Want to feel tiny and insignificant? Or... Galaxy Quest!

Warning: This JPEG is approximately 60MB in size and 6200x6200 pixels. Broadband only. :P Despite the tempation to do an image link just to have the worst side-scrolling thread in QT3 history, I’ll instead include a link.

You have to see the full version of this, rather than the screen-size or smaller versions I’ve seen elsewhere, to really capture the full scope of it. This is a hubble shot of over 10,000 galaxies. 10,000. Shot in an area of the sky 1/10 the size of the full moon as viewed from Earth.

You have got to have some awesomely fundamentalist faith to think that Earth is the only place in the universe with intelligent life when you consider the scope of what this image shows.

Here’s the story on the shot.

And a NASA page with some more links to animations, etc.

Pretty freakin’ awesome image.

[size=1]Wow, it’s nice to have the freaking URL tag working again.[/size]



We’re not alone.

Actually, no… as far as I know this is the single greatest argument against such a thing…

The Universe is vast, “nearly infinite”. The proposition is that life is common. Even if it isn’t common there is still a TON of it in a “nearly infinite” space.

Humans are a randomly selected piece of this universe. Humans have already ventured into space. Humans have a reasonable chance to explore the galaxy more fully in the coming centuries.

The Universe has existed for billions of years. Billions of years of life in the universe.

Despite a lot of popular interest in the subject and people going so far as to hallucinate it, lie about it, and/or create fiction around it, aliens have never been proven to have visited Earth. Aliens have never been discovered on any long-range scans or with any telescope or any probe.

It is said that we will find aliens when we venture to the stars. This begs the question of why, given BILLIONS of years of at least semi-common intelligent life in the universe, none of them have ventured here.

Why isn’t the Earth part of a trade route for alien races crossing the Milky Way? Why aren’t humans enslaved by more powerful alien races? Why isn’t “Kixactic” just another language to us, like English but with harder to pronounce words? Why aren’t I high-fiving a Glavalon over his analysis of process writing?

Maybe none of this makes sense. Maybe the rest of the universe is so radically different from us that trade routes, enslavement, high-fiving, languages, and even the visible spectrum is not part of that reality. Maybe our science is so pathetically primitive we couldn’t discover a paper bag. Maybe. Maybe. Get the picture? Being anything other than an Agnostic on this issue is stupid. Need More Information.

Logically speaking, there is not a strong case for intelligent extraterrestrial life. We should explore the galaxy regardless, however, and discovering aliens will be Bonus Points.

My favorite thing is when movies and television show aliens visiting Earth, which inevitably occurs between the present and the near future. Wha… why then if not the previous 10,000 years? Why then if not the next 10,000? What makes THIS time so damn special for alien visitation?

Alien Visitor: Take us to your leader, DennyA. He believed in us, he is placed at the head of our Empire. This is why we come to you now. DennyA was READY for us.

Alien Visitor: YOU THERE! What is your name?!

Stupid Human: Brian Koontz.

Alien Visitor: I thought so! The Naive Loon! We have special “camps” for stupid things like you. Come along now. We almost didn’t come to Earth because of people like you… fortunately DennyA, the Bastion of Rationality, walked among you.

The laws of physics are pretty serious barrier to interstellar travel, so that could easily explain why no one has contacted us. Saying “why haven’t they done it the last 1000 years” is kind of like asking why the Romans didn’t conquer the Aztecs instead of the Spanish - technology and awareness are big gaps. After all, even if extraterrestrials could cross the great distances of space, there is no reason they would necessarily come in this direction in an infinite universe. There’s also the remote chance that we are the most advanced civilization in the universe. In which case, lack of contact is hardly a mystery.

I’m not convinced that there is intelligent life out there, and I don’t think it is vanity to acknowledge the mathematical unlikelihood of advanced alien life being common. If it’s out there at all, it is exceedingly rare.

Pretty pictures though.


No, merely that it isn’t unique to Earth.

I think you’re wrong on that score Brian. It’s perfectly logical to assume that there is intelligent life elsewhere in a universe this vast. As for why we’ve not been visited by aliens, there are tons of scenarios that answer this and still allow for aliens to exist. A few off the top of my head:

-They already have, either before humans existed or before recorded history.

-They evolved roughly the same time that we did and are similar to us and from a similar planet, and therefore have the same (very limited) capability for space travel that we do.

-Life isn’t all that common, and manifests on, say, one or two planets per galaxy. Assuming that there is either one other planet in the Milky Way that contains intelligent life or none, the chances of them needing to make Earth a stop on their trade route is pretty slim.

Billions of years sounds big, but it ain’t, when you consider it’s estimated that there are upwards of a septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) stars. Divide a septillion by, say, 10 billion years, and you only have to investigate 100 trillion stars per year.

In other words: you’d need to investigate over 3 million stars every second since the beginning of time to fully explore the universe.

The universe is fricking HUGE – concluding there’s no other life in the universe purely because we haven’t found any is akin to an ant colony in China deciding that there aren’t any ants in Cuba.

I think I’m feeling claustrophobic.

I like these aliens.

Others have said what I would, Brian. Given the vastness of the universe and the complexities of interstellar travel or communication, the lack of visitation or contact has no bearing at all as evidence of other societies out there.

I doubt we’ll ever have Star Trek style travel between stars, unless there’s something fundamental about physics that we haven’t discovered yet. In fact, societies on different planets may never know the others exist. But a basic understanding of the sheer scope of the universe makes denial that there are other planets harboring life a ludicrous thing.

[size=2]A septillion stars out there, probably 10 septillion or more planets, and we get Brian Koontz on ours.[/size]

The reason why you find this amusing is because you’re thinking about it from a purely scientific perspective and not in terms of how popular entertainment works. People generally relate more to stories set in a world they understand and recognize than in some esoteric far-off future world.

INDEPENDENCE DAY, for all its flaws, had a compelling concept because it was presented as something that could happen to US, in our lifetimes. If it had been re-set in some unrecognizable Earth thousands of years in the future, it wouldn’t have made the same connection with audiences.

That’s about all I can say after viewing this impressive picture…wow indeed…

Isn’t it entirely possible that there is, though?

I’m no particular fan of MIB, but I loved this line from Tommy Lee Jones:

A person is smart. People are dumb. Everything they’ve ever “known” has been proven to be wrong. A thousand years ago everybody knew as a fact, that the earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, they knew it was flat. Fifteen minutes ago, you knew we humans were alone on it. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.

Yeah, when I saw this story yesterday I searched out the 60 MB file and downloaded it (I also got the 110 MB TIFF, but that one wouldn’t work for some reason - maybe it was too big).

Looking at this picture is a little scary.

We’ve only had a planet worth visiting for any reason at all in the past, what, 2 billion years? And we’ve only been able to keep records for a couple of thousand. So, uh, assuming that more advanced aliens exist and have intersteller travel, they’d pretty much need to want to meet us for contact to occur. I don’t see the benefits of that, a species with intersteller travel is not going to need human slaves to toil in mines or whatever.

Anyway, how do we know Earth isn’t right in the middle of a major intersteller trade lane? It’s not like they’d stop here for gas. If two major empires just had a hundred ship battle at Pluto, how would we know?

You guys make as much sense as most people who comment on the issue, which just goes to show that we are nearly entirely ignorant.

Exploration will reduce the ignorance, and that’s the only meaningful course of action.

Many of your arguments are dangerously close to “humans are special”, which is generally derided by cosmologists. The idea that humans are the most “technologically advanced” species in the universe, for example, is ludicrous if you assume other intelligent alien life exists. If humans can “go to the stars” in a nearly infinite universe, others must also be able to.

Argument based on Human Limitation is pretty silly. Yeah, humans have trouble surmounting vast distance. Based on that argument fleas should think that building a skyscraper is a problem for the universe to achieve because they can’t do it.

This is one issue that Debate cannot solve.

So, uh, assuming that more advanced aliens exist and have intersteller travel, they’d pretty much need to want to meet us for contact to occur. I don’t see the benefits of that, a species with intersteller travel is not going to need human slaves to toil in mines or whatever.

Whatever happened to pure curiosity?

Do you think that if humans had the capability for interstellar travel, we’d only go to planets we thought would provide some sort of economic, military, or scientific advantage?

If that were the case, SG-1 would have been a lot shorter!

A vast distance is still a vast distance - it is the speed at which you can cross it that matters. That speed is limited by the speed of light.

Fleas should think that building a skyscraper is a problem for those with opposable thumbs.

You answered only one of my three scenarios, Brian.