Hairspray could one day lead us to the existence of aliens who have reshaped distant worlds, according to researchers who say that such research to find signs of alien life is now open to public funding.
Science fiction has long assumed that humans can transform hostile alien worlds into ones that are habitable for humans, reports NBC News.
The procedure, known as terraforming, is possible, in theory. One instance in which it could be used is to colonize Mars. Scientists have suggested that the Red Planet, if warmed, could have a thicker atmosphere that allows humans to roam the planet’s surface without donning space suits.
Terraforming Mars often includes pumping massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the thin atmosphere, heating up the frozen carbon dioxide on the planet’s surface and turning it to gas.
It’s possible, however, that alien life forms have already terraformed other planets and one group of gases, which used to be present in hairspray, could help point us to those terraformed worlds.
The gases, called chloroflourocarbons (CFCS) were phased out in 1989 after several countries signed onto the Montreal Protocol to try and stop the depletion of the ozone layer). These CFCs are important, because they are 100 percent man-made.
Since they don’t occur naturally, scientists can search on distant planets to see if they can pick up a signature of CFCs in the atmosphere of a small planet orbiting another sun, like Alpha Centauri, notes The International Business Times. Astrobiologist Sanjoy Som of the organization Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, stated:
“An industrialized civilization will be one that will use its planetary resources for fabrication, the soon-to-be-detectable-from-Earth atmospheric byproducts of which could be a tell-tale sign of their activity.”
Scientists at Blue Marble, a non-profit organization, are asking for money to fund their next research paper to look for these CFC chemicals, or other non-organic compounds, as a sign of alien life on other planets. The group has already discovered that it is easy to detect these signatures from Earth. The scientists are asking for $24,000 to fund the alien hairspray project.