Alan Finkel questions whether the search for intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos is worth the effort.
Let’s say there is an intelligent civilisation on Kepler-452b and that they have built a powerful transmitter to send signals to us. If we picked up such a signal today and responded, our signal would take 1,400 years to reach them. Their response would take just as long, so it would be our descendants 2,800 years from now who would receive the reply. That would make for a rather drawn-out conversation.
Even if they did not think of sending us a signal, by pointing our radio telescopes at Kepler-452b we might find echoes of their radio, television or equivalent broadcast transmissions.
The trouble is that all broadcasts are subject to the inverse square law: every time you double the distance from the source, the signal strength falls to a quarter.
Cosmos publisher Finkel adds, by way of explaining why we are probably the most advanced species in the galaxy,
In every race, somebody has to be first. In this evolutionary race, it’s us.
But we don’t know that either.
Note: He also tells us, “He has been Chancellor of Monash University since 2008 and in 2016, will take up the post of Chief Scientist of Australia.”
See also: Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!
How do we grapple with the idea that ET might not be out there?
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