What fate awaits humanity if aliens can discover the Earth with its mild climate and abundant resources? This question has long been concerned with scientists, many of whom fear the worst.
Physicist Stephen Hawking is one of those who warned that the higher mind and its “friends” can be much smarter than us, and can view a person as just a small mistake.
Now a duet of astronomers from Columbia University in New York has proposed an innovative method to hide our planet from prying extraterrestrial eyes using massive lasers.
And this is not a joke, they say.
Extraterrestrial scientists, argued David Kipping and Alex Tiacei, may be trying to find habitable planets using the same technique as us - searching for a small incidence of light when the planet passes between its orbit star and the observer through a telescope (transit).
Planets do not emit their own light, and if they were visible to the naked eye, they would appear as dark points, tracked by their bright stars.
But these exoplanets are too far away to see them, and all our telescopes can pick up only a small decrease in the starlight emitted during transportation. If aliens identify us using this technique, Earth would be a logical target for an alien settlement.
It rotates within the so-called “habitable zone” - not too close and not too far from the Sun, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water, and this is the essence of life.
An article published Thursday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (KAO) in London, Kipping and Tiacei said that the earth’s path around the sun can be masked by brilliant huge lasers that hide its location in the world.
Surprisingly, but true.
“Despite the date, this is really not an April Fool's joke,” assured Robert Massey, the deputy executive director of CAO, on Friday.
“This is a serious part of robots.”
The human search for a planet capable of supporting life remains an academic pursuit - we do not have a solar system that is close enough to reach it without time travel.
Since its launch in 2009, NASA's Space Telescope on Planet Hunting - Kepler has found thousands of candidates.
Astronomers confirmed the existence of almost 2000 distant worlds, but most of them in orbit in habitable zones turned out to be gas giants. “The transit method is currently the most successful method for discovering planets,” they wrote.
“Other advanced civilizations are undoubtedly familiar with this technique ...”.
In the spectrum of wavelengths of visible light, the transit signal can be masked by a monochromatic laser, emitting about 30 million watts (MW) for 10 hours, once a year.
One MW can power several hundred homes for an hour.
The team reported that a universal cape, effective at all wavelengths, would require a much larger array of lasers with a total power of 250 MW.
“There is a constant discussion as to whether we should advertise or hide from developed civilizations, potentially living on planets, elsewhere in the Galaxy,” Kipping said in a statement.
“Our work offers humanity a choice, at least for transit events, and we have to decide what to do.”