking at travel times approaches years per parsec and not days.


Do I think there's a chance of this outcome? Not really. A civilization of this type looking for resources and the capabilities to execute would already be here. They'd send seed ships to every star in the galaxy with planets and the first one to find something promising would signal the rest.

Do I think this is a smart idea? No. Because there's a chance I'm wrong.
Mangymutt
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Vancouver WA
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The ability to think and reason is why we are the dominate species on this planet. Along the way our ancestors saw that under the right conditions seeds grow and that they could control those conditions. No more need to be constantly following the crops. Life is good. Until another band of people decide they want the other groups food.

Farming led to and will continue to lead to some wonderful technological advances, but war to take from others has lead to even more meaningful technological advances. Without war, we would not have needed to defend ourselves and our technological advances would have been stunted.

And at least here on our little planet, every time a more technicality advanced society sees the lessor advanced society, they have taken their stuff, until the lessor advanced comes up with the technology to properly defend themselves or they get wiped out, either by total destruction n or assimilation.

Sure there are always peaceful people in every society that want to "help" others, but at the end of the day it has always been the war like people who win the day.

So what on earth makes these scientists think that any society that has been able to achieve the level of technology for even interstellar did not get there by learning to conquer the others on their planet first.


Rolldog
Posts: 1
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NE
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This exercise falls into the "We may have the power to do so, but should we use that power" category. Hoping that someone considers ALL possible outcomes before doing something like this.
Radiosity
Posts: 147
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Sunny UK
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"Mars lacks a rotating, molten core."

Even leaving aside the issue of the magnetosphere, the other variables for life to exist are so insane that even in a galaxy of a billion+ stars like ours, the likelihood is astronomically low.

Would an alien race have had the same precursor species as we did, leading them to a source of abundant energy similar to oil? Maybe an energy dense crystal or something, I guess, but if not... how would they advance to an industrial era like we did, and beyond?

Would they even NEED that? Maybe they have some form of bio-energy (Starship Trooper style bugs for example). Would they be capable of 'warp' or similar FTL travel? Or would they build massive hiveships and stop off at any convenient planet over entire centuries to stock up?

Fun stuff to think about, especially factoring in the Fermi Question, but I'd rather not find out on a personal level :)
Thelazer
Posts: 194
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Davenport, Fl
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Maybe we could spend the money on, oh I dunno (insert lost cause here) first.
I mean, if were going to just******it away on wild ideas.

Dr Evil would be proud!
Ingar
Posts: 18
Incept: 2017-02-14

Mobile,AL
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Karl, I don't think we need to worry about funding for such a laser as the grad student described. In a few years all of our government budget will be spent on social welfare programs; any left over for research and technology will be devoted to solving sleep apnea problems arising during siestas or prevention of sports injuries from moon walking (the Michael Jackson sort). India and China don't want any extraterrestrial life forms competing with the fecundity of their native populations, and Sharia law will prevent the EU from funding said laser research. No hay problema.
Tripseven
Posts: 89
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Speaking of mars...I especially enjoyed watching all the numb skulls sign up to spend the rest of their lives there. I would certainly consider agreeing to help fund that!

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Please God, take it all away...we don't deserve what we have!
Darquefybre
Posts: 13
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Ventura, CA
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Meh. Anybody that advanced has already found us and is sitting back laughing while helping us destroy ourselves. /tinfoilhat -off

On the planetary risk scale, I would be more concerned with the imminent magnetic pole flip and field reduction.
Tickerguy
Posts: 154887
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CK: Of course the odds favor you being right.

The problem is that if you're wrong....

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Winding it down.
Tripseven
Posts: 89
Incept: 2012-04-26

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Ckaminski...certainly all elements found on earth are plentiful elsewhere. It's the unknown that I'm considering. We continue to find new-to-us-microbes often without any knowledge that they exist elsewhere. Fun to think about though.

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Please God, take it all away...we don't deserve what we have!
Ckaminski
Posts: 4962
Incept: 2011-04-08

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Quote:
The problem is that if you're wrong...


No worse than living under MAD with 4000+ warheads 15m away from megadoom. One ****up and we're all doomed anyway.

At least if the aliens come we'll finally KNOW we're not alone in the universe. And the likely survival rate is probably the same. Some humans will probably survive as breeding stock for food and/or zoos/pets.

:-)
K555
Posts: 1
Incept: 2018-11-08

Colorado
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Greg Bears books The Forge of God and Anvil of Stars deal with this topic. Basically, the universe is a dangerous place and all intelligent life hides itself and its radio and other emissions to reduce the chances of being discovered and destroyed. Obviously, we are stupidly blasting ours into the cosmos.

As a result, Earth is discovered by Von Neumann machines (self replicating) and easily destroyed.

The universe is divided into two factions. One group enforces the death penalty for any civilization/race that makes self replicating machines. Regardless of how many thousands or millions of years might have passed, regardless of whether the alien race even remembers having done so or if it was accidental, they are to be hunted down, wiped out, and their planets destroyed in return.
Anvil of Stars deals with some of the few human survivors (saved by that faction) being given a Ship of Law to hunt down and destroy their killers.

As an aside, Alien life hiding itself out of fear could be a reason we have not found any. Is it unlikely, probably. Is it worth taking that chance? Absolutely not.
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