“Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence“ and this is about as extraordinary as one can get.
Hyped up stories about an advanced alien civilization in orbit around sun-like star HD-164595 94 light years from the Earth beaming their presence across the galaxy, not surprisingly, turned out to be a false alarm.
Observed only once by Russia’s RATAN-600 radio telescope at a frequency of 11 Ghz (2.7 cm wavelength), the signal failed to be detected again by follow-up observations with SETI’s Allen Radio Telescope Array. In order to be considered a viable candidate for consideration, the signal has to be detected again, at a minimum, and then, preferably by a different team and different telescope/ receiver. What’s more, the effective radiated power (ERP) of the signal as reported by the discovery team, if it were of alien origin, is described with the following commentary from SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence)
(1) They decide to broadcast in all directions. Then the required power is 1020 watts, or 100 billion billion watts. That’s hundreds of times more energy than all the sunlight falling on Earth, and would obviously require power sources far beyond any we have.
(2) They aim their transmission at us. This will reduce the power requirement, but even if they are using an antenna the size of the 1000-foot Arecibo instrument, they would still need to wield more than a trillion watts, which is comparable to the total energy consumption of all humankind.
Clearly, such a power requirement exceeds the scope of even the most advanced, conceivable civilization, requiring technologies that are beyond the scope of our imagining. The only energy generation method conceivable would be a Dyson Sphere deployed around the star, in part or in total, and we all know about the requirements of such an undertaking.
SETI@Home is a member project of BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing). Originally launched as a stand-alone client program in May, 1999, the pilot project of what would become a brilliantly successful exercise in distributed computing that continues to this day, SETI@Home downloads and analyses live data from various sources, including the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico, looking for evidence of intelligent origin. A blog post from an active participant in the project regarding the false alarm can be found here.
Excerpt From SETI@Home Portal regarding observations of HD 164595
Note: I posted this article, in part, to inform my readers about the detected signal but, moreover and more importantly, to bring to their attention the BOINC project generally and the SETI@Home project specifically and what an enormous success both continue to be. SETI@Home is one of many client projects managed by BOINC where the general public can participate in real, cutting-edge science and discovery. I probably would not have published an article about this otherwise since the public media has done a sufficiently good job of hyping it up -again- with appeals to “Alien Civilizations”. It also serves as an object lesson in good, objective science and how we must rigorously adhere to the tried-and-true principles of that method, regardless of the emotional temptation to do otherwise.
All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike-and yet it is the most precious thing we have
An index of all articles in this blog can be found here.