The science of discovering planets around distant stars has made great leaps in recent years, thousands have been found. Of course, what we’re all waiting for is the discovery of life on any such planet, especially intelligent life. In order to find signs of life from a telescope, there would have to be something about the atmosphere that indicated life. Believe it or not, such work has been advancing for awhile, and a new article this week provides another example. It could be that sometime soon an announcement will be made that such a signature has been found on one of the many exoplanets we’ve discovered.
Of course, what would be really great, would be to discover intelligent life on one of those exoplanets. I think most people reading this will be familiar with SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which started a long time ago with the search for radio signals from intelligent life outside our solar system. It is disappointing that nothing has been found so far, even baffling, and this failure has become known as “The Great Silence.” But there are signatures other than radio which might indicate alien intelligence.
Techno-signatures are indications of intelligent life, other than radio, that might be detected from Earth. The idea was first raised in The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence by Paul Davies. The signatures could be anything from unique atmospheres characteristic of technological civilizations, to artificially created light sources, to detectable mega-structures like Dyson Spheres (occasional thought to have been discovered), and others. Adding these types of signatures to the mix opens up a much broader search, and greater hope that intelligent life will be discovered soon.