Scientists Claim to Have Proof that an Alien Invasion is 'Unlikely'

Thursday, 17 September 2015 - 3:22PM
Astrobiology
Alien Life
Thursday, 17 September 2015 - 3:22PM
Scientists Claim to Have Proof that an Alien Invasion is 'Unlikely'

It looks like humanity can rest easy for now, as astronomers have uncovered evidence that there are no super-advanced alien civilizations that have the power to harness the power of entire galaxies, at least not in our corner of the universe. Professor Michael Garrett of ASTRON and the University of Leiden recently analyzed radio emissions from nearby galaxies and concluded that Kardashev Type III civilizations are extremely rare in the local universe, if they exist at all.

The Kardashev scale measures a civilization's level of technological advancement, where Type I is the least advanced and Type III is the most advanced. A Type III alien civilization could wield the power of its entire galaxy, which would basically make them unstoppable, especially compared to Earth, which hasn't even reached Type I yet.

We don't have the capability to say for certain whether Type III aliens exist anywhere in the universe, but if they lived in our neck of the woods and were manipulating energy on a galactic scale, we would expect to be able to detect the energy usage from waste emissions in the mid-Infrared spectrum. Scientists have detected energies from other galaxies, but a recent Penn State study showed that several hundred candidate galaxies with extreme IR emissions exhibited these unusual patterns as a result of an innocuous process relating to thermal emission from warm space dust. 

Garrett then built on their research, studying a few of the very best candidates with the most unusual emissions, and found that the heat wasn't coming from some kind of industrialized society, but from space dust, such as that generated by extremely hot star formation. As a result, it's likely that all of the thermal emissions we've observed can be explained that way, and that there are no Type III aliens in our local universe.

Opening quote
"The original research at Penn State has already told us that such systems are very rare but the new analysis suggests that this is probably an understatement, and that advanced Kardashev Type III civilizations basically don't exist in the local Universe," Garrett said in a statement.
Closing quote

Although we still have no idea whether Type III aliens exist in other parts of the universe, they would be incredibly far away, which should come as a relief to most people:

Opening quote
"In my view, it means we can all sleep safely in our beds tonight – an alien invasion doesn't seem at all likely!"
Closing quote


But he still advises that we check some of the other galaxies that may not fit this pattern, just in case there actually are galaxy-wielding aliens waiting in the wings:

Opening quote
"Some of these systems definitely demand further investigation but those already studied in detail turn out to have a natural astrophysical explanation too. It's very likely that the remaining systems also fall into this category but of course it's worth checking just in case!"
Closing quote


Garrett calls it "worrying" that we haven't found Type III civilizations yet (although it would be pretty worrying if we found them, wouldn't it?), but insists that there are too many unknowns to despair about alien intelligence yet:

Opening quote
"It's a bit worrying that Type III civilizations don't seem to exist. It's not what we would predict from the physical laws that explain so well the rest of the physical universe. We're missing an important part of the jigsaw puzzle here. Perhaps advanced civilizations are so energy efficient that they produce very low waste heat emission products - our current understanding of physics makes that a difficult thing to do. What's important is to keep on searching for the signatures of extra-terrestrial intelligence until we fully understand just what is going on."
Closing quote


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