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United Kingdom Space Technology

UK Steps Up the Search For Alien Life 119

An anonymous reader writes "If aliens are out there, the United Kingdom is determined to find them, as seen in the recent launch of a network called the UK Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (UKSETI), which combines the efforts and know-how of academics from 11 institutions from across the country."
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UK Steps Up the Search For Alien Life

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  • NASA (Score:1, Insightful)

    Why doesn't NASA try to find alien life? Finding alien life could lead to huge technological advances.
    • I changed computers.. but these technological advances could also mean huge economic boost for the U.S. Now brits are wanting that advantage.
    • Re:NASA (Score:4, Funny)

      by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @11:49AM (#44209827)

      Why doesn't NASA try to find alien life? Finding alien life could lead to huge technological advances.

      Finding alien *intelligence* could lead to even huger technological advances. Merely finding alien life (for example, on Europa), at least in short term, would most likely lead only to sensational first pages in newspapers. Or a trespassing lawsuit and restraining order.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      Probably because NASA may actually have a clue as to just how big the scale of interstellar distances really is, and knows that it's technologically futile to even bother trying with the technology that we have so far.
      • Nah, I think it is more related to Britain having scientists involved when deciding which science to stick their finger in, while US science is ultimately decided by congress and senate. Which means Brits get to do the cool stuff.
        • by mark-t ( 151149 )

          Uhmm... sure. If you consider doing stuff that won't actually amount to anything cool. I'd call it something more like self-delusion, personally.

          I'm not saying that finding alien life is going to be forever impossible, I'm only saying that we just don't have the refined enough or advanced enough technology to have even an honest glimmer of hope in achieving it right now. Even the most powerful radio signals that we can send are indiscernible from the background noise of the galaxy itself long before

          • by Anonymous Coward

            I'm only saying that we just don't have the refined enough or advanced enough technology to have even an honest glimmer of hope in achieving it right now.

            We could easily detect a level I or II civilization if we knew where to look. We'd see (as the Brits hope to) their megastructures (e.g. Dyson sphere) around other planets and possibly detect their propulsion systems as they expand to other star systems. We could do this with the Kepler scope now.

            A level II civilization would have a difficult time hiding. And a level I civilization that wanted to be found could send out a pretty powerful beacon. Not sure why you're talking about our puny level 0 civilizatio

            • by mark-t ( 151149 )
              You know that those higher civilization levels are from science fiction, right?
              • Funnily enough, so were the satellite, mobile phone, trips to the moon, voyages to the bottom of the sea etc.

                Now if the OP had referred to "Type" rather than level, he would have been referencing the Kardashev scale which is a genuine metric...the fact that it might we have evidence of only a single civilization to measure using that metric is immaterial.

                • by mark-t ( 151149 )

                  And each of those things took time for the technology to develop before they became possible.

                  My only point is that with the technology that we have today, we couldn't hope to detect anything extraterrestrial because even if something were operating at a higher type level, we wouldn't know what to be looking for, and would miss it even if we were looking right at it.

                  Even assuming continual technological advance, we simply won't have the ability to find intelligent life much beyond our own solar system f

        • by gtall ( 79522 )

          Yeah, like ringing up the aliens for a little chat:

          Alien 1: Hi there, I'm an alien, what are you.

          (8 years later) EarthGuy 1: I'm an EarthGuy....errr....what do you watch on TV.

          (8 years later) Alien 2: Umm...Alien 1 got bored and is out star-surfing, he says to take a message and he'll get back to you.

          (8 years later) EarthGuy 2: Hey, how come Alien 1 never got back to EarthGuy 1 (where the hell did EarthGuy 1 get to)?

    • Why doesn't NASA try to find alien life? Finding alien life could lead to huge technological advances.

      Because that is INS's job. NASA's job, if anything, would be to find native life on other planets. Which would be a waste of money because 1) There probably isn't any and 2) If there is, it will be too far away for us to do anything with.

  • by hack slash ( 1064002 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @11:43AM (#44209775)
    When they could just watch The Jeremy Kyle Show and find conclusive proof that aliens do exist.
  • by dryriver ( 1010635 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @11:59AM (#44209893)
    As I am typing this, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are hanging out at UFO-related sites. Some believe firmly in the existence of UFOs. Others are more sceptical but fascinated nevertheless. There are millions of people who would LOVE to find out "what the truth on UFOs/ETs is". ------- Except that no government with the necessary facts/knowledge ever comes forward and says "Yes, there genuinely are UFOs visiting earth" or "Sorry to disappoint, but none of the UFO sightings on record have anything to do with genuine UFOs/ETs". ------- It doesn't matter that the UK now wants to "hunt for other life in the universe". As long as nobody steps forward and gives people the straight dope on UFOs/ETs, a tech project like this is pointless. ---- I sometimes wonder: How can it be THIS DIFFICULT for a government to address ordinary people and give them REAL FACTS on UFOs? A simple YES or NO answer would suffice - are there real UFOs? YES or NO? ------ My 2 Cents
    • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:08PM (#44209953)

      The question has been answered many times by several governments, NO there is no credible evidence of alien UFOs. You just don't want to hear the answer, instead listening to wingnuts.

      • I used to read up extensively on the subject, and am still not settled with a conclusion. If otherwise sane and reliable pilots and cops are hallucinating metallic objects hovering in front of their faces in broad daylight due to the "power of media suggestion", then we AT LEAST have a giant unsolved psychological mystery.

        Whether the mystery is "up there", or in our heads, it's still an unsolved mystery.

        Governments will generally not acknowledge a mystery because it invites questions and attention that they

        • mankind makes many flying things, there is ball lightning, lenticular clouds and reflection from layers of air at different temperature....the likely cause of UFO is not other worlds with aliens, just man and nature.

          as to reliable cops: in the very large U.S. I live next to, many cops are dope dealers/users

      • The straight dope is ...

        If you believe in UFOs, then you are the dope.
      • Yes, trust the gov and what they tell us. I remember not so long back when asked the gov said, well of course we're not spying on U.S. citizens, really would we lie???
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:17PM (#44210011)

      A simple YES or NO answer would suffice - are there real UFOs? YES or NO?

      The answer is NO. This question has already been answered thousands of times, but people refuse to accept the answer.

      You want the truth? Here's the truth. No aliens have visited the earth, and they never will. Not ever.

      The idea of aliens coming to earth has been the subject of countless novels, movies and televison shows. Even though those stories are entirely fictional, they have greatly influenced the way we think about the idea of someday encountering beings from another world. Unfortunately, all of these stories illustrate just how small our thinking is on this subject, and we should be thinking bigger. Big enough to consider that if there really are any aliens with the ability to come visit us, they almost certainly would not care to.

      Stephen Hawking once said that aliens visiting us would be similar to Christopher Columbus first landing on North America (not good for the inhabitants). His idea being that they would come for our resources, not with any particular purpose of friendship. Whether or not he is right is irrelevant because I don't think the aliens are coming. Ever.

      Sci-fi stories can ignore the bits that aren't very interesting. Movie aliens rarely get sick or worry about eating. Movies don't mention artificial gravity much because given our limited view, we pretty much expect gravity to just work and shooting a movie without it would be a pain. So, screw it, all movie aliens have invented artificial gravity. After all, lasers, phasers, and pew-pew energy-blasters are much more fun to think about.

      In the real world, however, science tends to advance in all directions because advances in one field often accelerate many others (much like the invention of the computer accelerated all other fields of human science).

      If Stephen Hawking is right, then he is saying a race of aliens has, at a minimum, perfected faster-than-light travel (or perfected a way to travel for thousands of years at sub-light), conquered the long term biological effects of space radiation, and mastered extreme long distance space navigation, just so they can come to earth and steal our water.

      So why *WOULD* aliens come to earth?

      Do they really want our water (or minerals or whatever)? That implies an economic model in their decision. By definition, they must need and value those resources and coming here to get them must be their most economical choice. Getting them somewhere closer to home or manufacturing them must be more "expensive" (in some sense of the word) than the cost of traveling all the way here, gathering our resources and flying them home.

      While not impossible, that seems unlikely - both technologically and economically. Even we have (expensively) already mastered alchemy. We have the tech to create matter from energy. Imagine that tech in a few hundred years, or whenever it is you think we'll be able to travel several light years for a mining expedition. What would be cheaper and better, forging the plutonium at home or sending a fleet of galactic warships (with thousands or soldiers and miners) to some far off planet?

      Currently, we're not even able to get to Proxima Centauri (the closest star to us besides the sun) much less a place where we think there's an actual planet. Getting us to Proxima Centauri in less than a few hundred years would require technolgy that is orders of magnitude beyond what we have now. If getting humans to another star system is a 100 on some "technology ability scale", then we're currently at about 2, which is not far ahead of poodles - who are probably at 1.

      What about the idea that aliens might come to Earth to colonize the planet (and maybe vaporize us in the process)? You could argue that terraforming (or maybe they would call it xenoforming) could be a technology more advanced than FTL travel. With that assumption, you could imagine an alien race that can travel across the galaxy but not al

      • by Anonymous Coward

        sudo mod 6 logic

        Unfortunately the uneducated masses have little interest in 'actual' alien concepts.

        I'd also point out that DNA is essentially the only thing they could possibly want that we have.

        And some concepts *are* required as per the laws of physics to pertain to life forms.

        If an organism achieves the complexity and is lucky enough to be in an environment where intelligence is fostered, it will eventually, granting consciousnesses, observe that it needs to take in energy, or resources, to continue to

      • If however, we were 1000 times smarter and had spent the last 1000 years finding fish-like creatures across the galaxy, and could predict the existence of such creatures from light-years away, it probably wouldn't be all that interesting to go study another one.

        I'm not sure about that; human scientists never get tired of biodiversity, of finding some strange and novel biochemical mechanism in newly discovered microbes from hellish (terrestrial) environments. And anthropologists still study remote stone-age

      • Nice essay.
        You make a few leaps of logic, but the overall direction is mostly logical.
        I have a completely different, and similarly "logical leap" filled argument on never meeting other Aliens as well.

        But before I copy paste it here, I wanted to address one of your points.

        "Getting us to Proxima Centauri in less than a few hundred years would require technology that is orders of magnitude beyond what we have now."
        I am not sure I agree. Within 10-15 lightyears even their are life-habitable planets. Right now w

        • You are wrong by several orders of magnitude.
          Right now we have the probe Voyager that travels at something like 0.00015% of the speed of light.
          • You are right, I do not know where I got my info.
            But you also seem off.
            By my calculations I get .006% = (17.26 / 299792.458) km/s. Which is like an order of magnitude different than yours.

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        If we discovered a fish-like creature on Europa today it would be fascinating for us to study it. If however, we were 1000 times smarter and had spent the last 1000 years finding fish-like creatures across the galaxy, and could predict the existence of such creatures from light-years away, it probably wouldn't be all that interesting to go study another one.

        You are assuming that unique civilizations are common. They might not be, as the Fermi Paradox suggests. The "study hypothesis" is still quite valid.


      • by Smauler ( 915644 )

        Getting us to Proxima Centauri in less than a few hundred years would require technolgy that is orders of magnitude beyond what we have now.

        Getting to the moon requires technology orders of magnitude beyond what humanity had 500 years ago. 500 years is a blink of an eye in galactic terms.

        We already have now ideas about how it would be possible to travel to other star systems... given enough impetus, we could start a project now. The likelihood of success would be near zero, it'd take hundreds or thousa

      • I can think of one reason for a civilization to "go inter-stellar"; Survival. If that civilisation is capable of inter planetary space travel, they will also know they have limited time before their own solar system becomes hostile. Also, side point, but I'd argue that terraforming is probably more achievable than FTL flight, or any of the other technologies required for sub-light interstellar travel. Assuming climate change is at least partially athropogenic, we're already part of the way there.
        • We will have to go interstellar if we wish to survive as a species. We should be putting as many resources as possible into our own FTL drives now, aliens or not. The Sun is set to become a red giant around 120 mil years from now. If that doesn't burn us to a crisp, but instead pushes our orbit out like some models suggest, we will still have to contend with Andromeda in 4 bil years time. From all the models I've seen, there is a high chance we will be flung out into interstellar space.
      • Well, why would we visit alien planets? Yes, we might go out into space to colonize or gain resources, but at some point in time you're probably going to hit a point where we've mined plenty of rocks and terraformed plenty of space.

        Now if along the way we happen to pick up a radio transmission from "Alpha Xenogaph X", is our first thought going to be "let's go steal all their resources" or "hey, alien life, let's go check it out!"

        While there may be some on the planet that would go for the former, I'd say th

      • by LoRdTAW ( 99712 )

        +5 Logical.

        With all of the energy it takes to move around I cant ever see us or anyone else being able to feasibly leave their own solar system. If FTL is possible, and physics points to NO, then what would an alien race want with us? the only thing I can think of is study or resources. But as you mentioned at the point where an intelligent race comfortably move around the galaxy/universe then I think their resource problems were solved a long time ago.

        My future prediction for the human race and probably an

      • Why can't I ever find posts like yours on days when I have mod rights? +1 Insightful
      • Hear Yea, Hear Yea! Some Arrogant Cunt on /. makes a baseless claim with ZERO evidence and this stupid shit gets modded up?? It is on the Internet so it must be true!! Riiiight. *face palm*

        How about looking at NASA's own evidence of the STS missions before going off half-cocked and looking like an total idiot.

        * Evidence: The Case For NASA UFO's
        http://www.disclose.tv/action/viewvideo/117264/Evidence_The_Case_For_NASA_UFOs__Full/ [disclose.tv]

        * The URZI UFO Case - The Full Story - Authentic & Complete
        http://www.youtu [youtube.com]

    • I think it is pretty clear that none of these people care about any kindof truth or evidence. Many people, governments, organizations the world over have conducted experiments, given full disclosure, and performed thought experiences, and they are not interested at all in anything other that saying that Napoleon was abducted by aliens, or the US is involved in secret wars with subsurface dwelling Aliens.

    • It is not a simple YES or NO answer. It is BOTH. YES, there are UFOs, as in Unidentified Flying Objects and NO, these UFOs are not extraterrestrial life forms coming to visit us. They are merely airplanes, helicopters, atmospheric effects, shadows, and other natural and manmade phenomena that the observer at the time is unable to identify.
    • Well, I'm on the fence whether or not aliens exist, to be honest. (I often joke that aliens came here, didn't find any intelligent life and left...) The probability for them existing goes up with every exoplanet we find. If by some weird joke of nature that we are literally the only intelligent life form in the Universe, UKSETI is a crucial step in proving or disproving that in a scientific manner.
  • by DF5JT ( 589002 ) <slashdot@bloatware.de> on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:00PM (#44209895) Homepage

    If the British used all the available computing and storage power of its secret data snorkeling, they might actually put the equipment to a more promising use than illegally spying on the rest of Europe.

    • .. they might actually put the equipment to a more promising use than illegally spying on the rest of Europe.

      But they do. They are looking for illegal aliens, mind you.

  • History is dominated with stories of more advanced civilizations destroying less advanced civilizations.

    • I look at history and see many cases of more advanced ones annexing less advanced civilizations, so the end result is a mixture of both

    • History is dominated with stories of moderately advanced civilizations with overly positive self-image destroying less advanced civilizations.

      Here, FTFY.

    • Honestly I think there are more examples of less advanced barbarians destroying more advanced civilizations, while claiming be more advanced and doing the world and the opposing side a favour.

  • If they want to see evidence of an "alien invasion", one might look to the people that are coming from outside the UK - especially Africa and the Middle East.

    It's not politically correct, but it is the truth.

    • Agreed. Bloody Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings , Normans, et al. They should all bloody well go back to where they came from and leave the UK for us Beaker People, that's what I say!

      (/sarcasm - in case anyone took this seriously!)
    • If they want to see evidence of an "alien invasion", one might look to the people that are coming from outside the UK - especially Africa and the Middle East.

      It's not politically correct, but it is the truth.

      If all those folks from Africa and the Middle East were arriving in flying saucers and spaceships, then it would be interesting and nobody would care if it was politically correct or not.

  • Should we transmit? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @12:35PM (#44210139) Homepage

    There are now six systems with of known exoplanets within 10 light years. It's quite feasible to send messages in their direction on a regular basis. Should this be done?

    • Not enough. If intelligent life exists, it must be rare or it'd have been found already. We'll need to do more than just beam a radio signal to a few planets. We'd need to build one really big transmitter and start systematically beaming to every star that even might harbor civilisation.

      Something simple. 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 in unary. Easily understood, and the meaning is obvious: 'We are here, please reply.'

      • Everyone thinks it is like Star Trek.
        Given the age of the universe any other human-like life is either billions of years older than ours, or it will be billions of years until they exist.
        If there was an intelligent species that had any interest in finding/communicating with other life-forms even within a 200 ly distance they would have sent a probe, or colonization ship to Earth billions of years ago, or every 10 thousand years for the last billion years. If their was anything out there interested in talkin

    • If there are advanced civilizations there, they've already intercepted our radio and TV signals. In fact, by monitoring the changes in our atmosphere, they could have detected our presence centuries ago, and been able to estimate when we would start transmitting, before we even knew what electromagnetic waves were. This is true even assuming they're not capable of interstellar travel.

      • by abies ( 607076 )

        On contrary - even with good technology, it is very hard to detect human activity from far away. We were quite 'noisy' for 50-100 years, but thats not the case anymore. Switching from big radio antennas for radio radiating in all directions to low-power satellites broadcasting downwards and fiberoptic cables is making us more and more silent. And for detecting changes in atmosphere - despite of what climate-change aware people are claiming, man-made changes are nothing compared to what planet was going thro

    • by magpie ( 3270 )
      Do you really think any advanced civ out there hasn't picked up that we are about? We have been broadcasting our existence for a about a century (or more). Anyone looking knows we are here for about 100 light years about. Should we broadcast....we have been for decades. That genie is well and truly out the bottle. Tis too late to worry about it.
  • ...build a real Hogwarts and spend time/money on researching wizards/witchery until Dumbledore emerges.
  • Anytime this subject matter of alien life is posted to slashdot it results in a majority of posts expressing a lack of intelligence.
    So for those who could use some educating - http://www.citizenhearing.org/ [citizenhearing.org]
    This does however cause me to wonder what they are really looking for.

  • The headline as presented is about as worthless as the UK project.

    First, is there non-terrestrial life? Almost certainly, given the number of planets that we are seeing just in the nearby stars in our own galaxy.

    Second, is any of this life intelligent? I would speculate that somewhere, there is what could be termed intelligent life, just on a statistical basis.

    Third, can we contact that intelligent life in any way? This I have grave doubts about, since even in the best case, it lies many light years dist

    • It's not necessarily about contacting them. Even just discovering intelligent signals would be pretty cool, wouldn't it? That's scientific discovery, or would you dismiss this as "entertainment"?

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:34PM (#44210959) Journal

    So NSA wants to spy on ET also.

    "ET phoned home at 11:34.47am and talked to Phlooog for 17.387 minutes."

  • Aliens? Like from other parts of Europe and Asia? I am sorry, living the US, I must be confused.
  • We should hope aliens never find us. Because, they're certainly not less developed than we are, or how would they find us or we them? Then, the chance that they are exactly in the same stage of development as we are is next to zero. Most probably, they are a million years ahead of us, and we would be to them what cockroaches are to us. Please don't let them find us.

  • Not sure why we have to wait months in the US.
  • Have they looked in London's Stratford? Plenty of aliens there. Oh... they meant extraterrestrials, didn't they?

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.