Out in a lonely spot, somewhere around the vast Australian desert, there sits a little machine one might mistake for a shiny table. And that machine did something our most powerful telescopes couldn’t do. It found the first stars.
The EDGES is a highly sensitive radio telescope with only one job, to find the faint frequency signal from the one-hit wonders at the beginning of stellar formation. The blue ones which burned hot and died young in glorious nova, and seeded the Universe with heavier atoms. The deaths of those first cosmic pioneers gave rise to what we needed for the life we enjoy today.
In their violent beginnings, those stars left a mark on on the vast sea of cosmic radiation that permeates the whole Universe. You can’t stop the signal, Mal, and that’s exactly what scientists want to know. The Cosmic Background Microwave is exactly like the the radio waves carrying signals all over the world. You can turn on any electronic device and that static you hear? That’s the CBM. We don’t know what it’s telling us yet, but after EDGES detected the hydrogen dip in the signal from those first stars, giving us the first solid evidence of what the CBM could possibly hold, it got me thinking.
Scientists already posited one potential discovery: the proof for dark matter. Another vast sea out in the black, unseen by us so far. But what else? Maybe evidence the Universe is cyclic, lives and dies and is reborn again, perhaps with a message in the only constant, the CBM.
An enterprising author could make serious use out of a signal that reaches everywhere and has no need for a power source. Spies on far-flung worlds might find it useful to send secret messages to their home worlds. Starships would use the CBM as a propellant to achieve faster than light travel. Alien species could look up at the night sky and see the delicate strands of the wave light their lives.
Follow the signal, Mal.
Science in the pursuit of Fiction.