The Kepler Space Telescope is an amazing instrument that has discovered thousands of confirmed and suspected planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy, millions of light years away. It has changed our outlook on our understanding of the cosmos and the hunt for alien life. After all, if so many planets are out there in our neighborhood of the universe alone, it makes sense statistically that some of them would also have some form of life. Hopefully it tastes good with Buffalo sauce.
Now a recent paper published by astronomers has some people speculating that they may have detected indications of the presence of an alien civilization. In order to detect all of those planets the telescope aims toward a star and waits to see if the star will dim at regular intervals. This indicates the presence of a planet moving around that star, just like the Earth revolves around our own star, the sun. According to Popular Science;
“When a planet passes in front of a star, the star dims only for a few hours or days, and on a regular basis– every 365 days, for example. But, at irregular intervals, the star KIC 8462852 darkens by as much as 20 percent, and it stays dark for anywhere between 5 and 80 days. “
Scientists are perplexed what could be causing this phenomenon around the star that is 1480 light years away and say that it is very bizarre. While they say “aliens should be the last hypothesis” – they are not sure what natural phenomenon could be causing the dimming. One suggestion is a swarm of comets, although to block that much light there would have to be a huge number of them clumped together that we caught passing the star at just the right time.
However some are speculating that this is evidence that we have found an alien megastructure orbiting a star. An advanced civilization might want to build a giant solar collector around a star in order to fuel all of their super advanced technology needs. This concept is called a Dyson Sphere (one giant structure around a star) or Dyson swarms. Penn State astronomer Jason Wright says he and other astronomers are now going to use the Green Bank telescope in West Virginia to listen in for alien radio signals from that star. He says;
“If we hear narrow-band modulated radio emissions coming from that star, I can’t imagine any other explanation,” says Wright. “Nature doesn’t do that, it would have to be artificial.”
Now when I see the pictures of the surface of Mars, or Pluto I think hey; it is “just” nature. Nature is beautiful and mind-blowing to contemplate, but at the same time there is nothing we should fear. If scientists discover an alien microbe or even plant life poking out from the red rocks the Curiosity Rover is rolling over, it would be an amazing discovery, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. It is still “just” nature. However people get weird when they start thinking about intelligent alien life and all the scary implications that could have for us. I think this is mainly because humans are assholes, so imagining an alien asshole is totally terrifying. You think it’s bad when an asshole cuts you off in traffic? Imagine if he had an antimatter powered starship. But in the end we are all just assholes.