Recent activity in sending signals to the stars has caught the attention of plasma physicist Jim Benford. The CEO of Microwave Sciences and chairman of the Sail Subcommittee for Breakthrough Starshot, Jim has more than a few doubts about the efficacy of these signals, and questions the rush to send them. Is the recent EISCAT signal detectable at interstellar distances? A look at the science of such signals follows, and thoughts on the caution with which we ought to proceed.
By James Benford
Yet another ‘Message’
Recently, advocates of METI (Messaging to Extraterrestrials) sent a ‘message’ consisting of prime numbers followed by 36 music pieces to Luyten’s Star. It was a collaboration of METI International, led by Doug Vakoch, with the Catalonia Institute of Space Studies. This star is 12.4 light years from Earth and has a potentially habitable exoplanet (GJ 273b).
This was sent from the EISCAT facilities near Tromsø, Norway, using a microwave antenna. The music pieces are 10 seconds long, therefore contain only 1500 bits, so are quite simple.
Can this deliberate transmission from Earth be detected at the distances of nearby stars? What is the reality of claims that the low power messages sent ...