Daily Archives: September 4th, 2008

Of SETI, Stellar Engineering and The Galactic Internet

Many ways of communicating with and detecting ETI ( extra-terrestrial intelligence ) have been proposed for over fifty years. Mainly these consist of using radio telescopes, either a huge one as in Arecibo, or a vast array such as the Allen Array at the University of California at Berkley.

So far SETI ( Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence ) has come up with only one possible signal ( the WOW! signal in 1977 ) and many false ones. Very discouraging for everyone involved, especially the mainstreamers.

Which leads the mainstreamers ( mistakingly ) to assume that no ETI exists, or that they are too far away to detect our primitive smoke signals. This could be the case, but very unlikely in my view. Dr. Seth Shostak and his mainstreamers haven’t given themselves enough time to scan the skies if they really are convinced in the belief that ETIs are still using radio signals to communicate within our own little corner of the Galaxy. The chauvinistic belief that ETIs use radio just because we still do is narrow-mindedness writ large. Also it keeps astronomers, exobiologists and astrophysicists employed through shrinking university grants and increasing DoD funding ( DARPA anyone? ). In a way I can’t blame them for poo-pooing any other form of communication with ETI, or other related ( unrelated ? ) phenomena that doesn’t fit the present SETI paradigm ( serious scientific study of UFOs ).

This is about to change I believe. I have ranted in past posts that mainstream scientists wouldn’t recognize advanced ETI cultures in the Universe if one fell out of the sky on top of them because they wouldn’t resemble Star Trek or Star Wars objects ( Death Stars and dreadnaught Starships ), but in fact resemble objects in nature. The following excerpt from this paper by John G. Learned, R-P. Kudritzki, Sandip Pakvasa and A. Zee makes an interesting case for a ” Galactic Internet ” that uses variable stars:

[…] we propose that the well studied Cepheid variables might provide an easily and likely to be monitored transmitter, which would be seen by all societies undertaking serious astronomy.

Cepheid variable stars was first observed in 1595. They were first recognized as having the marvelous property of having a relationship between period and luminosity by Henrietta Swan Leavitt in 1908, permitting the establishment of a distance ladder on the galactic scale. The nearest stars could be ranged via parallax. Using the Cepheid scale one could move outwards up to stars in galaxies 20 megaparsec distant, and these stars have played a crucial role in the determination of the Hubble constant. Cepheids are generally bright stars with significant modulation and are easily observed. We expect that any civilization undertaking astronomy would soon discover them. Nor are there a daunting number of these, there being only of order 500 such stars presently tallied in our galaxy, and relatively few that are excellent standards.

The general picture for the Cepheids of Type I is that of a giant yellow star of population I with mass between five and ten times that of our sun, and 10^3 to 10^4 times the solar luminosity. A dozen or so of these stars are visible to the naked eye. The period of the brightness excursion ranges between 1 and 50 days, and is generally stable.

Finally, a real debate on whether advanced ETIs would communicate using stellar engineering to send long lived signals that could be easily translated if a culture as primitive as us took time to investigate the possibility.

Even if this proves to be unfeasable for some reason, perhaps it’ll rouse the dozing sheeple scientists out of their hypnosis ( and knowledge filter ) long enough to consider options other than radio.

Or maybe, just maybe, invest some serious scientific inquiry to the UFO phenomena.

I’m not too optimistic about that though!

The Cepheid Galactic Internet