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Idea to intercept alien communications

  1. Jul 9, 2012 #1
    Hey. I offer this idea in hopes that somebody with more knowhow can contribute. Basically the idea is this. Scan IR/Microwave/Radio wavelengths for recurring bits of information that can be sorted into a working language. If the language seems that it reveals information in some sort of chronological or even dispersed order then could it be that we'd really discovered a hidden alien language being communicated through the cosmos. To the moderators: I'm putting this in general physics because I'm hoping a discussion about acoustic and standing waves may arise. I'll lead into it.

    Consider a standing wave sent at time t0. By the time the wave propagates its information to a distance of lets say a few lightyears (the distance of the closest star) the information would most likely, though not necessarily, be doppler shifted to a wavegroup w(f)x)) as opposed to w(f)i)) where the first notation is the wave group function doppler shifted from its original form which is the second notation. These wave groups should have some sort of chronological order unless they are being sent in tandem with older and perhaps also more new news. However...this leaves the possibility that we could intercept precious communications from alien races. Perhaps information about technology that is not kept secret to them like teleportation devices and ultrasonic communicators.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2012 #2
    What do you mean by this statement?
  4. Jul 9, 2012 #3


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    Do the term "SETI" ring a bell?
  5. Jul 9, 2012 #4


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    I'm wondering what "sorted into a working language" could mean. How do you determine whether a signal is a "working language" if you have not idea what kind of language might be used. As Danger suggested, "SETI" is already searching for possible intelligent communications, by searching for "patterns" in e-m signals. But the basic of determining if patterns might be communications is a daunting one when you don't know if you "alien" might communicate through combining basic elements (i.e. an "alphabet") or more general ("pictograms" or "hieroglyphs") or something we have never even imagined. SETI did, in fact, very early find patterns which were then discovered to be pulsars.
  6. Jul 9, 2012 #5


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    Exactly my thought.

    If you could sort it into a working language, you'd already know it contains information of intelligent origin.

    The magic is in sorting out signals from noise.
  7. Jul 9, 2012 #6
    Why is it necessary for life elsewhere to communicate?

    Assuming the life even thought of itself...

    This has always baffled me.
  8. Jul 9, 2012 #7


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    Pgardn, there is absolutely no reason to assume that any alien species would care to communicate with others. They would, however, have to communicate amongst themselves, by some means, in order to have a society. If they happen to use EM carriers, as we do, the leakage will be detectable to anyone within range.
  9. Jul 9, 2012 #8
    So they would communicate using EM waves?

    What about just using chemicals like bacteria?

    Im starting simple here. I just personally think its a waste of time except if someone really wants to tinker around.
  10. Jul 10, 2012 #9


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    pgardn, in your Opening Post you wrote "I'm hoping a discussion about acoustic and standing waves may arise. I'll lead into it."

    Here on Physics Forums it is really not too polite to put out little tidbits of bait so as to cause some interest in your ideas to increase. Now in post number eight you say "Im starting simple here." Is this more dropping a few random ideas about bacteria communicating with chemicals so as to build some suspense?

    I think it would be benificial for all of us if you just come right out and clearly say exactly what it is you are asking or proposing. What is a "wave group function"?

    Thank you,

    p.s. "standing waves", by their very nature, do not propagate. And, acoustic waves do not travel in the vacuum of space.
  11. Jul 10, 2012 #10


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    Sure, if they don't want to communicate more than a few yards. Won;t tell them a lot about their sun or other stars though.
  12. Jul 10, 2012 #11
    You got names mixed up :tongue:
  13. Jul 10, 2012 #12
    I did not make the OP. And I am not the OP. opening post; original poster
  14. Jul 10, 2012 #13
  15. Jul 10, 2012 #14
    Why do we assume they would even find it necessary to want to know about their sun or stars? There is only one species on earth that has found this necessary. 1.5 billion years of just bacteria. It seems like its very tough to "make" something like us that want to communicate through symbolic EM waves. And that we would be around to investigate another we. (Please dont take this as some God must have made only what we choose "him" to make)

    But I guess in an, "if it can happen, it will happen", universe, some would say it is likely we should find something. I guess I dont. But it must be fun trying.
  16. Jul 10, 2012 #15


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    Oh, pgarda, Excuse me, please. As DragonPetter has pointed out, I got the names mixed up. I will try to control myself from now on.


    Edit: Petyab: My post number nine (no. 9) was directed at you.
  17. Jul 10, 2012 #16


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    This is a thread whose premise is potential aliens communicating across space and what methods they might use.

    There is certainly lots to say about aliens who aren't interested in, or are unable to communicate across space, but that's a completely different topic.
  18. Jul 10, 2012 #17
    No problemo Bob.

    Point well taken Dave. I went off topic.

    I do think it shows a predisposition towards life being like us elsewhere. So many alien movies with what are essentially arthropod mouthparts drooling before eating us. I want me some giant floating jelly fish to invade and filter feed off aircraft.
  19. Jul 10, 2012 #18


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    Movies are not meant to reflect realistic expectations; movies are meant to teach us about ourselves. Aliens in movies must have traits that we can empathize with, otherwise the story falls flat. That is, unless they're bug-eyed monsters, in which case, they should be alien and two-dimensional.

    But I suspect that what will happen when we encounter intelligent aliens is that they will look neither similar to humanoid nor creepy alien. They will look ridiculous. They will have features that our brains are used to interpreting one way, but will be wholly out of context. They'll have round protrusions, reminiscent of wheels on a car, or markings that make them look like a giant clown face, or a giant smiley. Their appearance will send all the wrong messages to our pattern-matching brains. They will be exactly not the kind of aliens we see in movies. (Who would fear an alien that has a clown nose where its head should be?)
  20. Jul 10, 2012 #19


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    Communication with specific targets is hard to find - it will be highly directed towards the destination, not broadcasted to the whole space. This saves several orders of magnitude in required beam power (or, equivalent, required receiver antenna size).

    If some aliens send messages in our direction, we might find them. This is the concept of SETI.
  21. Jul 10, 2012 #20
    Very true. So we make chimeras of organisms that already exist and call them aliens when in fact they are very familiar. The movies tell me humans do not like things with multiple appendaged mouth parts that drool.

    I dont think we will ever encounter intelligent life. We will be long gone. Something will collide with us or we blow ourselves up or poison ourselves. Call me an optimist...
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