Monday, December 03, 2007

O Aliens, where art thou?

When consulting the wisdom of probability, one finds that the universe ought to be teeming with technology-toting aliens; but aside from a couple of interesting-but-inconclusive detections, no discernibly intelligent patterns have ever been observed by Earth's space-listening instruments. One might surmise that the conspicuous silence is "evidence of absence," but such a conclusion might be a bit premature under the circumstances.


If, hypothetically, A) a race of extra-intelligent extraterrestrials happened to reside in the nearby Alpha Centauri star system, B) they happened to broadcast a 5 Megawatt UHF television signal, and C) we were fortunate enough to be pointing the mighty Arecibo telescope directly towards the source when it arrived four years later, we would still be unable to enjoy the zany capers of the Alpha Centauri equivalent of Mork & Mindy. In order to detect such a signal from this relatively proximate star, a dish with a diameter of 33,000 kilometers would be required. Even using Very Long Baseline Interferometry to link two Arecibo-style radio telescopes on opposite sides of the planet– thereby providing a virtual radio telescope the size of the entire Earth– our antenna area would still be 20,244 kilometers too small.

Read the rest of this damn interesting article. It also contains an interactive Drake equation which calculates the number of probable communicating civilizations in our galaxy based on a variety of parameters.

1 comment:

annom said...

Dam interesting article! (I had already found it myself).

It is damn hard to detect a signal. I think it is very sad that there (most likely) are many intelligent organisms in this universe, but we will probably never communicate with any of them.