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Detecting Advanced Alien Civilizations Won’t Be Easy

Detecting Advanced Alien Civilizations Won’t Be Easy

Astronomers have suggested that advanced alien civilizations that generate and use energy on a large scale would also produce waste heat that can be detected from a distance. Since modern astronomy can’t detect such heat signatures, they conclude that such civilizations don’t exist.

Since a waste heat signature can be detected by our primitive technology, it might be easily concealed by an advanced technology or may not even be present in the first place. The assumption that it will be there is based on our primitive understanding of science. Not discovering alien footprints in the dust on the Moon is not evidence that aliens don’t exist.

An advanced civilization that does not produce a waste heat signature might also not produce any other electromagnetic signature that our technology can detect. It is highly likely that they will be able to detect us well before we are able to detect them.

But detection is only the first phase in contact. Next comes some form of contact and that requires bridging the great gulf of space and time. Within a few light years of us, there are only a small handful of stars and so, little chance of an advanced civilization being that close. In the 10-15 light years range, there are many more stars, but still statistically very small considering the chances of an advanced civilization being there. We have to expand the range to hundreds or even thousands of light years for the probability of finding an advanced civilization to start climbing.

Using our current technology, the amount of energy it would take to push one ton of mass up to 10% of the speed of light is measured in tera-watts. That would allow us to reach a star that is 10 light years away in 100 years. It would take 1,000 years to reach a star at a distance of 100 light years. And if the ship was 100 tons or more, which seems likely, the scale of energy required moves quickly into the peta-watt range. Megawatts – terawatts – petawatts – Great Scott!

That huge energy requirement to move a large chunk of mass across light years of space is based on our current primitive technology. Just as an advanced technology may not produce an observable heat signature, it may find it trivial to bridge the great gulf of space between stars. Not only is it likely they will see us before we see them, they should also be able to reach us well before we can reach them. We need to consider the idea that any advanced alien civilization may be virtually invisible to us.

Good night, sleep tight: advanced alien civilisations rare or absent in the local Universe. – [astron.nl]

Sensitive new telescopes now permit astronomers to detect the waste heat that is expected to be a signature of advanced alien civilisations that can harness enormous energies on the scale of the stellar output of their own galaxy. Professor Michael Garrett (ASTRON General & Scientific Director) has used radio observations of candidate galaxies to show that such advanced civilisations are very rare or entirely absent from the local Universe.

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