NASA’s Kepler space telescope has sent home information that has the space community here on terra firma all in a stir. Over the past few years observations of the star KIC-8462852 (1480 light years from Earth) have highlighted some “super weird” anomalies which have already been attributed to the work of an extra-terrestrial civilisation. After corrections for Kepler’s instruments, the star appears to dim by twenty percent at irregular periods lasting between five and eighty days. This has led researchers to conclude that this phenomenon is not being caused by planets.
All sorts of things may be behind this strange behaviour. It is possible that a cloud of broken comets, with enough density, may be accounting for this effect, but – let’s face it – this just isn’t interesting enough. This has to be the result of alien super-structures. Jason Wright from Pennsylvania State University, a consultant professor on the Kepler findings, has drawn attention to the work of the French astronomer Luke Arnold who has argued that in the search for extra-terrestrial life in the universe we oughtn’t to be looking for electromagnetic information but large solar discs or super-structures of solar panels.
Wright’s most recent presentation to the SETI Institute has posited that what Kepler has detected is just such an alien structure. As, at this point, it is anyone’s guess, he might have a point. Certainly the movement, insofar as it can be measured, of these masses in orbit around KIC-8462852 are following the pattern predicted by Arnold back in 2005. The theory runs that the more advanced an alien culture is the more energy it will require. It stands to reason then that if such a civilisation does exist then it has developed a way of constructing giant solar sails to harvest the power of its nearest star.
Okay. Let’s consider for a moment that Arnold’s theory holds true, and that Wright has identified evidence of such a civilisation. We haven’t found a way of building a sunlight farm around our Sun yet, and it seems that these other creatures have. This makes them definitively more advanced than us. Letting them know that we have spotted them isn’t really a great idea. They’re looking for energy by the looks of things, and look what our superpowers do when they need more fuel. Personally, I think that we should keep our heads down for a while and hope that they don’t spot us.