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Guest Editorial

Three Questions to Ponder
by Ed Trice

I watch the first 3 minutes of the movie "Contact" at least once a week. It makes me ponder the following:

  1. We're like a merry-go-round on a merry-go-round. The earth spins on its axis, rotates around the sun, the sun via its unseen gravitational partner(s), the spiral arm of the Milky Way, which is itself in motion with respect to the Cosmic Microwave Background and (more locally) the Andromeda Galaxy which is blue-shifted right at us. How the heck can anyone find their way back to a planet orbiting a small star when it's never in the same place?

  2. It seems like the Universe has a fractal nature. First we thought our galaxy was it, then came Edwin Hubble. We knew the universe was big, then came the Hubble Deep Field, with 10000 galaxies found in the same cross sectional area as a drinking straw. Now the thinking is the unobservable universe is 10^43 times the size of the observable universe! And we might only be one such "bubble universe" in a froth of near-infinite or infininte universes??? Whoah!

  3. We can't be alone! But... are we time-separated from other intelligent life? Does everyone falter at the Uranium Barrier? Did we make it past our own "Great Filter" or is it still ahead of us??

How does one deal with such consternation? Please enlighten me!!

Our Executive Director replies:

These are all very valid questions, Ed, for which there is no simple answer. The only way to ever know is to do the experiment.

We will probably never enjoy the opportunity to dialog with our assumed cosmic companions. Fortunately, listening is relatively cheap, and easy. We start with the null hypothesis: there are no detectable extraterrestrial civilizations. This can never be proven, of course, but it takes only one counter-example to falsify it. And, if nothing artificial is ever detected, think about all of the serendipitous discovers that still await us!

Yours for SETI Success,

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in editorials are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of The SETI League, Inc., its Trustees, officers, Advisory Board, members, donors, or commercial sponsors.

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