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June 28, 2022 50 mins

If we ever found evidence of intelligent alien life (or they found us) what would we say? Who would say it for us? These seemingly silly questions are vitally important depending on your view.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff you should know, a production of I
Heart Radio. Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh,
and Chuck's here too, and so Jerry, and this is
stuff you should know. I don't have a shirt on.

(00:21):
That's cool. I don't have pants on. I probably should
have told you that before we got going, but or
not at all. But that is a definitely the state
that we're in these days. It's totally fine that you're
not wearing a shirt while we're recording. I went to
put one on, and then I was like, why, that's
a great question to ask yourself every morning. Really, by

(00:43):
the way, we should point out I just noticed. I
don't think I told you this, but I noticed today
I got um, I haven't always have a a Google
search setting for stuff you should know when that pops up,
and it popped up that our board game is for
sale on Amazon dot com again. Finally it came back

(01:04):
in huh, I guess so. And it's on sale, so
it's like off even if anyone wants it. We should
point out I looked at the negative reviews. This is
not trivial pursuit. This is this completely different stuff you
should know. Game that Trivial Pursuit loved and wanted to
co brand. Uh So, as far as the one star

(01:24):
reviews that say this doesn't work with my trivial pursuit board,
I've tried to mash them together, but it's out there again.
I think if people are interested in that, yeah, hopefully
they are. I didn't realize that was a plug until
about halfway through. You're still thinking about shirt. I thought

(01:45):
there's some story, right, I thought there was some story
coming out of it, and then I was like, oh,
I see where he's going with this. No, I just
I noticed that this morning, so I thought i'd mentioned
before we get into what will admittedly be a bit
of a freewheeling dicussion. I think on alien first contact,
this one didn't quite fit into our what we like

(02:06):
to do, which is sort of a tighter beginning, middle
in type of thing. So I think this will be
a little more free wheeling. It's actually super appropriate because
that's basically the same instution attitude that humanity has shown
towards the possibility of having to communicate with aliens thus far.

(02:27):
You know, it's just kind of like, uh, yeah, we'll
figure that out on the fly after it happens kind
of thing. And that's really I mean, in some ways,
it's like, well, yeah, I mean, why would we waste
any time figuring out what we're going to say to
aliens if we're not even certain that aliens exist. But
in another way, if you look at it, you can say,

(02:49):
like that is extraordinarily irresponsible, and like, really, how much
time and resource and money would it take to say, hey,
you group of humans who are into this, can you
go figure out what we should do and what we
should say some contingency plans just in case? Just in case?
Um so, I mean it kind of just depends on
your perspective, I think. But there are people out there, Chuck,

(03:11):
who are working on this. They're just not really receiving
any government funding, and they may or may not be
being listened to by governments around the world. But there
are people who have us covered to an extent. Yeah,
that's a good preamble, thank you, I think. I guess
you know. The first thing we should talk about briefly
at least, are the couple of ways that this could

(03:32):
go down. Uh. One of them is far less interesting
than the other, which is to say, if we find
evidence of primitive life. Let's say let's say the Mars
rover UH finds and and there has been some promising
evidence of life on Mars. But if we find like
a mold or some weird you know, virus or just

(03:55):
microbes or anything on Mars, not super ex siding, but
they still have to sort of prepare how they would
handle that, and they have talked about that kind of thing,
and they basically have said that if that happened, there
would be like a joint press conference and all the
scientists would be involved, and then they would start studying

(04:15):
that stuff. I think the real money and sort of
the fun of this discussion comes when we talk about
intelligent life, because you know, that's what that's the money. Topic.
Is something more like close encounters of the third kind? No, definitely,
but there's a little more on discovering primitive life. What
you just described that press conference that already happened back

(04:36):
in with the a l H eight four zero zero
one meteorite that turned out to be a chunk of
four and a half billion year old um Mars basically
that had broken off at some point and landed in Antarctica.
And there is multiple um circumstantial evidence on this rock

(04:59):
that suggests that magnetic microbe inhabited this rock at some
point that maybe within you know, four and a half
billion years ago, there was microbial life on Mars and
we have evidence of it. There's a lot of people
out there who are are you know, very well versed
on this, who say it's still not proof of life.

(05:19):
There's it's still all just circumstantial evidence that, yeah, put
together is pretty convincing, but it's not convincing enough to say, yes,
there's life out there. But it's still up for debate,
even all these years later. So that that press conference
with the scientists who discovered it with skeptics who present
the opposite side, like that has actually been put into
practice before. But yes, I agree with you um finding

(05:43):
the UM like intelligent life elsewhere what are UM commonly
referred to as extraterrestrial intelligences or e t e s,
which sounds way smarter than just saying the aliens those
are that is that that's the money contact for sure,
right and you know, within that becomes the whole host

(06:03):
of UH issues And we're going to just kind of
talk about all those because there are a lot of
things that play here, you know, one is like, we
have no idea what that could look like. We have
no idea if you know, and we'll talk, you know,
all throughout this about different ways we might try and
communicate or pick up communication from them, but we have

(06:24):
no idea if that would even be possible, or if
they even have brains like we do that could process
any kind of communication like we do. So there's just
a lot of speculation when it comes to stuff like this. Uh,
and I think that some of it probably has been
informed by the movies a little bit, right, Yeah, I

(06:45):
think it absolutely has been informed by not just movies,
but like the science fiction um genre of like books
and rom coms for sure, a little bit definitely maybe
in there, um but but yes, But the reason why
is because science fiction writers have like a really long

(07:05):
upstanding history of making fairly accurate predictions or figuring out um,
you know, paradoxes, weird solutions to issues that that you know,
normal scientists aren't necessarily thinking about, and they've contributed to
the field. So it makes sense that we would kind
of lean on science fiction to come up with some
of these are letta influence us too. Yeah, and you know,

(07:29):
there are a lot of smart people thinking about this stuff.
There's a gentleman named Jacob hawk Misra who works at
Penn State University, go Nitney lyons uh and it is
an astronomer there and said basically, and this is in
an interview with Life Science, said, you know what we
would probably do if we did spot some sort of

(07:50):
intelligent life is we would probably or we should probably
slow our role and just sort of watch them for
a while from a distance, try and gather information, learn
as much as we can, and then maybe at some
point before we even send humans, send out like a
robot or something. Right. So, what he's talking about, right,

(08:13):
what he's talking about bears a really strong resemblance to
a military document from the fifties that no one has
a copy of but has been written of um by
people who supposedly have read it before back in the day.
It's called seven Steps to Contact, and it was basically
that plan. You know, we we find something, we sit

(08:35):
and observe it from a distance, we get a little closer.
There is a procedure where we abduct a member of
that species or whatever if we can to like learn
what we can from him, and then we announce our
presence and then we try to communicate, right and um,
communicating using like a probe um or some sort of

(08:55):
like computer makes a lot of sense, but it leads
us to a important kind of rule of thumb in
this this um this field, and that is that if
we humans have come up with it, there's a really
good chance that an advanced civilization that we will come
in contact with has actually done it already. So if
we've decided that space probe is probably the best way

(09:18):
to contact people, that's probably what we should be looking
for because that's probably what they will actually do. Yeah,
and this is where, you know, it's sort of a
it's sort of a heady thing to think about, but
the idea is that they would be an advanced, like
way more advanced civilization than we are. It's sort of

(09:38):
an assumption that if they contact us, or if we
can make contact with them, that they're way far ahead
of us in technology and that they have actually survived
uh beyond where we are now, which is uh technical
or technological adolescence. I mean, it seems like we've done
a lot, but you know, Lvia points out that we've

(10:00):
only been communicating you know, view radio via radio for
like a hundred years, so like we're super super young.
So the idea is that if there's something out there,
they're way more advanced, they've survived beyond that. They have
technology that is, uh, they have advanced that did not
end up killing them. So they survived what's called the

(10:20):
Great Filter, which we're not even I don't know how
you know better than I am. How close are we
to approaching that? Um, The predictions are within the next
hundred years, if we can serve out the next hundred years,
we might be okay of like advancing tech to the
point where tech then takes over and wipes us out. Yeah.

(10:41):
So if we can survive that the great filter, um,
that means that will have such a mastery of technology
that we can defend ourselves from extinction in any form, natural,
self imposed, whatever. We'll just we'll have such a mastery
of technology that it can't wipe us out and we
can't be wiped out. And so the lifespan of the

(11:01):
humans could go on for billions of years. So if
we detect an advanced civilization, what they tell us, Chuck,
is that it's possible to make it through the Great Filter,
because we don't know if that's the case or not.
All the evidence we have is that we're the only
intelligent life in the universe, So that that raises the question,
are we the only intelligent life in the universe because

(11:23):
all other intelligent life has destroyed itself as it's tried
to go through the Great Filter? And if so, does
that mean we're about to destroy ourselves because we're about
to go through the Great Filter? Or or was it
already in the past? Was it was there some other
stage and evolution that we've already gone through. And so
if we come in contact with an advanced civilization, they

(11:44):
show us that the Great filters probably behind us, and
we have a long, happy, technologically advanced life ahead of
us for our species. Right, we should probably break but
before we do, uh, I do want to mention that
that same Jacob Hawk Misra also points out kind of
the obvious, but we do need to mention it that

(12:05):
they may are like this whole idea that we could
be out there watching them. Potentially they may already be
out there watching us and we just don't know about it,
and then we would be in a reactive mode rather
than a proactive mode. And it's just something to think about.
We're not like trying to say aliens, man, but uh,
just because we don't know what's out there yet, doesn't

(12:27):
mean that they don't know that we're out there. No,
And it's again, it's probably not aliens. If we're being observed,
it's probably a probe of some sort. And the spot
doujure that people are suggesting where it would be hiding
out as in a co orbital asteroid out in the
asteroid belt UM that has the same orbit as Earth
around the Sun but doesn't orbit Earth. UM. That would

(12:48):
provide a really great um hidden spot to to check
out Earth and kind of keep tabs on us because
he would be crazy enough to fly their spaceship into
an asteroid field. Well, what's what's really exciting is like
we'll probably be mining asteroids in like the next fifty years.
So if that's the case, we would find that probe

(13:11):
and possibly Han Solo. That's right, super old Han Solo
with a single diamond earring for some reason. All right,
let's take that break and we will come back and
talk about a topic that we previously covered. Set right
for this, all right, we have a whole episode on

(13:51):
CD the Search for extraterrestrial intelligence? Was that one at
comic Con? No, because UFO one comic book. I think
that's the when you're thinking of, that's what I'm thinking of.
Those are always fun, the comic cons that is. Uh,
they were always fun because we had a mix of
like stuff you should know listeners but also sort of

(14:13):
arms crossed nerds entertained me. Yeah, that ended up liking
what we did generally. Yeah, So I just have to say, now,
anytime I hear comic kind have you seen Love on
the Spectrum US? The new season of Love on the Spectrum?
I never saw the old edition. Oh you gotta see.
So there's a new one and there's one um, one

(14:36):
regular person. Um, I want to say character, but it's like,
you know, real life. So there's one person on it.
Her name is Danny and she's like super into animation
and it's just laser focused on finding a partner who
is equally into animation as she is, which is really
tough because she's really into but um. One of her

(14:56):
first questions in any one of the dates she goes
on is have you heard of comic Con? Or do
you feel you would ever want to go to comic Con?
Or something similar to that. It's really super cute. I
think you can say, cast member, I think that still
covers reality. Oh it does. Okay, yes, so one of
the cast members named Danny Yeah. Um, alright, So CT,

(15:18):
like I said, search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. You can listen
to that full episode. Uh. There is a body, a
key body for CET called the International Academy of Arrow
I'm sorry, Astronautics. And they are non governmental and they
were founded in nineteen sixty and what they try to
do is bring together experts from all over the world. Uh.

(15:40):
I think there's seventy seven member countries at this point. Uh.
It is un recognize so it's not just you know,
a bunch of crackpots out there talking about aliens. And
they helped establish some protocols in the late eighties and
then updated them in um, just sort of some guidelines
about how to handle it if said he did find something. Yeah,

(16:01):
and they're really kind of basic and boring even when
you stop and think you're talking about discovering and searching
for extraterrestrial intelligence. But it's it's good that they do this.
They provided a baseline so that if you're a scientist
working in this field. You know, Oh, I can't speak
to the press, or oh I haven't haven't really confirmed
this discovery, so I shouldn't announce it yet. Like there's

(16:23):
just really basic guidelines that I think if you are
in the grip of having discovered something like this, it
would be really helpful to be able to refer to him,
I think. Yeah, And I think what's promising about these
guidelines is they talk a lot about being honest and
open with the press, like you said, and working together

(16:43):
with people from all scientists from all over the world,
in forming task groups and not jumping the gun. And
like if you you know, in the movies, if you
get a um, you know, the computer screen pops up
an alien signal, Like the first thing you do is
type back an answer like they eight no, no, no,
don't type back any answer. Uh, you're not the guy

(17:04):
in the chair. Uh. What we need to do is
like take our time with this stuff and consult everybody,
including the u N on like best next steps. Right,
the guy in the chair who's big, sweaty bearded and
has a really affectionate relationship with the heroin who's actually
interested in the male lead. Yeah, you just describe me
right now, except that guy has on a shirt, right,

(17:27):
So you've got what you've got searching. You do it transparently.
You're supposed to communicate with the public and as we'll see. Um,
that's you know, if you think about it, if you
pay any kind of attention to science journalism, there's all
sorts of discussion and talk about searching the stars for
extraterrestrial intelligence these days, and that is part of this,
this this protocol, like keep the public informed, tell them

(17:51):
everything you're doing, tell him what you're finding, and then
later on, as we'll see, tell them how excited they
should be about that. Well, yeah, I mean, I guess
we should talk about that. They actually have a scale
that they've developed to gauge how excited the general public
would be about finding something out. And it's called the
Rio scale, uh. And it was um proposed by astronomers

(18:15):
Yvonne Almar of Hungary and Jill Tarter of the United
States and two thousand and it's kind of funny. It's
based off the or at least modeled on, the Torino scale,
which is a scale of like, uh, the effects of
an asteroid hitting the Earth. But it's how excited would
the public be? And what's funny about it? It's a

(18:36):
zero to ten. And one of the examples that Livia
gives is, all, right, let's say they found a like
a pretty full proof report that they found of a
signal from intelligent or potentially intelligent life, but they found
it in the archives, like, hey, we dug this up

(18:57):
from two thousand two and it's confirmed and it was
a signal of alien life trying to speak to us.
That ranks a two out of ten. Right, it's a
when in two is um is nominally low importance. I
just think that's so telling of people in there, like
having to be so in the moment, like when did

(19:18):
this happen? Okay, yawn right right. So so it's not
just like how excited the public will be, it's also
how excited you should tell the public to be, like
how important refinding this is? Right? So you would turn
around and it's still it strikes me as really weird too, that, hey,
we found a beacon that we've confirmed is from an

(19:39):
intelligent life outside of our galaxy, but it's not that important.
That's weird. The while signal wasn't the Whatev's signal like
they were excited about it. They included an exclamation point
I should point out though, that same signal if they
found that like right now tomorrow, they said that would
rank as seven out of and so it would be

(20:01):
news year. I guess right, So seven is high importance
and then ten is oh my gosh, oh man, oh geez. Yeah,
that's that level of importance. Yeah, well, which is potentially
like panic level, right, it is because basically you've got
a um, you essentially have contact, is what a ten

(20:22):
would be, or a signal that is coming to us
from our solar system that we can like study. It's
it's all about how credible and reliable it is. And
the first RIO scale that was introduced in two thousand
I think you said, um, that was updated here there,
I think in two thousand three, and then in two thousand,
um eighteen, I believe there was an update to it,

(20:47):
so so much so that they call it RIO two
point oh. It was led by Duncan Forgan of the
Center for ex Planet Science at the University of St.
Andrew in Scotland. Go Scotland. Go uh, Golfers. I'm sure
it's the University of Senn Drew. UM and so he
and the company updated the Rio scale to make it
even more robust. And again it all comes down to

(21:10):
how credible is this information? Right? Like, how how credible
is this discovery? Can we study it? Um? What do
other scientists in the field think about it? And you
put all this together and then you say, actually, this
is low importance, this is high importance. This is as
important as it comes. And then you tell the public
we found something and the importance of it is as

(21:31):
important as it comes, or it's not that important, which
would be a tin which is she dances on the sand.
I don't know what that means, but I like the
sound of it. Chucked all right? Should I point it out?
Or should I let you just discover it later? Or
never at all? I think maybe someone will email and tell,
you know, point it out. I hate it when people

(21:52):
email this hony stuff that I missed. It was a
dad joke, an eighties uh kid of the eighties dad joke. Okay,
all right, I'm nothing, I've got maybe um Mr Mr No,
you're close. It's the Rio scale. She dances on the
same Yeah, that's great. I can't believe it. All right,

(22:14):
it was great. It's a great song. It is biproxy great.
Should we talk about SETA. Yeah, just one more thing
before we pass on from the Rio scale. Like one
of the important things is the reason why the scale
is so varied from like low importance to she dances
on the sand importance is Um, you're supposed to communicate

(22:39):
this to the public. If it's low importance, that doesn't
mean don't bother. It means go tell the public we
found this. But it's actually not that big of a deal.
It's it's instructing astronomers how to present this to the public.
You know, how excited you should tell them to be,
how important it is. Yeah. And then also before we
go on to SETA, once you actually have a detection,

(23:00):
there's that Setti Permanent Committee from the I A. A.
They have protocols for for when you do actually confirm
you have detected an alien signal or presence somehow set up. Yeah.
And so if they're if they're broadcasting on the electromagnetic band,
which we are out there looking for, um, so hopefully

(23:20):
that's what they're using, UM, that band would be protected.
Everybody else would get kicked off of that band, and
then that band would be studied as intensively as an
electromagnetic band has ever been studied in the history of humanity.
I love that. And then lastly, chuck um, there's a
there's a protocol not to respond. Again, you're the guy

(23:41):
in the chair, Like you said, you don't get to respond,
but so neither do the astronomers. Neither do like the
I A A like. It's meant to become an international
global discussion on how humanity should reply to this, and
that's based on the idea that how we reply is
going to have a really big impact on how the
conversation goes. Um from that point on, Well, yeah, because

(24:05):
what we don't know. And one of the things that uh,
I think would be the most pins and needles sort
of thing to find out is whether these E T
I s are what they call selfish or whether they're universalists.
So are they here to help us and say, you know,
we have all this great technology, then we can help

(24:26):
you out. By the way, we have a cure for cancer.
You might be looking for that. Or are they uh, well,
I guess that would be the universalist or are they selfish?
And are they here to conquer us? And there was
a researcher that you dug up that pointed out something
kind of key, which is sure, we wonder if they're
selfish or universalists, but I don't know if anyone's noticed.

(24:49):
Everything we talk about is how it benefits or uh
is bad for us. So we are definitely on the
selfish side because nobody at all is talking about how
we might be able to possibly help them. Right, And
it sounds pretty goofy and childish to say, like, you know,
they want to conquer us or whatever, but there's actually
like legitimate reasons and alien intelligence would want a conquress.

(25:13):
They might want our resources to exploit for their own uses.
That's a big deal. Um. They may also basically have
a their own protocol where anytime they meet intelligent life
they snuff it out because they don't want any potential
future rivals to come along, and it's not worth their
while to investigate that life further to see if it
ever would be arrival, so they just wipe it out

(25:35):
wherever they encounter it. So, yes, it sounds childish at first,
but when you start to think about it becomes a
little eye popping because they there there are universal you
would you would expect universal reasons for them to harm us,
and they're predicated on the idea that natural selection is
a universal phenomenon, that that that all life, or more

(25:58):
to the point, no life just comes fully formed into
being out of nowhere. It progresses from other forms of
life and develops along the way, and so you can
it makes sense that it would it would happen elsewhere
in the universe. And if that's the case, then yeah,
you can make a really good case, um that there
are that they're destructive intelligences out there that um just

(26:23):
wipe out competition and rivalry arrival or Yeah. The other
option too, though, is that's hanging out there, is they
may have initially been uh selfless or universalist or benevolent,
and then they either accidentally infect us somehow. I mean,
we've seen that if you look to our own past

(26:44):
of when you know, conquering colonialists invaded foreign lands and
brought their disease with them. I mean, it's not a
far stretch to think that could happen, you know, on
an interplanetary or I guess, uh, I'm well sure interplanetary
level or that doesn't happen and they come here and
they want to help us out, but then they study
us for a while and hang out, and they're like,

(27:06):
you people are awful if either they undermine us some
way by accident or on purpose, or then they decide
to wipe us out right because they place a higher
value on, you know, life in general. And they're like,
these guys are actually a threat to life in general.
So maybe if they're utilitarians, it would make sense for
them to eliminate us to save more life, you know,

(27:29):
because again, like if you let's say we actually did
encounter an advanced civilization, their perspective is much different than ours.
We have no idea how long humans will be around,
and frankly, those of us living today in the century
probably have a a shorter idea of what the human
lifespan is than people in the past, it, right, So

(27:51):
they're coming at it like these guys might be around forever,
and my who knows how technologically advanced they could become.
So they could see it as like beneficial to the
greater good by getting rid of us now, like like
going back and strangling Hitler in his crib when he
was a baby or something like that. That would be
their opportunity to do that, because we would be utterly

(28:11):
defenseless against the civilization that was so advanced it could
come visit us. We can send probes. But baby Hitler
is the human race exactly in this case, which is
really sad. But yeah, right, let's just move on to
seta which we were gonna do minutes ago. But I
told you this would be free wheeling, everybody, it was

(28:33):
so free wheeling. I have one other thing. Do you
really go ahead? I have two other things. Actually, So
there's we actually have um legitimate reason to believe that
that they wouldn't be a conquering type because number one,
they're very long lived. That's our assumption, right, And if
they're very long lived, they're probably a cooperative society. Because

(28:56):
non cooperative societies fight amongst themselves and can end up
wiping themselves out. They're much likelier too. So if we
encounter an advanced civilization that has very very long lived,
has been around for millions or billions of years as
a species, um, they probably are super peaceful because they
learned along the way and maybe even evolved along the
way to cooperate. So it would be more likely that

(29:17):
they would be those universalists that we met. Okay, And
then there's one other example of life here on Earth
where there was like positive contact, not necessarily between societies,
but between an encoded version of a society and a
new society. And that was when the Spanish Moors of
the twelfth century discovered lost Greek knowledge and they turned

(29:42):
around and introduced it to Europe, and it brought Europe
out of the medieval or Dark Ages into the Renaissance.
It was triggered just by this knowledge that had been lost.
So you can imagine that if we were suddenly bestowed
with a tremendous amount of new knowledge, who knows where
we could go with them? Well, yeah, And that brings
up a point, which is, um if we're talking about

(30:02):
what might happen if a super advanced civilization got in
touch with us, and you want to do that brain experiment,
one way to sort of go about that might be
to look back at our past and say, well, what's
happened in the history of humanity when the equivalent of
that has happened, which is like, let's say, uh, more
like advanced and it might as well have been aliens

(30:23):
contacting humans, but a much more advanced European nation like
going into a primitive tribe and you know, deepen the Amazon,
and the answer isn't pretty if you don't know anything
about world history. So if you want to look to
the past of how humans have uh kind of operated
when they're the advanced civilization, maybe a little humility going

(30:47):
forward and what might happen to us is in order,
you know, right for sure, And we'll talk about societal impacts.
But that really kind of um shifts a little light
on that foreshadows that at least that like whether we
wanted to feel humbled or not, we probably would if
we encountered an advanced civilization. All right, I think we
beat around the bush so far that we can actually

(31:07):
take a break, okay, and then talk about set us
at a port. Set is just sitting out there. It's
a fun bush to beat though, isn't it. It really is.
I like this kind of stuff. All right, We'll be
right back with SETA, I promise, okay, chuck um SETA.

(31:44):
I got a few more points to make. So if
SETI is the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, set UH is
the search for extraterrestrial artifacts. Because again, there's a lot
of people out there who say the best way to
explore the universe is through machine that we deploy and
then send back information and maybe you're so advanced that
they can actually serve as ambassadors for the civilization. Right,

(32:08):
So not only maybe that should be our way forward
for us, but with SETA, it's a search for extraterrestrial artifacts.
Is maybe we should also really really keep an eye out,
not just because typically we've been listening for things and
they said maybe we should also be looking for evidence
of a probe. Um as far as us doing it,

(32:29):
there's are some benefits. One is uh that maybe it
would uh that they wouldn't know where we're coming from,
Like we're not literally sending out a beacon from where
we are just in case they are dangerous. So if
they found our probe, unless it was stamped made in
the USA, which it probably would be with the map Dallas, Texas, Uh,

(32:54):
that they wouldn't know where we are. So there is
potential benefit there. But um, I think Seta's entry saying
the idea that we should be looking for stuff out there,
maybe in those asteroid fields. Yeah. So back in the
mid eighties, a couple of steady researchers, Robert Frieda's Jr.
And Francisco Valdi's or valds um. They basically said, there's

(33:18):
we can conceive of three different classes of artifacts that
you could that that like an intelligence, an extra terrestrial
intelligence might send out UM. And they weren't talking about like,
you know, this this kind of von Newman probe or
something like that. They were saying, like, as far as
detection goes, it would be put into into three categories.

(33:39):
The first one is ones that actively seek out other intelligences,
the second one is ones that avoid detection, and then
the third one are ones where the extraterrestrial intelligence is
indifferent to whether we find it or not. And after
examining it, they said, we should be looking exclusively for
class three artifacts X because class one UM we would

(34:03):
have detected already because they would have come and found
us if they were seeking attention. And then class two
we're never going to find because this is an advanced civilization.
So we would just guess that they would be able
to keep us from knowing that that we were being watched. Yeah,
like maybe they have just you know, figured out invisibility.

(34:23):
Something's basically that sure, Yeah, so we should look for
the ones where they're like who cares if they find
this old space junk, right, and that's actually what um
umuamuah is thought to be by at least one astronomer.
You know about that excuse you, Mua? Was that the
guy uh that's working on the Galileo project? Now Lobe? Yeah,

(34:46):
av Lobe al right, well, yeah, to talk about Mua,
then we'll talk to about the Galileo project. I think okay,
So muamua um means I think like visitor um and
it was owned in two thousand seventeen. We're not quite
sure what it is. It's probably a hunk of a planet.
But the one thing everybody agrees on it's not from

(35:08):
our Solar system. It's from another star system because it
doesn't move like anything in our star system does UM.
But it's supposedly has been observed exhibiting um gravitational acceleration
non gravitational acceleration, meaning it's accelerating faster than gravity would

(35:28):
would suggest it would on its own right, which means
like it might be propelled by something, which is crazy
to think about. And that av Lobe we were talking
about is a Harvard astronomer and came out and was
one of the only people that came out and says,
you know, straight up, I think this is alien technology.
And so abb Lobe is who launched the Galileo Project

(35:51):
in one which is the only sort of active set
a thing that we have going right now, and right
now they are. There was the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Report
last year from the U s Office of the Director
of National Intelligence, and that's basically I mean, they were
meeting about that even just recently, you know, the government,

(36:12):
the US government that is finally saying like, all right,
we don't need to be like, uh, embarrassed about talking
about this stuff. There are things that we've seen that
we can identify. They are unidentified flying objects that like
our military has seen, like our best pilots are reporting about,
so we should start talking about this. And part of
that was this report, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Report in

(36:37):
the Galileo project is sort of combing through that also
has some telescopes going now watching for objects. Uh. I'm
not sure like how vast that is at this point,
but it's just launched a year ago, so I'm sure
they're getting going. Yeah, And we should say av Lobe
is viewed um alternatively as a genius or a maverick

(36:58):
or rogue or crack pot. But he does have, you know,
legitimate bona fides. He's not one of those guys. He's like,
you know, um, he parks his camper on the campus
of Harvard, So he's a Harvard astronomer. Like he's a
legitimate He was the head of the astronomy department for
quite a while, I believe, so. Um. Yeah, he thinks
from what I read, that UMA is billions of year

(37:23):
old defunct alien probe that no longer works or operates
and just happened to stumble into our solar system for
us to find accidentally. What does it look like? You?
I didn't even look it up. I should have. It
looks like a kind of cigars shaped. Um. It's apparently
between three hundred and three thousand feet long, um, and

(37:45):
a hundred and fifteen and five hundred forty eight feet thick.
I'm looking at it now. You're generous with the cigar.
It looks like a joint. Okay, straight up. Yeah, it
looks like a spliff, it does. Um. So yeah, it
looks like an alien spliff is probably what it is.
Maybe they're sending us a message. I've never used the

(38:06):
word spliff before in my life until just now. Yeah,
I don't say that word either for us. I think, oh,
is that hip? It didn't used to be. Oh, I
don't know. I think it was. I think it was
European maybe at first, right, didn't used to be Yeah,
I don't know. We we are so in cool. I

(38:27):
have no idea, So, Chuck, if we run into somebody,
or somebody finds us, or we just detect life and
are figure out a way to communicate with it, um,
we're gonna immediately hit a wall because the idea that
will be able to communicate with an extraterrestrial intelligence presumes

(38:50):
a lot of factors and variables that would have to
be in place that may or may not and if
you take one or two of them out, we're totally
up the creek as far as communicating goes. Yeah, that's
why I always loved close Encounters of the third kind,
because even as a kid, I remember thinking how cool
it was that they didn't just like hold up a

(39:11):
sign that said hey, how are you, and that they
used uh, and that they used you know, the doo
doo doo doo doo and the lights. I just I
thought that was kind of cool because that is, you know,
we don't know if they even have the same senses
that we have as far as hearing something or seeing something. Uh.

(39:35):
There was there is a book that someone put out
a German mathematician name Hans Freudenthal, called lynkos l I
n c O S colon Design of a Language for
Cosmic intercourse and by that he means speaking to one another.
I think, uh, and this it's kind of funny. Libya

(39:57):
included a quote from an astrophysics just that said, it's
the most boring book I've ever read. Logarhythm tables are
cool compared to it. Uh, And it sounds like it's
not anything you'd want to read, but it is. Link
HOS is this radio wave language that this guy came
up with that basically conveys symbols from math and science

(40:20):
from Latin uh, symbolic logic. And it starts very fundamental
and then gets like these are numbers and they're conveyed
to you through pulses, and then it gets a little
more advanced as as it goes. Uh. Not to say
that link os is like everyone's like, oh, we should
just use link os, but it is to say that
very very smart people have thought about like how do

(40:42):
we even think about think about communicating with these things? So,
from what I can tell, like you could use linkos,
it would be something that we could try to use.
It's that it's like that established, you know, and um,
that book actually kicked off a field of study that's
still around today and I think just kind of getting

(41:03):
going called zeno linguistics, which is basically the idea of
how do you speak to a culture that you you
don't share anything in common with? Potentially, Yeah, because if
we talk to an extra trust real intelligence, it will
be unlike talking to anything that we've ever tried to
talk to before, including non human animals, because non human

(41:24):
animals have shared a lot of the same experiences that
we have here on Earth. I saw it pointed out
in one paper humans share fifty of our DNA with
a carrot. Right, these intelligence we would have basically nothing
in common with no shared experiences, and like you said,
we might not even have the same senses. And so

(41:46):
when you start to see like what's stacked up against us,
Like what if they don't communicate using their eyes or
their mouths or sound, and they they use magnets instead
or magnetism, we would it would be totally lost on us.
We might not even sense it in any way, shape
or form, and even if we did, we wouldn't know
how to put it into whatever thought they were trying

(42:07):
to convey. Yeah, I mean there are very smart people. Uh,
there's a gentleman named John Billingham who is a leader
in that field in US social psychologist name Roger Haynes,
who have worked a lot with historians, historians and scientists
and psychologists about how to do this and the repercussions.
But there are people like Bellingham that have said, hey,

(42:29):
this is likely impossible, Like we should think about these scenarios,
but we should all prepare ourselves for the fact that
we just may not be able to communicate with them
at all ever, right, and even if we do, um,
we would be communicating with them on intergalactic distances, which
is Carl Sagan put out, like, even if we're if

(42:51):
we communicate with somebody fifty light years away, which is
pretty close considering how big the universe is, um our
conversation back and forth would still take a hundred earth years.
So not only would we have to gather everybody together
to come up to some consensus on what we're going
to say. We would have to keep that that consensus

(43:13):
and that level of coordination and cooperation going over multiple
generations just to have one back and forth. Yeah, Like,
people are working on this and they know that their
great granddaughter is going to follow through on it or
the hope. The hope is that they will, right, which
is kind of cool if you think about it. It
is something that could really bring humanity together. It could

(43:36):
also be just another thing that divides us further, because
I mean we once the last time we came to
a global consensus on anything, you know, have we ever? Yeah?
I mean yeah. Uh. It is an interesting thought experiment
though to think about. And these are the things that
these groups of people that John Billingham and Rogerhans get
together and they talk about this stuff. Is to explore

(43:58):
the idea of like is there like one of some
of the first things that we should want to find
out is is there a universal set of ethics or morals?
Do they believe in something like a god like we do? Um?
Did they evolved at all? Are they? Uh? Do they
only look at things as like predators in prey? Like

(44:18):
are we screwed to begin with, UM, would they mirror
us at all? So it's all really really heavy and interesting,
I think, And I just think it's cool that people
are out there thinking of this stuff. Yeah, and and
there are people thinking of it for sure, but UM
probably not enough. And in group of researchers got together,

(44:38):
led by Katherine Denning and Stephen dick Um, and they
created a white paper that was signed by NASA researchers,
CET members, other experts UM who basically said, Hey, we
need to be throwing a lot more funding at it,
we need to be doing a lot more research, and
this is important. And they they cited the World Economic
Forum back in two thousand teen. Every year the World

(45:00):
Economic Form puts out of Global Risks paper and in
two thousand thirteen they included a list of X factors,
which are possibilities in the not too distant future that
could happen to humanity that we just couldn't possibly predict for,
especially because we're not doing anything to try to predict.
And one of those X factors was UM being contacted

(45:25):
or discovering life off of Earth. Yeah, I would say
that's pretty high on the list. You know. The other ones. Yeah,
runaway climate change, um uh, profound cognitive enhancement, like I
had them tattooed on my forearm in Elfish um robe

(45:47):
geo engineering projects that that could be a problem because
there's actually like rich people thinking about doing stuff like that,
and then the cost of living longer, which I thought
I found fascinating, But it's true, like we can barely
support human through age eighty now, socially speaking, how are
we going to support people if that the life expectancy

(46:07):
doubles in the next fifty years. Yeah, it's a good quay.
I gotta say. If you're probably um too shy to
plug your own show, but if this kind of stuff
interests you, guys, you should definitely if you haven't already
listened to the End of the World with Josh Clark,
your ten part series Tin right, yeah, Tin, thank you.

(46:29):
It's great and it's very hetty and smart and thought provoking.
So um, I'm plugging it. That is very nice, Thank you, Chuck.
I pretty sure it lives on. It's still there. It is.
It's still there to to go be listened to if
you want to listen to it for free wherever you
get podcasts. It's not old news. It's free. Yeah, no,

(46:49):
it's definitely still out there because the world hasn't ended yet.
That's what I always say. Somebody should jump on that
and do a limited series documentary on it. I've talked
to a couple of people about it, and it just
hasn't ever quite worked or worked out, So it's it's
still I'm still open to the idea for sure. Well,
that just goes to show how hard it is to
get any TV project off the ground, which you know, really,

(47:13):
but if anyone out there is does that kind of stuff,
you should get in touch with Josh and man, Chuck,
I owe you a fiver at least for this. Well,
just don't quit the show if that happens, and we're
all good, I definitely won't this This is where my
heart is, man good work wise, Yeah, sure I didn't
have to pull that out, but sure you got Well.
I didn't want anybody think I was like a total
weirdo loser, you know, right, he loves work Lengthinge's Yeah.

(47:37):
Usually home is where the heart is, Josh, Right, you
got your priorities mixed up? You got anything else? Nothing else?
All right? Everybody? Well, since Chuck said nothing else and
plugged the end of the world with Josh Clark quite nicely. Uh.
That means it's time for a listener mail. That's right. Uh,
And there's nothing like a nice, intelligent, heady discussion um,

(48:00):
followed by pedantic you said the wrong words email. So
this is a This is a nice guy. Though I
like Danny. Hey guys, a long time listener is he
was very squeamish about even mentioning these things. I'm a
longtime listener. I love it everything you guys do, and
I hate that I am giving into pedantry. But the
amazing Free Press episode was all I could take. Naturally,

(48:22):
with that topic, I believe Chuck said people's voices were
being squashed. I hate to say it, Chuck. The word
is quashed. And the reason I hate to say it
is it squashed is a much more fun word to say.
I'll probably still say squashed because I just like saying it.
You're not off the hook, though, either, my friend. Uh,

(48:43):
while I'm on it, so sorry, I have to get
it off my chest that it bugs me when Josh
says to look up contemporary articles about a topic, meaning
from the topics time period. This is an amazing insight.
But the word he's looking for is contemporaneous. Contemporary will
always mean articles from right now. Contemporaneous means from the
same time as that topic. Can't you see Danny like

(49:06):
at his computer and his hands are shaking because he's
using all his might to stop himself. He's like, can't
just correcting? I think that was the deal, he says.
Please don't roast me for being a pedant. You guys
are a true inspiration. I wouldn't say anything about it
if I thought it would offend you, and know how
graceful you are about such things. So Danny really set
us up where we had really did. Let's be nice. Yeah,

(49:29):
good email, Danny, thanks for sending it. It was And Danny,
if I start using contemporaneous in reference to articles from
a certain time, it's because of you, that's right, And
we as evidence that we didn't squash your voice. We
are open to criticism. That's very good. Check. If you
want to be like Danny, just don't just send us

(49:49):
an email about something else. You can wrap it up,
spank it on the bottom, and send it off to
Stuff podcast at I heart radio dot com. Stuff you
should know is a production of i heart Radio. For
more podcasts My heart Radio, visit the i heart Radio app,
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