The “Twitter” Solution in the Search for ET (VIDEO)

March_1990Belgium_1114056c Assuming that an alien civilization would strive to optimize costs, limit waste and make its signaling technology more efficient, Jim Benford, founder and president of Microwave Sciences Inc., proposes that these signals would not be continuously blasted out in all directions but rather would be pulsed, narrowly directed and broadband in the 1-to-10-gigahertz range. The physics professor says. “Whatever the life form, evolution selects for economy of resources. Broadcasting is expensive, and transmitting signals across light-years would require considerable resources.”

“This approach is more like Twitter and less like War and Peace, ” says James Benford, 

The concept of short, targeted blips — dubbed “Benford beacons” by the science press — has gotten extensive coverage in such publications as Astronomy Now. Well-known cosmologist Paul Davies, in his 2010 book The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence, supports the theory.

This means that SETI — which focuses its receivers on narrow-band input — may be looking for the wrong kind of signals. The Benfords and a growing number of scientists involved in the hunt for extraterrestrial life advocate adjusting SETI receivers to maximize their ability to detect direct, broadband beacon blasts.

But where to look? The Benfords’ frugal-alien model points to our own Milky Way galaxy, especially the center, where 90 percent of its stars are clustered.

“The stars there are a billion years older than our sun, which suggests a greater possibility of contact with an advanced civilization than does pointing SETI receivers outward to the newer and less crowded edge of our galaxy,” Gregory Benford says.

“Will searching for distant messages work? Is there intelligent life out there? The SETI effort is worth continuing, but our common-sense beacons approach seems more likely to answer those questions.”

Casey Kazan

Source: http://www.liebertonline.com/toc/ast/10/5

Provided by UC Irvine

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