I sent the following e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org on May 28, 2010 (grammar and spelling errors have been corrected to the best of my ability to spot them & my name at the end has been omitted since I wish to remain anonymouse):
I am not all that clued up on SETI but I’d like to ask a question, which perhaps someone may be able to help me with.
I am assuming that the sun emits radiation in all frequencies of the Electromagnetic Spectrum so that the sun is emitting radio waves.
Have these solar radio emissions been checked for ‘interstellar messages’ or indications of such?
I am working from the following premise:
I was reading Carl Sagan’s ‘The Cosmic Connection’. Here is an excerpt from one chapter called ‘Cables, Drums, and Seashells’. It’s speculation, of course, and Carl readily admits that.
“Communications between two very advanced civilizations will likely use a science and technology inaccessible to us. We therefore have no prospect for tuning in on such communications traffic, either accidentally or on purpose.
We are like the inhabitants of an isolated valley in New Guinea who communicate with societies in neighboring valleys (quite different societies, I might add) by runner and by drum. When asked how a very advanced society will communicate, they might guess by an extremely rapid runner or by an improbably large drum. They might not guess a technology beyond their ken. And yet, all the while, a vast international cable and radio traffic passes over them, around them, and through them.
At this very moment the messages from another civilization may be wafting across space, driven by unimaginably advanced devices, there for us to detect them – if only we knew how. Perhaps the message will come via radio waves to be detected by large radio telescopes. Or perhaps by more arcane devices, the modulation of X-ray stars, gravity waves, neutrinos, tachyons, or transmission channels that no one on Earth will dream of for centuries. Or perhaps the messages are already here, present in some everyday experience that we have not made the right mental effort to recognize. The power of such an advanced civilization is very great. Their messages may lie in quite familiar circumstances.
Consider, for example, seashells. Everyone knows the “sound of the sea” to be heard when putting a seashell to one’s ear. It is really the greatly amplified sound of our own blood rushing, we are told. But is this really true? Has this been studied? Has anyone attempted to decode the message being sounded by the seashell? I do not intend this example as literally true, but rather as an allegory. Somewhere on Earth there may be the equivalent of the seashell communications channel. The message from the stars may be here already. But where?
We will listen for the interstellar drums but we will miss the interstellar cables. We are likely to receive our first messages from the drummers of the neighboring galactic valleys – from civilizations only somewhat in our future. The civilizations vastly more advanced than we will be, for a long time, remote both in distance and accessibility. At a future time of vigorous interstellar radio traffic, the very advanced civilizations may be, for us, still insubstantial legends.”
An extremely advanced alien civilization may have found a way to alter the emissions of stars throughout a galaxy or Universe simultaneously. The tweeking might be manifest as anomalies in the radio frequency emissions of stars because it seems to me that radio astronomy (if you’ll forgive me) is the starting point for emerging technological civilizations.
So the ETs would make sure that these emerging civilizations would all have a chance at receiving their message. Perhaps their only aim is just to let all sentient beings everywhere know that there are others, replying etc. may not be in the cards, as it were.
On a related note, there may be more than just a message involved. There may be the equivalent of an ET phone. Somewhere on Earth or in our solar system, readily accessible, and even not hidden from plain sight we might find a device or means which would enable communication with an advanced alien race.
Regards & Best Wishes & all the luck in the Universe/ Multiverse,
------ : )
Postscript (not in e-mail, of course): I didn’t get a reply to my e-mail from the SETI Institute (www.seti.org).
It’s a long-standing joke with my friend that if you thought making contact with aliens was difficult, try making contact with humans.
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