Trying to Hide is Futile

18. February, 2012

There have been many good arguments to avoid all contact with any extraterrestrial life form (“aliens”): Stephen Hawking warns over making contact with aliens

The consequences of an alien contact would probably be dire:

  • Mass panic of people whose religious beliefs, the very foundations of their sanity, are being questioned (they might take the aliens for demons or fallen angels or take their presence as an excuse to start Armageddon).
  • Implosion of the patent system (because aliens probably have prior art to anything we’ve been invented so far)
  • Transmission of germs (even though I believe that aliens would know about this problem, too, and they should have thought a solution – our germs are as much of a problem for them as theirs are for us)
  • Superior ideas (how long could mankind withstand the lure of, say, a system that allows you to do anything without leaving your bed?)
This blog toys with these ideas in some more detail.

But can we avoid them? The discussion often revolves around the idea that we should minimize our electromagnetic footprint and active signals to attract aliens should be avoided at all cost.

While I see the risks, I don’t see how avoiding to send radio signals is going to help us. It’s a good idea to tone down electromagnetic signals (because that ultimately means to waste less energy) but there is a signal that we’ve been broadcasting for hundreds of millions of years and which we can’t avoid: Breathing.

How’s that? Breathing changes the composition of our atmosphere. The composition is easy to detect using a spectral analysis, even over great distances. Astronomers use it since 1835. Exactly this method was used to find the first earth-like planet a few weeks ago.

So unless we stop breathing and kill all other life on our planet, we are constantly distributing a strong, telltale signal that we’re here.

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