Friday, June 21, 2013

The Probability of Aliens

Oh so many amazing facts, urban legends and hard to imagine news stories constantly streaming from numerous directions. How does one sift through and distill which ones to believe and which to discard? My mom and others constantly send me absurd email "facts" that are nearly always an urbane legend or biased political lynching thinly veiled as humor . To which invariably,after a brief search, I respond with a link to a version of the same story on discrediting it's credibility and their breakdown of fact versus fiction. Conversely, exciting new inventions with incredible potential really do exist and new ones are popping up all the time like this molecular graphene material that they say is so strong that the point of a pencil could  not pierce it with an elephant balanced on the other end of the pencil

Anyway, the one common denominator seems to be that unbelievable stories turn out being some combination of fact, exaggeration and fiction intertwined. So where does that leave us with the existance of aliens? Do they or do they not exist? Have they visited earth? Well, I sure as heck don't know and even if I did see, touch or hang out with them who would believe me anyway?

But, just out of curiosity, how about we take a look from the viewpoint of 'probability.' And since I don't really know the actual probability that aliens exist, lets just look at two possible probability extremes:

1) We consider a very low probability aliens exist and therefore there are very few if any alien worlds out there.


2) We also consider a high probability aliens exist, therefore resulting in a high probability that there are numerous alien worlds out there.

If #1 is true, then other life forms across the universe, including us would be hard to find due to scarcity and the probability of  inhabited worlds being prohibitively far apart would be high. So most likely the probability of these very rare aliens visiting earth would be very low.

If #2 is true, then the probability that aliens have visited the earth at some point in time could be fairly high because aliens are everywhere and cruising all over the place. The probability would also include aliens not only finding us but also also finding tens, hundreds or even thousands of other inhabited 'earths'.

Also since probability dictates that a random sample from a group will most likely fall somewhere towards the middle of the bell curve or normal distribution, it is highly probable that as far as life forms go, us earth humans are somewhere right around average, mediocre, and from the perspective of the outside alien life form, we humans are boring, most probably. Now I know we humans love to feel like we are special and the thought that all our humanly selves and our fabulous creations are not worth more than a quick snapshot as an alien spaceship passes by seems a bit harsh, but it is important to realize that research shows that it is highly probable that our viewpoint of ourselves is strongly biased by illusory superiority.

Which would mean that if there are aliens and if they are close enough and smart enough to find us and visit, then most likely we will be fairly irrelevant to them anyway. So, do I believe in aliens?  Perhaps that is the wrong question.  I prefer to look at the world through levels of probability and the associated outcomes rather than tying myself to rigid beliefs when it comes to unproven concepts. What is the probability that aliens exist and probability that they have visited earth and what is the probability that multiple governments can effectively keep a secret? Heck, I don't know but if aliens do exist I guess I 'd feel special if they slowed down for more than a snapshot.

So on to more relevant adventures

Hey, I am super excited and honored to announce that Rat Sound has hired Paul Freudenburg as our general manager. We have worked closely with Paul for many years while he was with L-Acoustics heading up K1 sales for The Americas. Over the past 33 years Rat has grown from a few speakers in the back of my car to a  multifaceted pro audio company offering international touring sound systems, pro A/V equipment sales, installations and manufacturing of SoundTools products. Managing the growing Rat world is a significant challenge and over the years we have gone through multiple transformations while holding on to some core concepts: great gear, great people, don't take the shortcuts, over the course of time - quality combined with honesty and ethical lines will result in positive results. Each of Rat's departments are individually successful as is Rat as a whole.  Next step is to bring all the Rat departments closer together further increasing the quality of services we provide and consistency throughout. Oh, and especially exciting to me is I hope to have more time to work on new speaker and soundtools designs as well as adventure out for seminars and other creative projects.

So at Coachella the EAW ANYA was debuted and we got a first time real world listen.  Rat Sound's position toward taking in a new system is:

"We at Rat do our best to stay aware of new technology and pro audio innovations. We believe that making an investment into a non L-Acoustics large format system that merely offers moderate differentials in maximum SPL, size, weight, sonic signature or deployment features is not worth adding the resulting incompatibilities to our rental inventory. Any large format expansion we do will be focused on products with either a very strong established client demand or something so unique and revolutionary that it solves issues not addressed by conventional line systems"

Well, so far, from everything we have seen, the ANYA System is the first system that is truly unique. The rig dead hangs straight, no "J" shape.  That means the techs can come in, hang the PA first and fast up and out of the way, like we used to in the good old days.  Then after the system is hung, the vertical dispersion can be adjusted to cover.  Set a mic near the barricade and tell the system to find the mic and start covering there, set another mic up in the back of the venue, tell the system to stop covering there. The system then electronically covers the space in between the mics.  All done after the fact, no more dropping the system to change angles, no bumping motors and trying to fudge to cover a new section that was opened after the system was flown. Furthermore, coverage can be increased or decreased in real time, while the band is playing if need be. The system can aim straight up or straight down. a single box can have  up to 180 degree vertical coverage, as can a full 32 box deep hang.

Based on these capabilities, Rat Sound will be taking delivery of an ANYA system later this year and see ANYA an exciting compliment to our L-Acoustics inventory.  A new tool with a differing feature set and differing capabilities. Our commitment to L-Acoustics products is also growing as well and have already placed a substantial purchase request in for more L-Acoustics gear later this year/early 2014.

Wayne Foreman 

So so sad to say goodbye and lose a wonderful friend and magical human. For all those that knew Wayno and his passion for life and huge smile, you are super fortunate. I just posted a super cool video of  Wayno giving a tour of a meal he was cooking for Chili Peppers. Also check out Wayno's Catering 

Sooo, on a less somber note, hey! my twin daughters both graduated high school with honors and I feel like such a proud nerdy dad. Plus both are going to college, a challenge I never quite conquered.

And for now, I guess that's all to share.  Lobby call soon and off to go to the gig as Peppers are playing Firefly Festival in Delaware tonight.  Hey, I think this may be a state I have never mixed a show in.  That leaves only Alaska and one of the Dakotas and I will have worked in all 50.


  1. Being the world's worst gambler growing up in England where bookies prosper did me no great service. However once a year I would stop in to the local William Hill and drop $10 on a bet that aliens would land within the year. They'd only ever offer me 200 / 1.

  2. Dave, Just want to say thanks for sharing some of your considerable wealth of knowledge with the rest of us. Having recently made the jump from Pro Sports Mobile Audio to the Live sound field, I find your tips and tricks to be an invaluable resource! Thanks again.