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“Is there anybody out there?”

“Of course it is possible that UFO's really do contain aliens, as many people believe, and the government is hushing it up. I couldn't possibly comment!”
- Professor Stephen Hawking, at the White House Millennium Council, 2000

Intelligence in Science

Within the paradigm of our western culture, if something cannot be demonstrated and tested by repeatable scientific experimentation, then that something is probably not a real phenomenon. Much of what is termed supernatural for example simply means that it falls outside of the paradigms ability to test it.

For the phenomenon we call intelligence, the scientific community does not have a clear definition of what the phenomenon actually is. Whether we are looking at natural intelligence or artificial intelligence – the question of what intelligence is cannot be defined beyond a set of rules more akin to economics – where an organism attempts to allow itself to survive.

Measuring Artificiality

“Though intelligent or semi-intelligent life conceivably exists elsewhere in our solar system, if intelligent extra-terrestrial life is discovered in the next twenty years, it will very probably be by radio telescope from other solar systems. Evidence of its existence might also be found in artifacts left on the moon or other planets.”
- “Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs”, Brookings Institution Final Report, 1961

In Arthur C. Clarke’s 1948 short story “The Sentinel” an artifact is discovered on the Moon. A tetrahedral structure made of a polished mineral and surrounded by spherical force-field, The Sentinel is suggested by the story’s narrator to have been created by an extra-terrestrial civilisation, perhaps as a warning beacon for passing space-farers.

The idea of discovering alien artifacts was not limited to the realm of science fiction. Shortly after the NASA was formed, a Washington DC based think tank, The Brookings Institute, while considering the implications of the fledgling space program, suggested that the exploration of our solar system may reveal this type of evidence of intelligent life.

A Case of Identity

'It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.' - Sherlock Holmes
“A Case of Identity” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Holes in the Heavens

If you look out toward our galaxy the Milky Way you will see an uneven distribution of stars.  In certain parts of the Milky Way, between the stars, things can get a little murky.

In the constellation of Sagittarius for example there are dark patches that become particularly noticeable towards the point of the Galactic Centre. It was the British astronomer William Herschel who, in the 18th Century, described these regions where starlight from distant stars appears to dim as “holes in the heavens”.

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