Scientists have wondered for decades whether or not, somewhere out there in the vast confines of the cosmos, there is a society of similar technological advancement as ours.
For years have we searched for signals that could help us understand whether or not we alone in the universe?
And despite having made great technological progress in the last couple of years, we still seem to be unable to search the cosmos for alien life, and answer one of the greatest scientific—and even perhaps philosophical—questions of all time: Are we alone in the universe?
Now, to help find out, EPFL scientist Claudio Grimaldi, working in association with the University of California, Berkeley, has developed a statistical model that gives researchers a new tool in the search for the kind of signals that an extraterrestrial society might emit, reports EurekaAlert.
Grimaldi’s new technique, which has been described in PNAS could make the search for aliens both more efficient and cheaper.
The new tool came as a surprise for Grimaldi who wasn’t really into astrophysics at first, but while working on an entirely different project, a revolutionary idea struck him.
While working at Working at EPFL’s Laboratory of Physics of Complex Matter, Grimaldi researched and calculated the probabilities of carbon nanotubes exchanging electrons. Then, all of a sudden, he wondered: what if nanotubes were stars, and electrons just signal’s that were generated by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization? Could we actually calculate the probability of intercepting these signals accurately?
The idea that scientists have followed while searching for alien life is that there, may be an advanced civilization on another planet that is generating electromagnetic signals. With our current technology, scientists on earth could detect those signals using the latest radio telescopes.
But despite the fact that we have searched for such signals for decades, scientists have yet to find a signal that credible enough to be attributed to advanced alien life.
Now, using Grimaldi’s new tool, scientists are able to interpret both the success and failure to detect signals at different distances from Earth.
Grimaldi’s model uses Bayes’ theorem in order to calculate the remaining chances of detecting radio signals within a specific radius around our planet.
as explained in the new study, even if no signals are detected within a radius of around 1,000 light years, there is still more than 10 percent chance that Earth lies within a range of hundreds of similar signals from other parts of the galaxy, but that our radio telescopes have failed to detect due to lack of power.
But everything changes and the chance will rise to 100 percent if we manage to detect one signals in the 1,000-light-year radius.
If that is the case, we could be almost certain that our galaxy is teeming with alien life.
According to Grimaldi, the chance of spotting a signal becomes very slight only at an average radius of around 40,000 light years away from Earth.
This means that if we do not detect a single signal at this distance from Earth, Grimaldi suggests we could reasonably conclude that no other civilization with the similar technological development as our has arisen in the galaxy.
However, experts are currently able to search for signals within a radius of only 40 light years away from Earth.