“Of course it is possible that UFO’s really do contain aliens, as many people believe, and the government is hushing it up. I couldn’t possibly comment!”
– Professor Stephen Hawking, at the White House Millennium Council, 2000
Intelligence in Science
Within the paradigm of our western culture, if something cannot be demonstrated and tested by repeatable scientific experimentation, then that something is probably not a real phenomenon. Much of what is termed supernatural for example simply means that it falls outside of the paradigms ability to test it.
For the phenomenon we call intelligence, the scientific community does not have a clear definition of what the phenomenon actually is. Whether we are looking at natural intelligence or artificial intelligence – the question of what intelligence is cannot be defined beyond a set of rules more akin to economics – where an organism attempts to allow itself to survive.
An additional problem in searching for the signs of intelligence is that the method of philosophical reasoning used in science is deemed incompatible with deciding if a phenomenon is intelligently caused:
“The statements of science must invoke only natural things and processes.”
– Rule of Methodological Naturalism, National Academy of Science, Donald Kennedy et al., 1998
From this perspective the concept of seeking out the signs of intelligence in scientific data can only be an arduous if not impossible task.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
In a culture that relies of the philosophical reasoning of science to tell us what is real, how are we to identify whether a signal is the result of extraterrestrial intelligence and not some natural phenomenon?
Geoff Marcy is an astronomer at the University of California at Berkeley. He is looking through the vast amount of data returned from the Kepler Space Observatory to look for signs of an advanced extra-terrestrial civilization.
While NASA’s Kepler mission itself is concerned with looking for evidence of exoplanets, Marcy is searching through the data in the hope of finding large objects radiating energy in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum.
It was British theoretical physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson who first considered that “within a few thousand years of its entering the stage of industrial development, any intelligent species should be found occupying an artificial biosphere which completely surrounds its parent star”.
This hypothetical artificial structure is known as a Dyson Sphere. Variants of this idea include a mega structure in the form of an orbiting solar-powered array of satellites meant to completely encompass a star, capturing most, if not all, of its energy output.
The question one has to ask is, what happens if Marcy finds an object fulfilling that criterion?
At what point will he be free to publish his findings, if he believes he has found evidence of a Type II Extraterrestrial Civilisation?
Pioneering Radio Astronomy
In 1899 Nikola Tesla built his Magnifying Transmitter in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This device was designed to conduct experiments in the wireless transmission of electrical power and telecommunications. That same year he began hearing signals from it that he eventually came to believe emanated from an intelligent civilisation on the planet Mars:
anthony - UFO Digest