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Aliens Might Be Moving Stars to Communicate With Us

22 Feb , 2008

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You’ve got to love the audacity of this idea. In a recent article at Discover Magazine, virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier (you know, the guy with the dreadlocks) proposes that we get working on repositioning nearby stars to form geometric patterns – or at least start looking for places that it’s already been done by aliens.

Move stars around into patterns? That’s pretty crazy stuff. Sure, but there isn’t any physical reason why it isn’t possible; it happens all the time when galaxies collide. Of course, a spray of stars hurled into intergalactic space at random is different from a great big peace sign.

In order to actually move a star requires a gravitational tractor, and engineers are already planning this kind of a mission for a threat closer to home: asteroids. By flying a spacecraft near an asteroid, and fighting against the gravity pulling it down, you can actually pull the asteroid off course. Over a long period of time, you can move the asteroid enough in its orbit to prevent it from striking the Earth.

So scale that idea up. Send out a fleet of these spacecraft to tinker with the orbits of Kuiper Belt objects. These objects could rain into the inner Solar System and prod the Sun’s motion through the galaxy. Over a long period of time (a really really long period of time), you could impart enough of a velocity change to drive your star anywhere you wanted it to go.

With this technique, and a few million years to time to kill, you could line up stars into a formation that shows an intelligence was behind it. The more stars you put into formation, the better your message will be.

One interesting suggestion, made to Lanier by Piet Hut at the Institute for Advanced Study is a multiply nested binary system. Imagine binary systems, orbiting binary systems, orbiting binary systems. With 16 stars in formation, you’d have a shape that mother nature would never arrange on her own, but would be stable for long periods of time. From long distances, astronomers wouldn’t be able to resolve the individual stars, but they’d definitely know something strange was going on.

The advantage to this, of course, is that stars are visible for tremendous distances. Why bother sending out puny radio signals when you can harness the energy of an entire star.

Physicists predict that civilizations will eventually advance to the point that they master all the energy of their home planet, their star system, and eventually their entire galaxy. And if you’re harnessing every watt of energy pouring out of every star in the galaxy, who’d miss a little extra energy being used for communications.

So, uh… let’s get on that.

Original Source: Discover Magazine


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ranjea
Guest
ranjea
February 22, 2008 4:13 PM

that is nice to think about.
maybe aliens have done this already. i can remember some nebula looking like a hand or other things or features. maybe aliens are not as obsessed with math like scientists here on earth (not meaning they did not need it to get to that point of their evoloution).
If somebody has a link to such nebula or star formations, please post a link

Polaris93
Member
February 22, 2008 11:49 PM
The first thing that comes to mind upon reading this article is, “Why bother with that? Isn’t there an easier way to do the same thing, i.e., communicate?” I can see, e.g., Scientologists coming up with something this weird as a way of aliens trying to communicate with other civilizations, but not scientists or engineers who know what they’re doing. The only reason I could see for such an exorbitantly costly project is as part of some religious devotion or that sort of thing, analagous to the building of the pyramids by the Ancient Egyptians. When it comes to religious behavior, the sky’s the limit, so maybe ETs might do something like this to please their Gods or… Read more »
ntoskrnl
Guest
ntoskrnl
February 22, 2008 5:37 PM

Sounds pretty far fetched none the less. Where would information besides ‘theres something strange’ be stored? Taking binary code: lining up stars in a ‘there’ – ‘not there’ (means 0 or 1) manner, it would require really lot of stars to make some worthy message, and it would be static (a radio message has a time factor and can contain much more information)

the guy
Guest
the guy
February 22, 2008 6:18 PM

The reference to a binary system has nothing to do with code, but with a 2-star system orbiting another 2-star system and so on. On a large enough scale that would create a non-natural pattern observable from far away. Unfortunately radio transmissions and the like dissipate with distance and fade into the background ‘noise’ of the universe. As far fetched as it is, its definately a way to let others know “hey, look at us!” Although there is the time that it would take the light to travel to deep space… hmm

clocker
Guest
clocker
February 22, 2008 7:54 PM

why not just email them?

Darrin
Guest
Darrin
February 22, 2008 8:00 PM

Wouldn’t we have to travel at faster than light speeds just to get to the stars we want to manipulate? If we’ve reached such a high level of technology, why would we not simply hop in our spaceships and look for alien life ourselves? It would probably be faster than waiting several millions of years to get all the stars to line up right and then waiting for the light to reach the aliens.

IntellectToday
Guest
February 22, 2008 8:38 PM

Great idea razz I’m sure it’ll work out brilliantly.

If you love this blog – you’ll love this site:
http://www.intellecttoday.com

Robert I. Eachus
Guest
Robert I. Eachus
February 22, 2008 9:05 PM
Interesting idea, but…we have the old problem of something that seems an “obvious” choice to us may not be the pattern that some other civilization might think was obvious. I’ve always wondered about Polaris, which is a close binary pair of a Cephid variable and a sun-like star, with a third companion much further away. We can make all sorts of interesting guesses about how that system came to be, but “natural” doesn’t fit very well. On the other hand, maybe it is a nested binary system like the one proposed. Polaris A was only found to be an astrometric binary about 50 years ago. (Recently the Hubble resolved Polaris A and Ab optically.) Does Polaris B have… Read more »
tacitus
Member
February 22, 2008 9:35 PM
I don’t think it’s at all likely that a civilization would move stars around as a signal to other civilizations in the same galaxy. By the time you reach that level of sophistication, there are other less difficult and much more reliable ways to seek out contact with other intelligent species. For one, building a series of humongous telescopes in deep space in different parts of the galaxy to observe stars at a distance for signs of life. Our own civilization has barely begun to explore the galaxy and yet we’re likely to begin imaging extrasolar planets within no more than a decade. Imagine the imaging technology we will have a our disposal within, say, just a couple… Read more »
Bob
Guest
Bob
February 22, 2008 9:48 PM

For communication you could take a cell phone (scale that idea up) find a
Black hole and program it as a digital gamma ray blinker and surely you will be heard.

tacitus
Member
February 22, 2008 9:53 PM
Continuing from my previous post, there is one case in which I can see some major stellar engineering might be used to get the message out–to send message across the gulf between the galaxies. What if intelligent life is so rare (as some people think) that we eventually discover that we’re the only civilization in the Milky Way? Would we just give up looking or would we begin attempts to contact other civilizations amongst the millions of galaxies out there? Sure, it would take forever, but by then we are likely to living an awful lot longer than we do now, and once we’ve spread out across the Milky Way will our thirst for knowledge be quenched? I… Read more »
Timing
Guest
Timing
February 23, 2008 12:42 AM

interesting stuff.
Imagine.. we learn how to leave our physical body behind so we will no longer be captured in our time and space dimension. Makes it easy for us to jump to other galaxies simply by looking at and/or thinking about it. And perhaps our thougths will then be enough to move stars into any formation.
If there´s any alien out there reading this… do not try this with our Sun without consulting me!

Chuck Lam
Guest
Chuck Lam
February 23, 2008 8:56 AM

Wow! Move stars for the purpose of communication! How arrogant we are to think and talk about how we could develop the capacity to move stars. At the rate we are tearing up planet earth, our species will not survive long enough to pull off such a grandiose notion. For the present, let’s get real and channel our collective brain power, or what’s left of it, into something worthwhile that will insure our survival.

pantzov
Guest
pantzov
February 23, 2008 3:13 AM

“Physicists predict that civilizations will eventually advance to the point that they master all the energy of their home planet, their star system, and eventually their entire galaxy.”

– heh heh ahhh yeah….

EagleUK
Member
EagleUK
February 23, 2008 3:19 AM

Aren’t we overlooking the obvious here? Even assuming that this sort of thing could be done, any intentional arrangement of stars would only appear that way to observers along a narrow perpendicular path. To every other observer, the pattern would be meaningless.

Can we get more scientific articles please?

sk
Guest
sk
February 23, 2008 3:36 AM

Why not create a giant light reflector and make it orbit around a few large stars to create a light beam effect.. Think of it as a giant light house.

mcummings
Guest
mcummings
February 23, 2008 6:02 AM

Hmmmm….sounds like someone checked out some McDevitt, had a drink, forgot the book and remembered the concept. [ Spoiler: “Omega” is the novel where it is revealed that the world destroying omega clouds were originally intended to alter stars as a part of an alien tapestry]

Yora Crackpot
Guest
Yora Crackpot
February 23, 2008 9:30 AM

Yeah, right. Idiot!

neoguru
Member
neoguru
February 23, 2008 10:46 AM

this has gotta be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read from Astronomy.

John Strebler
Guest
John Strebler
February 23, 2008 11:18 AM

Such star formations could already have been formed. Perhaps some advanced civilization acquired that ability two million years ago, but the signal stars that they moved are 10 million light years away from us. We would not observe those stars for eight million more years.

Such a signalling system would only be observable (within any reasonable time span) to civilizations that formed within a relatively small area around the signal stars. As for the perpendicular viewing, the advanced civilization could form a three dimensional figure with the stars (perhaps a pyramid or box shape).

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