Dolphins are intelligent -- possibly as intelligent as humans. But they aren't known for their ham radio operator skills. What if intelligent aliens are more like dolphins? Are we destined to never detect them, unless we go to their homeworld and communicate with them face-to-face? This discussion has not only motivated SETI debates, it has also forced us to reassess what "intelligence" really means on a galactic scale.
As the universe seems so quiet, some astronomers have -- prematurely -- declared that no other intelligent life exists amongst the stars. From a science point of view, that's as good a conclusion as any, even if it is a bit short sighted. But what if it's so quiet as alien civilizations don't want to make contact? What if they are happy doing their thing, not wanting to speak with us? Also, what if they've become so efficient, they leak very little energy into space for us to detect?
As movies like Battle: Los Angeles and Independence Day have taught us, we're just a heartbeat away from an alien invasion. This has led many great thinkers to ponder the question: Why would they invade? My personal response has always been "why not!" -- the reasons for an invasion would likely be unfathomable.
But this does make for an interesting thought -- could an alien invasion be considered a viable SETI strategy? I've always been a fan of waiting for extraterrestrials to arrive, as the wonderfully patient Waiting for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (WETI) Institute suggests.
In the mean time, perhaps we should just keep our heads down and hope that no one notices we're here.
This story was provided by Discovery News.