Re: SETSIs (was Re: seti@home WILL NOT WORK)

Dave Sill (
Fri, 9 Jul 1999 23:59:30 -0400

"Robert J. Bradbury" <> wrote:
> Question: Does anyone know if there is an encryption
> methodology that will work if QC cracks the factoring problem?

Of course: private key encryption with or without quantum key exchange.

> So taking Ockham's Razor, which of the following would you choose:

Occam's Razor is great for playing the odds, but it doesn't prove anything.

> So, for the SETI@home project to work, as has been suggested, by
> "evesdropping" on similar level civilizations, they would have to
> be within ~100 light years of us.

Or, as has already been pointed out, they could have been farther away but further advanced: e.g., 200 light years away, 200 years ahead of us.

> If they are beyond that their
> signals would have already passed us by. If you plug the number
> of Earth-like planet supporting stars in 100 cubic light years
> into the Drake equation

Er, shouldn't that be "the number of Earth-like planet supporting stars in a sphere of 100 light years radius"? More like 31000 cubic light years. and that's not even taking into account the previous point regarding the 100 ly number.

> So, when I go through all this stuff carefully, I reach the
> conclusion that SETI@home will not work and people have just
> been hoodwinked.

Nobody here thinks that SETI will *probably* detect an ETI. It seems silly not to try, though.

> The question is whether you have "thinking" time to spend
> on it or just "computer" time. If you have just computer
> time there isn't any game other than SETI@home.

Sure there is: RC5 and GIMPS are two, there are many others.

> But to
> my mind you should put the SETI@home computers in suspend mode
> and donate the value of the electricity saved to an organization
> that can pay someone to write a competing application to do
> an analysis of the 2MASS data.

Which organization is accepting donations for that? If there isn't one, why don't you form one? Do something more constructive than telling people running SETI@home that they're dupes.

> First you have to get the SETI people to see the possibility,
> and since they have been at this for nearly 35 years in
> the face of virtually no results, it is going to take some
> *strong* arguments to shake their "faith".

No you don't. You can ignore the SETI people completely.

> ... What I'm dissing on is the fact that the SETI people
> gloss over some of the details (like the transmitter power
> requirements) that make people think the probability for
> aliens that we can communicate with is >> 1 instead of << 1.
> You never hear about these things unless you delve into
> the literature in some detail.

Even Joe Sixpack knows that SETI isn't guaranteed to find anything. That's why they call it a "search".