Two different radio telescopes have now picked up fast "burst" signals that seem to originate outside our galaxy.
Let's cut to the chase: Is it aliens?
Right now, scientists don't have enough examples of the bursts to know what is causing them. It is, however, important to note that there are lots of other potential explanations besides the inevitable first contact hypothesis. That said, they also don't have enough data to rule out the idea of an alien civilization metaphorically pointing their flashlight at our window. So speculate away, friends. It could be anything. All we have right now is enough data to know that the answer is likely to be interesting, even if aliens aren't involved.
As you would imagine, there's been lots of speculation about what's behind these mysterious bursts. Some astronomers think they're caused by blitzars, pulses of energy from a supermassive star collapsing into a black hole. Others think they may be caused by power solar flares coming from stars nearer by.
And Lorimer says he has to mention it: "There's even been discussions in the literature about signatures from extraterrestrial civilizations."
It's just a theoretical paper suggesting the bursts could be generated by intelligent beings intentionally beaming a radio signal directly at Earth.
James Cordes, an astronomer at Cornell University who's also on the hunt for an explanation of these radio bursts, says he'd bet against the possibility of extraterrestrial involvement.
I included that last quote in the excerpt so that:
A) We are reminded to look at this news conservatively, with a cool head and clear eye.
B) We all know who to send mocking letters to if it turns out to be aliens.
Image: Arecibo radio telescope — one of the two that have detected the burst signal — Some rights reserved by hmboo Electrician and Adventurer.
At this year’s Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, researcher Chen Chen presented a cool project that vastly improves the quality of images captured in low-light conditions. Via his presentation: Imaging in low light is challenging due to low photon count and low SNR. Short-exposure images suffer from noise, while long exposure can induce […]
Yeast has brought a lot of joy into the world, but its evolutionary origins were unclear until scientists did a worldwide genomic survey of the humble organism. Based on the genetic diversity of strains found in China, they concluded that its origin is almost certainly in that part of the world.
I'm one of several guests appearing at the first-ever Interplanetary Festival, coming up Jun 7/8 in Santa Fe, New Mexico; it's a science festival that's part of the larger Futurition|Santa Fe festival, which includes live music, open air events, gaming, art installations, performances, and all-ages events.
The workday is long, and inevitably, you’re going to find yourself needing to take a break from the daily grind. With Mini Materials Miniature Cinder Blocks, you can take some time for yourself and decompress by turning your desk into a miniature construction site. They’re available today in the Boing Boing Store for $22.49. Handmade […]
Handheld radios might seem a bit archaic, but in an emergency situation, few things will keep you as reliably connected to the outside world. This Emergency Multi-Function Radio & Flashlight takes the utility of the tried-and-true radio and combines it with a powerful flashlight and self-sufficient energy system. It’s available in the Boing Boing Store for […]
Few programming languages boast the versatility and user-friendliness of Python, which is why it’s the first language of choice for many aspiring programmers. Regardless of your experience level, you can take the first step to becoming Python-savvy with the Python 3 Bootcamp Bundle, available in the Boing Boing Store for $35 this week. Featuring more than […]