from the Beep!-Beep!-Like-a-Sheep! dept.
The mundane explanation for an apparent signal detection in the vicinity of Ross 128 is backed by an analysis of the Arecibo Observatory's data:
A strange radio signal that seemed to emanate from a small nearby star probably came from Earth-orbiting satellites, astronomers say. Late last week, researchers announced that, on May 12, the 1,000-foot-wide (305 meters) Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico detected a bizarre radio signal in the vicinity of Ross 128, a red dwarf star that lies just 11 light-years from Earth.
[...] "The best explanation is that the signals are transmissions from one or more geostationary satellites," Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico, wrote in a statement today (July 21). (Geostationary satellites circle Earth at an altitude of about 22,300 miles, or 35,800 kilometers.)
"This explains why the signals were within the satellite's frequencies and only appeared and persisted in Ross 128; the star is close to the celestial equator, where many geostationary satellites are placed," Mendez added. "This fact, though, does not yet explain the strong dispersion-like features of the signals (diagonal lines in the figure); however, it is possible that multiple reflections caused these distortions, but we will need more time to explore this and other possibilities."
There is no news signal in this submission.
Previously: Strange Signals From the Nearby Red Dwarf Star Ross 128
We do not know the origin of these signals but there are three main possible explanations: they could be (1) emissions from Ross 128 similar to Type II solar flares, (2) emissions from another object in the field of view of Ross 128, or just (3) burst from a high orbit satellite since low orbit satellites are quick to move out of the field of view. The signals are probably too dim for other radio telescopes in the world and FAST is currently under calibration.
Each of the possible explanations has their own problems. For example, Type II solar flares occur at much lower frequencies and the dispersion suggests a much farther source or a dense electron field (e.g. the stellar atmosphere?). Also, there are no many nearby objects in the field of view of Ross 128 and we have never seen satellites emit bursts like that, which were common in our other star observations. In case you are wondering, the recurrent aliens hypothesis is at the bottom of many other better explanations.
[...] UPDATE 2017/07/17: We successfully observed Ross 128 last night from the Arecibo Observatory. It was raining during the observations but this has a minimal effect on the C-band. SETI Berkeley with the Green Bank Telescope and SETI Institute's ATA joined our observations. We need to get all the data from the other partner observatories to put all things together for a conclusion. Probably by the end of this week.
Astronomers don't know what's causing these weird radio waves from a nearby star
Strange Signals from the Nearby Red Dwarf Star Ross 128
(Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday July 23 2017, @07:24AM
I'd say where all geostationary satellites are placed. Because if they are not placed there, even if they have a 24h period, they are not geostationary, but "oscillate" between northern and southern hemisphere.
The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
(Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Sunday July 23 2017, @07:49AM (4 children)
SETI is romantic and all. But for only 1 century out of 4 billion years has there been intelligent life on Earth capable of hearing and maybe decoding signals in the electromagnetic spectrum. How long will we last? Humans might still be around 1 million years from now, but I very much doubt it. If it's similar on the small percentage of planets that have any life at all, we could easily miss each other. For aliens to deliberately talk to us, they'd almost certainly have to have been around for millions of years, watching life progress on Earth, maybe checking up on us once every 10,000 years to see where we're at. We haven't been civilized that long.
If any advanced alien civilization knows about us, we could be fodder for their equivalent of reality TV shows, and they wouldn't want to spoil the novelty by revealing themselves. Much grimmer things are possible. Seems more likely is receiving leakage or spillover not meant for us.
(Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Sunday July 23 2017, @10:09AM (3 children)
It should become clear within the next 200 years or so whether humanity can permanently settle (with self-sustainable colonies) on the Moon, Mars, Ceres, Ganymede, Titan, and other objects. Integrating artificial gravity using centrifuges or some other method will likely be required. Venus is a wild card because you could live in the upper atmosphere but not the surface without geoengineering, and if you can live on Ceres, you could probably live on Triton, Pluto, the hypothetical Mars-sized planet, and whatever large satellites that could be orbiting the hypothetical Planet Nine. Long-term life on spacecraft capable of mining asteroids may also be possible.
After a certain degree of "manspreading", humanity will be more likely to persist and diverge than die out. Humanity has avoided natural extinction events so far, but there are probably many civilizations among the billions of galaxies in the universe that have achieved anywhere from Paleolithic to pre-Space Age levels of technology (in our case, a timespan of over 2 million years and multiple hominid species) only to be wiped out by an asteroid. Once you have a million people on Mars (Musk projection) or a trillion people throughout the solar system (Bezos projection), the asteroid is off the table as a credible threat. Manmade threats that may doom Earth are not likely to affect groups of people spanning multiple astronomical units.
So in the latest tiny fraction of human history, it will become clear to us whether humanity can reach something like Type 1.5-2 on various Kardashev scales [wikipedia.org] (e.g. Type II on the Zubrin one). What is the scenario that leads to our destruction or "retirement" once we reach that point? Gamma ray burst? Let's hope not. Interplanetary war? The hottest action will probably be confined to Earth where the holy sites are. Retreat into VR prisons and other mindless entertainment (including... mind uploading)? Our 7.5 billion population already has lots of motivations, and the 15-100 billion population of a future solar system would not all mindlessly atrophy into Wall-E fatties, even if a significant proportion chose that lifestyle. People will claim and settle every available rock as long as it is cheap and practical to do so. Reusable rockets and other developments will make it "cheap". Fusion reactors, advanced manufacturing, and other technologies will make it practical by enabling sustainable colonization after an initial investment with no dire need for resupply from Earth.
Between now and later, technology could become our undoing. I don't think that much of biothreats since at the end of the day you can isolate some people from the threat, wear filtration, etc. But maybe that would set things back enough so that nobody is spending on their space programs. Pure fusion weapons [wikipedia.org] would be much scarier since they would make non-proliferation efforts obsolete. The AI menace has a nice global network to play with which is only getting thicker thanks to consumer crap. Grey goo could be tricky to create, and then really easy to spread. As for global warming, we would need a high temperature to cause population decline, but it could again be enough to halt space development (or speed it up if we decide to launch giant mirrors to block sunlight).
I think we can make it through the existential crisis times. As for your other explanations for the Fermi paradox (Prime Directive or they are just fucking with us), I prefer this explanation [wikipedia.org]:
In the coming decades we will develop much more sensitive equipment and telescopes. We will have expanded our knowledge of exoplanets drastically. We also have the option of putting radio telescopes on the far side of the moon. SETI is just getting started.
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(Score: 4, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Sunday July 23 2017, @03:36PM (2 children)
> SETI is just getting started.
*We're* just getting started. Most people are too focused on the immediate to appreciate how young, and partial civilization is. By the standards of any aliens capable of communicating with us, we are surely moronic barbarians. Probably every single day, the average man wishes he could simply punch whoever is causing him trouble at the moment-- the boss, police officers, bankers, politicians, bad drivers, even his own family. He wants to knock the jerks down, "teach them a lesson", and has to keep firm control of such impulses. War is definitely not civilized behavior, but so far, we have been unable to restrain ourselves for a variety of reasons. Not least it's been all too easy to fall into wars rather than do the harder work of getting ahead of the problems that lead to them. And now with nuclear weapons, we must limit war, if we are to survive.
The idea of making ourselves more resistant to nuclear annihilation by colonizing other planets smacks of massive overkill and wishful thinking. It's "cracking an egg with a nuclear blaster". It's Big Dumb Object/Megastructure thinking. At the historic rate at which wars occur, we can't just keep on fighting during the centuries it could easily take for a Mars colony to become self-sustaining, we have to do more sooner to tone down our competitive behavior and violence. Nor do I see a few colonies as that much in the way of protection. It will likely be very possible for some madman and his group of fanatic minions to simultaneously nuke every colony in the solar system. 9/11 featured simultaneous attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the White House. At the least, monarchies and dictatorships are discredited as sane forms of government that won't resort to war for frivolous reasons. Whether representative democracies are ultimately better is the question. In recent years, the US has not been doing too great on that front.
I've noticed we tend to think much more of changing the world to suit us, rather than changing ourselves to fit better with our circumstances. For example, SF is full of Faster Than Light travel. It could be much more feasible to extend our lifespans, or freeze ourselves for years, rather than keep on wishing for FTL.
I really think a paradise on Earth is in our reach, that it can be done. The main obstacle is ourselves-- our destructive greed, selfishness, cruelty, and spite, our lazy stupidities, our stubborn refusals to face reality, our tendencies to be control freaks, or succumb to destructive obsessions or other mental issues. I take a wild guess that maybe 10% of the people in the world are fit to lead a nation, wouldn't fly us all into the side of a mountain. About 30% of the population are "minions", eager for a Great Leader to emerge and tell them what to think and do, even if that means war, because thinking for themselves is too hard. We have a lot of problems that aren't getting much attention, and even knowledge of which is being foolishly suppressed.
Maybe alien advice can help. An alien shaming, sort of like in Childhood's End, might shock us into doing better. Oh yes, we'll get a lot better at SETI. Worth doing for other reasons than the straightforward one of trying to find aliens. Don't hang any hopes of that on it, on getting the "help" of Overlords to save us. We are very much alone, so far as we can tell now.
(Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday July 23 2017, @08:38PM
Don't forget that SETI includes searching for signs of life indirectly by spotting biosignatures in exoplanet atmospheres or directly imaging plant life. The James Webb Space Telescope will boost our capability in these areas and will also be well suited to looking for alien megastructures [phys.org]. These approaches don't require aliens to make any noise, although if they have a way to cloak themselves, tough luck.
I don't see it taking centuries to establish self-sustaining colonies. I see it taking centuries to establish self-sustaining colonies on 1,000 rocks. There are hundreds of undiscovered trans-Neptunian objects ranging from Enceladus/Miranda to Orcus/Ceres to Pluto/Triton to Mars in size [wikipedia.org] that are so close in astronomical terms that you don't need to think about "FTL" or deep slumber to get there. If you do the bare minimum to support 100 settlers per rock, you can eventually scale up. We need solar or fusion power, indoor greenhouses which have been tested in compact container form on Earth as well as on the ISS. We need the ability to create building materials. Dumb soil bricks are an easy option while other parts could be created from bioplastics. We need metal/steel production to create a variety of useful items. Your self-sustaining colony doesn't require things like a semiconductor fabrication facility on Day 1, unless Intel, GlobalFoundries, Samsung and others transition to a new and cheap production method that can scale down... for example using molecular self-assembly or something. The colony needs advanced recycling and extreme utilization of available resources. No more venting waste gas into the atmosphere, where it will just be blown away by solar wind. You need compact setups [sciencemag.org] that can manufacture hundreds or thousands of basic drugs and chemicals (another option is to use programmable yeast to produce them).
As long as colonies remain fairly small, the risk of someone causing devastation on-site will be low. As the colony grows, you make things redundant to cut down on points of failure. There will certainly be some big risks since you can't just walk away from the scene without a spacesuit on. Simultaneous nuking? Well, you'd better check what gets brought in and hope pure fusion weapons are not possible.
If you are still stuck on man's savage nature, it's not like we don't have gene therapy and designer baby options for eliminating "psychopath" and "violence" associated genes. Good luck getting the bioethicists on board, and even if you do that, some nihilists and nutballs will emerge in spite of their genetics.
Representative democracies don't tend to fight other representative democracies. Also, nuclear weapons states have not fought nuclear weapons states, with the possible exception of India-Pakistan scuffles and maybe U.S. and North Korea soon.
I take that for granted. But it might not help for interstellar travel if your journey would take 1,000 or more years. Mechanical failures could become perilous and you can only bring so many resources to fix problems. You don't likely have the option of slowing to a stop.
I haven't. It would be a nice story if we could copy and paste alien technology, but they'll probably need to crash land it here. According to some, the U.S. government has utilized technology from crashed UFOs. Maybe Roger Shawyer is their man.
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(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 25 2017, @03:55AM
A planet is the cradle of mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. -- Konstantin Tsiolkovsky