Hawkings is a great physicist, but he’s still a human being. Many of his theories have been bested by others. Look up “I beat Hawkings” on the Discovery Magazine website, it details how the physicist Kip Thorne formulated a mathematical model for how one could construct a transversible wormhole to either a) go from point A to point B at a quicker rate than light traveling in a vacuum or b) as a time travel device and thereby beat Hawkings in a well publicized bet.

Also an intelligent race capable of interstellar travel would be more evolved than us, on a cultural level especially. They should have outgrown the need for violence– a very primitive behavior pattern and part of the fight-flight response programmed into the limbic system (a part of our brains thats been in existence since the first animals swam in the seas.)

Another thing– if we found intelligent life, would we recognize it as such? For that matter, would it recognize us? What about life based on silcon, which is closely related to carbon, or something completely alien– intelligent life based on energy that exists in interstellar space? You think thats unlikely– theyve found complex organic compounds in the vastness of interstellar space! Who needs planets anyway (although weve found hundreds of them and we’re just starting.)

Another thing– there is the possibility that other intelligent life might exist right here on earth and we wouldnt even recognize it! Look up the term “shadow life”. Here is a research paper I found that shows how even unicellular organisms could be intelligent (its in a thread I posted below)– short excerpt:

Although it is a unicellular organism, Physarum polycephalum displays
remarkably intelligent abilities: it is able to solve mazes2 and geometrical puzzles3,
control robots4, and may even be able to learn and recall past events1.

something that adds some weight to the idea of faster than light travel is the fact that space-time itself is expanding at faster than the speed of light. Proof of this comes from dark flow.

WASHINGTON — Using data from NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), scientists have identified an unexpected motion in distant galaxy clusters. The cause, they suggest, is the gravitational attraction of matter that lies beyond the observable universe.

“The clusters show a small but measurable velocity that is independent of the universe’s expansion and does not change as distances increase,” says lead researcher Alexander Kashlinsky at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “We never expected to find anything like this.”

Kashlinsky calls this collective motion a “dark flow” in the vein of more familiar cosmological mysteries: dark energy and dark matter. “The distribution of matter in the observed universe cannot account for this motion,” he says.

Hot X-ray-emitting gas in a galaxy cluster scatters photons from the cosmic microwave background. Clusters don’t precisely follow the expansion of space, so the wavelengths of scattered photons change in a way that reflects each cluster’s individual motion.

This results in a minute shift of the microwave background’s temperature in the cluster’s direction. Astronomers refer to this change as the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel’dovich (SZ) effect.

A related distortion, known as the thermal SZ effect, has been observed in galaxy clusters since the 1980s. But the kinematic version is less than one-tenth as strong and has not been detected in any cluster.

In 2000, Kashlinsky and Fernando Atrio-Barandela from the University of Salamanca, Spain, showed that astronomers could, in essence, amplify the effect isolating the kinematic SZ term. The trick, they found, is to study large numbers of clusters.

The astronomers teamed up with Dale Kocevski at the University of California, Davis, and Harald Ebeling from the University of Hawaii to identify some 700 X-ray clusters that could be used to find the subtle spectral shift. This sample includes objects up to 6 billion light-years – or nearly half of the observable universe – away.

Using the cluster catalog and WMAP’s three-year view of the microwave background, the astronomers detected bulk cluster motions of nearly 2 million miles per hour. The clusters are heading toward a 20-degree patch of sky between the constellations of Centaurus and Vela.

What’s more, this motion is constant out to at least a billion light-years. “Because the dark flow already extends so far, it likely extends across the visible universe,” Kashlinsky says.

The finding flies in the face of predictions from standard cosmological models, which describe such motions as decreasing at ever greater distances.

Cosmologists view the microwave background – a flash of light emitted 380,000 years after the big bang – as the universe’s ultimate reference frame. Relative to it, all large-scale motion should show no preferred direction.

Big-bang models that include a feature called inflation offer a possible explanation for the flow. Inflation is a brief hyper-expansion early in the universe’s history. If inflation did occur, then the universe we can see is only a small portion of the whole cosmos.

WMAP data released in 2006 support the idea that our universe experienced inflation. Kashlinsky and his team suggest that their clusters are responding to the gravitational attraction of matter that was pushed far beyond the observable universe by inflation. “This measurement may give us a way to explore the state of the cosmos before inflation occurred,” he says.

The next step is to narrow down uncertainties in the measurements. “We need a more accurate accounting of how the million-degree gas in these galaxy clusters is distributed,” says Atrio-Barandela.

“We’re assembling an even larger and deeper catalog of X-ray clusters to better measure the flow,” Ebeling adds. The researchers also plan to extend their analysis by using the latest WMAP results, released in March.

The results will appear this week in the electronic edition of Astrophysical Journal Letters.


Galaxy flow hints at huge masses over cosmic horizon

* 16:15 25 September 2008 by Anil Ananthaswamy
* For similar stories, visit the Cosmology Topic Guide

Hundreds of clusters of galaxies are streaming en masse towards a region at the edge of the visible universe. The discovery has taken astronomers completely by surprise because the movement is independent of the universe’s expansion.

A team led by Alexander Kashlinsky of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, stumbled upon the flow while studying how galaxy clusters affect the photons of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the radiation left over from the big bang.

Kashlinsky has dubbed the stream “dark flow” to align it with the other as yet-unexplained characteristics of the universe, dark matter and dark energy.

The discovery arose because the movement of the clusters changed the frequency of CMB photons, creating a Doppler effect, the characteristic signature of movement. “To our great surprise, we found a very weak but identifiable [Doppler] signal, significantly above the noise,” Kashlinsky told New Scientist.

According to the observations, the clusters are all moving towards a patch of sky that lies between the constellations Vela and Centaurus. Some are speeding away at about 1000 kilometres per second, and it seems likely the flow continues to the edge of the visible universe.

“This motion extends all the way to at least a billion light years, and perhaps longer,” says Kashlinsky. “If it already goes so far, it would be very puzzling if it just stopped.”
Mystery mass

No one knows what might be causing the flow. The best guess so far is the gravitational pull of something with a very large mass that lies outside our observable universe. “I don’t know if I would call it matter. It could be some gigantic singularity,” Kashlinsky says.

If there is something so massive beyond the edge of the visible universe, it could provide support for inflation theory, which suggests that our universe underwent a period of exponential expansion just after it began. Inflation suggests that massive structures, though not visible to us, could exist beyond our horizon.

Dark flow is not the first CMB anomaly to hint at large-scale structures that cannot be explained. Hans Kristian Eriksen of the University of Oslo in Norway, who has done similar work, says the new study “is very interesting”.

“It suggests that there are structures on larger scales than people have believed so far,” he says.


The universe versus the observable universe
While special relativity constrains objects in the universe from moving faster than the speed of light with respect to each other, there is no such constraint when space itself is expanding. This means that the size of the observable universe could be smaller than the entire universe; there are some parts of the universe which might never be close enough for the light to overcome the speed of the expansion of space, in order to be observed on Earth. Some parts of the universe which are currently observable may later be unobservable due to ongoing expansion.[1][2]
Some parts of the universe may simply be too far away for the light from there to have reached Earth, but despite the expansion of space, at a later time could be observed.
Both popular and professional research articles in cosmology often use the term “universe” to mean “observable universe”. This can be justified on the grounds that we can never know anything by direct experimentation about any part of the universe that is causally disconnected from us, although many credible theories require a total universe much larger than the observable universe. No evidence exists to suggest that the boundary of the observable universe corresponds precisely to the physical boundary of the universe (if such a boundary exists); this is exceedingly unlikely in that it would imply that Earth is exactly at the center of the universe, in violation of the cosmological principle. It is likely that the galaxies within our visible universe represent only a minuscule fraction of the galaxies in the universe. According to the theory of cosmic inflation and its founder, Alan Guth, the entire universe could be (at least) 1023 to 1026 times as large in volume as the observable universe. For comparison: assuming a factor of 1024, then the observable universe in comparison with the entire universe would be about the same as the earth compared with a sphere with a diameter of just over a lightyear, or about the same as an orange in comparison with the earth.
It is also possible that the universe is smaller than the observable universe. In this case, what we take to be very distant galaxies may actually be duplicate images of nearby galaxies, formed by light that has circumnavigated the universe. It is difficult to test this hypothesis experimentally because different images of a galaxy would show different eras in its history, and consequently might appear quite different. A 2004 paper [3] claims to establish a lower bound of 24 gigaparsecs (78 billion light-years) on the diameter of the whole universe, making it, at most, only slightly smaller than the observable universe. This value is based on matching-circle analysis of the WMAP data. However, if the recent discovery of dark flow proves to be accurate, it strongly suggests that there is matter beyond the observable universe.


Im kind of the opinion that intelligent life is inevitable but the galaxy (let alone universe) is so damn big we cant find it (or we dont know what to look for.) Also if you think about it, intelligent life could have happened many times before, but we had an ELE (mass extinction) to stop evolution for awhile. For example, before the dinosaurs were exterminated, they were actually becoming warm blooded, had stereoscopic vision and had advanced hunting/stalking skills. They were on their way.

the fact that evolution picked itself up and moved forward from the ELE and we’re here to talk about it proves how resilient life is and how intelligent life might be inevitable (unless there’s a cataclysmic event to destroy the planet.)

Its kind of cool to think about. Although I think we have 1 billion years before the sun becomes too warm to support life (unless we move the planet or colonize mars.) 1 billion years is a hell of a long time, even 1 million… if you think of where humanity was 1 million years ago (hairy ape men just learning to use tools and walk upright.) it shows me that once the spark of intelligence is lit, things happen rather fast (in terms of evolution anyway.)

By the way, its often been asked why did intelligent life develop? Ive heard it said its because when apes came down from the trees and started to walk upright, they needed to use their hands and a bigger brain helped them process the enhanced interactions they had with their environment (feeling their environment with their hands, stereoscopic vision etc.) The funny thing is, this was starting to happen with the dinosaurs 70 million years ago, before it got rudely interrupted (lucky for us huh?) It shows that the road to intelligence isnt something that happens only once, even on the same planet. I like our chances of one day finding it elsewhere.

Yeah, who really knows where society will be in 100 years, let alone 1000, 10,000, 100,000, 1 million.

I dont think we’ll be radically different in 100 years (although who knows with the way technology evolves), but all bets are off past that.

yeah, and lets not even get into the idea of multiple universes (an idea Hawking championed btw) the whole idea being that each universe has its own set of physical laws so each universe would be radically different in ways we cant really imagine (well we can, but not really– one example would be a universe where the gravity was so strong that everything was super small, so maybe stars the size of basketballs and planets the size of grains of sand, and people, well, theyd be the size of subatomic particles lol. but to them, everything would seem like it is to us because their whole universe existed “to scale.” And then we have the other end of the scale…) Everything is a matter of relative perspective and our problem is, frankly, we’re just too used to our little corner of the cosmos to really be able to know whats out there or explain it. Observations from a distance through telescopes just doesnt cut it.

yeah, there’s no reasons things “have to be” exactly the same size, shape or whatever, its just thats how it turned out. actually one of the other articles I posted indicated that as you look further out into space (and back in time) everything seems to get larger. So I guess you could say that not only could other universes be very different from ours (maybe even different dimensions from ours!), but our own universe could be undergoing an evolution on a scale so slow we dont even know it (it was going on much faster when it was younger.) The laws of physics and constants like the speed of light might have been radically different back then (and when we look at faraway galaxies, we might not be just looking back in time, but back when the laws of physics were different than they are now, and maybe they and the constants are continuing to change but so slow that we cant tell– just like evolution). Of course even if something like the speed of light changed at a rate that we could tell, we still might not be able to because, who knows, maybe everything else changes right along with it– so the units we use to measure stuff like the mile, kilometer, second, kilogram, whatever, are changing in tandem so we cant tell that anything is different. Youd need an “outside observer” (an observer from outside the universe in some kind of space-time bubble of their own universe, if thats even possible) to be able to tell– and they would just be able to tell whats going on in our universe, but perhaps not in their own. The basic point here is its pretty difficult to know whats actually going on inside a seemingly closed system that youre a part of.

Its weird how different facets of existence seem to have things in common, just on different scales and perspective, like you said– youve got atoms with nuclei and electrons that exist in shells around them, then youve got stars with planets orbitting them, and those stars orbit a galactic center that could be a supermassive black hole. On earth we have evolution that leads to the survival of some species over others, the human species evolves culturally from caveman through stone age and iron age, through feudal society, through preindustrial and industrial and now technological, stars evolve from blue to yellow to red (blue– hottest, yellow– intermediate, red– coolest) and on the galactic scale we have galaxies that evolve from circular to spiral, and on an even larger scale we have a universe that could be evolving on its own scale– along with a bunch of other possible universes that could be evolving slower or faster (possibly depending on age.)

Same here, and I think that would resolve time travel paradoxes because if it was possible to move “lateral” in time, you wouldnt be changing your past or altering the future.