Most people believe that humans will sooner or later establish open contact with aliens.
When it happens, we might get an invitation to join what scientists and science-fiction writers refer to as the "Galactic Club".
There is also a possibity that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations will not welcome us a new members.
So, naturally we might wonder what criteria will be used to determine whether we will be able to enter the Galactic Club or not.
According to David Schwartzman, a biogeochemist at Howard University in Washington D.C, there is reason not to give up on SETI.
Schwartzman thinks aliens are out there, despite the fact that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has only found silence.
He also outlines what we need to do for planet Earth to be initiated into the Galactic Club.
"Lee J. Rickard and I have put forward a scenario for eventual entrance of Earth into the Galactic Club in our paper published in 1988
(Lee J Rickard is a radio astronomer and I am a biogeochemist).
We proposed that at some future time, our terrestrial civilization might achieve sufficient maturity to proceed with a program to
detect so-called leakage radiation – the electromagnetic TV, radio and other broadcast signals that are inadvertently sent out into space
(military radars are the strongest, a possible universal signature of a late stage primitive civilization)," says
In his scientific paper, David Schwartzman writes: "This proposed program has a critical distinction from virtually all of observational SETI: detecting a targeted beacon from ET requires that they intended to
The absence of evidence it not necessarily evidence of absence, if intention is lacking.
On the other hand, for a relatively short time, primitive civilizations like us leak radio waves to space, unintended signals that we could potentially detect.
The technical requirements for a galaxy-wide search are dictated by the size of the radio telescope, with the detection range proportional to
the effective diameter of the telescope.
A large enough radio telescope situated in space could potentially set meaningful upper limits on the rate of
emergence of primitive Earth-like civilizations (‘N/L’ in the Drake equation), without ever actually detecting the leakage radiation of
even one ET civilization.
Alien telescopes could use the gravity of stars – using a technique called gravitational microlensing -- to help them view the Earth. Image credit: NASA
But just how big a telescope is required for this project, and at what cost? Our 1988 paper provided such estimates: a dish diameter on
the order of 500 kilometers, at a cost of roughly $10 trillion. Perhaps the cost has come down somewhat (but note the estimate was in 1988 dollars).
This is surely a project with a vanishingly small chance of implementation in today’s world.
The asteroid belt is estimated to contain over 1 million
asteroids with diameters exceeding one kilometer.
Could an alien probe be hiding among the asteroids,
keeping an eye on Earth? Credit: NASA/U. of Arizona
I could only conceive of a demilitarized newly mature
planetary civilization, call it Earth-United (Finally!), with any intention of implementing such an ambitious project that has no apparent
immediate practical benefits.
Then and only then would we successively detect a message from the Galactic Club (GC), presumably faint enough to be only
detectable with a huge radio telescope in space.
On the other hand, the GC may be monitoring biotically-inhabited planets by remote Bracewell probes that have programmed instructions.
Such a probe would plausibly be now hiding in the asteroid belt (as Michael Papagiannis once suggested).
If the GC exists, there was ample time to
set up this surveillance system long ago.
Surveillance probes so situated in planetary systems would send welcoming signals to newly mature civilizations,
with the potential for a real conversation with artificial intelligence constructed by the GC, if not reconstructed biological entities.
If this proposed surveillance system is absent, we should expect the GC to use highly advanced telescopes to monitor planetary
systems that have prospects for the emergence of intelligent life and technical civilizations. These alien telescopes could use
gravitational lenses around stars. Planetary system candidates to the GC could expect to receive continuous beacons, but the
signals would be very weak or disguised so that they would only be decipherable by newly mature civilizations that just pass the entrance requirements.
The problem with this scenario is there would be a fairly long communication delay with the GC, because they would be so far away.
Nevertheless, reception of a rich message from the GC is possible.
The material and/or energy resources needed for these signals to be recognized must
correspond with great probability to a newly ripe mature civilization. Hence, cleverness in itself cannot be the criteria for successful detection and
decipherment, otherwise a brilliant scientist on a primitive civilization might jump the GC protocol.
Our world will change completely once we enter the Galactic Club.
I submit that if we want to enter the Galactic Club, the challenge lies in reconstructing our global political economy.
A few minor side benefits should result, like no more war, no more poverty, a future for all of humanity’s children with a
substantial proportion of biodiversity intact. We should not expect the Galactic Club to save us from ourselves."
Reference: Schwartzman, D. and L.J. Rickard, Being Optimistic about SETI, American Scientist, 76, No.4, 364-369.
Mysterious Signal From Outer Space - Is Someone Trying To Contact Us?
A mysterious signal coming from a region of space between the constellations Pisces and Aries has been picked up on three different
occasions by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.
The signal is very puzzling and does not resemble any known astronomical phenomenon. Researchers who have studied its frequency
pattern do not believe it is natural interference or noise.
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Aliens Living On Methane Worlds
n the search for life elsewhere, many studies focus on finding liquid water. But what if life could exist with some other
solvent? Saturn's smoggy moon Titan makes scientists question the possibilities for methane-based life in the galaxy.
Extraterrestrial Interstellar Beacon - A Broadcast From Outer Space
There could be hundreds, even thousands, of intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way, but not all of them can be classified as interstellar travellers.
Many civilizations might simply lack sufficient technology to travel among the stars. Nevertheless,
just like humans other intelligent alien species could seek contact with their galactic neighbors.
Have we already detected such alien signals without being able to identify their true nature?
Alien Species Living In The Inner Milky Way Could Be In Danger
Few people doubt there is intelligent alien life in the Milky Way galaxy, but where can we expect to find it?
Astronomers think that while the inner sector of the MIlky Way Galaxy may be the most likely to support habitable worlds.
Unfortunately some of these places are also most dangerous to all life-forms.
Abnormal Star Discovered In The 'Forbidden Zone'
A team of astrophysicists from Germany, France and Italy have discovered in the constellation Leo is an old star.
The star's existence raised at once many questions for scientists.
The object is definitely not as its "contemporaries" that appeared immediately after the Big Bang event.
Possible Water In The Atmosphere Of A Super-Earth
Four CfA astronomers, Zachory Berta, David Charbonneau, Jean-Michel Desert, and Jonathan Irwin, together with six colleagues,
used the Hubble Space Telescope to probe the atmosphere around the transiting super-Earth known as GJ1214b.
This exoplanet has a mass of 6.5 Earth-masses and a radius of 2.7 Earth-radii, and it orbits a small M-dwarf star (its diameter
is only 21% of the Sun's).
Extremely Rare Blue Flash Captured On Photo!
This is a very rare phenomenon produced by the Sun!
"Tonight I photographed the setting sun and suddenly when it was about to disappear behind the treetops there was a mighty blue flash,"
wrote Peter Rosén, Stockholm, Sweden who took this picture on February 29, 2012.
Astronomical Mystery - Tremendous Explosion And Appearance Of Odd Rings
Twenty five years ago, on 1987 February 23, the brightest supernova of modern times was observed in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
The collision occurred at speeds near 60 million kilometers per hour and shock-heats the ring material causing it to glow.
Over time, astronomers have watched and waited for the expanding debris from this tremendous stellar explosion to crash into previously expelled material...
The Eyes Of A Future Alien Astronomer - What Will They See?
Have you ever wondered what the Universe will look like for a future alien astronomer?
It will in fact be entirely different from what it is today.
One trillion years from now, an alien astronomer in our galaxy will have great difficulties figuring out how the universe began.
The Milky Way will have merged with the Andromeda galaxy to form the Milkomeda galaxy. Many of its stars, including our Sun, will have burned out.
Violent Dragon Clash Billions Of Years Ago
NGC 5907 is sometimes called the "Splinter" or Knife Edge Galaxy because of its unusual appearance.
It is a spiral galaxy lying in the Dragon constellation,
about 40 million light-years from Earth that could have been formed through a gigantic collision of galaxies, 8 to 9 billion years ago.