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Detection of Earth-like Civilizations in Space Now Possible

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the in-spaaaaaaace dept.

Space 345

Mr. McGibby writes "Astronomers have come up with an improved method of looking for extraterrestrial life with an Earth-like civilization. Theorist Avi Loeb proposes to use instruments like the Low Frequency Demonstrator (LFD) of the Mileura Wide-Field Array (MWA), an Australian facility for radio astronomy currently under construction. The array could (theoretically) detect civilizations broadcasting in the same frequencies as our own society. From the article: 'Loeb and Zaldarriaga calculate that by staring at the sky for a month, the MWA-LFD could detect Earth-like radio signals from a distance of up to 30 light-years, which would encompass approximately 1,000 stars. More powerful broadcasts could be detected to even greater distances. Future observatories like the Square Kilometer Array could detect Earth-like broadcasts from 10 times farther away, which would encompass 100 million stars. ' The original paper describes the details."

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Knowing Your Neighbours (4, Interesting)

Renegade Lisp (315687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523410)

I think this is a great project. But step back for a moment and think what it means: If there was an earth-like civilization even very close to us, say, at Alpha Centauri, we've had no chance of detecting their stray radiation up until now. And with this new program, it's only within 30 light years that we might be successful. That's really our very, very close vicinity.

This, I think, puts the fact in perspective that SETI@home hasn't found any signal yet, even after years of listening. They would only be able to detect very powerful transmissions, much more powerful than anything our own civilization could produce.

The fact that we haven't found any artificial signals from space yet doesn't mean there's nobody out there.

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (2)

ccarson (562931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523514)

Even if there was somebody out there the distance is so great it's unlikely ever to physically encounter them. Then again, the future may hold crazy means of travel. *shrugs*

I guess all we can do it wait...

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (4, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523526)

The fact that we haven't found any artificial signals from space yet doesn't mean there's nobody out there.

And to quote Carl Sagan, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17523854)

However, Carl Sagan was overly optimistic about life "tending" to produce a civilizations. In most cases, organisms just evolve and adapt well instead of making up for their deficiencies by using clever tricks. Likewise, once you have a civilization, progress, especially technological progress is not something that always gets exponential growth. Some of the Earth's miracles are taken for granted by our scientists. Well, Anthropic principle always strikes back!

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (5, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523908)

Ridiculous. It depends on just how much evidence you don't have. For instance, there's very little evidence of the existence of Yeti despite some rather concerted efforts to find anything at all. In fact, there is no evidence at all. Yet mountain lions are easy to find evidence of. Therefore yeti are far less likely to exist than mountain lions.

Absence of evidence is prima facie evidence of absence.

The question is, does your lack of evidence result from failing to look or from nothing turning up despite exhaustive searching?

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (4, Insightful)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524188)

That depends on how you are searching. Searching for your keys in a cluttered room with the lights off is going to be difficult, and you may look for quite some time without being able to conclude that the absence of evidence is evidence of the keys' absence.

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (5, Insightful)

Minimum_Wage (1003821) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523600)

The flaw with all these searches is that it assumes that any nearby civilizations are exactly at the same level of development as humanity. Isn't high-power broadcast radio actually declining on Earth right now in favor of cable, fiber, and low power systems like the small satellite DBS dishes? If an alien civilization isn't in the same +/- 50 year technological window as we are, we'll probably never hear them even if they are next door. Still, if you don't look you'll never be sure...

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17523816)

Considering the earth is fairly young as far as the galaxy is concerned, you've got to figure that any alien civilization out there is most likely several billion years older than we are. If they were really interested in finding and contacting us, they would have done so by now (a self-replicating probe that can travel at 0.1c could explore the entire galaxy in just 500,000 years, and would be trivial for any advanced civilization to build)

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523856)

"If they were really interested in finding and contacting us, they would have done so by now"

Some people say they already have! Though why they only ever contact toothless rednecks in pickups in Arkansas at nighttime on lonely roads is perhaps a mystery for another day.

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (1)

bonoboboy (1033874) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523950)

This, of course, is assuming that said possible civilization even discovered high-power broadcast radio. They may have discovered something else entirely that worked better for them. :D

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524438)

Hmmm... how many other long-distance forces are easily modulated and detected? Electromagnetic waves are pretty much the only game in town given the physics I'm aware of. I can't imagine, say, using gravity to implement the equivalent of our radio—too much energy required to move the transmitter, and requires too sensitive of a detector to receive. I guess maybe they could work out something that used quantum entanglement...

Now the real question is, will we instead end up finding a planet or other large body 25-30 light years away that's effective in sending us back our own broadcasts of I Love Lucy and Leave it to Beaver?

--Joe

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (3, Informative)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524220)

This argument has come up several times. If you RTFA then you will see this: "On Earth, military radars are the most powerful broadcast sources, followed by television and FM radio. If similar broadcast sources exist on other planets, facilities like MWA-LFD might detect them."

TV and communication media are not the only sources of radio waves. It would stand to reason that most civilizations that develop flight will eventually develop radar. Radar is very simple and reliable. Yeah, I know that there are stealth technologies, but commercial jetliners aren't using them. We'll probably be using radar for a very long time. Plus, radio is our current means of communicating with our spacecraft(isn't it? I may be wrong). If the society is space faring, and they have a well-developed space program, that may be a large source of radio waves that won't even have to escape an atmosphere.

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524232)

The flaw with all these searches is that it assumes that any nearby civilizations are exactly at the same level of development as humanity

Actually, they would have to have been as advanced as we some time ago, depending on how far they are away. For example, if they are 500 light years away, then they would have to have been at our level 500 years ago, or at least be using radio 500 years ago.

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524264)

The flaw with all these searches is that it assumes that any nearby civilizations are exactly at the same level of development as humanity. Isn't high-power broadcast radio actually declining on Earth right now in favor of cable, fiber, and low power systems like the small satellite DBS dishes?

TFA mentions not just communications radiation, but things like radar. It's hard to imagine radar not being used for a long time into the future. Though as a general rule, as any technology develops, it should become more efficient and thus less will be wasted by flying off into space.

What does "Earth like" mean? (3, Interesting)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523632)

Would this method have detected our civilization in the 1800s? 1910? 1930? 1950?

What exactly is it detecting? FM radio? Television? Radar? Emissions from cars? Would it detect a working telegraph?

Re:What does "Earth like" mean? (1)

Phil06 (877749) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524022)

Just look for planets that are burnt to a crisp with lots of CO2 in the atmosphere. Oh right, Venus

Re:What does "Earth like" mean? (2, Interesting)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524390)

On Earth, its more likely the lower frequency fields radiated by all the mains cabling and power sources that would be easier to detect.

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17523684)

It's probably to our benefit that we at least try to detect signals from outer space, even if our current techniques rest on a huge pile of assumptions (i.e. that other species' technical progress mirrors humanity's). After all, if other species are more advanced than us, they'll probably detect us first unless they're too arrogant to bother, and if we detect a species less advanced than us, maybe they'll have oil we can take ^H^H^H^H buy.

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523838)

This, I think, puts the fact in perspective that SETI@home hasn'tfound any signal yet, even after years of listening. They would onlybe able to detect very powerful transmissions, much more powerful thananything our own civilization could produce.
Never mind what SETI are doing, the STI [totl.net] (Search for terrestrial intelligence) project havn't found much here on earth yet! ;)

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (1)

atrocious cowpat (850512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523940)

Lrr [wikipedia.org] just called from a very, very close vicinity [wikipedia.org] (adjacent to a place) and he decidedly wants to know what happened to the single female lawyer and her compellingly short garment.

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (0, Troll)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523960)

I, for one, welcome out alien overlords.

ok, now we don't need any more dups of that one.
 

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17524074)

-1, an already bad joke ruined by typos.

Re:Knowing Your Neighbours (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524032)

Waste of time, money and effort. There is NOBODY "out-there." Nobody ... no life no intellegence no striving. A cold empty vacuum 14-B light years across punctuated by a few trillion trillion burning hells. No love, no emotion, no thought. Nothing, nada nix. Except us. Deal with it.

"Earth-like" civilizations? (4, Funny)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523474)

Great...

So we're going to pick up an alien version of "The View"?

Re:"Earth-like" civilizations? (5, Funny)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523516)

I think perhaps we already watch the alien version.

Re:"Earth-like" civilizations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17523716)

So we're going to pick up an alien version of "The View"?


Yeah, and they're going to pick up one collective "Mooooooo!"

I can envision on a far away planet "Jerry, spin up the FTL drives! You will not BELIEVE what I found! Those fuckers look delicious!"

Re:"Earth-like" civilizations? (2, Funny)

SnapShot (171582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523808)

Even scarier... in 2 years all the galactic civilizations within 30 l.y. will be able to catch the original broadcast of The Dukes of Hazzard.

any physicists out there? (4, Funny)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523486)

Could you list any of the current areas of research which may some day allow for information transmission faster than c? Let's keep in reasonable: only mention theories we may be able to explore within the next 1000 years.

Re:any physicists out there? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523554)

Isn't there something to do with the spin of an electron, which when you reverse the spin, immediately reverses the spin of some other electron, with no delay? Couldn't you reverse the spin of a bunch of electrons on earth, and have their counterparts match the reversal, 30 light years away. It could be used for exchanging information at faster than light speeds.

Re:any physicists out there? (5, Informative)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523752)

Isn't there something to do with the spin of an electron, which when you reverse the spin, immediately reverses the spin of some other electron, with no delay? Couldn't you reverse the spin of a bunch of electrons on earth, and have their counterparts match the reversal, 30 light years away. It could be used for exchanging information at faster than light speeds.

You are thinking of quantum entanglement, aka "spooky action at a distance".

It cannot be used to transmit information. Think of it this way:

  1. You take two slips of paper, one black and one white, and put them in envelopes.
  2. You randomly select an envelope and mail it to your brother in Poughkeepsie. You keep the other envelope for yourself.
  3. While the envelopes are in transit, nobody has yet observed their contents (i.e. their spins). Yet you know that their contents (their spins) must be opposite because they are an entangled pair.
  4. The envelope travels to Poughkeepsie at the speed of light, or significantly slower in the case of the US Postal Service.
  5. Your brother receives and opens his envelope. He observes that his slip of paper is black. The uncertainty collapses: he now instantly knows that your slip of paper is white.

Notice that you cannot send actual information by this route. The uncertainty of "which slip of paper is in my envelope?" collapses instantaneously, but it collapses into a random choice. Neither of you could know in advance which color you would find in your envelope.

This illustration changes slightly when executed at the quantum level: while the envelopes were in transit, both slips of paper were actually grey... though some might insist that they were both all possible colors, until they were finally observed.

Re:any physicists out there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17523914)

The difference is that in quantum physics if you open your envelope at an angle t with respect to your brother's envelope, you have a cos^2(t) chance of getting different colors. It's left as an exercise why you still can't transmit information with that.

Re:any physicists out there? (2, Informative)

infinityxi (266865) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523868)

I believe you are talking about Quantum Physics but the problem with that would be that you couldn't really send coherent information out. You have 2 particles and once you "know" the spin of one particle you "know" the spin of the other. To alter the spin of a particle would contaminate it, because you would have known what the spin was to reverse it. I could be wrong, and I think actually there is some method using 2 pairs of particles to transmit information but I'd have to look it up it was all theory in Brian Greene's "Fabric of the Cosmos" (Good Read) but using the method you describe there is no way to send a message.

Re:any physicists out there? (2, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523646)

Only if you redefine c. Theoretically c can be increased in some special situations such as extremely high gravity fields and other things. But in general traveling faster than c reverses cause and effect, which can't happen. Though one may eventually figure out how to jump from one side of the universe it wouldn't be traveling per say.

Re:any physicists out there? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523724)

This would be a good opportunity for someone to explain why it's impossible to fabricate a material with a high enough incompressibility that its local speed of sound exceeds that of light. That is, specifically what fundamental principle would you have to violate in the process.

Re:any physicists out there? (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524380)

Sounds are transmitted by the vibration of particles. Any particle with mass moves at less than c, so it's impossible for the "speed of sound" to be greater than c.

Interesting idea - but same old problem (2)

SNR monkey (1021747) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523488)

How can we be sure that extraterrestrials (if there are any) are broadcasting radio waves? What makes us think they would be communicating in an 'Earth-like' way?

The same old answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17523586)

They live in the same universe as us. If they're still in the equivalent of stone age we wouldn't have any way of contacting them aside from going there. If they have technology, they've surely invented radio. Even if they don't use it for transmissions, maybe they use it for something else. In any case, why would they not use radio? Besides, they could detect us first.

Impossible! (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523504)

The Recording Industry Galactic Alliance (RIGA) mandated that no radio signals shall leave the atmosphere of any planet.

The respective governments all attempted to stop this legistation getting in but the RIGA had bigger guns!

Hmm. (1)

JavaLord (680960) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523512)

30 light-years, which would encompass approximately 1,000 stars.

I guess it depends on how abundant life is, but this doesn't seem like it is very far/much in the grand scheme of things.

Even if an advanced civilization is out there, what makes us think they would be using radio? It's possible, but I could see FM radio being obsolete 100 years from now. I know the article mentions radar too, but it seems like a lot to assume...that advance life evolved, and is around the same time in techonological progress than we are and uses the same type of technology. Given the massive distances between stars, astronomical mass extinction theories, and the time evolution takes, aren't the odds of two technically advanced civilizations being around at the same time...umm astronomical? :)

Re:Hmm. (2, Funny)

cmdr_beeftaco (562067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523648)

How will i listen to my ipod in my car if FM transmissions are obsolete?

Re:Hmm. (4, Insightful)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523670)

"Given the massive distances between stars, astronomical mass extinction theories, and the time evolution takes, aren't the odds of two technically advanced civilizations being around at the same time...umm astronomical? :)"
 
The true probabilities are not known. We don't know how common life is. We don't know how often a mass extinction of life occurs. We don't know how long evolution takes except for on our one world. We don't have enough data to accurately predict whether or not life is rare or common in the universe. Another perspective could be that it is in fact more likely that advanced civilizations would be around at the same time if the universe has a consistant timeline. If the way that life-harboring star systems form, the way that life itself forms, and the way that intelligent life evolves is analogous across the universe then this may be the Golden Age of intelligent life throughout our galaxy.

Re:Hmm. (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524150)

The real longshot is that artificial, high power radio transmissions have only existed on Earth for 70 years, and who knows for how much longer? Compare that to the 5000 years of civilization, 200,000 years of modern humans, and the 5 billion years that the solar system has existed.

Re:Hmm. (1)

direwulf (917316) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524276)

Doesn't that other perspective contradict your former point? While it may be more likely for life to develop at approximately the same rates, the creation of an "advanced" civilization is governed just as much by history as by biological evolution. A race biologically identical to ours in any given solar system may be as physically evolved as we are, but notably superior technologically having not suffered the loss of their own Library of Alexandria, or a complete lack of their own Dark Ages. Perhaps it's just as likely that a lack of notable celestial bodies in their system slowed the development of astronomy and perhaps even modern science as a whole, shunting their growth by centuries compared to our own.

I think it was fair to say that the probabilities of predicting when advanced civilizations exist is truly unknown, but that extends to any conjectures about whether this "timing" is more or less likely for whatever set of reasons.

Re:Hmm. (2, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523678)

Exactly, though its a given that if an alien civilization more advanced than use WANTED to be found they would use multiple technologies radio being one of those. Radio would most likely be a baseline technology that any advanced civilization capable of interstellar communication would have already reached.

FM radio will be obselete a lot sooner than that (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523928)

A large number of countries have already been running digital broadcast radio services for a while now, the most popular being DAB. Here in the UK it covers (I believe) 90% of the population. Then of course you have satellite broadcasting not to mention all the internet based services.

I suspect in 20 or 30 years the the FM waveband will contain only non broadcast services in most countries or maybe even nothing at all except hiss and static.

Re:FM radio will be obselete a lot sooner than tha (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524214)

Dab isn't popular in the UK... Low bitrates gave it a bad reputation and Freeview stole its thunder by being much cheaper. The one place where it could be exceedingly useful is in cars and car DAB stereos are as rare as hen's teeth, wildly expensive and require special DAB aerials to be fitted.

Anyway, back on topic... even a digital signal has structure. Once we can detect the broadcast we can tell it has structure by seeing things like regular repeating patterns (header blocks, etc.).

Even if the hypothetical alien was only broadcasting their version of morse we'd be able to tell it was nonrandom.

Re:Hmm. (1)

jagspecx (974505) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524190)

aren't the odds of two technically advanced civilizations being around at the same time...umm astronomical?

Aren't the odds of one technically advanced civilization being around astronomical?

Obligatory (4, Funny)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523520)

And I, for one, welcome our new nearby, low-frequency-emitting overlords.

And I would like to remind them that as a net.geek, I could be useful in rounding up others, to toil in their oneline goldfarms.

Let's hope they're not like us (4, Funny)

orson_of_fort_worth (871181) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523528)

The signals we'd pick up from a civilization similar to ours would be viagra spam and Saved by the Bell reruns. So disappointing it might set back space exploration by centuries.

Re:Let's hope they're not like us (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524192)

The signals we'd pick up from a civilization similar to ours would be . . .

. . ."Send more Chuck Berry."

KFG

Window of opportunity (2, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523536)

How long do "earth like" civilizations put out RF energy that is detectable from space?
How long will we keep doing it?

Searching for XYZ years worth of RF in a bubble 60 light years across doesn't strike me as very promising.

What are the odds (0)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523556)

I think this is a great idea and I like the idea of SETI, but what are the odds that an alien civilization would even use radio as a means of communication and use as much as we do? I mean, detecting radio is one thing, using it for communication and everything from basic entertainment to object detection (RADAR) and entertainment are yet others.

Re:What are the odds (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523660)

I would say pretty high. Radio waves are a part of nature. We use them because they are the best solution for broadcast transmissions and for mobile communications.
The systems are simple and work well. Odds are pretty good that they would have many of the same needs as we do and they share the universe with us so the solutins could be very similar. After all how long have we used the wheel?

Re:What are the odds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17524270)

no kidding how do we even know if they have ears and eyes :p

It's already too late ? (2, Funny)

Rastignac (1014569) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523574)

You can't detect "Earth-like radio signals from 30-light-years-away stars" anymore. Because of the 1979 song "Video Killed the Radio Star" from the Buggles (see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_Killed_the_Radi o_Star [wikipedia.org] for more information).
So now we should check for video signals from these stars ! ;)

No Hands (1)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523616)

There are hundreds of highly intelligent animals on the Earth, There are only a few animals that have evolved with Hands in which to build a radio or TV. The majority of animals only have Legs and a mouth and sex organs.

Re:No Hands (1)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523778)

"Legs and a mouth and sex organs"

Who needs anything else?

Re:No Hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17523988)

There are hundreds of highly intelligent animals on the Earth,


Around 6 billion if I recall.

There are only a few animals that have evolved with Hands in which to build a radio or TV

Actully close to 6 billion of them have Hands, though certainly some of those who originally did come equiped with hands have last them in Non-radio related accidents.

Wait, did you mean species, or were you commenting on the number of humans smart enugh to build themselves a radio from scratch? I also think you are confused on the hands thing, lots of species have hands, but only a few have opposable thumbs, very useful though not absolutely required (some birds use sticks, holding them in their beak) for using tools.

Not a big area (4, Interesting)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523630)

30 or even 300 LY is tiny on a galactic scale. Then again, anybody who's more than 30 ly away won't be able to have a meaningful conversation with us over the course of a single researcher's lifetime . . . unless of course they're kind enough to send instructions on how to communicate FTL.

Speaking of FTL communications . . . maybe civilizations only use radio for a relatively short time in their development. Present understanding of physics pretty much rules out FTL communications, but there could always be some exotic aspect of our universe we haven't discovered yet that would allow it and we'll finally be able to log in to the giant IRC server of the universe.

Re:Not a big area (1)

syrinx (106469) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523766)

Present understanding of physics pretty much rules out FTL communications, but there could always be some exotic aspect of our universe we haven't discovered yet that would allow it and we'll finally be able to log in to the giant IRC server of the universe.

Wasn't all that long ago that the scientific consensus was sure that light was a wave propagating through the luminiferous aether. I think it's pretty arrogant to think that the things we 'know' are even a small percentage of what there is out there to know.

The real question is whether we're going to get kickbanned for being n00bs.

Re:Not a big area (5, Interesting)

David_Shultz (750615) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524244)

anybody who's more than 30 ly away won't be able to have a meaningful conversation with us over the course of a single researcher's lifetime

Are you joking? Do you not think it would be meaningful just to receive the message "hello"? this would be one of the most important moments in the history of humankind (not to mention alienkind). A long conversation isn't needed for this to be meaningful. Heck, no conversation is required -we just want to find someone else out there.

Re:Not a big area (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524394)

Then again, anybody who's more than 30 ly away won't be able to have a meaningful conversation with us over the course of a single researcher's lifetime . . .

Real-time conversation is unnecessary - and a bad idea with such a signal lag. Why fall silent while awaiting a reply? Build a massive signal laser. Put it on the roof of Google HQ. Send everything. Continuously.

The Flipside (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523668)

The flipside of this is that Earth-like civilizations within 30 light years are surely able to detect us now as well! Of course if they are like us, they don't have any way of getting here anytime soon, so we're safe for now. After all, if they could, they would try to invade and conquer us just like that, if not, then they aren't like us at all!

Mars Martians where not enough eh (1)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523676)

We already Killed ET's relatives on Mars [slashdot.org] Now thats not enough, now we must find ET himself as we have some science experiments to do on him

Mmm... (1)

SuperStretchy (1018064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523732)

Makes me think of Spore [google.com] some more.

Good. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523736)

The current Earth shows are kind of dull. I can't wait to see Everybody Loves Gaschlongithorbintoninflubbertimont from Zeta III.

Hold on, a signal is coming in now... (1)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523742)

W-E-A-P-O-L-O-G-I-S...

Man, it seems like gibberish. That doesn't really spell anything.

Eavesdropping on our Galactic Neighbors? (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523744)

I wonder if we need a warrant or if we feel the new laws enable us to bypass this requirement?

I can only imagine one pissed off alien civialization talking us to task for this and laying waste to our planet.

RD

if we're only now uncovering this new technology.. (2, Insightful)

laggist (784355) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523760)

..they probably know where we live by now :/

Faster than Light Communications (2, Insightful)

Glacial Wanderer (962045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523768)

broadcasting in the same frequencies as our own society

I think the real issue isn't frequency, but technology. Personally I believe there must be a practical way to transmit data at faster than light speeds. We've been using the EM spectrum for transmitting for just over 100 years. If there are better methods of transmitting data, not only will our search area be limited, but we'll be searching for is possibly a short lived technology.

Re:Faster than Light Communications (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524424)

Personally I believe there must be a practical way to transmit data at faster than light speeds.

This implies that data can be transmitted backward in time; the two are equivalent. Are you prepared to accept the consequences of this possibility?

Be careful what you ask for (1)

DanielMarkham (765899) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523774)

If the scientists turn this on and the first thing they see is an advertorial for buying planets with nothing down or growing extra tenacles while you sleep, I'm moving to a more quiet planet like Mars.

my question is... (3, Funny)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523790)

Do we have the tech to set up a powerful and focused transmitter that would be recievable by standard radio devices on a planet (if we find one) that far away?

I can see it now.

"Citizens of Earth, the Xibian Communication Commision (XCC) is ordering a Cease and Desist of projection of signal on channel 88.6. Failure to follow this within the standard grace period of 1 Xibian day will result in fines of 100 Toriks per Xibian Day. Given that you are 50 Xibian years distant (as light travels), at 250 Xibian days per year... It really sucks to be you."

Listening for radio waves is futile (2, Insightful)

rhartness (993048) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523800)

I've always considered these types of projects pointless. It's not because I think that we are necessarily alone but because the use of radio waves for communication seems like such a simple and quickly evolvable technology that we would never find them. Here's my reasoning.

Let's assume that we are a 'typical' univeral life form. I'm haven't brushed up on my radio broadcasting history but I'll assume that we've been broadcasting information in some form since the 1910's. Let's now say that for the next 400 years we use this type of technology to communicate. I think that is a very large estimate, though. By that time the human race will have progressed so far (IMHO) that we will need much quicker and reliable forms of communication because of advancements in space travel and that type of communication will even trickle down into normal, everyday communication on earth. Using all modern forms of communication will not suffice if we have bases of operation even as close as our nearest star. I don't know what it will be, but a solution will provide itself and I doubt it will be anything close to what we have now.

So, Let's assume then that we as humans use radio waves for 500 years, total. If you want, give or take an extra couple 100 years. It doesn't matter for the point I am trying to make. If we only use radio waves for a span of 500 years, than that amount of time is a drop in the bucket compared to the entire, vast expanse of time that has past in our universe.

If there is another civilization out there. I'm pretty sure that they are either way behind or way ahead of us in technological advancements. If they progressed at even a fraction of the rate that we have (and will), then the span of time at which that have transmitted any type of communication that we can currently understand and interpret is so short that it's a practical impossiblity that we will 'catch' it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the entire search for intelligent life in space isn't important. I'm just saying that the current technology that we have is in such an infantile state that it's a waste of time and resources that could be put towards better works of science.

Why? (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523822)

I dont see the point.

We all know...

They walk amongst us.

WARNING: Destroy orders will be issued... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17523828)

...for any planet whose civilization allows screen savers for LCDs.

Fiber to the Home. (4, Interesting)

crhylove (205956) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523834)

Unless alien civilizations are just as beholden to corporate interests and backward technology as we are (which I doubt, and if it is the case why should we bother communicating with their ignorant asses anyway?), I would assume their civilization has fiber to the home, and I doubt their wireless controllers, cell phones, and remote controls are going to have a signal that gets off the planet at all.

If we were REALLY interested in contacting alien civilizations, we would make our own much more attractive first. I doubt any alien civilization is going to be interested in sharing technology with a planet of retarded monkeys that give morons like Bush who openly admit talking to invisible men in the sky nuclear weapons.

As a matter of fact, I can't imagine any advanced civilization bothering with the kooks who live here and believe in such ludicrous stone age fantasies. Particularly kooks with nuclear weapons and who engage in water-boarding.

I'm so ashamed of our whole species I can't even begin to imagine why *I* bother interacting with them, much less some aliens who weren't so unlucky as to be born in this idiotic power-structure of ignorance.

rhY

Re:Fiber to the Home. (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524334)

I don't understand the phrase "fiber to the home."

Re:Fiber to the Home. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524352)

So kill yourself already.

It's pretty impressive that a childish monkey brain like Bush has managed not to pull the nucular trigger ain't it? Or maybe it isn't.

Scott Adams said something about Bush only being smarter than 90% of people, while most politicians are smarter than 99% of people, which makes people uncomfortable. An excellent thought.

Re:Fiber to the Home. (3, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524360)

Thank you, those are some very useful comments. I'm sure that all the astronomers out there, having read your post, are preparing their resignations, and will instead focus their time on solving all of the world's troubles. Thank you again, for bringing these issues to our attention.

Well, what are we looking for...? (2, Insightful)

MetaPhyzx (212830) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523840)

Essentially, we're looking for someone "out there" that thinks/acts/interacts with their world the way we did with ours. It's almost identical to looking for carbon based life forms like us, on other worlds (Mars as an example). I understand that it's easier to start looking for what you already know, but with the variance of life and how we interact/communicate just on this planet, maybe we can think a bit more outside the box?

30 light years (2, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523918)

That means we should be picking up their "70s Show" right about now.

Aliens (2, Interesting)

darknite1979 (917234) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523948)

I think it would be foolish too assume that we are the only life in the universe. The problem with finding life is that we really dont know how common life is in the universe. I recently saw a website http://www.anzwers.org/free/universe/index.html [anzwers.org] that can give very good perspective on just how big the universe reaaly is. Either an alien species has already detected us and is waiting for the human race to cause its own extinction (which I am sad too say is likely at this point) or they are so advanced that they reaaly dont care about us in any way.

Now let's see... (0, Offtopic)

BeProf (597697) | more than 7 years ago | (#17523954)

how long it takes for the same crew who pissed and moaned about the NSA spending their tax-dollars to help Microsoft make Vista more secure to praise this as a great usage of our time an money.

Re:Now let's see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17524024)

ha ha you use microsoft. You're dumb.

(theoretically) (1)

flickwipe (954150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524000)

The array could (theoretically) detect civilizations broadcasting in the same frequencies as our own society

The array could theoretically detect civilizations broadcasting hot nasty alien tentacle slime porn :D
Sign me up.

intelligent life on earth? (2, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524018)

From the way be behave, I wonder.
Remember Star Trek IV when the aliens though just the marine mammals were intelligent.

Re:intelligent life on earth? (1)

Kev_Stewart (737140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524326)

Remember Star Trek IV when the aliens though just the marine mammals were intelligent.

...and the subsequent Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country, complete with Scooby Doo ending thereby confirming the aliens' suspicions.

What if (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524072)

What if no other culture in the universe is full of "people" trying to force their opinion on all others. They, then, would have no need of radio.

Hmm (1)

UPZ (947916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524076)

One hopes that the other civilizations aren't broadcasting with DRM!

Whoa, there... (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524118)

improved method of looking for extraterrestrial life with an Earth-like civilization
Do we really want to find something Earth-like? I for one would rather find someone who's got it right. We need a wise older sibling, not an equally dysfunctional twin.

I could just imagine the space phonecalls..

EARTH: Hey, guys. How's it going?"
ALIENS: Well, our environment is crapping itself, we're all trying to kill each other, and we still won't grant marriages to every couple who wants one.
EARTH: Yeah, same here. Any, you know, wise alien tips for us?
ALIENS: Well... have you invented Reality TV yet?
EARTH: Yep, doesn't seem to have helped much.
ALIENS: Have you, I dunno, tried invading someplace oil-rich?
EARTH: Done that, lots of times.
ALIENS: How about starting arguments about the origins of your own species?
EARTH: Oh hell, don't get me started on that can of worms buddy.
ALIENS: Well, try inventing a couple of new incompatible game consoles...

File Under Fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17524134)

Anyone else get the sense that this should be filed under Science Fiction or Fantasy rather than science?

A Cover Letter to Our Neighbours (2)

PHPfanboy (841183) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524142)

Hi,

I tried to leave you a voicemail a couple of light years ago, but haven't heard back so I'm taking the liberty to approach you out-of-the-blue.

The President of Earth is planning a road trip in your region over the next few eons and we're looking to set up strategic meetings with partners and potential reference enterprise star systems to grow our activity in your area. As we grow our unique blend of factional religious wars, fossil-fueled planetary suicide, coca-colonial capitalism, short sighted foreign policy, anti-social youth, teenage pregnancy, drug trafficking, blood diamonds and illegal arms transfers we're looking for partners in our long run success.

If you would like to arrange an introductory meeting with our President, we'll show you how you can implement our unique flavour of self-destruction.

RSVP by radio please.

Mr. L. Presidente

------------------------

Seriously, why should anyone want to hear from us? can't we leave these poor fuckers alone?

At last ! (3, Funny)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524180)

At last we will be able to receive "Single Female Lawyer" !

What if we pick up a Numbers Station? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17524222)

So if we pick up an alien Numbers Station, and somebody happens to decode it, the alien spies will have to kill us.

Too late (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524310)

What we should be doing is beaming radio signals at distant protoplanets, hoping that by the time the signals get their, intelligent life has formed. Those life forms, inspired by our signals, could then devise a way to travel faster than the speed of light and get here at the exact moment we sent the signals in the first place.
Instant gratification!

Technology trends from our own planet (2, Informative)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524344)

More powerful broadcasts could be detected to even greater distances [over 30 LYs].

Maybe I'm wrong but I would think that as a civilization becomes more advanced that the power of their broadcasts would decrees and the signals would become more focused. Would it be easier to detect a signal from 20 years ago from a few light years away than what it would be to detect today's signals? If so I think we'd be looking at a small window of opportunity to detect another civilization.

This isn't to say that widening the spectrum of the search is a bad thing but I'm just trying to get my head around how useful this might really be.

easier way... (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524356)

All we have to do is just wait for the alien civilization to send their Overlords.
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