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Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'

 
Only Me
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01/27/2010 10:06 AM

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Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
Satellite television and the digital revolution is making humanity more and more invisible to inquisitive aliens on other planets, the world's leading ET hunter has said.

That might be good news for anyone who fears an ''Independence Day'' – style invasion by little green men. But it is also likely to make the search for extraterrestrial intelligence by Earthly scientists harder, Dr Frank Drake believes.

Dr Drake, who founded the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) organisation in the US 50 years ago, said the digital age was effectively gagging the Earth by cutting the transmission of TV and radio signals into space.

At present, the Earth was surrounded by a 50 light year-wide ''shell'' of radiation from analogue TV, radio and radar transmissions, he said.

But although the signals had spread far enough to reach many nearby star systems, they were rapidly vanishing before the march of digital technology.

To a race of observing aliens, digital TV signals would look like noise, said Dr Drake.

Digital transmissions were also much weaker than their terrestrial equivalent.

While old-style TV transmitters might generate one million watts, the power of a satellite signal was around 20 watts. Satellites also aimed their transmissions at the Earth, with almost none being allowed to escape into space.

Use of cable prevented the leakage of signals even more effectively.

''Now the actual amount of radiation escaping into space is about two watts, not much more than you get from a cell phone,'' said Dr Drake.

''If this continues into the future very soon our world will become undetectable. Using ourselves as an example, it means the difficulty of finding other civilisations will be much greater.

''We're going to have to search many more stars and many more frequencies.''

Any alien civilisations that existed were likely to be far more advanced than ours, he said. Their analogue TV age probably came and went long ago, before humans even thought about searching the sky for signs of intelligent life.

Dr Drake was speaking at a discussion meeting taking place at the Royal Society in London entitled ''The Detection of Extraterrestrial Life and the Consequences for Science and Society''.

He said he remained convinced that intelligent life existed beyond the Earth, despite the lack of success of SETI scientists who have spent half a century tuning into the stars.

The famous ''Drake Equation'' which he invented to estimate the chances of finding ET indicated there might be 10,000 detectable civilisations in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

However, even this large number equated to just one in 10 million stars.

''We have to search 10 million stars for signals and we have to do it over and over,'' said Dr Drake. ''We haven't remotely come close to that.''

Aliens could reveal themselves with technologies that are currently far beyond the scope of humans, he pointed out.

One possibility was using your own star as an incredibly powerful lens to amplify light and radio signals.

This could be done because of the way gravity bends light, as demonstrated by Albert Einstein.

The Sun bent light from distant stars to a focal point where one million-fold magnifications should be possible, dwarfing the abilities of the most powerful telescopes. Unfortunately, the focal point is far beyond the edge of the Solar System and too far to reach using current technology, said Dr Drake.

But it was likely advanced civilisations elsewhere had mastered the technique, he added.

A ''gravitational lens'' of this type could be powerful enough to map the continents and oceans of a planet in a distant star system.

Reversing the technology to use the lens as a transmitter instead of a receiver would enable aliens to beam massively powerful signals across the galaxy, said Dr Drake.

They could be using such a system to announce their presence to other planets, he said. But although the signal would be strong, it was likely to be transient as the beam was swept from place to place.

Another method of communication could be through the use of incredibly powerful pulsed lasers, such as those now being developed for nuclear fusion reactors.

Such a laser would produce a flash that for an instant could outshine a star. SETI had now started to look for signals of this type, so far with no success.

''In the universe elsewhere there is intelligent life. I'm confident about that, but how easy it is to find we don't know,'' said Dr Drake.



[link to www.telegraph.co.uk]
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martians watch tv too
User ID: 870346
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01/27/2010 10:18 AM
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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
so the martians will need a satellite dish to watch this

seasons american idol i guess.
Anonymous Coward
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01/27/2010 10:21 AM
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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
why dont aliens just sod off they bore the shit out of me lately
Returner
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01/27/2010 10:22 AM
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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
Even if we stopped broadcasting anything and everything today, all of our century or so of previous transmissions (radio, TV, radar, etc) are all still out there in the shape of an expanding sphere nearly a hundred light years across and growing every second.

Of course as the sphere expands it gets weaker and weaker.

But still, we've made our presence known.
Only Me (OP)
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User ID: 239124
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01/27/2010 10:27 AM

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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
What I find interesting is why doesn't this "lead ET" guy realize that if they can see us, their technology must be advanced enough to work around that in the first place.

Ah well..
Here is where I look back.
Here is where you fell.
This is where I got up,
Shaking off my tail
This is where your rope trick
Started to look stale.
A greyhound pass for the boy in the well.

we see you little greenies
User ID: 870346
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01/27/2010 10:35 AM
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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
What I find interesting is why doesn't this "lead ET" guy realize that if they can see us, their technology must be advanced enough to work around that in the first place.

Ah well..
 Quoting: Only Me


yeah, if they can 'see' us why cant we 'see' them.
surely they put out some radio freqs once upon a time.
Returner
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01/27/2010 10:40 AM
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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
The trouble with finding an alien signal is manyfold.

Firt, the universe is BIG. There are alots of places to look. Even our signals are quickly getting lost behind background noise, dust clouds, and the general sigh and hum of all the natural radio emissions out there.

Second, we're doing most of our looking from beneath a thick, dirty atmosphere.

Finally, we're doing it on a shoestring budget with makeshift gear.

And we're only looking for radio signals. Radio is not exactly the best medium for interstellar communication; it just takes too long to send a question and get a reply. Maybe the advanced folks have something much better.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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01/27/2010 11:11 AM
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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
What I find interesting is why doesn't this "lead ET" guy realize that if they can see us, their technology must be advanced enough to work around that in the first place.

Ah well..


yeah, if they can 'see' us why cant we 'see' them.
surely they put out some radio freqs once upon a time.
 Quoting: we see you little greenies 870346


Well, are you sure they haven't? What if they have tried to communicate in code? With light, or vibrations, or some other way?

Maybe they are too far ahead of us for us to even notice if they have sent radio signals?
Only Me (OP)
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01/27/2010 11:12 AM

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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
The above reply was me. not sure why it says anonymous coward lol
Here is where I look back.
Here is where you fell.
This is where I got up,
Shaking off my tail
This is where your rope trick
Started to look stale.
A greyhound pass for the boy in the well.

Art Deco

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01/27/2010 11:17 AM
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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
While it's an interesting theory, there are a few things to think about.

The broadcast stations are still broadcasting. ET will still detect a signal, I mean it wasn't as if they would be able to decode what they were seeing. There's still a signal going out, but it's just begins at a different frequency.

In fact, with the advent of satellite communications, there are even more signals being sent out today than even 5 years ago.

Beside TV stations, AM and FM stations continue to transmit signals, as do shortwave radio stations.

Last Edited by Art Deco on 01/27/2010 11:18 AM
In ten years we'll look back on this moment, laugh nervously, and quickly change the subject.
Only Me (OP)
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User ID: 239124
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01/27/2010 11:31 AM

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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
While it's an interesting theory, there are a few things to think about.

The broadcast stations are still broadcasting. ET will still detect a signal, I mean it wasn't as if they would be able to decode what they were seeing. There's still a signal going out, but it's just begins at a different frequency.

In fact, with the advent of satellite communications, there are even more signals being sent out today than even 5 years ago.

Beside TV stations, AM and FM stations continue to transmit signals, as do shortwave radio stations.
 Quoting: Art Deco



Is this reason possibly why we went digital?
Here is where I look back.
Here is where you fell.
This is where I got up,
Shaking off my tail
This is where your rope trick
Started to look stale.
A greyhound pass for the boy in the well.

Anonymous Coward
User ID: 836669
United States
01/27/2010 08:30 PM
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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
bump
Art Deco

User ID: 473495
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01/28/2010 12:05 AM
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Re: Satellite TV 'making humans invisible to aliens on other planets'
While it's an interesting theory, there are a few things to think about.

The broadcast stations are still broadcasting. ET will still detect a signal, I mean it wasn't as if they would be able to decode what they were seeing. There's still a signal going out, but it's just begins at a different frequency.

In fact, with the advent of satellite communications, there are even more signals being sent out today than even 5 years ago.

Beside TV stations, AM and FM stations continue to transmit signals, as do shortwave radio stations.



Is this reason possibly why we went digital?
 Quoting: Only Me

Sorry I was away so long.

The move to digital really wouldn't have any effect, in that a signal is still being transmitted.

Remember, they don't have to watch the signal, just receiving it is enough to give us away.
In ten years we'll look back on this moment, laugh nervously, and quickly change the subject.

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