We could build a laser that could send signals to extraterrestrial intelligence.
Not we as in the staff of Live Science. (That’s probably beyond our skill set.) But we as in humanity. A new paper published yesterday (Nov. 5) in The Astrophysical Journal has found that humanity could feasibly build an infrared laser hot and bright enough that — if we shined it directly at nearby exoplanets — alien astronomers should be able to detect it using sky-watching technology not too much more advanced than our own. (Presuming they’re out there, of course.) [9 Strange, Scientific Excuses for Why We Haven’t Found Alien Life Yet]
It would have to be pretty huge, but not unthinkably so: One possible design the researchers proposed would require a 1 to 2 megawatt laser and at least a 100-foot (30 meter) diameterprimary mirror.
It’s not clear if aliens would immediately recognize the laser as a signal from intelligent life-forms, James Clark, a graduate student at MIT and the lead author on the paper, said in a statement. But, he added, “it would certainly attract attention.”