Author Topic: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?  (Read 1778 times)

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Offline Ultimate Paragon

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Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« on: November 22, 2015, 11:14:32 pm »
It's not just crackpots saying this, it's legitimate scientists.  Personally, I'm skeptical, but I'm willing to entertain the possibility.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/10/15/the-strange-star-that-has-serious-scientists-talking-about-an-alien-megastructure/

Offline Askold

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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2015, 03:03:02 am »
This was a big thing on the net while ago.

The thing is that "Alien megastructure" was a minor note at the end of the first paper on it and they merely mentioned that so far they had been unable to discard that possibility, but it wasn't like they seriously thought that it was one and there were several other explanations that were more plausible.

Then as the story began to gain momentum each writer made it seem like the "Alien Megastructure" or unfinished Dyson Sphere / Dyson swarm were becoming more and more likely explanation... Although at least some articles wait until they have talked about aliens enough and then end with "...but it's probably just dust in front of the star."

http://www.space.com/30948-dimming-star-alien-megastructure-mystery.html
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Offline TheContrarian

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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2015, 01:31:37 pm »
Prime Aliens Confinement confirmed.

I think I may start my local branch of the Starflyer cult.


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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2015, 09:46:16 pm »
^ Admittedly, when you do sarcastic, it can get really good.
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Offline Askold

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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2015, 02:35:57 am »
At least that's better than all those comments on how we should prep for war and exterminate those aliens...

Because there are a lot of people who seriously believe that any contact with extraterrestial life MUST lead to war. Either because humanity must rule space or because they believe that any life we meet is also a bunch of warmongers (because there are people who believe that only war and violence lead to evolution and that's why we must kill anything that isn't human and voting for Republicans is our God given duty because any hippie that thinks peace has a chance, whether on Earth or in space, is a threat to our survival.)
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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2015, 05:20:30 am »
^ DEATH TO THE XENO! LONG LIVE THE GOD EMPEROR OF MAN!!
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Offline mellenORL

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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2015, 11:32:24 am »
I wonder if the Mormon elders would point to it as proof that their afterlife mythology is real...
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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2016, 03:00:59 am »
More news about this!

One plausible theory has been struck down so the odds of this being caused by an alien megastructure are now... The same as before because the odds of a certain theory being correct aren't affected by the amount of rival theories. That is a bit of a let down, but still EXCITING NEWS because we still don't know what it causing this so we may have discovered something new about the universe.

http://gizmodo.com/the-case-of-the-so-called-alien-megastructure-just-got-1753269810?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow
No matter what happens, no matter what my last words may end up being, I want everyone to claim that they were:
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Offline Sigmaleph

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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2016, 07:41:42 am »
More news about this!

One plausible theory has been struck down so the odds of this being caused by an alien megastructure are now... The same as before because the odds of a certain theory being correct aren't affected by the amount of rival theories.

Um, yes, they are. By necessity, some explanation has to be correct (even if the explanation is "we all hallucinated this and there's actually no astronomical phenomenon"). If you have a set of mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive explanations*, their probabilities have to add up to 1. If the probabily of one theory goes down, the probability of other theories has to go up, or it stops adding up to 1.

That doesn't necessarily mean the probability of aliens specifically has to be the one that goes up, that depends on the new information that made you update the theory down. But some change in the probabilities of other theories is necessary.



*I'm simplifying things here, because "comets" and "aliens" are not mutually exclusive. But you can always rephrase the theories to construct a mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive set: {"aliens and comets", "aliens and not comets", "comets and not aliens", "neither aliens nor comets"} has the desired properties. If you rule out "comets and not aliens", the probability you had assigned to it has to go somewhere else.



...anyway. Yes, this is cool information, aliens still unlikely overall, but exciting new discoveries might be in our future.
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Offline Askold

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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2016, 07:57:36 am »
...Except that in real life scenarios answer might be something that is not one of our theories. The scientists have obviously tried to make a comprehensive list of all possibilities but unless you count "none of the above" as an theory then all the theories might be false.

...And "none of the above" is not really an explanation.
No matter what happens, no matter what my last words may end up being, I want everyone to claim that they were:
"If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine."
Aww, you guys rock. :)  I feel the love... and the pitchforks and torches.  Tingly!

Offline Sigmaleph

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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2016, 08:21:56 am »
...Except that in real life scenarios answer might be something that is not one of our theories. The scientists have obviously tried to make a comprehensive list of all possibilities but unless you count "none of the above" as an theory then all the theories might be false.

...And "none of the above" is not really an explanation.

It's a set of explanations, we just don't know what it contains.

But more importantly, even if what you meant was "the probability that increases is that of 'none of the above'", that's an extra assertion you're making ( and one that isn't generally true). By default, all theories are affected by ruling out one, you need very specific new information for the end result to be "all the theories we know except for the one that got ruled out are just as likely as before" and this is not the case either in general or here in particular. I can show you the math if you like.
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Offline guizonde

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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2016, 12:53:01 pm »
sometimes i wonder what it's like to be a math major, then i read sigma's posts, i get a headache, and the wondering stops. clockwork, i tell you.
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Offline mellenORL

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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2016, 02:00:43 pm »
Nah. Math allows Sigma to better discern the wonder and beauty in the universe. She's lucky she has that talent and skill.
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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2016, 04:22:25 pm »
If comp sci didn't pay better, I'd be a math major.
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Re: Flickering Star = Alien Megastructure?
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2016, 05:07:29 pm »
If comp sci didn't pay better, I'd be a math major.

My own experiences as a code-monkey were less than stellar, but I never had the opportunity to actually work for a major company where things would probably have been a lot nicer. I like programming, but I didn't love everything else that came with the job, though it was a hell of a lot better than tech support. After shitty job number three, I went back to college for a degree in Math and somehow wound up with a Bachelor's in Romance Languages, a grad degree in Language Education, and a job teaching French and Spanish. There's probably a moral to this story somewhere, but fuck if I know where it is.
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