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Laser 'beacon' could be used to attract aliens


Posted on Tuesday, 6 November, 2018 | Comment icon 80 comments

Could we talk to ET using a laser ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 ESO/M. Kornmesser
A new MIT study has proposed a way to not only attract alien astronomers, but also to communicate with them.
In what has been described as a 'feasibility study', author James Clark of MIT's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics has proposed focusing a high-powered laser of up to 2 megawatts through a 45-meter telescope to produce a beam visible from across the stars.

"This would be a challenging project but not an impossible one," said Clark. "The kinds of lasers and telescopes that are being built today can produce a detectable signal, so that an astronomer could take one look at our star and immediately see something unusual about its spectrum."

"I don't know if intelligent creatures around the sun would be their first guess, but it would certainly attract further attention."

If the beacon did happen to be spotted by an alien astronomer, it may even be possible to communicate using light pulses to spell out simple messages.

"If we were to successfully close a handshake and start to communicate, we could flash a message, at a data rate of a few hundred bits per second, which would get there in just a few years," said Clark.

There is also a chance that we may be able to detect the extraterrestrial equivalent of such a beacon, however the likelihood of this, Clark argues, is very low.

"It is vanishingly unlikely that a telescope survey would actually observe an extraterrestrial laser, unless we restrict our survey to the very nearest stars," he said.

Source: Phys.org | Comments (80)

Tags: Laser, Extraterrestrial

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #71 Posted by RabidMongoose on 10 November, 2018, 10:54
Have our scientists purposefully got down on their hands and knees and tries to make contact with ants? Or do we not bother with such insignificant beings?
Comment icon #72 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps on 10 November, 2018, 16:16
  Point taken, mongoose. My personal opinion is this: If intelligent ET's were ever to make contact with us and engage us, it would render our leaders almost useless. It would be chaotic and I am sure the intelligent ones know this. So, they respectfully keep their distance.  
Comment icon #73 Posted by AustinHinton on 11 November, 2018, 0:34
"Hey aliens! Fresh Humans here, all-you-can-eat."
Comment icon #74 Posted by Don Caesar on 11 November, 2018, 0:38
Nicely put. I have no desire to be on something’s menu.
Comment icon #75 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps on 11 November, 2018, 19:23
That reminds me of an episode of "Twilight Zone" from decades ago. A UFO lands and respectable, intelligent beings emerge. Friendship seems certain, as some were invited on board the craft. One man steals a book and gives it to some intel org in Washington. Shortly after, they are able to decipher the title. It read, "How to Serve Man" The Aliens convince many people to go back with them to their planet for a friendly visit. Just as the craft is filling up and getting ready for takeoff, an intel officer shows up screaming for people not to go! The reason...? they figured out that the book, "Ho... [More]
Comment icon #76 Posted by Sheltie on 13 November, 2018, 19:41
Even though the universe is, as Douglas Adams puts it:  "vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big," all intelligent life may already be connected in ways we do not yet understand.  Theoretical physicists are only now beginning to explore theories about such things as quantum entanglement.  If aliens wanted to enslave or destroy us, they would have done so a long time ago.    
Comment icon #77 Posted by Sheltie on 13 November, 2018, 19:58
Scientists estimate there are at least 100 billion stars in our galaxy and that the majority of stars have planets.  The odds alone tell us there must be many civilizations that are far more advanced than us, maybe millions of years more evolved than us.  With so many races so advanced, some of them certainly have developed the ability to detect possible threats to their existence.  They probably would have the ability to detect our nuclear explosives tests.  Yet, they have chosen not to to enslave us or obliterate us.   
Comment icon #78 Posted by jmccr8 on 14 November, 2018, 5:56
Hi Earl, If they were that advanced and scientifically so then one might expect that they have records of their own development as a species and would see patterns or similarities of a developing species. If they were here or monitoring our communications then I would think that they familiar with who we are good and bad so I am inclined to wonder if there is a value in speculating what their intent is. Personally, it doesn't bother me and if one knocks on my door then that"s when I will take it seriously. jmccr8
Comment icon #79 Posted by Tatetopa on 14 November, 2018, 6:06
Ahead of its time.
Comment icon #80 Posted by Sheltie on 15 November, 2018, 4:14
I like your idea, jmccr8.  It's kind of like the way you see a child who is acting like a holy terror and you think:  "Yeah, I remember how terrible I was when I was his age".  Even the most advanced cultures probably went through primitive stages they outgrew.  


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