Example of signals KOI 817 and KOI 812. Credit: The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence at UC Berkeley

Extrasolar Planets, Kepler Mission, SETI

Analysis of the First Kepler SETI Observations

6 Jan , 2012 by

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As the Kepler space telescope begins finding its first Earth-sized exoplanets, with the ultimate goal of finding ones that are actually Earth-like, it would seem natural that the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program would take a look at them as well, in the continuing search for alien radio signals. That is exactly what SETI scientists are doing, and they’ve started releasing some of their preliminary results.

They are processing the data taken by Kepler since early 2011; some interesting signals have been found (a candidate signal is referred to as a Kepler Object of Interest or KOI), but as they are quick to point out, these signals so far can all be explained by terrestrial interference. If a single signal comes from multiple positions in the sky, as these ones do, it is most likely to be interference.

They do, however, also share characteristics which would be expected of alien artificial signals.

A couple of examples are from KOI 817 and KOI 812. They are of a very narrow frequency, as would be expected from a signal of artificial origin. They also change in frequency over time, due to the doppler effect – the motion of the alien signal source relative to the radio telescope on Earth. If a signal is found with these characteristics but also does not appear to be just interference, that would be a good candidate for an actual artificial signal of extraterrestrial origin.

These are only the results of the first observations and many more will come during the next weeks and months.

Looking for signals has always been like looking for a needle in the cosmic haystack; until now we were searching pretty much blind, starting even before we knew if there were any other planets out there or not. What if our solar system was the only one? Now we know that it is only one of many, with new estimates of billions of planets in our galaxy alone, based on early Kepler data. Plus the fact that the majority of those are thought to be smaller, rocky worlds like Earth, Mars, etc. How many of them are actually habitable is still an open question, but finding them narrows down the search, providing more probable actual targets to turn the radio telescopes toward instead of just trying to search billions of stars overall.

All twelve signal examples so far can be downloaded here (PDF).

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Anonymous
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Anonymous
January 6, 2012 7:07 PM

I am all for people searching but I have my doubts they will ever find anything.

It isn’t that I don’t believe in life (intelligent or otherwise) in the Universe. I do believe life exists elsewhere. I just believe it is a biased view to think they use radio to communicate.

Just because we do CURRENTLY doesn’t mean they will. We’ve only been using radio for the last hundred years and who is to say how long it will take to utilize a more efficient means (say quantum entanglement)??

I just don’t think they will find anything but I sincerely hope to be proven wrong.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 6, 2012 7:07 PM

I am all for people searching but I have my doubts they will ever find anything.

It isn’t that I don’t believe in life (intelligent or otherwise) in the Universe. I do believe life exists elsewhere. I just believe it is a biased view to think they use radio to communicate.

Just because we do CURRENTLY doesn’t mean they will. We’ve only been using radio for the last hundred years and who is to say how long it will take to utilize a more efficient means (say quantum entanglement)??

I just don’t think they will find anything but I sincerely hope to be proven wrong.

hypernova
Member
hypernova
January 6, 2012 7:16 PM

I think you’re right on all counts. But, you never know until you look. Also, I think quantum entanglement has been ruled out as a means of communication. Someone correct me if I’m wrong

hypernova
Member
hypernova
January 6, 2012 7:16 PM

I think you’re right on all counts. But, you never know until you look. Also, I think quantum entanglement has been ruled out as a means of communication. Someone correct me if I’m wrong

hypernova
Member
hypernova
January 6, 2012 7:16 PM

I think you’re right on all counts. But, you never know until you look. Also, I think quantum entanglement has been ruled out as a means of communication. Someone correct me if I’m wrong

hypernova
Member
hypernova
January 6, 2012 7:16 PM

I think you’re right on all counts. But, you never know until you look. Also, I think quantum entanglement has been ruled out as a means of communication. Someone correct me if I’m wrong

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 6, 2012 9:11 PM
It is correct that you can’t use quantum entanglement (QE) for communication. Jonathan May points to a thread where Ken G and others makes the point efficiently. In short, what you have is a correlation between observations, not causality. If you could use QE, you would break Lorentz invariance. However quantum mechanics preserves it as known from its special relativity construction of quantum field theory (QFT). But you don’t need QFT to check on this. It is the whole point of Bell test experiments, where the different equalities are derived specifically to be special relativity invariant correlations, not causal relations. Note that the “strict Einstein locality” requirement is tested to over 30 standard deviations, to my knowledge the… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
January 6, 2012 7:38 PM

I agree. Of course, you always have to keep in mind a relevant point on this — if you look, you might not find anything … if you don’t look, you are sure to not find anything.

Severin
Guest
January 6, 2012 7:40 PM

Even if the odds are against finding anything doesnt mean that there’s no point to keep searching. If extraterrestials uses a more advanced technology to communicate, then most likely they’ve once used such a primitive communication medium as radio during their lifespan. You gotta start with A to get to B right?

Who says they wont be listening with different types of mediums to search for extraterrestrials aswell, asuming that we or someone else might not be as technologialy advanced as them?

It might take SETI a century to come up with any kind of results, but even so, I think its better to look for the answer instead of just assuming there’s nothing there

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 6, 2012 7:07 PM

I am all for people searching but I have my doubts they will ever find anything.

It isn’t that I don’t believe in life (intelligent or otherwise) in the Universe. I do believe life exists elsewhere. I just believe it is a biased view to think they use radio to communicate.

Just because we do CURRENTLY doesn’t mean they will. We’ve only been using radio for the last hundred years and who is to say how long it will take to utilize a more efficient means (say quantum entanglement)??

I just don’t think they will find anything but I sincerely hope to be proven wrong.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 6, 2012 7:07 PM

I am all for people searching but I have my doubts they will ever find anything.

It isn’t that I don’t believe in life (intelligent or otherwise) in the Universe. I do believe life exists elsewhere. I just believe it is a biased view to think they use radio to communicate.

Just because we do CURRENTLY doesn’t mean they will. We’ve only been using radio for the last hundred years and who is to say how long it will take to utilize a more efficient means (say quantum entanglement)??

I just don’t think they will find anything but I sincerely hope to be proven wrong.

Jonathan May
Guest
Jonathan May
January 6, 2012 8:09 PM

Why quantum entanglement does not allow for faster than light communication: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=231008

Peter
Member
Peter
January 7, 2012 12:23 AM

Wow, I read that whole discussion on impossible FTL communication via QE and can’t say I understood a thing. Some Dutch fellow was inserting random questions concerning random information which just confused things and the rest couldn’t seem to speak in such a way as to make Me anyway, understand. The only way I can see FTL communication through QE is to be able to manipulate the say, photons AFTER they have been separated such that across any distance, one can see that the other is alternating polarities in say, morse code! How’s that for going classical with the new?

Eric E
Member
Eric E
January 6, 2012 9:02 PM

Keep us posted, Mr. Anderson.

Kev Girard
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Kev Girard
January 6, 2012 10:39 PM

Awesome Matrix reference (even if it wasn’t intended).

Anonymous
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Anonymous
January 7, 2012 10:49 PM

Let’s consider things from another perspective – that of a KOI planet. If intelligent lifeforms inhabit such a planet and it is within 100 light-years of Earth and they “do” radio, then they should now be receiving our communications. Maybe the SETI project on KOI 316 has been labelled a great success because they’ve identified other intelligence in the universe. Now what? Well, if they are within 50 light-years of Earth, their reply to us should have already arrived or maybe it will tomorrow. Keep looking. On the other hand, maybe their starfleet’s on the way…

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 9, 2012 3:00 AM
Simply because we don’t detect radio signals doesn’t mean ET’s don’t exist, they could be using other ways to communicate. Consider this: July 29, 1952 USAF orders pilots to “shoot down” flying saucers over whitehouse, do a google search for “air force flying saucers shoot” July 28, 1952 USAF admits that they have detected what appear to be “flying saucers” on radar and that they might be spacecraft from other planets. Go to google news ARCHIVE search for “air force orders saucers merry” click search, it will at first say nothing found, but on the “nothing found” page go to the lower right hand column and click archives. April 7, 1952 LIFE magazine in cooperation with the USAF… Read more »
Anonymous
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Anonymous
January 9, 2012 3:07 AM
Some people, may focus on the fact that according to currently accepted human science Faster than light communications is not allowed. We must remember that our science is not complete, we do not have a quantum theory of gravity, nor do we have a unified theory. If we did have a quantum theory of gravity it could tell us whether or not it is possible to bend space so as to shrink the effective distance between two very distant points. Also, if ET exist (which there is very strong indications that they do) they may be far more advanced and may have explored physics at energies higher than current humans have explored and may have discovered physics which… Read more »
Oscar Costa
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Oscar Costa
January 9, 2012 1:02 PM

Couldn’t quantum entanglement in theory be used as a manner of communication? If so it would be possible to communicate instantly no matter the distance.

Having said that I don’t fully understand the process so I may be saying something awfully wrong.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
January 9, 2012 3:09 PM
No, quantum entanglement can’t be used as a communication system that is faster than light. If we get a blog entry on quantum issues I might go into greater detail. However, in a nutshell suppose you have Alice and Bob with an entangled pair. Alice orients her apparatus in some way and performs a measurement and then orients an ancillary state with these outcomes. Bob, wants to do the same, but needs the apparatus configuration Alice used. That must be communicated by a classical signal along a light ray (light cone). Entanglement does not permit one to skirt the limitations of light speed and that information can only be communicated at a velocity v <= c. LC
Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
January 9, 2012 3:09 PM
No, quantum entanglement can’t be used as a communication system that is faster than light. If we get a blog entry on quantum issues I might go into greater detail. However, in a nutshell suppose you have Alice and Bob with an entangled pair. Alice orients her apparatus in some way and performs a measurement and then orients an ancillary state with these outcomes. Bob, wants to do the same, but needs the apparatus configuration Alice used. That must be communicated by a classical signal along a light ray (light cone). Entanglement does not permit one to skirt the limitations of light speed and that information can only be communicated at a velocity v <= c. LC
Peter
Member
Peter
January 9, 2012 4:00 PM

I’m not sure you’ve given us anything to base “with these outcomes” on Icro. Makes for a messy explanation. Also, if she has an entangled photon in Paris, and Bob’s is in New York and she changes the polarity of hers, then won’t Bob’s also change polarity? The negativity of that change means that she will not be joining him for dinner…hence communication.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
January 9, 2012 4:27 PM
An entanglement only connects randomness in a nonlocal fashion. In order to teleport a state or qubit with entanglement you must transfer that entanglement to an ancillary state and then Alice must communicate to Bob the eigenbasis chosen for this procedure. Maybe if the demand is great enough I will try to write more on this, or wait until a blog entry is written here which involves quantum physics. Also I might have to resort to quantum “bra-ket” notation and the use of Hadamard matrices to make it precise. The problem is that quantum mechanics is just plain weird with respect to our ordinary experience of things. Feynman said that nobody understands quantum mechanics. On some deep level… Read more »
Peter
Member
Peter
January 9, 2012 4:00 PM

I’m not sure you’ve given us anything to base “with these outcomes” on Icro. Makes for a messy explanation. Also, if she has an entangled photon in Paris, and Bob’s is in New York and she changes the polarity of hers, then won’t Bob’s also change polarity? The negativity of that change means that she will not be joining him for dinner…hence communication.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
January 9, 2012 6:59 PM
Just because there are phenomena we don’t understand, just because there are changes in observations, facts and theories, doesn’t mean we don’t know things quite firmly. The Laws Underlying The Physics of Everyday Life Are Completely Understood. Ftl is one of those things, where not only would it change all of physics as we now know it, it breaks all sorts of no go results. There are classical paradoxes with ftl particles and wormholes, ftl destabilizes lightcones so both gauge particle theories and general relativity in one fell swoop, et many cetera. Ftl means time travel of sorts. My favorite here is computer scientist Aaronsson’s note, that time travel computing explodes the algorithmic tower of complexity, so all… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
January 9, 2012 8:13 PM
Though it may be true that we know “everyday physics” quite firmly, the same cannot be said of physics which is not within our everyday realm. Simply because there are “apparent” paradoxes with FTL does not mean it doesn’t exist, FTL is outside of our everyday realm AND pushes our current theories of physics to its limits. For any theory that we use to calculate the effects of FTL is subject to the limitations imposed by our current lack of understanding of Quantum Gravity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsolved_problems_in_physics#Quantum_gravity.2C_cosmology.2C_and_general_relativity Second simply because we have “apparent” paradoxes doesn’t mean the phenomena is not possible. There are “apparent” paradoxes in Quantum Mechanics, wave-particle duality, strange results in measurements, particles able to tunnel out of… Read more »
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