Astronomers Say Aliens Sending Us Signals Will Be Long Dead Before Their Messages Arrive
In a time of instant messaging and the ability to circulate data around the world with a minimal delay, sending and receiving messages through outer space is like handwriting a letter and sending it through the Pony Express. We have yet to pick up any signals from alien civilizations (as far as we know), and according to a new study by astronomers, if we ever do it will be long after the senders are dead.
Expanding on the Drake equation, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne scientist Claudio Grimaldi and his team calculated how long it would take signals to reach Earth.
Our galaxy is roughly 100,000 light years across, and the radio signals we have been sending for the past eight decades have only traveled 0.001 percent of it.
"If the civilization emitted from the other side of the galaxy, when the signal arrives here, the civilization will already be gone," Grimaldi said. Civilizations are believed to only last 100,000 years, so if an alien race started sending signals early on, they would still only get 1.25 percent of the way here.
This also means that the signals we have been sending won't be received until long after we're gone, which is a bummer. Aliens will come hoping to find our great pop culture and the beautiful English language but will arrive and be disappointed by whatever is left on this third rock from the sun. I'm willing to be that it will be a smoldering heap covered in bionic cockroaches, plastic bottles, fruitcake, and Twinkies.
The good news is that if we ever pick up a signal asking us to take a group of little grey and green men (and women) to our leader, it won't be the current administration that an alien civilization will get the chance to meet.