SETI, ETI Civilization Detection and UFOs

When one discusses the UFO flying saucer phenomenon, the idea of civilizations coming to Earth and how they get here becomes moot because the mode is obvious — the flying saucer is a spaceship that transcends space and time and is technology many hundreds, if not thousands of years ahead of ours.

But mainstream science claims — “Not so fast. Einstein claimed that nothing can go faster than the speed of light in this Universe. Things that appear to transcend that speed are fake and optical illusions. If aliens come here, it will be in slower-than light vessels that are easily detected.”

I find that idea interesting, especially if there are civilisations thousands of millenia ahead of us are actually noticing us, they are using technologies that are magical to us.

Anything else, they are not as advanced as we think they are:

SETI always makes us ask what human-centered assumptions we are making about extraterrestrial civilizations. When it comes to detecting an actual technology, like the starships we’ve been talking about in the last two posts, we’ve largely been forced to study concepts that fit our understanding of physics. Thus Robert Zubrin talks about how we might detect a magsail, or an antimatter engine, or a fusion-powered spacecraft, but he’s careful to note that the kind of concepts once studied by the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project at NASA may be undetectable, since we really don’t know what’s possible and what its signature might be.

I mentioned zero-point energy in a previous post because Zubrin likewise mentions it, an idea that would draw from the energy of the vacuum at the quantum level. Would a craft using such energies — if it’s even possible — leave a detectable signal? I’ve never seen a paper on this, but it’s true that one classic paper has looked at another truly exotic mechanism for interstellar travel, the wormhole. These shortcuts through spacetime make space travel a snap. Because they connect one part of the universe to another, you go in one end and come out the other, emerging into another place and, for all we know, another time.

The fact that we don’t know whether wormholes exist doesn’t mean we can’t think about how to detect one, although the authors of the classic paper on wormhole detection make no assumptions about whether or not any intelligent species would actually be using a wormhole. The paper is “Natural Wormholes as Gravitational Lenses,” and it’s no surprise to find that its authors are not only wormhole specialists like Matt Visser and Michael Morris, but physicists with a science fiction connection like John Cramer, Geoffrey Landis, Gregory Benford and the formidable Robert Forward.

Image: A wormhole presents a shortcut through spacetime. Can one be detected? Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The analysis assumes that the mouth of a wormhole would accrete mass, which would give the other mouth a net negative mass that would behave in gravitationally unusual ways. Thus the GNACHO (gravitationally negative anomalous compact halo object), which playfully echoes the acronym for massive compact halo objects (MACHOs). Observationally, we can look for a gravitational lensing signature that will enhance background stars by bending light in a fundamentally different way than what a MACHO would do. And because we have MACHO search data available, the authors propose checking them for a GNACHO signature.

In conventional gravitational lensing, when a massive object moves between you and a much more distant object, a greatly magnified and distorted image of the distant object can be seen. Gravitational lensing like this has proven a useful tool for astrophysicists and has also been a means of exoplanet detection. But when a wormhole moves in front of another star, it should de-focus the light and dim it. And as the wormhole continues to move in relation to the background star, it should create a sudden spike of light. The signature, then, is two spikes with a steep lowering of light between them.

The authors think we might find the first solid evidence for the existence of a wormhole in our data by looking for such an event, saying “…the negative gravitational lensing presented here, if observed, would provide distinctive and unambiguous evidence for the existence of a foreground object of negative mass.” And it goes without saying that today’s astronomy, which collects information at a rate far faster than it can be analyzed, might have such evidence tucked away in computer data waiting to be discovered by the right search algorithms.

Would a wormhole be a transportation device? Nobody knows. Assuming we discover a wormhole one day, it would likely be so far away that we wouldn’t be able to get to it to examine its possibilities. But it’s not inconceivable that a sufficiently advanced civilization might be able to create an artificial wormhole, creating a network of spacetime shortcuts for instantaneous travel. Matt Visser has discussed a wormhole whose mouth would be held open by negative energy, ‘…a flat-space wormhole mouth framed by a single continuous loop of exotic cosmic string.’ A primordial wormhole might survive from the early universe. Could one also be created by technology?

It is my theory that if we do not build worm-holes — our AI partners, and/or successors will be able to invent and construct them.

So that begs the question — “Are flying saucers constructed by biological beings, or AI/cybernetic creatures?”

Exotic Detections: Wormholes and Worldships


4 responses

  1. There are paradigms of physics “out there” that we haven’t even conceived of. Whole vistas of possibility. I discount UFOs at a gut level because they are based on a 20th century understanding of reality, on 20th century notions of auto-transportation (like cars). Hey, they don’t ride around in cars, okay? Forget thousands. We’re talking hundreds of millions, maybe even billions of years ahead of our paradigms and conceptions.

    1. I would tend to agree with that since no detectable interstellar objects ( fusion drives, light sails ) were ever recorded in space and the “paranormal” nature of the UFO phenomenon is the flavor of the day instead of the old “nuts and bolts” theory.

      Are the billion year old aliens more etherial than physical? I think so, but if they are dealing with us in this dimension, perhaps that is why we are hearing stories of “hybrid races” being created to be mediators between us.

      No way to no for certain.

  2. The assumption that certain extraterrestrials of note are invisible to our primitive (I’m sure) detection devices provides a major constraint on the Fermi paradox. Just because we as laymen are unable or unwilling to penetrate the mystery does not mean they don’t exist, nor does it mean the real ETs rides around in “UFOs”. I doubt they use or need such vehicles. For what conceivable use could they be if they can monitor and influence events here by other more powerful means? The UFOs that we constantly hear about appear mythological inasmuch as they are precisely what a 1950s mind would tend to think about their technology, not to mention we have been unable in 65 years to satisfactorily explain a single unexplainable case. Most have been explained as many different things, from holographic hoaxes to “inversion layers” to stealth aircraft, or to jet aircraft in a dive such that the wings appear obscured for various optical or atmospheric reasons. Beyond this, can the jet engine really be the very last word in human technological attainment? I doubt it, especially considering the kind of money and manpower these agencies have had at their secret disposal for many decades now.

  3. The military black budget is figured in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars over the past decade, so I’m sure that if we didn’t have “UFO” technology before, we surely have it now and all of the drama in the world is just for show.

    I’m not sure if I believe that scenario, but I’ll always keep my eyes and ears open the best I can!

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