Posted by: Kash Farooq | January 5, 2013

Darwin and Newton were not intelligent!

Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin

Not intelligent: Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

A very quick blog post.

This amused me.

I’ve recently completed the excellent Open University course S283: Planetary science and the Search for Life. One of the chapters discusses SETI – the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

The Allen Telescope Array: a joint effort by the SETI Institute and the Radio Astronomy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley to construct a Radio Interferometer that will be dedicated to astronomical and simultaneous search for extra-terrestrial intelligence observations.

The Allen Telescope Array: a joint effort by the SETI Institute and the Radio Astronomy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. It is a Radio Interferometer that will be dedicated to astronomical and simultaneous search for extra-terrestrial intelligence observations.

SETI projects search for intelligent life by, for example, looking for meaningful messages in electromagnetic radiation; SETI is looking for radio transmissions from civilizations on other worlds. This implies that life is considered to be intelligent if it can transmit information using radio electromagnetic radiation.

Humans have only been able to do this for 100 years or so. Therefore, before we achieved this ability, by SETI standards, humans would not be considered intelligent. ;)

Sorry Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin!

In seriousness though, this shows the difficulty projects like SETI face. 100-odd years is such a minuscule period of time relative to the age of the Galaxy. If we have only been broadcasting for such a small period of time, what are the chances of detecting some other intelligent broadcasting civilization?

All images from SETI institute and Wikimedia Commons.


Responses

  1. I think there may be more truth in the idea that Newton was not intelligent …overall. He made serious misjudgements in other areas of life, and I doubt he’d have been a nice man to know. If you consider humour and empathy to be intelligent, then overall Newton may well be found to be lacking.


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