Weird Signals From Space Get…Weirder

Weird Signals From Space Get…Weirder –

What’s weird about it, the universe is big enough to expect everything that’s possible in nearly every combination.

The obsession with ET is silly, of course there will be innumerable civilizations out there but time and distance make contact by known means completely impractical unless they’re almost on top of us.

We’re only just getting the ability to pick up the signal of an earth sized planet under ideal conditions, like super close to a star.

If we can’t even detect their planet, what makes us think we’ll pick up their version of the Simpsons.

A better recent article pointed out that there’s no evidence of a habitable planet within 50 light years and no good candidates. There are tons of ET’s out there, the same scale that makes that possible though means it is not inconsistent that there are vast, possibly insurmountable distances between them.

The question about why we haven’t heard from ET’s if there are lots out there carries an unexamined and improbable assumption, that we’d be able to hear them.

Both interstellar travel and interstellar communication are phenomenal undertakings.

The thing people don’t seem to get is that of the two, interstellar travel may be far easier.

We need special equipment to see most nearby stars and red dwarf stars are very faint.

We’re still working on the structure of the Milky Way.

Getting the signal of anything less than a star out there is excruciatingly difficult.

To be seen at that distance, you need a signal pulse as strong as a star and to get noticed among the quadrillions, you’d have to do something dramatic, like have several nova in unison, which could be missed, or somehow make one pulse in a way that got attention.

Alternately, generating a focused beam with the intensity of a star and directing it at plausible planets in other systems would take less power but require a lot of precision and still an awful lot of energy.

Right now, we couldn’t see a nuclear explosion on a planet, let alone pick up a radio transmission from it.

Here’s a project: bounce a beam off a planet, any planet, in another solar system, and receive the signal bounced back. 

Until we’ve done that we haven’t shown it’s possible at all.  And that’s the low hanging fruit.  The scientists know what they’re trying to hit and can pick the most favorable target.

Then try something with content to test signal degradation.  That signal is travelling over 8 light years round trip minimum. 

There’s around 2000 stars within 50 light years, not the billions in the galaxy.  That’s not a large pool. If there’s one suitable planet in there, who’s to say what stage life is at?

Then there is the return message problem, at least doubling the time.

Conservatively, with presently known technology and possibilities, if we could develop a technology that could transmit pulses that would have the energy of a star in a beam to nearby planets, it would still be a commitment of hundreds of years in ideal circumstances before we could expect a result.

The Milky Way is what, 150000 light years across.

It could be peppered with civilizations and the closest might still be 1000 light years away, requiring a 2000 year commitment and for both to develop technology that may not even be possible.

And then how to get a dialogue going for translation and other purposes.  Ask a question, wait 2000 years round trip for the answer, if you can even understand it. And we thought a couple of seconds of lag with the early internet was frustratinng.

Interstellar communication is a theoretical problem which may have no solution and even if we find one it may be pointless.

Why can’t we hear ET?  Distance and signal strength, same reason you can’t hear a tap dripping in China from New York.

Interstellar travel on the other hand isn’t a theoretical problem, it’s an engineering and logistics problem.  It’s impractical, prohibitively expensive and likely to end in disaster, but it’s doable. 


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