In this second post on Paul Davies’ The Eerie Silence: Renewing our search for alien intelligence, I want to focus on his discussion of what ET’s could be like and what the impact of the reception of a clear, meaningful signal would be on us.
First, if ET’s contact us, whether deliberately or not, they most likely will be (much) more technologically advanced than us. At minimum, they will have developed radio communication and mastered radio astronomy, thoroughly knowing what the Galaxy is like (structure and contents: stars, nebulae, dust, halo, etc.). And since our civilization is very recent, more likely they will have appeared ages ago (the Milky Way is about 12 billion years old) and have had time to make unimaginable progress. (If we’ve progressed this much in the past few centuries or millennia, think how they would be after millions, if not billions of years.) One immediate conclusion stressed by Davies, is that the existence of such ETs would imply that civilizations are not doomed to disappear – through various risks, internal or external – after a short time, as it has been feared and argued for many years.