Alien Radio

No, I’m not talking about Orson Welles invading homes with his War of the Worlds radio broadcast (something I imagine would spread on social media today). I’m talking about radio signals from space finally resolving the Fermi Paradox: Where are all the aliens? Radio signals abound in space from natural phenomena, so an alien signal must be sorted out from all the background noise. Such signals will likely stand out by having an unusual pattern different from all the noise. I, for one, get very excited when any unusual signal is discovered, like the one recently found by a Canadian team of space scientists.

The Canadian discovery is a signal that repeats in a sixteen day cycle: one burst an hour for four days, followed by twelve days of silence. Weird, right? Unfortunately, there is no indication this signal has any actual message content, and will likely find a natural explanation sooner or later. The excitement, for me, comes from the fact that the discovery of the real thing will probably begin like the Canadian signal, something odd but initially not an obvious message. It won’t be understood as an alien transmission until some clever person comes around to crack the code and find the message inside. So I always love to hear about radio signals like the Canadians just found, anticipating that sooner or later one of them will turn out to be an actual transmission from other intelligent beings.

Alternately, perhaps we will keep finding nothing for so long that the absence of alien signals becomes a message in itself, as I pointed out in a recent movie review.

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