Saturday, May 16, 2009

Have we detected an extraterrestrial signal?

SETI Picks Up Regular Laser Pulse Emanating From Space

Several years ago Bhathal, a researcher at the University of Western Sydney, suggested that a likely form of extraterrestrial communication would be laser bursts. He set up a facility at his lab which sweeps a nearby volume of space, within about 100 light years, for laser bursts that come in a regular pattern. Any kind of communication would likely be distinguished from background noise by coming in repeated or non-random patterns.

And a few months ago, Bhathal found the kind of regular pattern he's been looking for. He's been analyzing it and seeking a repeat pattern in the same area of space ever since. Though he's cautious about claiming it as a genuine extraterrestrial signal, his discovery has been making local news.


Anonymous said...

Since you're the expert let me ask these ignoramus questions: is this significant? Are we sending out laser pulses? Are we sending out any deliberate signal to tell the rest of the universe we are here?

I'm feeling like if we ever did find a signal and were sure of it, it would be a big let-down.
Let's say we get a transmission of a series of the prime numbers or whatever. Olé; we are not alone. Now what?

Mac said...

I'm hardly an expert, but no, *we're* not sending out bursts of laser radiation. Of course, we've already betrayed our existence by sending out decades of radio waves; it's a matter of how sensitive the ETs' instruments are . . . or if they even care.

I personally think receiving even a "mere" beacon signal (perhaps composed of prime numbers) could have a powerful effect on our view of ourselves and the potential for intelligent life in the cosmos.

Chris Wren said...

Sorry anonymous, but it's incumbent on you to explain how the discovery of another advanced civilization in the cosmos could be anything less than absolutely momentous. What next? Well for starters every person of faith on the planet (about 98% of the human population) would be forced to grapple with a profound existential crisis. Although the process would be chaotic I believe it will ultimately be positive. Every time we've been bumped a little further from our cherished position as a unique phenomenon central to creation, the result has been a cultural and scientific rennaissance. If this is the real thing it has the potential to literally transform the world.

Btw Mac, Ive started up a new blog at just couldn't help myself

Anonymous said...

So many people are expecting HUGE discoveries, such as alien artifacts on Mars or the Mother Ship coming down, that the "small finds" or potential of small finds don't live up to the preconceived notions of the masses. Even if they can just determine that this laser is artificial, and not emanating from natural causes, that's a big step. Of course there's always the possibility of a black ops "echo" project meant to imply (faked) alien communications. Hard to get too excited yet...


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We need to be aware that maybe they already communicate with us via crop circles, I know some are fakes, but there are others that really look real, with a real message, so we don't need to be looking for a radio signal.

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