A pair of MIT researchers has proposed a radical method for making our presence known in the universe.
In a new feasibility study, the team says it could be possible to use laser technology as a beacon to attract the attention of alien astronomers, much like a planetary-scale porch light.
Using a laser focused through a huge telescope, the researchers say this ‘porch light’ could be seen from as far as 20,000 light-years away.
In a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, the MIT team describes how a high-powered 1 to 2-megawatt laser could be aimed toward space through a 30 to 45-meter telescope to create a detectable beacon.
With this configuration, the infrared radiation from the system would be strong enough for an intelligent species to differentiate it from the sun.
Granted, this is just a feasibility study rather than an actual proposal.
I think Stephen Hawking had the right idea about contacting aliens:
“One day, we might receive a signal from a planet like this, but we should be wary of answering back,” he in the documentary, “Stephen Hawking’s Favourite Places.”
“Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well.”
He claimed alien life could be “rapacious marauders roaming the cosmos in search of resources to plunder, and planets to conquer and colonize.”
My concern would be catching the attention of an aggressive von Neumann probe launched by a xenophobic alien civilization. Such a probe would have a search and destroy mission to identify signs of intelligent life throughout the galaxy, and exterminate it. Aiming a giant laser beacon at space would be like announcing your position to the enemy. Sometimes you just need to lay low.