Is there anyone out there?

No, not blog readers, aliens.

There’s a great line from Richard Neville in his book, Footprints of the Future, about the question being not being whether UFOs exist but rather why people keep seeing them. I was reminded of this recently when I read an article by Brian Appleyard entitled: “Is there anybody out there?”

According to the originator of the famous Drake equation*, Dr Frank Drake, the answer might be that it’s some kind of substitute for religion. Personally I prefer Appleyard’s analysis that it’s all to do with the dream of not being alone. A bit like Twitter or Facebook but on a more cosmic scale perhaps 🙂

* The Drake equation says (or, at least, originally said) that there are probably around 10,000 communicative civilizations living somewhere in the Milky Way alone. However, given that our entire galaxy is 100,000 light years across it could take a while for them to find us or for us to find them. By the way, to put 100,000 light years into perspective, the moon is 1.3 light seconds from Earth.

PS. New book done. Issue 25 of my What’s Next report up in about a week and another issue of brainmail up not far after that.

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3 Responses to Is there anyone out there?

  1. Max Kaehn says:

    Have you read Charlie Stross’ “MAXO signals”, published in Nature in 2005? It’s in his short story collection Wireless, and there’s a PDF here: http://www.concatenation.org/futures/maxo_lo.pdf It is funny and altogether too believable…

  2. Richard Watson says:

    No! When I finally finish some other stuff I really want to delve into his work. He has some great ideas.

  3. Max Kaehn says:

    “MAXO signals” is funny and a very quick read. As a futurist, you should definitely start with Halting State and pick up the sequel, Rule 34, when it comes out. I think you will find the early chapters of Accelerando professionally interesting as well.

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