Whatever else the Templeton Foundation may have done wrong, they have done very right by funding the research behind two new papers, to appear in the Astrophysical Journal. The first paper reviews what evidence of aliens we should expect to see:
Most people, for understandable reasons, think it overwhelmingly likely that we are alone in the universe. Therefore questions of the form "Assuming there are alien civilisations out there, how come we don't see any?" don't strike most people as the least bit interesting.
At first I thought this was connected with Brad Templeton, who has spoken at the Singularity Summit on automated car traffic systems. Still, very cool.
I can't find the link, but I'm pretty sure I read they had found some interesting objects that may fit the category and which need to be ruled out. It appears that it may be difficult for life to get started and also difficult for life to reach intelligence but we have the example of us right here. Even if we are the only ones in this galaxy it's still plausible by the mediocrity principle that we could predict at least one intelligent industrialized civilization per galaxy, so this is pretty exciting stuff.
That's probably it, although I think the problems of cosmic origin are more inviting than weak existential inferences. And both are only of symbolic significance.
The logic underlying this question is too obscure.
You'd have to explain to people the staggering time scales involved and how even at slow rates of expansion extraterrestrial civilizations should be visible by now.
Probably because this has bearing on existential issues. We want to get a sense of the structure of the Great Filter.
Do you have an explanation for why this question, which seems to bear significantly on the issue of Our Place in The Universe, doesn't attract much attention?
A mission to Europa could provide evidence of whether the filter operates at the lowest level - the development of unicellular life.
If there's a briny ocean in Europa and no life is found, it could indicate, along with Mars, that even simple life is very rare.
Why isn't this one of those questions that should be postponed, so that future mankind has a raison d'etre?
Was this post inspired by Dan Browne's comments on the lumpy filter post (which also seemed to be about Dyson Sphere-type stuff detection efforts)?