Ask Dr. SETI ®
© Alexander Popoff, used by permission
(excerpt from his eBook The Hidden Alpha
At a meeting of the Royal Society in London, in trying the explain the current failure of SETI to discover extraterrestrial civilizations, Frank Drake said that phasing out analog transmissions from TV, radio, and radar is making our planet electronically invisible from outer space, because while an old-style TV transmitter might generate a million watts, the power of a digital satellite signal is around twenty watts.
The digital revolution does not make civilizations invisible to extraterrestrial search. On the contrary, the electromagnetic radiation of our civilization is getting stronger and stronger, and we are sending an increasing amount of radio waves into space.
Today, WHKY-TV's (an independent TV station in North Carolina) digital signal now operates at 600,000 watts, roughly equivalent to 1.2 million watts for an analog transmitter. The station currently has a construction permit to boost its power to 950,000 watts.
CBS 8 shut off its analog transmitter in late 2008. Now it is sending out a digital signal at one million watts.
On June 6, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission granted WAND, an NBC-affiliated TV station, a construction permit to move its digital frequency back to its former analog allotment, and to operate its digital signal at the maximum one million watts.
Military and science radars are also sending out millions of watts.
The transmitter system of HAARP is officially able to produce approximately 3.6 million watts of radio frequency power. The pulsed or continuous signal is sent into the ionosphere. According to some researchers, the output power can reach up to 300 million watts and the military has patents to boost this power output to over a hundred billion watts. These high figures of billions of watts are still unconfirmed officially.
The Russian missile defense and early warning radar Don-2N, which can also track space vehicles, is capable of monitoring air space at an altitude of 40,000 km (24,860 miles). It transmits extremely powerful radio pulses of 250 million watts. Russia has even more powerful radars. The other major military powers in the world have similar radar systems, too.
Civilizations are using powerful signals in radio astronomy to explore the local star system and for communication with their probes and spaceships.
The number of TV transmitters, military and science radars, and so on, all around the world and in orbit is increasing. Their power output is also increasing.
The total level of electromagnetic noise from the inhabited planets is also growing. The electromagnetic radiation from Earth will travel thousands of light-years away.
The digital revolution is making the civilizations much more visible to extraterrestrial search.
Some scholars, including Stephen Hawking, are concerned that the deliberate sending of radio signals into deep space and the leakage radiation could be a serious risk, because we are revealing the location of our planet to hostile alien civilizations.
There have even been calls for a moratorium on deliberate radio transmissions into deep space to attract the attention of aliens.
There is absolutely no need to worry about this. The advanced civilizations from our Galaxy know that we exist and know exactly where we are. The spectral analysis of Earth's atmosphere alone is enough to reveal us, because it is specific to planets with complex life and technological civilizations. We cannot hide our atmosphere.
According to the second law of thermodynamics, the advanced civilizations create entropy in the form of waste heat that is drifting into outer space. It is impossible to hide the faint entropy glow.
The advanced technological civilizations from our Galaxy know where we are and what is our level of development.
For the mega-civilizations, these are mature intelligences managed to abandon their dying home universes, we are like a Monopoly game on the table, next to the sandwiches and the beer. We are totally visible, accessible, and manipulable.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in editorials are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of The SETI League, Inc., its Trustees, officers, Advisory Board, members, donors, or commercial sponsors.
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this page last updated 2 March 2013
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