SETI is excited about a possible signal from an extraterrestrial civilization

SETI is excited about a possible signal from an extraterrestrial civilization August 29, 2016

It is, of course, tempting to hope we might have gotten such a signal.

Who wouldn’t want to be alive on the day we actually verify the existence of an entire extraterrestrial civilization?  How cool would that be?  But this sort of thing makes me go, “Naaaaaah.”:

The signal’s strength indicates that if it in fact came from a isotropic beacon, the power source would have to be built by a Kardashev Type II civilization. (The Kardashev scale is used to determine the progress of a civilization’s technological development by measuring how much energy was used to transmit an interstellar message.) An ‘Isotropic’ beacon means a communication source emitting a signal with equal power in all directions while promoting signal strength throughout travel.

In his acclaimed work “Transmission of Information by Extraterrestrial Civilizations,” Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev explained that a Type II civilization would be able to harness the energy of their entire host star. The most common hypothetical example of this would be a Dyson Sphere—which is a massive artificial structure that could completely encapsulate a star and transfer the energy to a nearby planet.

A cut-away diagram of an idealized Dyson shell, a variant on Dyson's original concept

A cut-away diagram of an idealized Dyson shell, a variant on Dyson’s original concept.(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Basically, if the signal was beamed out into the galaxy without aim or direction, that would require an enormous amount of power to actually be detected. But what if the signal was beamed specifically at our solar system? Well, that would require less energy and could indicate the presence of a Kardashev Type I civilization—meaning that it could be a highly technological, contemporary society that harnesses the solar energy emitted by its local star, much like our planet does with solar panels. This particular civilization’s social structure is theorized to be completely globalized and interconnected.

Yeah.  Or we are just picking up a pulse from some kind of very powerful star sending out regular radio emissions, but somebody at SETI is trying to gin up interest because they need funding.

I’ll believe it when we have something more than this breathless article to go on.

Sorry, but I remain largely a cosmic killjoy.

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