How to Find Alien Life? Look for Nuclear Weapons Blasts.

Researchers are looking for signs of life in different places: in their destruction, like that of a nuclear apocalypse.


It's hard to believe we're alone out here in this endless universe. But, in such a vast expanse, there's a chance it may all end without us ever meeting another intelligent civilization. Until we become more of a spacefaring civilization, able to explore the universe, we're left to merely look at the stars to find what could be or what could have been a civilization.

Astronomer Jason Wright has already searched 100,000 galaxies for waste and heat signatures emitted by “supercivilizations,” but his team of scientists has come up empty-handed so far. The search is still on, but recently another group of researchers has turned to look for simpler signatures indicating life... or what used to be life.

Astronomer Jason Wright has already searched 100,000 galaxies for waste and heat signatures emitted by “supercivilizations,” but his team of scientists has come up empty-handed so far.

Researchers are looking for signs of life in different places: in their destruction, like that of a nuclear apocalypse. A planet undergoing one nuclear explosion wouldn't be enough to send a discernible heat and light signature light-years away — at least not enough for our telescopes to detect. There would need to be a multitude of blasts, so this civilization would probably be dead.

These researchers have crafted a paper devising several apocalyptic scenarios that could produce a heat and light signature strong enough to be detected by us. These scenarios would have to produce “significant changes in atmospheric composition,” they write. This might include decimation by atomic bombs, pathogen, or pollution. Even the destruction of the planet itself could tell researchers if it once held an intelligent civilization. By looking at production of debris through the explosive disc rings, they “may indicate signs of artificial construction in their chemical composition.”

Is there intelligent life out there in the universe? Theoretical physicist Brian Greene says it's complicated.


Ross Andersen of The Atlantic asked Jill Tarter, former director of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, her thoughts on this paper. She had this to say“The problem is the signatures are detectable for cosmically insignificant amounts of time.”

Timing would be everything in order to catch a glimpse of a distant nuclear war. There are tens of billions of galaxies out there and, as it stands, we just don't have the technology to take such a large survey of the universe each day.

The odds of finding one, Tarter says, are “a lot worse than Vegas.”

But imagine if we did find one through this method. Would we be saddened by the news? How would humanity, as a whole, react?

***

Natalie Shoemaker has been writing professionally for 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI / Getty Staff

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Want to age gracefully? A new study says live meaningfully

Thinking your life is worthwhile is correlated with a variety of positive outcomes.

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new study finds that adults who feel their lives are meaningful have better health and life outcomes.
  • Adults who felt their lives were worthwhile tended to be more social and had healthier habits.
  • The findings could be used to help improve the health of older adults.
Keep reading Show less