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Old 13th November 2019, 05:44 PM   #1
JeanTate
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Do you think VASCO will find any aliens?

As in "Vanishing & Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations".

Described in a highly readable paper by Beatriz Villarroel and a huge cast of others, The Vanishing & Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations project: I. USNO objects missing in modern sky surveys and follow-up observations of a "missing star". Here's the abstract (I added hilite):

In this paper we report the current status of a new research program. The primary goal of the "Vanishing & Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations" (VASCO) project is to search for vanishing and appearing sources using existing survey data to find examples of exceptional astrophysical transients. The implications of finding such objects extend from traditional astrophysics fields to the more exotic searches for evidence of technologically advanced civilizations. In this first paper we present new, deeper observations of the tentative candidate discovered by Villarroel et al. (2016). We then perform the first searches for vanishing objects throughout the sky by comparing 600 million objects from the US Naval Observatory Catalogue (USNO) B1.0 down to a limiting magnitude of ∼20−21 with the recent Pan-STARRS Data Release-1 (DR1) with a limiting magnitude of ∼ 23.4. We find about 150,000 preliminary candidates that do not have any Pan-STARRS counterpart within a 30 arcsec radius. We show that these objects are redder and have larger proper motions than typical USNO objects. We visually examine the images for a subset of about 24,000 candidates, superseding the 2016 study with a sample ten times larger. We find about ∼ 100 point sources visible in only one epoch in the red band of the USNO which may be of interest in searches for strong M dwarf flares, high-redshift supernovae or other catagories of unidentified red transients.
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Old 13th November 2019, 06:01 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by JeanTate View Post
Do you think VASCO will find any aliens?
No.
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Old 13th November 2019, 10:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
evidence of technologically advanced civilizations... strong M dwarf flares, high-redshift supernovae or other catagories of unidentified red transients
How technologically advanced does a civilization have to be to create a supernova?

So far we have only managed to raise the temperature of our planet by 1ºC. I guess we have a way to go before we can call our own civilization 'technologically advanced'.
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Old 13th November 2019, 10:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
How technologically advanced does a civilization have to be to create a supernova?

I think it was either Asimov or Clarke who suggested that pulsars might be navigational beacons created by advanced aliens. And now NASA is studying pulsars as a possible aid to human space exploration because of course it is.
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Old 14th November 2019, 01:51 AM   #5
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is it a bet? No
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Old 14th November 2019, 02:46 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
I think it was either Asimov or Clarke who suggested that pulsars might be navigational beacons created by advanced aliens.
And, if I recall correctly, addressed the possible criticism that the power requirements are absurdly large by saying "How do we know there aren't any stupid supercivilisations out there?"

Dave
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Old 14th November 2019, 10:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
And, if I recall correctly, addressed the possible criticism that the power requirements are absurdly large by saying "How do we know there aren't any stupid supercivilisations out there?"
I suspect we may soon find out why there are no stupid supercivilisations - they didn't survive the stupid regular civilization stage.
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Old 14th November 2019, 10:28 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
I think it was either Asimov or Clarke who suggested that pulsars might be navigational beacons created by advanced aliens.
Anthropomorphism - attributing human characteristics to natural phenomena.

Lightning isn't a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge, it's technologically advanced aliens throwing thunderbolts!
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Old 15th November 2019, 01:20 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
How technologically advanced does a civilization have to be to create a supernova?

So far we have only managed to raise the temperature of our planet by 1ºC. I guess we have a way to go before we can call our own civilization 'technologically advanced'.
I don't think anyone is suggesting that supernovae are created by alien civilizations. They are suggesting that supernovae are among the category of objects that they can discover with this approach. Another member of that category is "evidence of technologically advanced civilizations".
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Old 15th November 2019, 05:24 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
Anthropomorphism - attributing human characteristics to natural phenomena.

Lightning isn't a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge, it's technologically advanced aliens throwing thunderbolts!

Well, man, it was a science fiction story.
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Old 15th November 2019, 06:49 AM   #11
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In reply to Roger Ramjets, Roboramma said:

Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I don't think anyone is suggesting that supernovae are created by alien civilizations. They are suggesting that supernovae are among the category of objects that they can discover with this approach. Another member of that category is "evidence of technologically advanced civilizations".
Yeah, people should read the abstract and not take Roger Ramjets extreme, creationist style, lying by misquoting seriously. I will never understand what possesses people to go to such lengths to lie about such esoteric stuff. The abstract actually says the opposite of what Ramjets quote (no, it's not a quote) lying would lead someone to believe.

Some of examples of "lying by ellipsis".

http://www.ooblick.com/text/patton/#Longest%20Ellipsis

I wonder what Ramjets could have done if he had access to the whole article?

Let me reiterate that the project is not just looking for aliens. Even if that is what the thread is focused the study itself is not focused on that.

Last edited by RecoveringYuppy; 15th November 2019 at 06:53 AM.
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Old 15th November 2019, 07:02 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
How technologically advanced does a civilization have to be to create a supernova?

So far we have only managed to raise the temperature of our planet by 1ºC. I guess we have a way to go before we can call our own civilization 'technologically advanced'.
The major limitation is the lack of knowing what to look for. There's no guarantee that an advanced civilization is going to still be using radio as one example.
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Old 16th November 2019, 08:38 AM   #13
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Follow up observations of a subset of the apparently appearing or vanishing sources (almost by definition points, at the angular resolution of the original observations) are likely to turn up some interesting things. As is almost always the case in astronomy when something new comes along.

Saying that VASCO most certainly won't find any aliens surely needs more justification than a bald "no", don't you think?
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Old 16th November 2019, 07:11 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JeanTate View Post

Saying that VASCO most certainly won't find any aliens surely needs more justification than a bald "no", don't you think?
No.
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Old 16th November 2019, 11:20 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by JeanTate View Post
Saying that VASCO most certainly won't find any aliens surely needs more justification than a bald "no", don't you think?
Agreed. I personally doubt that they will find anything (with respect to aliens, the other categories of things that they might find seem likely to lead to some interesting results), but I don't see how it could be ruled out a priori.
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Old 17th November 2019, 05:03 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Let me reiterate that the project is not just looking for aliens. Even if that is what the thread is focused the study itself is not focused on that.
I'm sure it isn't. The real goal is to make a living out of stargazing, but most people see little benefit in that so they had to sex it up with:-
"The implications of finding such objects extend from traditional astrophysics fields to the more exotic searches for evidence of technologically advanced civilizations"
And yes, that is a direct quote from the abstract.

Quote:
The abstract actually says the opposite of what Ramjets quote (no, it's not a quote) lying would lead someone to believe... Let me reiterate that the project is not just looking for aliens.
Did I say it was? No. but they are strongly implying that it is their ultimate goal.

From the article:-
Quote:
The VASCO project may be a “conventional” astro-physics project, but it originated in the context of SETI, as described by Villarroel et al. (2016), who proposed to search surveys for vanished stars in our Galaxy as probes of “impossible effects” that could only be ascribed to an extraterrestrial technology...

For example, the quasar 3C273 has about 4 trillion times the luminosity of our Sun. Indeed, an AGN may be a significantly more effective target to build a Dyson sphere around.


Dyson sphere
Quote:
A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its power output... However, Dyson was not the first to advance this idea. He was inspired by the 1937 science fiction novel Star Maker, by Olaf Stapledon, and possibly by the works of J. D. Bernal, Raymond Z. Gallun, and Edgar Rice Burroughs...

Thus, a Dyson sphere, constructed by life forms not dissimilar to humans, who dwelled in proximity to a Sun-like star, made with materials similar to those available to humans, would most likely cause an increase in the amount of infrared radiation in the star system's emitted spectrum...

SETI has adopted these assumptions in their search, looking for such "infrared heavy" spectra from solar analogs. As of 2005 Fermilab has an ongoing survey for such spectra
IOW, fantasy dressed up as scientific research.
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Last edited by Roger Ramjets; 17th November 2019 at 05:07 AM.
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Old 17th November 2019, 06:42 AM   #17
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As much as I'd like to say maybe, it doesn't strike me as being likely. Dyson spheres in particular have always struck me as too far-fetched to plausibly exist.
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Old 17th November 2019, 06:50 AM   #18
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If we imagine as a thought experiment that a planet similar to earth, inhabited by creatures similar to humans, and at a stage of technological development similar to our own exists relatively nearby in our own galaxy, say 50 ly away, would we be able to find it with current techniques? Obviously, they would not have a Dyson sphere, because they are only at a similar level of advancement to our own. But would there be a strong enough signal emanating from their home planet in our direction for our most powerful instruments to detect?
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Old 17th November 2019, 07:09 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
IOW, fantasy dressed up as scientific research.
Forming hypothesis and testing them (looking at the observational evidence) seems to be precisely science to me. If you're starting from the presumption that there are no extraterrestrial civilizations, then of course it seems silly to look for them, but at present we simply don't know one way or the other, so your presumption isn't justified.

Looking seems far more scientific than presuming to already know the answer.
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Old 17th November 2019, 07:16 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
If we imagine as a thought experiment that a planet similar to earth, inhabited by creatures similar to humans, and at a stage of technological development similar to our own exists relatively nearby in our own galaxy, say 50 ly away, would we be able to find it with current techniques? Obviously, they would not have a Dyson sphere, because they are only at a similar level of advancement to our own. But would there be a strong enough signal emanating from their home planet in our direction for our most powerful instruments to detect?
Possibly. Some of the upcoming telescopes (James Webb is due to launch soon, but there are several other big telescopes coming online soon) would make doing so much easier.

For instance I saw a paper recently that was talking about looking for the "red edge", the spectrum of light specific to plant life, in directly imaged exoplanets. Not possible with current telescopes, but possible with telescopes coming online in the next decade or so.

That's a test for life. As to some sort of civilization like our own, I haven't heard of anything we could look for (atmospheric composition? something to do with rate of change in something?) but I wouldn't rule it out entirely.
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Old 17th November 2019, 07:26 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
Did I say it was? No. but they are strongly implying that it is their ultimate goal.
If the article actually did do that then why did you need to lie about it? You took two pieces (pieces) of two unrelated sentences and combined them in a way that was inconsistent with how the article used those two sentence fragments.
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Old 17th November 2019, 07:38 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
If we imagine as a thought experiment that a planet similar to earth, inhabited by creatures similar to humans, and at a stage of technological development similar to our own exists relatively nearby in our own galaxy, say 50 ly away, would we be able to find it with current techniques? Obviously, they would not have a Dyson sphere, because they are only at a similar level of advancement to our own. But would there be a strong enough signal emanating from their home planet in our direction for our most powerful instruments to detect?
Not likely. Our radar beams and TV carrier waves (note that the carrier portion of a TV broadcast does not contain the signal) are probably the only signals that even make it beyond Pluto. And they are either highly focused (radar) or focused to a plane (TV signal) so they aren't likely to be noticed unless you happen to be watching our planet very specifically for an extended period. And even those few examples don't travel very far anyway.
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Old 17th November 2019, 07:41 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
If you're starting from the presumption that there are no extraterrestrial civilizations, then of course it seems silly to look for them, but at present we simply don't know one way or the other, so your presumption isn't justified.

Looking seems far more scientific than presuming to already know the answer.

And, further to your point, the authors of the paper are actually proposing to look for life outside our galaxy. We might have some good reason to believe we're alone in the galaxy but the reasons we have for believing that (I'm thinking Fermi paradox) simply don't apply to the entire universe.
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Old 18th November 2019, 02:30 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
If the article actually did do that then why did you need to lie about it? You took two pieces (pieces) of two unrelated sentences and combined them in a way that was inconsistent with how the article used those two sentence fragments.
No, I didn't. The abstract made no distinction regarding which objects were 'traditional' and which might be 'evidence of technologically advanced civilizations'. And if these 'technologically advanced civilizations' can harness the power of a quasar 4 trillion times the luminosity of our Sun, why not a supernova? Or perhaps they are even deliberately blowing up stars for some reason that we cannot fathom.

Someone once said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Once you accept that principle unconditionally, no idea is too crazy to contemplate. For example:-

Aliens May Be Rearranging Stars to Fight Dark Energy
Quote:
"Given the inevitability of the encroaching horizon, any sufficiently advanced civilization that is determined to maximize its ability to utilize energy will expand throughout the universe, attempting to secure as many stars as possible before they become permanently inaccessible," Hooper wrote...

This may seem like a tall order for humans, who are still bumbling around Level I of Kardashev's scale. (Carl Sagan placed us at about a 0.7 in 1973). But some scientists think there could be alien civilizations thousands, or even millions, of years older than ours who are already well into their Level III, star-harvesting phase.

And if another civilization has indeed begun rearranging the stars, it may not be long before Earthlings notice them, Hooper wrote.
Why is such talk not simply dismissed as pure fantasy? Because as humans we see things from a human perspective, giving credence to ideas that we can relate to even when they are highly improbable. What's worse, this kind of fantasizing actually drives scientific research. We want to build colonies on Mars, communicate with alien civilizations, invent faster-than-light drive, travel back in time etc., all sorts of impractical or even totally impossible goals, because if we can imagine it we think we can do it.
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Old 18th November 2019, 06:16 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
...
You lied in post 3 by constructing a quote from half sentences. You'd make a great creationist.
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