Class Warfare Blog

December 30, 2017

Are UFOs Real?

Filed under: Science — Steve Ruis @ 11:27 am
Tags: , ,

This is a quite stupid question that keeps getting muddled. Of course UFOs are real, but that is not the problem. The real problem is with the “U,” that is they are unidentified.

Many people, apparently, want these UFOs to be evidence of visitations from extraterrestrials, i.e. real aliens. That interpretation is still open.

So, UFOs are real. They are real mistaken identities, real secret weapons systems, and real we don’t know what the heck they are. But what about the aliens? Most people are ignorant of basic science, so allow me to establish some parameters based upon known scientific limits. One of those limits is that as a physical object, such as a spacecraft approaches the speed of light, really any sizable fraction of it, the amount of energy needed to increase the object’s speed goes up, well astronomically. This makes moving a space craft along at the speed of light essentially impossible, but let’s assume, for the sake of this discussion, that such a feat, travel at the speed of light, were possible.

If any neighbor of ours wanted to come our way, what do you think would be a reasonable travel distance? I suggest a reasonable limit to that distance is 100 light years. If a planet is 100 light years away (the distance light were to travel in 100 years) and it had a spacecraft capable of doing what we think impossible, traveling at the speed of light, they would be undertaking a trip that would take 100 years to get here and 100 years to get back. Even if these space faring aliens lived incredibly long lives, that is a very long time to be cooped up in a spacecraft, exposed to the hazards of space travel (nasty radiation that cannot be blocked out, the vacuum of space, tiny meteoroids that can and do punch holes through spacecraft, no refueling/reprovisioning stations along the way so you have to bring everything with you, etc.). The boredom alone would make the trip daunting.

So, there is a region in space surrounding our planet, that is 100 light years in radius from which we could reasonably expect a possible visit. How does this compare with the size of the rest of the universe? The universe is 14 billion or so years old, so its radius is about 14 billion light years. To compare the volumes, we need to cube the radii of both “spheres” and we end up with a ratio of 1003 to 14,000,000,0003. That means our little neighborhood constitutes roughly 3.6 x 10–23 of one percent of the entire universe (just add a decimal point and 22 zeros in front of the 3 and you can drop the rest).

We could conclude, therefore, that our little bubble in space also contains that fraction of the space faring intelligent alien species in the universe, too. Oh.

If you have ever wondered why we don’t see “them,” this is why.

Oh, I didn’t mention the time problem. The universe is 14 billion years old and we have been looking for aliens for maybe 100 years … to make a long story short, we have a similar fraction of time in which such encounters could occur. Space faring aliens may have come and gone, too far away to make contact, millions of times and we couldn’t possibly have noticed them as we were not looking.

There is a reason why science fiction authors are constantly inventing methods of travel (wormholes, warp drives (whatever that is), etc.). The inventor of the warp drive was cagey enough to not define what a warp number meant. Most people think it is like the Mach system with the speed of light replacing the speed of sound, so Warp 5 is five times the speed of light. The Star Trek shows seem to indicate that a limit to their technology was travel at about Warp 10. If this actually represents ten times the speed of light, then that expands our bubble 1000 fold! Hooray! Which brings our percent of the universe within reasonable travel times to 3.6 x 10–20 of one percent. Oh.

If you happen to be a theist and are wondering why a creator god would have created so much of the universe inaccessible to us, you may want to consider that he wanted to keep all of his created creatures separated for a reason (maybe until we learn that Kill, kill, kill! is not a good first response to anything strange), or maybe he enjoys a good joke, or maybe he is just perverse, or….

33 Comments »

  1. I guess we just have to travel at the speed of thought. Ever thought yourself somewhere? Ah Mexico 🇲🇽

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by jim- — December 30, 2017 @ 12:53 pm | Reply

    • Tequilla helps with them Mexican thought vacations!

      On Sat, Dec 30, 2017 at 12:53 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 30, 2017 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  2. This editorial is accurate on the subject of UFOs, and accurate concerning the possibility of extraterrestrial visitations to the extent of our current scientific understanding. I’d like to offer a few thoughts on the latter, however.

    In all of human history, we have continually imposed universal limits on technology based on our contemporaneous levels of knowledge. If we can’t do something, then it cannot be done by anyone… as the rationale asserts. But, this parochial anthropocentrism has been proven wrong time after time. Man couldn’t fly, until he did. The sound barrier couldn’t be broken, until it was. Man couldn’t land on the Moon… etc., etc., etc. To assume that extraterrestrial species, if they exist, could not have evolved beyond our current state and developed technologies far in advance of ours defies logic and reason.

    For example, wormholes are hypothetical phenomena which are consistent with Einstein’s General Relativity. Therefore, they are scientifically possible. Furthermore, private and public organizations in the U.S. have been conducting research into gravity propulsion systems since the 1950s (e.g. Gravity Research Foundation, Aerospace Research Laboratories, Research Institute for Advanced Study (RIAS)). These are just two ways in which the interstellar distance problem could be solved.

    Why don’t we see extraterrestrial visitors? Either they don’t exist, or they don’t want to be seen. Still, many people do claim to have seen them. Regardless, if they do exist and are visiting Earth, I seriously doubt they would land on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and announce: “Here we are, bring on the TV cameras!”

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Robert A. Vella — December 30, 2017 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  3. This is one of my favorite subjects. I’ve blogged extensively about the topic of ETIs, the Drake Equation, and Fermi’s Paradox. UFOs, if they are ever actually turned into IFOs, would most likely never contain biological entities. It’s highly unlikely that any intelligent inter-solar system traveling species would send anything other than robotic agents as investigatory or monitoring probes. If UFOs, which, you’re right — there they are, they exist — are ever proven to be of ETI origin, they will be robotic.

    The likelihood of Earth being a target for ETI investigation is well founded. Earth’s spectroscopic signature, that of O2 at high concentrations, with H2O, methane and CO2 varying in ratios over the last 2.5+ billion years, is exactly what we ourselves are looking for in exoplants. So, Earth has been advertising “Life Here” for plenty of time to have been discovered by Von Neuman probes for a helluva long time.

    My personal feeling is that UFOs are unidentified precisely because there’s nothing to identify. ETIs do not exist. We are alone in the Universe.

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    Comment by Anony Mole — December 30, 2017 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

    • Personally (altho’ interested but not versed), I think your suggestion that any “visitors” would be robotic makes good sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Nan — December 30, 2017 @ 3:45 pm | Reply

    • Can’t agree with you there. How many planets have we explored? How many solar systems? … compared to how many there are. Life seems quite tenacious and quite adept at harvesting energy and stars are really large, long-lived energy sources. I would be shocked to find ourselves alone.

      On Sat, Dec 30, 2017 at 2:36 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 30, 2017 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

      • If the subject interests you, you might find Isaac Arthur’s youtube channel entertaining. He’s got quite the backlog, but his Fermi Paradox playlist is apropos’.

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        Comment by Anony Mole — December 31, 2017 @ 11:32 am | Reply

    • Have you read the Bobiverse books? Not hard sci fi, but interesting nonetheless.

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      Comment by john zande — December 30, 2017 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

      • Not yet… But I think a few of the youtubers of the topic have recommended them. I’ll have to add them to my to-read list.

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        Comment by Anony Mole — December 31, 2017 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  4. I believe they’re out there (thinking intelligent beings) or have been out there or will be out there. But I think the distances and time are too vast for contact…probably ever. But to think we may be the only ones ever, has implications that I don’t like at all. I would find that distressful because we are going to eventually “blow it” here. It’s just a matter of time. And, as an atheist, my belief is that this could imply a supernatural out of time force of creation that was extremely wasteful, small minded and even biblical in cruelty, revenge and violence.

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    Comment by Mary — December 30, 2017 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

    • I understand the “design” part … but intelligent? Hardly.

      On Sat, Dec 30, 2017 at 3:41 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 30, 2017 @ 8:41 pm | Reply

  5. Well, according to some actual scientists, real UFO’s do exist. There have been documented UFO’s that are not hoaxes, not faked photos, not photoshopped, and yet cannot be identified. That makes them unidentified flying objects, if they were flying any way. However, just because we may not be able to identify what these objects may be does not make them extraterrestrial. They may be, but probably are not.
    I am certain that intelligent life does exist in other places in this vast universe. Unfortunately, I doubt we will ever contact said intelligent life. The distances are so vast unless we invent some sort of faster than light method of communications, well……
    I’d love to be around to see us make actual contact with some other intelligent life forms “out there”. Maybe we should reread some of the books by Douglas Adams. He who wrote the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” and the “Restaurant at the End of the Universe” also did one called “Goodby and thanks for all the fish” where in all the dolphins leave planet earth just before the planet explodes or some sort of disaster strikes it. It has been too long since I last read that one to give the exact details of why the dolphins left, but they DID thank us for all the fish we gave them as we watched them preform tricks for us at various marine parks.
    And no, I am not being sarcastic in this comment in any way at all. Just giving my honest opinion, nothing more, nothing less. See, I am not always a sarcastic SOB.

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    Comment by Walter Kronkat — December 30, 2017 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

  6. This makes moving a space craft along at the speed of light essentially impossible

    Ah ha! The solution: stop. Stop completely. Sink anchors, and stop yourself. Break relativity. Stop, and watch the universe fly past. Slow yourself well past ‘stop,’ and watch it fly by even faster.

    Like

    Comment by john zande — December 30, 2017 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

    • Do stop, John … seriously. :o)

      On Sat, Dec 30, 2017 at 7:52 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 30, 2017 @ 8:42 pm | Reply

      • LOL

        You like that, though? It’s my solution for travel i’ve devised for a sci fi short I’m penning.

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        Comment by john zande — December 30, 2017 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

        • Okay, stop relative to what? I assume you mean getting off of the merry-go-round and letting it whiz by.

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          Comment by Steve Ruis — December 31, 2017 @ 9:53 am | Reply

          • Exactly. Jump, and watch the earth fly by underneath you. Don’t worry about the physics, that’s what manifolds are for, and it’s sci fi.

            Like

            Comment by john zande — December 31, 2017 @ 10:11 am | Reply

            • The suspension of disbelief is always minimized by the better writers, though. You are asking for the law of inertia to be canceled which sounds more like magic. This would work in a comedic setting, of course. (The hero points out the obviously wrong reason as being obviously right.) Is that your intention?

              On Sun, Dec 31, 2017 at 10:11 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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              Comment by Steve Ruis — December 31, 2017 @ 10:14 am | Reply

              • It’s hard for me not to think in comedic terms, but this one is meant to be serious. And yes, I use terms like “gentle but persuasive magic…”

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                Comment by john zande — December 31, 2017 @ 10:39 am | Reply

              • …But no, i’m not cancelling it. Everything is still all moving relative to everything else. If, though, you pop a manifold around you, sink down some exceptionally deep anchors (block holes) you ca, with some gentle magic, ‘stop.’

                Like

                Comment by john zande — December 31, 2017 @ 10:41 am | Reply

                • There ain’t no magic in sci-fi … only the appearance of magic using superior tech. So you are talking a fantasy work.

                  On Sun, Dec 31, 2017 at 10:41 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                  Comment by Steve Ruis — December 31, 2017 @ 10:56 am | Reply

                  • No, sci fi. It’s not “magic,” just words. If you’ve read Robert Reeds books you’ll understand.

                    Like

                    Comment by john zande — December 31, 2017 @ 10:57 am | Reply

                    • There has to be sci behind the fi, not magic, is all I am saying.

                      On Sun, Dec 31, 2017 at 10:57 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Liked by 1 person

                      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 31, 2017 @ 11:41 am

                    • There is, but it’s sufficiently sciency to be like magic to we poor sods today 😉

                      Like

                      Comment by john zande — December 31, 2017 @ 11:49 am

  7. ” The inventor of the warp drive was cagey enough to not define what a warp number meant. Most people think it is like the Mach system with the speed of light replacing the speed of sound, so Warp 5 is five times the speed of light. The Star Trek shows seem to indicate that a limit to their technology was travel at about Warp 10.”
    Uh, that’s not true. There have been two official warp scales. The simpler one (theoretically used in the original series, when it bothered to be consistent) was that it equaled the speed of light times the cube of the warp factor.
    For some reason, starting with TNG, they started using a different one that follows some kind of formula that’s about the same for lower warp factors, but makes Warp 10 infinite.
    It’s also literally in the basic premise of Voyager that it would take that ship 70 years to get home from the other side of our galaxy, implying a speed over 1,000 times the speed of light.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by D.T. Nova — December 30, 2017 @ 9:14 pm | Reply

  8. “…the time problem…”

    Indeed. This is the big one for me. We simply don’t know how long civilizations survive. It’s only been 10,000 years or so since we invented farming and villages. If ETs visited our planet 11,000 years ago and found hunter-gather tribes scratching tick bites in the woods, they wouldn’t have landed. Just observed and flew away. If ETs visit 5,000 years in the future, will our society still be here? Possibly not.

    Like

    Comment by Anderson Connors — December 31, 2017 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

    • And if you take those 16,000 years and divide by 14 billion, you end up with another tiny fraction of the existence of the universe we could be in the position to receive visitors.

      On Sun, Dec 31, 2017 at 1:04 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 31, 2017 @ 8:24 pm | Reply


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