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Best domains of astronomy to contact super-advanced E.T.?

  1. Jul 2, 2016 #1

    If one’s goal was to contact a technologically superior extraterrestrial being (or a group of beings, or a civilization), which domain(s) of astronomy should one specialize in precisely?

    1) Which type of astronomy should one specialize in?
    Computational astronomy
    Experimental astronomy
    Instrumental astronomy
    Observational astronomy
    Theoretical astronomy

    2) Which particular subfields of astronomy should one specialize in?
    Astroparticle physics
    Extragalactic astronomy
    Galactic astronomy
    Orbital mechanics
    Physical cosmology
    Planetary geology
    Planetary science
    Solar astronomy
    Space exploration
    Space physics
    Stellar astronomy

    3) Which radiation should one observe?
    Visible-light (optical)
    Cosmic rays
    Gravitational wave

    Note that I said “technologically superior”, so discovering microbial extraterrestrial life doesn’t cut it at all.
    Also note that I said “contact”, so discovering a super-advanced extraterrestrial being more than 50 light years away probably doesn’t cut it either because you’ll never be able to “contact” them and get an answer within your lifetime; except if the technologically superior extraterrestrial being knows how to time travel, but since we don’t know if that’s even physically possible it might be a little risky to bet on the feasibility of time travel.

    Thanks in advance for your answers.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 2, 2016 #2
    Your best chances are with science fiction writing, I'm afraid.
  4. Jul 2, 2016 #3
    Great post, I'm not qualified to answer your question however this will get an interesting discussion going. :thumbup:
  5. Jul 2, 2016 #4
    It's not really a great post. Focusing your entire career on finding ET is just naive.
  6. Jul 3, 2016 #5
    Howdy all, :smile:
    With all due respect to everyone's personal opinions on ETI, career choices and the like, I found the OP's post "great" due to the thought he put into the post. I definitely would like to avoid the appearance of "argumentative" here, however at least some of these links should be relatively on topic.
    Thanks for your consideration.

    http://www.seti.org/node/647 http://www.seti.org/ http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/ http://www.scientificamerican.com/a...iative-to-seek-extraterrestrial-intelligence/
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
  7. Jul 4, 2016 #6


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    I agree with Micromass, basing a career on detecting extraterrestrial intelligence is naive. It's highly improbable that any such communication could be detected, especially within human lifespans.

    The paths you listed are a bit misleading, none of them deal with finding extraterrestrial life per say. The closest is Astrobiology, but you may be rather disappointed with the goals and research of the field. E&M waves are a poor choice for detecting purposeful communication at the distances likely to exist between civilizations. Modulating gravitational waves, while possible, seems highly unlikely and energy intensive. Your best bet from the list are probably modulated neutrinos, but would still be bound by the likely large distances between communicable civilizations. They do at least have the benefit that they could be sent large distances above the noise floor given the right energy level.

    Besides, any of these types of detection require so many variables beyond the signal itself, to border on a nil probability- even when given time-spans far longer than 100 years. You should find a career where you can be fulfilled, and actually are able to find work, and maybe volunteer for SETI when you have time.
  8. Jul 4, 2016 #7
    Greetings, OP, micro and student100. I would like to begin my reply by stating that none of my posts in this thread or this forum for that matter should be construed as "Career or Educational Guidance" in any since of the word, that would be laughable in the extreme.
    With that being said I should give the reason for my responding to this thread in the first place, I took the OP's opening line to be more of a hypothetical "what if" question rather than a straight forward request for career advice. It would be safe to say I agree with your opinions on the time frames v.s. rewards of a career based solely on one persons involvement, such a project has, is and will continue to be a huge collaboration spanning many years.
    My previously posted links were only meant as a demonstration of the interest that continues to grow in the field. (see Tom.G's thread in Astronomy and Astrophysics, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-07/03/c_135485643.htm )
    One requirement of anyone entering this field would have to be the attribute of "team player"
    Thanks again and happy fourth of July,(or Juno day) no matter what part of the world you live in. :smile:

    As a side note the notion of volunteering for SETI caught my attention and I'm now running a boinc program that studies photo-metric data of asteroids rather than searching for ET. :thumbup: http://asteroidsathome.net/index.html and since I can't resist a good Acronym http://astro.troja.mff.cuni.cz/projects/asteroids3D/web.php
  9. Jul 4, 2016 #8
    Right. But I think the OP should tell us a bit more as on why (s)he asked this very question. If the OP is interested in this as a hobby, then this is a fine thread and could lead to a fun discussion. But if (as a fear) the OP wants to make a career out of this, then (s)he will end up very very disappointed.
  10. Jul 4, 2016 #9


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    Here is what http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary has to say about "naive"
    "having or showing a lack of experience or knowledge"

    Since nobody on this planet has any experience with extraterrestial intelligence, using that accusation as a derogatory remark seems rather strange.
  11. Jul 5, 2016 #10
    Somehow that is the entire point...
  12. Jul 5, 2016 #11


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    It isn't being used as a derogatory remark it's just simply a career hunting for ETI doesn't really exist- outside some handful of paid staff at SETI or wherever.

  13. Jul 12, 2016 #12
    I didn't create my thread in the "Academic Guidance" Forum. I created it in the "Astronomy and Astrophysics" Forum, and I believe that it would have been better there since this question is very specific and can only be answered by astrophysicists.

    Also, saying that it's not a good career choice might be true, but it doesn't answer the question and is therefore off topic.
  14. Jul 12, 2016 #13
  15. Jul 12, 2016 #14
    I just spent four hours playing XCOM 2 on Ironman and at this point I'm really not convinced that contacting alien civilizations is a good idea. My poor recruits....

    Anyway, it's not really going to be much of a career field. There are perhaps a dozen or so people in the world being paid any amount of money at all to do work directly related to looking for aliens.

    If you really want to help in some specialist capacity, maybe you could design ASICs or computing clusters to volunteer for SETI@home.
  16. Jul 12, 2016 #15


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    It was moved because you asked what to study, thus academic guidance. You also wanted to know how to obtain a very specific career, thus the academic guidance given used that as a focal point.

    Astrophysicists aren't going to answer this any differently than what was said, because it's so far outside the realm of their (or anyone's really) specialty.
  17. Jul 12, 2016 #16
    Astrophysicists don't deal with contacting super-advanced ET. It is completely outside their scope. So I don't know why you want astrophysicists to answer this.
  18. Jul 12, 2016 #17

    That's probably the closest you'll get. I would imagine it's very competitive, so good luck.
    From what I understand, most astrobiological research really consists of studying planetary habitability and the conditions required for abiogenesis. So if you can't get a job at SETI, you're most likely out of luck if all you want to do is "contact advanced E.T.s".
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016
  19. Jul 12, 2016 #18
    These guys are going to be drowning in data relative to processing power as the next generations telescopes come on line over the next ten years. You have a very good point about the computer sciences field, its far more likely to pay ones bills
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