Index – Tech-Science – The second meeting with the aliens would be more special than the first

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His first encounter with a probe sent by an alien civilization would be a real turning point in the development and history of human civilization. Intense and sustained attention would have a profound effect on culture, from masses of books to sects. The scientists, after carefully examining the object created by the alien hand, would place it in a well-guarded display case, and in the meantime we would certainly construct and send a spacecraft to the aliens.

Graeme Smith, professor of astronomy at the University of California, outlines such a scenario in the International Journal of Astrobiology, with the proviso that we should not be surprised if the second probe arriving from the same location is completely different.

When a spacefaring civilization embarks on an interstellar program, it is unlikely that the first device launched will reach its destination first, but a later, more advanced

writes Graeme Smith.

This is based on the fact that in such a scenario, the aliens send increasingly advanced probes to another star system, which become faster and faster as time goes on.

he adds.

Consequently, the second foreign device may not be a shipment following the first, but an earlier one. Disturbingly, the human device sent in response would similarly leave behind Voyager-1, launched almost half a century ago, but the more advanced probe sent later would overtake it as well.

The question is how big is the gap between the first and the second probe. Professor Smith seeks the answer to this with a thought experiment. It assumes a relationship between two different civilizations. One is actively working on interstellar research. The other is more passively exploring its own star system, just like us. He draws two different scenarios: in one, development is linear, in the other, it accelerates exponentially.

Time flies

In the first case, starting from the fact that the Voyager probes reached the edge of the Solar System roughly a century after the first liquid-fueled rocket test, we assume that a new generation of probes is completed every century: after 2700 years, we would be at the 27th generation. Our first interstellar probe, Voyager-2, would reach the neighboring star in about 80,000 years, the 27th generation probe in only six thousand years, i.e. 74,000 years earlier.

In the case of a star located a hundred light-years away, we could develop about 140 generations of probes, the most advanced of which would reach their destination in 28,000 years, while Voyager would take almost two million years.

Exponential development is, by definition, faster: 1,200 years after the start of the program, the sixth generation would reach the goal, in just 200 years.

Despite the arbitrarily determined numbers, one thing is certain: thousands of years may pass between the first and second probes, and their technical development may differ by several centuries or millennia. This would be the product of a completely different civilization, not only technically, but also in terms of philosophy and ideas. The first arriving probe would represent inexplicably advanced technology for us, the second would also confuse us.

The older I get, the more convinced I am that we are not alone. One day we might get a message from a planet like Gliese 832c, but we should be wary of answering anything.

Stephen Hawking once said.

Gliese 832 is a red dwarf located 16 light-years away, and the planet orbiting it is one of the closest known habitable worlds. The numbers outlined in Smith’s paper are perfectly applicable to this planet as well. Voyager-2, if it happened to move in this direction, would arrive in 250,000 years.

(Futurism, Universe Today)

(Cover image: The Voyager gold record circa 1977. Photo: Space Frontiers / Archive Photos / Getty Images)