The Best of Creative Computing Volume 2 (published 1977)

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Non-Human Intelligence (exploration of artificial and extraterrestrial intelligence, CETI, Communicating With Extraterrestrial Intelligence)
by David H. Ahl

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Non-Human Intelligence by David H. Ahl

Pushing into the future it is inevitable that we humans will be confronted with
a much more challenging array of choices, problems, and technology than we have
today. Not only that, but we will very likely be confronted with additional
types of intelligences-from machines that we ourselves build to extraterrestrial
intelligent beings. It is appropriate, therefore, that this issue of CREATIVE
COMPUTING examine both artificial (machine) intelligence and also
extraterrestrial intelligence. (Other than the name, they bear no relationship
to each other.)

Somehow it seems appropriate that it is the computer that is helping us to leap
ahead in our quest to seek out
extraterrestrial intelligence. lt was a computer aided prediction, for example,
that recently helped S.Christian Simonson of the University of Maryland identify
the closest galaxy to the milky way. lt's ironic that astromers have identified
thousands of distant galaxies and galaxy clusters up to 350 million light-years
away, yet the light from our own milky way obscured our nearest neighbor, a
small galaxy only 55,000 light-years distant.

The largest-scale project seeking life on other worlds is CETI (Communicating
With Extraterrestrial Intelligence) sponsored by the Soviet Academy of Science.
There's no telling what frequency an alien civilization might use to broadcast
so listening will be done over the entire shortwave portion of the radio
astronomy frequency range (1 to 100 gigahertz). The project will last from 1975
to 1990 and will use three kinds of search. The first will check each star
within 100 light-years of the sun, and possibly if time permits, out to 1,000
light-years. The second will examine different galaxies in the local cluster.
there will be an all-sky survey for signals from anywhere.

Turning to more distant observations, consider for a moment the light from the
Coma galaxy cluster that has
taken 350 million years to reach us. In other words, we are now observing that
cluster as it was 350 million years ago. Conversely, if an observer on a planet
in the Coma cluster had a telescope pointed towards the milky way, he would be
seeing it as it was 350 million years ago, eons before the earth that we know
today. But 350 million light-years is nothing; the Arecibo radio telescope has
recorded signals from quasars more than 7,000 million light-years away, that are
receding away from us with velocities of more than 150,000 miles per second.
From these observations and the relation between the distance and the speed of
recession, we can calculate how long ago all the matter of the universe was
concentrated in one, immense, incredibly dense mass. The answer is about 10,000
million years ago.

Mind boggling, isn't it, that our observation of quasars today takes us back
three-quarters of the time to the
beginning of the universe? But if we can observe objects three-quarters of the
way back to the beginning of the universe, why not go further? And quite
accidentally that has happened. Bell Labs, in testing new ultra sensitive radio
receiving equipment working at wave length of 7 cm., found radio noise 100 times
stronger than the expected noise level of the equipment. More recent tests in a
rocket and high altitude balloon confirmed this radiation. This noise, in fact,
is the emission from the original primeral fireball of the universe. Talk about
a big bang!

Perhaps we can't travel back in time but we can look back. Way back! The next
time you gaze up at the stars,
why not ponder some of these questions. Was there space in which the embryonic
universe existed? How and why
did the universe fly outward? (The dense concentrations of matter that existed
at the beginning of the universe are similar to those existing in a black hole
from which nothing can escape.) Will the universe expand forever? Or will it
again collapse to a mass of infinite density? ls there a mirror universe
composed of anti-matter which is contracting as our universe of matter expands?
And what is the position of humankind in this vast scheme?


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