A new study has confirmed the idea that what has been called the “Great Silence of Extraterrestrials” is merely the byproduct of limited investigations.
“Bright and obvious radio beacons might be quite common in the sky, but we would not know it yet, because our search completeness to date is so low,” the authors of the new study wrote.
Humans have long searched for aliens in the skies above them and have been left deeply confused by what they perceive to be a direct lack of evidence of these beings. But new research suggests that not having found extraterrestrials is most likely down to the fact that humans haven’t even come close to exhausting all possibilities of investigation, as Space reported.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has so far failed to detect any signs of aliens in the heavens and the term, the “Great Silence,” was initially coined by physicist David Brin in 1983 in his paper, “Scientific Excuses For Why We Haven’t Found Aliens Yet.”
Penn State University graduate student Shubham Kanodia, who is the co-author of the new study on extraterrestrials, explained that the study’s goal was to try and analyze how far the search for aliens has come over the years, especially scrutinizing what needs to be done in the future.
“It is often said that we have been looking for 40 years or so, but we still haven’t found any signs of extraterrestrial civilization. We wanted to see how much have we looked and how much more do we need to look.”
Those working for programs like SETI are of the belief that using radio telescopes are one of the best ways to search for aliens because radio waves move through stellar dust quite easily and interference in the background is usually minimal, at least in some areas of the radio spectrum.
“It is the ‘cosmic quiet zone’ where we can best listen for a faint whisper across the interstellar expanse,” as SETI noted.
But Kanodia and researchers sought to examine just how many different areas of the skies had been searched for these radio signals and did this by coming up with a mathematical analysis to track where SETI had looked for extraterrestrials. By studying eight individual parameters, it was determined that SETI has so far tracked just a quintillionth of space, which is obviously a very small area.
Kanodia believes it is crucial that such investigations be greatly expanded, especially as SETI now move well past radio wavelengths. New research is currently being conducted into signals in the optical bands, which is helpful as it is plausible that we may be able to detect optical laser pulses being transmitted by aliens.
However, even if humans were to study both radio and optical wavelengths, this is still only a tiny amount of search space. After all, by now, extraterrestrials, assuming they exist somewhere out there, would almost certainly understand phenomena that humans simply aren’t capable of grasping right now, which means that we wouldn’t be able to understand many signals at the moment. Kanodia illustrated this point by noting that ancient humans would have had no clue how to work a walkie-talkie if someone were to have called them on one, yet this clearly doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist.
“In all probability, there is still a lot of physics that we have not yet deciphered or understood. If you were trying to communicate with a caveman with a walkie-talkie, you would not receive any reply.”
Jill Tarter, who is the former director of the Center for SETI Research, is grateful for the new study into aliens.
“I was glad to see that I was in the right ballpark. It’s a very big ocean, and so far, we haven’t been able to investigate very much of it,” she admitted.
The new study on the lack of evidence of extraterrestrials can be found in the preprint journal arXiv.org.