Intelligent life out there?

Last night on TV (Thursday 9/2/99) I caught a snippet of a news magazine show (I think it was on ABC) that listed three good reasons why, if there is intelligent life out there, we haven’t “met” them yet.

They said:

  1. They were here earlier but “there was no one to talk to” and went on to explain how humans have only been around for a miniscule amount of earth time.
  2. “It’s a matter of scale”, implying that maybe they’re here now but they’re just too small for us to detect.
  3. That intelligence life simply is so rare that we haven’t bumped into them yet (for instance, we consider humans to be “intelligent” but there have been a billion viable species in earth’s history that have managed just fine without “intelligence”.)

Then they said that there was one more theory to consider and they’ll tell you after the commercial break. I never got back to the show. Did anyone see what the other theory was?

Well, I have one of my own. WE consider ourselves intelligent. But have WE scooted off to the far reaches of the universe yet? Nope. Maybe there is intelligent life out there, but dang it, it’s hard to travel that far to earth! I think we expect intelligent life out there to be miracle workers, beaming around on some advanced technology. What if they’re just like us? Smart, but pretty much stuck in their neighborhood?

Any thoughts? Cheers!

“They” have been monitoring out radio and television transmissions and have determined that there is no intelligent life on Earth.

Common ¢ for all ages…
Doncha just hate word problems?
“If it takes a four-month old woodpecker, with a rubber bill, 9 months and 13 days to peck a hole through a Cypress log that is big enough to make 117 shingles, and it takes 165 shingles to make a bundle worth 93¢, how long will it take a cross-eyed grasshopper, with a cork leg, to kick all the seeds out of a dill pickle?”

Why don’t you check this web site: SETI.FAQ?


Men will cease to commit atrocities only when they cease to believe absurdities.

I didn’t see the show, but I think it’s more likely that when they say “it’s a matter of scale” they didn’t mean size of the life, but the “size of universe” factor you later brought up.

Brando: [[What if they’re just like us? Smart, but pretty much stuck in their neighborhood?]]

Or even if they’re NOT stuck in their own neighborhood. Have you ever visited East Succotach, West Dakota? Even if you’d heard of it, even if you knew there were people there, would you bother?

We humans think we’re pretty hot stuff, but other people might not agree.

Rich Barr
AOL Instant Messenger: Hrttannl


Thanks for your reply. But they really were talking about the size of the life form. In fact, along with aliens being too microscopic, they also mentioned that maybe the aliens are too big for us to detect (which I can’t even imagine, but oh well).

Good day!

That’s it! Aliens are really tectonic plates! They are currently having a debate between those who follow the Prime Directive and those who are more Interventionist in nature. The Interventionists keep rumbling into the Primers. The Primers have gathered themselves into mountain ranges to hold off the Interventionists, but the ensuing feud still causes earthquakes, aiding the Interventionists cause.


No basis, no citation, no foundation, no reference, I just want to comment and give you an anal probe and then I’ll be gone.

It’d be pretty damn conceited of us humans to actually believe that we’re the “only ones.”

Veni, Vidi, Visa … I came, I saw, I bought.

Actually, I think that it would be pretty damn conceited to believe that there are a zillion species out there, but that we’re being avoided for some reason.

A lot of these ideas have borrowed (i.e., stolen) from Enrico Fermi, Frank Tipler, and others. However, reasons that we don’t see the galaxy swarming with intelligent life:
[list=1][li]We’re the first (somebody has to be)[/li][li]The evolution of a level of intelligence sufficient to support an industrial civilization is, in fact, so rare that we shouldn’t expect to see more than one per galaxy[/li][li]Interstellar travel is much harder than we think it is[/li][li]Industrial civilizations destroy themselves (nuclear war, resource exhaustion, Kyoto protocol, etc.) before they establish an interstellar colony[/li][li]Industrial civilizations quickly reach the point where their members spent all their time surfing the Web instead of planting interstellar colonies[/li][li]Intelligent species are much less adaptable to different environments than humans and[/li][list=1][li]are incapable of adapting to other planets, or[/li][li]don’t realize this and kill themselves off trying[/list=1][/list=1][/li]It should be noted that essentially all of these arguments are arguments against the existence of other industrial civilizations. Flintknappers may come three to a given star, but we’ll never know unless we go there ourselves.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

I’m a christian and I do believe intelligent life is out there.
I think most fellow christians will freak hearing this but God is an ET.
(hard to create a place you,re from)
Scientist used to look for other places with oxygen, light, water &
a certain tempature range when looking for ET’s possible home.
Now the’ve found life here on earth that they’d never imagined 10 years ago. We look at the universe thru our eyes. We have our scences to acquire input for our nurons and electrical impulses etc… to interpret and percieve our universe, world and reality itself our way.
We ourselve have developed, than expanded our capabilites beyond our physical limatations thru technology to better interact with our universe.
Each step has been based on our perceptions and interactions with our own environment. 'Dolfins, earth worms, moles, birds etc… all have different aspect to deal with and overcome. If we’d been them our technolodgy be different.
perception is what I’m getting at.
Using technology we can percieve and realize things we couldn’t otherwise.
What if other creatures percieve things totally differently. What if they see sound and hear colors. ( we can today using radio astronamy ) Maybe instead of seeing light thru there eyes they see objects by the ripples and waves in magnitism or gamma radiation. People are to limited at the way they think of things. Space, Time, Reality etc…
are all just definitions to help us
cumpute or rationalize our perceptions & events based on the way
we interact with the atoms molicules, radiations, and energies of our suroundings.
Life, Reality, time, Space, all this could be totally different under different cercumstances. Our world is percieved by us our way. They could cruise by us and not even see us. (Our magnetic signature might be too low for an example). And we might not see them. Maybe they zip around too fast ( like flash the comic hero )
For us to detect. I don’t think our reality exist anywhere but here. And only to us.


Akatsukami got it right, an phenomenon I’ve noticed in other forums. But it’s difficult to argue criteria that are by their nature speculative and/or subjective.

His reason #3, about interstellar travel being difficult, is the most easy for us mere earthlings to understand, especially when combined with Rich Barr’s example of going to East Succotash.

Pretend you’re an advanced civilization and wanted to set out to meet the neighbors. You have a lot of resources, but they’re not unlimited. Likewise, your species has a limited life span, or at least limited patience. So you can only send out so many missions, and each mission can go only so far (299,792,458 meters per second – not just a good idea, it’s the law).

Your first choice might be to go visit places that you have evidence that intelligent life exists. That ain’t earth, because we’ve only been producing radio waves of any strength for a little while. Evidence of our existence hasn’t even reached most of the denser parts of the galaxy. (insert quips about “intelligent life” and “denser parts” here)

Next, you might choose simply to head out into a planet-rich area and see what’s what. For most places, we’re not on the wish list that alien scientists take to the Council of Elders when mission planning. Take a look at a map of the galaxy and you’ll see that we really are in the cosmic equivalent of nowhere.

So for all we know, there could already be groups of little green men communicating with each other and even visiting. If so, they might even be contemplating a stop in our little arm of the milky way. But first they have to go through more likely possibilities, so don’t clear a landing field for them just yet.

Or we could be it, space-travel wise, but that would be a shame.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

Brando, to get back to your original question, I caught most of the same show, although I think I came in 5-10 minutes in. I remember the “they were here, where were we?” hypothesis, and the question-of-scale (re Voltaire’s ‘Micromegas’ character) and the ‘rarity of life’ argument. I believe the final issue that was raised was that there may be life on the moon of Jupiter called Europa, for the same reasons we (as I believe you referred to) discovered life around mid-ocean volcanic vents.

What kind of surprised, disappointed, and disgusted me was that they didn’t even touch on the obvious possibility that there *are * intelligent forms of life ‘out there’ and we are encountering them on a virtual daily basis – but I guess you can’t blame Stossel for not wanting to open that particular vermiform repository. He did only have one hour to fill, anyway . . . However, given that he was talking about undiscovered forms of life, he could have legitimately brought up the controversy about ‘rods’, which (if they turn out to be real) will certainly force a re-evaluation of our entire paradigm of terrestrial life.


Thanks for your reply. Remind me: what are rods? I knew this once…


‘Rods’ are a form of life which first (IIRC) came to light as a result of a feature on the Sci-Fi Channel’s ‘Sightings’ show – not normally a venue I place a tremendous amount of reliance on, due to the mixing of phenomena and some of the ‘experts’ they cite. However, in this case, a pretty damn good video had been taken by a guy who was visiting a sinkhole in Mexico which is so deep skydivers use it for basejumping. In the midst of the video, across the frame flits a succession of rod-like ‘creatures’ with ‘wings’ that undulate in a manner similar to devilray fishes (or ‘skates’). The guy has subsequently shown this video (and other people have recorded similar ones) at several convocations since his initial recording (sometime in '98, IIRC) and the general reaction has been one of reserved interest. It appears highly unlikely the ‘rods’ are an artifact of electromagnetic interference, but to be sure, the guy has been asked to attempted to recapture the images using a standard film camera. That was the last I heard . . .

So, the rods float more than they fly? Are they translucent? The image in my mind based on your description is a hot-dog shaped jellyfish with wings. (That’s embarassing to admit.)

Anyway, so these things look so unlike anything else that it is assumed it’s not real? If it was taken seriously, I’d assume biologists would be all over it. What is it about these things that make them seem “otherworldly” rather than a new earthly species?

Call me intrigued!


This might be a little off topic, but I seem to remember about a year ago, scientists discovered single-celled life forms on a Martian hunk o’ rock. Is this true? And if so, does this mean that there is extra-terrestrial life (even if it is single celled), or was I missing something?
If so, why the hell isn’t this a big deal?! (remainder of rany reserved until someone affirms/denies the above.

JMcC from SFCA
<A HREF=“”></A> <-drop by

jjtm, the consensus seems to be that a lot of people jumped the gun, and that the formations found in the Martian rock were explainable by nonbiological processes. So they probably were not remnants of Martian life. That’s not to say for sure, but probable not.

Brando, perhaps my quick description of ‘rods’ left something to be desired, to judge from your response. Rods appear to be straight, rigid, shaft-like entities. Along their entire length on each side run (apparently) extremely thin, almost membranous, ‘wings’ which ripple very rapidly up and down with a wavy motion, which apparently provides both lift and forward motion.

The other bizarre thing about them (as if they needed more) is that some people (besides the original reporter) have related catching sight of ‘rods’ flying through the clouds, with the rods being upwards of a hundred feet in length! In other words, it appears these things (if they’re real) vary in size from a few inches to dozens of feet, move so rapidly through the air that they are not even apparent to the human eye unless frozen in ‘mid-beat’ by a camera, and have existed from who-knows-when without once ever revealing their presence by, say, hitting an animal or a tree or a person, etc.

It’s hard to imagine by what process such a creature could come to exist and yet elude detection since time immemorial. Assuming for the sake of discussion that they are real, they beg a number of questions. Do they ever rest? Are they insect, bird, mammal, or something off-the-wall like an ‘atmospheric fish’? What’s their evolutionary thread? Are they even terrestrial? Or is someone pulling off a really classic hoax by some technical means other people haven’t stumbled across as yet? I’ll post here if I see anything more on them.

What, No reply? Not even a suggestion to get a reality check ? Come on folks, I was hoping for some kinda reply so I’d no if I made any since or if it just seemed like long winded gibberish. I was trying to suggest the possibility of a severe communication\interaction gap.
BTW When I first seen the mention of
rods I thought it might be about something I heard on tv about bacteria growing on nuclear reactor cooling rods (anyone else catch anything about this ?) but these sound even more interesting. Got any links DIF ? Or know where I might get more info ? Also DIF I never thanked you for the warning\welcome on a previous post. Thanks.


Brando, try the following link. Follow the sublink to subject 2177, labeled ‘rods’. There are further links from there. Hope this helps. (Note: I have not delved these links very deeply, I can’t make any vouchsafes for them.)