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New Europe-Wide Radio Telescope To Look For ET

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the phone-011-then-home dept.

Space 49

astroengine writes "A new radio telescope is under construction, consisting of 44 stations (each consisting of several antennae) spread across Europe. The pan-European Low Frequency Array is half built and already returning unprecedented observations of cosmic radio sources. The best thing is, when it's complete, SETI will be able to use the array to seek out transmitting extraterrestrial civilizations in these untapped low radio frequencies."

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First Post? (4, Funny)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853444)

So we're looking for ETs who are also ham radio operators?

Re:First Post? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853490)

No. We're looking for ET's I Love Lucy.

Re:First Post? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853842)

This is totally messed up. Why would they look for E.T. in Europe?

If E.T.'s anywhere, it's in Hollywood, USA!

Wrong E.T. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31854248)

Maybe E.T. is supposed to be European Telescope. They're trying to find themselves.

Re:Wrong E.T. (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854510)

So, now we find out they're as bad at geography as American's?

At least they're willing to spend billions on improving the situation...

Re:Wrong E.T. (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854820)

No, my best guess is that's its a complicated and doomed-to-fail scheme to find pirates of the ET movie.

Re:First Post? (3, Funny)

keeboo (724305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854782)

This is totally messed up. Why would they look for E.T. in Europe?

If E.T.'s anywhere, it's in Hollywood, USA!

I thought E.T. was in a landfill, in New Mexico.

Re:First Post? (2, Informative)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854832)

Ah if only I had mod points. Reference: Atari Video Game Burial [wikipedia.org] .

Re:First Post? (2, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853502)

I've always found it interesting how we assume that aliens will follow time at the same rate we do. As far as aliens are concerned, this could be a really really high frequency, and we humans move really fast. I'm not implying any physics screweyness... just the speed at which we move and process things happening.

Re:First Post? (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853576)

I've always found it interesting how we assume that aliens will follow time at the same rate we do.

One might imagine that things like reaction time have to be relatively close to things like gravity, because otherwise species could be wiped out by falling rocks and such.

In any event, I've always imagined that SETI might just be a waste of time, because civilizations might only use radio waves for a comparatively miniscule amount of time before they hit some technological singularity and find some other means of communication. Maybe I've been reading too much Vernor Vinge, who emphasises the swift and sudden disruption a singularity might bring in books like Marooned in Realtime [amazon.com] , but there's got to be a pretty decent probability that any civilizations technologically advanced enough to talk to us have already surpassed us.

Re:First Post? (2, Interesting)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853982)

This is a fascinating point.

The odds that any 2 un-introduced civilizations might be dabbling with RF communications at the same time are probably pretty slim.

OTOH, we are backwards-compatible. Someone around here knows semiphore protocols, morse code over light, i'll bet someone on /. even knows a thing or two about smoke signals.

The odds that any civilization who surpasses RF communication completely abandons all knowledge of it is probably pretty slim.

Re:First Post? (2, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855320)

Don't get me wrong I think science is the only genuinely usefull philosphy we have. However once a technological species arises on a planet it will rapidly dominate the environment and it's population will explode. In all other species such population growth rapidly consumes the available resourse then promptly drops of the proverbial cliff. It's only in the last century that our technology and population have reached the point where it's plausible that we could wipe ourselves out with nuclear war or environmental vandalisim.

Perhaps we don't hear ET because tecnological species are an evolutionanary flash in the pan, on geologic times scales as soon as they aquire the ability to destroy themselves they do so. Perhaps there are billions of life bearing planets where the only trace of technology is a mass extinction event marked by a layer of plastic and radioisotopes burried in the rock [wikipedia.org] and a "razor thin" ripple of communication signals expanding across the cosomos. What would be the chances that Earth just happened to be sitting in one of those ripples at this particular point in cosmological history?

Re:First Post? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31886324)

In all other species such population growth rapidly consumes the available resourse then promptly drops of the proverbial cliff. It's only in the last century that our technology and population have reached the point where it's plausible that we could wipe ourselves out with nuclear war or environmental vandalisim.

While I'm pretty worried about the effects that humans are having on their environment, I doubt that we're going to drive ourselves extinct. I do anticipate that the global human population in 2100 is likely to be closer to the population in 1900 than to the population in 2000 (which implies on the order of 5 gigadeaths more than gigabirths in the intervening decades ; whatever). Whether the survivors of the crash will be able to redevelop a technological civilisation I'm not sure - the second time around there are going to be far fewer readily-exploitable mineral and energy resources (I'm a geologist in the oil business ; finding such resources is my day job, and it's not easy. In a century ... well, that'll be someone else's problem.)
Whether your descendants (I'm assuming that you remain a breeding member of the human species) will be using radio communications in 2200 ... big question. And that's one of the big unknowns in the Drake Equation. But with a sample size of one, at the moment, all you can do is look for more data.

Re:First Post? (2, Funny)

pr100 (653298) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855470)

I've always found it interesting how we assume that aliens will follow time at the same rate we do.

One might imagine that things like reaction time have to be relatively close to things like gravity, because otherwise species could be wiped out by falling rocks and such.

Aha - that explains why there's no plant life on Earth :/

Re:First Post? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854214)

The thing is, even if you had aliens who see in different parts of the EM spectrum, there would still be physical reasons for using certain frequencies (RF specifically) for long-range communication. Radio waves just behave differently from, say, IR or visible light or X-rays, all of which behave differently from each other. Granted, we might not recognize a signal from very slow-living (or very fast-living) beings as being a signal, and they might not recognize ours either, but the transmission frequencies are likely to about the same.

Re:First Post? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854528)

Well, SETI tends to primarily look at frequences which are "quiet" in the cosmic radio context, yet still close to certain marker lines, like the hydrogen microwave line or the -OH line, under the assumption that everyone with an understanding of physics who would want to be heard, would use those frequency bands most likely. Given the low intensity of radio communications, it is highly unlikely to find someone who would not have specifically set up a beacon anyway, and a beacon would have to be in these frequency bands to be effective.

Re:First Post? (2, Funny)

VShael (62735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854986)

Exactly. It's all relative. Like the snail who got mugged by the 3 tortoises.
When questioned by the police he said "I just don't know. It all happened so fast."

Re:First Post? (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854992)

Suppose aliens live faster than we do. They do millennia while we do one second. We won't see them coming, and it'l all be over in the blink of an eye.

Re:First Post? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31886344)

We won't see them coming, and it'l all be over in the blink of an eye.

Dragon's Egg, by Robert Forward.
ISBN-10: 034543529X
ISBN-13: 978-0345435293

Highly recommended by many SF cognoscenti. YMMV, but it's worth a read.

Re:First Post? (2)

Lije Baley (88936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853508)

Well, they would likely be the only ones left, using radio, long after the others switched to telepathy, built flying saucers, and ultimely ascended.

Re:First Post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31854076)

Well, they would likely be the only ones left, using radio, long after the others switched to telepathy, built flying saucers, and ultimely ascended.

you mean started the hobby of poking in human anuses

Thats not that far off (2)

voss (52565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853584)

The aliens looking for us might likely be viewed with the same amount of ridicule that SETI researchers receive from the general scientific community
on this world.

Some alien looking for us in primitive radio bands might very be the alien version of a ham radio operator. Of course to their "mainstream" community the idea
of looking for alien signals in sublight bands might be crazy.

Re:Thats not that far off (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31886378)

The aliens looking for us might likely be viewed with the same amount of ridicule that SETI researchers receive from the general scientific community
on this world.

You mean , "not a lot" (of ridicule).
Most of the various scientists that I work with regularly consider SETI to be interesting, unusual, probably pretty important, but also unlikely to yield results. However, the implications of results (positive or negative) are very big, so it's worth a modest input of resources, both financial and intellectual.

I remember when the news of ALH84001 broke in the popular press. I was due to drive down to visit my family that day, and had plenty of thinking time to digest the press reports. The simile that I proposed to my father (another scientist) that evening was that the story was potentially as important as the Copernicus/ Kepler/ Galileo debunking of geocentricism. (We then sat down, read the formal papers, digested them, and found ourselves unconvinced.)

SETI isn't considered a joke, at least in the circles that I move in. It may be a long shot, but long shots are sometimes worth backing.

Re:First Post? (4, Funny)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853736)

Or it could be that these primitive radio bands are part of the visible spectrum and we have been blinding their society for ages, causing any flying saucers that come close to the earth to crash on Jupiter...

Re:First Post? (1)

Jazz-Masta (240659) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853780)

If they want to find ET, they should be tapping the phones.

Re:First Post? (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31856302)

ET phone home?

Re:First Post? (1)

mayberry42 (1604077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857826)

What? didn't you hear? They're playing video games [slashdot.org] !

Re:First Post? (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31860664)

Yeah, I read that one too. Stoopid, even for /.

Science journalism[sic] (5, Informative)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853528)

Read the scientific goals of LOFAR here: http://www.lofar.org/astronomy/key-science/lofar-key-science-projects [lofar.org]

And here: http://www.lofar.org/geophysics/scientific-rationale/scientific-rationale [lofar.org]

And even here: http://www.lofar.org/agriculture/fighting-phytophtora-using-micro-climate/fighting-phytophtora-using-micro-climate [lofar.org]

But "extraterrestrial intelligence" is surely teh attentionz grabb0r!!!1

It's not about ET (2, Interesting)

bromoseltzer (23292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853702)

It's about science - mapping radio galaxies at high resolution at VHF frequencies. Really hard to do that amidst all the RF on those freqs. SETI is nice, but it's nice to get real results, too. Not to mention pretty pictures.

Re:It's not about ET (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31856284)

+ 1 on this. This is not being funded by SETI at all.

In Soviet Europe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31853738)

...ET looks for YOU!!!

I found him (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853810)

He's hiding here [google.com] !

I wonder ... (2)

SlashDev (627697) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853826)

... if ET is currently in recession and needs bailout money....

Re:I wonder ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31853864)

someone shuo\d hax all thier(gov) blailout moneyz

We've already found aliens (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31853866)

We've found aliens, and they've got a warpdrive: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18775-mysterious-radio-waves-emitted-from-nearby-galaxy.html [newscientist.com] . Ok, most likely this is a previously unknown radio source that only looks like it is moving faster than the speed of light due to the angle of approach, but it is still fun to think about.

Low frequency radio? (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854208)

Didn't you know the ET's moved to subspace aeons ago?

Re:Low frequency radio? (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854454)

I hear there's some pretty weird flux in there...

A universal constant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31854284)

Just beam really loud rock music into space. When an elderly alien radios back demanding we turn down the music we'll have proof!

Why do people keep looking for me? (1)

ET3D (1169851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854368)

They should just google "ET's place". It's that simple.

Because if there's one thing ET's will definitely (1)

VShael (62735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31854980)

use to communicate, it's ultra low frequency radio waves.

Wait. What?

This may already have been said (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855160)

but LOFAR is most definitely not designed to look for ET. LOFAR is a serious project that aims, amongst other things, to act as a testbed for the Square Kilometre Array which shares many of the same principles but will be far, far bigger. In the process, LOFAR will hopefully probe the large-scale structure in more depth than most other surveys have managed and tighten the bounds on the baryon acoustic oscillations on large scales, which are currently one of -- or possibly the best -- probe of dark energy. I believe that it will also be tracking near Earth asteroids but that's out of my field so I don't actually know.

Any use by SETI would be entirely beside the point, and the title is wholly misleading, although the summary is a bit less so.

Re: New Europe-Wide Radio Telescope To Look For ET (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855346)

I checked for ET this morning. Still only two.

Utter waste of money (1)

captain_dope_pants (842414) | more than 4 years ago | (#31856170)

The "Maybe the Aliens Are Addicted To Computer Games" article that's currently on the same page explains why!

Tree in the forrest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855864)

Looking for an artificial signal in a sky filled with artificial signals, that's going to be an interesting challenge. TFA didn't mention this, but LOFAR is mainly a Dutch project, which means it's being built in one of the most densely populated western countries around. Consequently a lot of effort goes into detecting and removing man made interference.

Inverse square law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31856634)

Not to get too off topic, but just how powerful would a non-directed radio signal of the frequency they are looking at need to be if it originated from any of the nearest 100 or so nearest star systems if it is to be easily detected from Earth? If such a signal really is "somewhere out there" wouldn't it most likely be from much further away? (Say from the other side of our galaxy?) Wouldn't such a signal need to be ridiculously powerful at the source in oder to be detectable from Earth? Considering that the faint light from distant stars is likely billions of times more powerful than any ground based radio signal doesn't it seem like a waste of time to even bother looking?

Re:Inverse square law (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31869990)

That's one reason that LOFAR isn't. LOFAR is designed to, well, look at the radio emission from fucking great *galaxies*, not some crappy little alien version of Radio 1.

Let me sum up (1)

nelk (923574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865370)

Before anyone wastes too much time reading the posts, I'll see if I can sum everything up:
===
WTF are we spending all this money on space when there are hungry people on Earth!
A lot of products and knowledge come out of these projects. Besides, we spend more on a war than this stuff!
Can't you see that this is in Europe? Quit thinking the USA is the only country out there!
Aliens are too smart to come visit us. Earth people are dumb!
This will never work! Don't you get that any alien civilization would have evolved in ways we can't fathom?
Yeah, but some evolutionary and physical principals are universal!
No they aren't!
They will find aliens any minute now. Just run the numbers!
Those numbers are flawed and will never work!
This isn't even original! Just look at these links to a book that I once read that had similar ideals!
Obama sucks!
Bush sucks!
*random yelling and fighting way off topic*
===
I hope I hit most of the major talking points and saved some of you some time.

Re:Let me sum up (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31870006)

You missed the main ones -- TFS is misleading and the TFT is dead wrong. Oh, and I doubt many read TFA.

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