Researchers in Canada use the word ‘probably’ and the space community gets a little bit carried away.
Ever wondered if humanity is alone? If you’re name isn’t Billy-Bob and you’re not from Nashville, you probably have. You’ve probably looked up at the stars on a clear night and marveled at the sheer enormity and beauty of the expanse above, wondering, perhaps hoping, that life in some respect evolved beyond our planet. It is a fundamental part of human nature to ask this question and rational thinking dictates that it must have done right? Well astronomers from Laval University in Quebec have said that some interesting signals from a remote cluster of stars are ‘probably’ signs that aliens are trying to communicate.
We can see about 2.5 million stars in the universe. That might seem a huge number, but given that current estimates state that there are probably around 100 billion in the universe, we can’t actually see too many of them. A recent publication studied 234 stars, or more specifically, beams of light coming from the stars. The authors of the paper, Ermanno F. Borra and Eric Trottier, proudly declared that some of the signals analyzed are ‘probably’ signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.
“We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an [extraterrestrial intelligence] signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis,”
The discovery also goes along with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI) hypothesis, as the vast majority of the data collected was uninteresting and only an extremely small percentage of the data contained the mysterious activity. It was also noted that an alien species probable wouldn’t use a basic form of communication like radio waves to try and say hello to anyone out there.
Vulcans maybe? Klingons?
Probably is an extremely volatile word. I will probably have Chinese for dinner. I will probably win the lottery one day. I will probably live to be over 100. Many experts have immediately warned everybody not to get too excited about this latest revelation. An organization that is heavily invested in the search for life beyond our planet, and includes notable names such as Professor Stephen Hawking and Mark Zuckerberg, have declared that whilst we shouldn’t get excited, the data is worth a bit more research.
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is too early to unequivocally attribute these purported signals to the activities of extraterrestrial civilizations. Internationally agreed-upon protocols for searches for evidence of advanced life beyond Earth (SETI) require candidates to be confirmed by independent groups using their own telescopes, and for all natural explanations to be exhausted before invoking extraterrestrial agents as an explanation. It is too early to unequivocally attribute these purported signals to the activities of extraterrestrial civilizations.
So you can stop making the ‘welcome’ placards and get back to work. We haven’t found aliens just yet, probably, but let’s keep our fingers crossed. Something should be out there right?