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6                                        Greetings, Earthlings!

            Greetings, Earthlings! 8                      same technology scientists could use to sample  Would-Bes: 6 Scientists Who Were Passed Up
                                                          those regions, Grinspoon said.
                Ways Aliens Could                                                                        for the Prize]

                       Contact Us                         4. Radio waves:  In a 1959 paper in the 7. Needle in a haystack: Even if aliens are

                                                          journal Nature, physicists Philip Morrison and  trying to make contact, there's no guarantee we'd
                                                          Giuseppe Cocconi argued that scientists should  receive their messages.  The universe is 91
                By Tia Ghose, Senior Writer
                                                          scour radio waves for signs of extraterrestrial  billion light-years across, and messages could
                                                          life. That's because radio waves travel relatively  come from anywhere.
                                                          undisturbed through the universe, not being           To narrow the search, some argue that
                                                          absorbed or re-emitted by celestial objects.   aliens are likelier to send messages our way if
          Beyond Earth                                    Thus, the duo reasoned, any extraterrestrials  they know we're here.  A study published in
                                                          hoping for their message to be relayed across  February 2016 in the preprint journal
          From a few subtle radio signals to alien        long distances would logically resort to this  arXivfound that there are 82 stars we know of in
          monsters bombing the  White House, science      medium,     said   David    Grinspoon,    an   Earth's transit zone, or an area of the sky that has
          fiction is replete with depictions of aliens    astrobiologist at the Planetary Science Institute.  a direct line of sight to Earth.
          making contact with mere mortals.                      For decades, that's been the predominant       "Along this line, there is a very small
                 While some of those depictions are far-  way to search for aliens. For instance, the    band— a strip of less than a degree from where
          fetched, it turns out that scientists have spent  Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)  extrasolar observers would see the Earth
          countless hours thinking about just how         has scoured telescope data for signal-like radio  transiting the sun," said study co-author René
          extraterrestrial civilizations could contact    waves.                                         Heller, an astrobiologist at the Max Planck
          humans. Some of their ideas are nearly as              Of course, the whole search rests on the  Institute for Solar System Research in
          fantastical as Hollywood's wildest tales.       assumption that aliens are thinking just like us,  Göttingen, Germany.
                 From alien megastructures to miniature   which may not be the case.                            Heller and his colleague Ralph Pudritz at
          robots, here are some of the more radical ways         "Aliens don't necessarily read Nature   McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada,
          "little green men" are likely to contact humans.   magazine," Grinspoon told Live Science.     predicted that there may be up to 100,000 stars
                                                                                                         within this zone of the sky — some of which
          1. Mega construction: Of course, signs of       5. Radiating away: Of course, not all aliens   could have planets teeming with life orbiting
          intelligent life don't have to be tiny objects —  will be on a mission to find other creatures in  them.
          they could also be really, really big ones. Some  the big, lonely universe. Some may be more like     One advantage of this approach is that
          scientists have argued that alien megastructures  hermits, hoping to hide their existence. If that's  the tiny slice of the sky is relatively easy to
          could be like a giant "come here" sign pointing  the case, they'd make no attempts to broadcast  search.
          other civilizations to their presence, Grinspoon  their existence.                                    "You could just skim or scan the whole
          said. In fact, scientists recently kept their eye on   However, theoretical physicist Freeman  Earth transit zone over the course of maybe a
          the star KIC 8462852, which dimmed and          Dyson has argued that even celestial hermit    few dozen nights or so, depending on how large
          brightened mysteriously over the past several   kingdoms might develop technology to siphon    the field of view of your radio telescope is,"
          years. Some have argued that the star is        energy from a nearby star using an orbiting    Heller told Live Science.
          surrounded by an alien megastructure that is    object known as a Dyson sphere.                       If these hidden exoplanets harbor life,
          occasionally blocking light from the star —            "It doesn't have to be a sphere at all,"  they'd also be in the same galactic neighborhood
          though other explanations include a swarm of    Dyson previously told Live Science, "just any  — just a few hundred light-years away at most.
          exoplanets or a planet-forming disc.            place where aliens happen to be generating a lot
                 In December 2015, scientists reported a  of energy."                                    8. Part of space exploration: The search
          complete lack of communication from the                These Dyson spheres would then throw    for intelligent life-forms may not need dedicated
          region.                                         off waste heat, an inescapable byproduct of    megaprojects, Grinspoon said.
                 "We found no evidence of an advanced     harnessing star power, in the form of infrared        "We're going to send spacecraft out to
          civilization beaming intentional laser signals  radiation.  Already, researchers at the  Allen  these places to explore," Grinspoon said,
          toward Earth," study co-author Douglas Vakoch,  Telescope  Array and the  Wide-field Infrared  referring to spots like the asteroid belt. "So
          president of METI International in San          Survey Explorer(WISE) space telescope are      while we explore the solar system, we should at
          Francisco, said in a statement.                 scouring the skies for signs of such waste     least be aware of the possibility of finding
                                                          radiation.                                     something really anomalous that would be
          2. Laser pulses: Repetitive laser pulses could                                                 artificial."

          also be a sign of an alien race trying to get in 6. Star dance:  Others have proposed that            Either way, if there are smart creatures in
          contact with us, because, in theory, lasers could  highly advanced civilizations could be      the universe, odds are, they know exactly what
          send signals or messages across vast distances,  advanced astro-engineers, moving stars into   to do to make contact.
          Grinspoon said.  To find those laser pulses,    bizarre or highly geometric alignments that are       "Mathematically, it's pretty easy to show,
          researchers have zeroed in on extremely bright  unlikely to occur by chance, Grinspoon said.   and logically, it makes sense that they would be
          flashes of light, which are less likely to be          "They could construct something that    much more advanced," Grinspoon said. "We're
          caused by natural phenomena.                    would be visible from a huge distance across the  such babies as a civilization; anybody that is
                 So far, however, they've found no sign of  galaxy, or even from another galaxy, that would  outside trying to contact us probably has a much
          alien signals.                                  be obviously artificial," Grinspoon said.      longer    relationship  with    science   and
                                                          "Nobody's seen anything like that."
          3. Robot probes: Alien signals may not be              Others might actually harness star             So, if aliens are trying to contact us, it's
          traveling in electromagnetic waves at all.      power to create messages. For instance, if aliens  probably our fault that we're missing their
          Instead, signs of intelligent life may be very  could spin small and extremely dense stars     signals, Grinspoon said.  []
          small objects that advanced civilizations send  called neutron stars in just the right way, they
          out to explore the universe.                    could make these stars emit light as a kind of              Whether You’re A
                 "Most of the solar system is still       flashing beacon, Grinspoon said.                         SKEPTIC or BELEIVER
          unexplored, so for all we know, there could be         In fact, when neutron stars were                    Join Rob McConnell
          alien probes orbiting on the asteroid belt or   discovered, scientists thought they might be                         on
          somewhere on the surface of Mars," Grinspoon    messages from "little green men." (That              The ‘X’ Zone Radio/TV Show on
          said. "They could be quite miniature.  Who      discovery earned astronomer  Antony Hewish          
          knows what alien technology is capable of —     the Nobel Prize in physics; his graduate student                    and
          they could be the size of golf balls."          Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who first discovered the    
                 Finding these objects could rely on the  star, was passed up for the high honor.) [Nobel
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