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Extraterrestrial

Can we mask the Earth from hostile aliens ?

By T.K. Randall
April 2, 2016 · Comment icon 50 comments

Lasers could be used to mask the Earth's presence. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 ESO/M. Kornmesser
A new study has suggested that it may be possible to stop alien civilizations from discovering us.
The hunt for extrasolar planets has been going from strength to strength in recent years with astronomers having so far identified more than 2,000 of them in orbit around distant stars.

We are able to detect the presence of these far-off worlds by looking out for the tell-tale dimming that occurs when a planet passes in front of its star, a technique that should in theory enable an extraterrestrial civilization to detect our planet as well if they happen to be looking in our direction.

But what if, for some reason, we didn't actually want to be found ?
In a recent study, Professor David Kipping and graduate student Alex Teachey from Columbia University determined that it would be possible to mask the Earth from being detected while it is passing in front of the sun by firing lasers out in to space.

The pair calculated that it would be necessary to shine a 30 MW laser for 10 hours straight, once a year to hide all the visible light from the Earth and a 250 MW laser to hide all wavelengths.

"Alternatively, we could cloak only the atmospheric signatures associated with biological activity, such as oxygen, which is achievable with a peak laser power of just 160 kW per transit," said Teachey. "To another civilization, this should make the Earth appear as if life never took hold."

Source: Washington Post | Comments (50)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #41 Posted by Somethings Not Right 8 years ago
We have been transmitting radio and television for decades. If aliens were to decipher this beacon, they would find a civilization that embraces violence as a form of recreation. I cannot imagine a better deterrent for visitation. Or... A magnet for the guardians of the galaxy to rid the earth of its evil scum.
Comment icon #42 Posted by Aftermath 8 years ago
A lot to ponder... all very interesting.
Comment icon #43 Posted by psyche101 8 years ago
I don't agree with the 'vast distances' argument. Our space exploration is in its infancy, and our current propulsion method (pushing the air behind the craft) will one day be laughed at, in the same way that we chuckle about 1980's cellular phones. I do not think you understand the vast distances argument with all due respect. Comparing earth distances to celestial ones is simply apples and oranges, they are not alike in any way. Some may have that impression due to the brilliant scientists showing us what is out there, but that in no way really illustrates those distances. It just gives many... [More]
Comment icon #44 Posted by tyrant lizard 8 years ago
But there could be aspects of physics we just don't comprehend. If a partical can be two places at once then there may be some way to travel those vast distances without actually moving...
Comment icon #45 Posted by psyche101 8 years ago
But there could be aspects of physics we just don't comprehend. If a partical can be two places at once then there may be some way to travel those vast distances without actually moving... Nope. Sure, we have a lot to learn, but there is a lot we do know, and new stuff won't change what we know. If Quantum Entanglement could be used in any way, it would be through communications, which really are our best bet for first contact. Why not just make a phone call first? Makes sense I reckon.
Comment icon #46 Posted by tyrant lizard 8 years ago
Nope. Sure, we have a lot to learn, but there is a lot we do know, and new stuff won't change what we know. If Quantum Entanglement could be used in any way, it would be through communications, which really are our best bet for first contact. Why not just make a phone call first? Makes sense I reckon. This is the best policy. Kind of like intergalactic Tinder. And if we make the call we could ask them to share knowledge if they have it... and find out if it's worth venturing into space.I just think there is a gap in our understanding between the theory of relativity and quantum physics that mi... [More]
Comment icon #47 Posted by psyche101 8 years ago
This is the best policy. Kind of like intergalactic Tinder. And if we make the call we could ask them to share knowledge if they have it... and find out if it's worth venturing into space. I just think there is a gap in our understanding between the theory of relativity and quantum physics that might be tiny but might be gigantic. You are entirely right, GR and QM do not gel, a grand unifying theory is what so many are chasing right now, but seems to be elusive... for the moment anyway. It gets confusing, the media reports so many hopefuls and touting science has so much to discover, maybe it ... [More]
Comment icon #48 Posted by DONTEATUS 8 years ago
Are we there yet ? Im getting stir-crazy ! Like In Hungry ! Its Summer In Texas And I need my B.B.Q !
Comment icon #49 Posted by Hartmut 8 years ago
Oh, they are here already?  So then,  where are the sharp and undeniable photos? All I see are fuzzy photos and video clips. Carl Sagan:Extraordinary Claims need Extraordinary Proof !
Comment icon #50 Posted by Thorvir Hrothgaard 8 years ago
...I can't believe I missed this thread.


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