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Can Pollution Be The Key To Detecting Alien Life?As astronomers continue their visual exploration of the universe, they also teach us different concepts and methods of understanding what we’re seeing. Using the human race and our Earth as the primary example, it turns out we’re actually quite a loud species. Wireless signals being transmitted all around the world are now the norm which would otherwise be considered alien to a person from a couple hundred years ago. The same can be said for the footprint the human race is creating on this planet, our pollution."We consider industrial pollution as a sign of intelligent life, but perhaps civilizations more advanced than us, with their own SETI programs, will consider pollution as a sign of unintelligent life since it’s not smart to contaminate your own air," says Harvard student and lead author Henry Lin.A group of theorists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics believe that since we already have a limited ability to detect the make-up of an exoplanet’s atmosphere, we could possibly use that ability to search for planets that give off signatures that would indicate the presence of atmospheric contaminants, more specifically CFCs. Though this would be a tough feat to accomplish, the Harvard group believes that the James Webb Space Telescope would be the proper piece of equipment for the job. The group believes that it could be possible that an advanced civilization would intentionally pollute a planet that might otherwise be too cold to support life even if it contained the right elements, among many other possibilities. This method could also allow astronomers to detect the remains of a civilization that died out long ago. There are certain pollutants that can last up to 50,000 years and others that last only a decade. The presence of long term pollutants and absence of short term pollutants on a planet can indicate a civilization once inhabited it."In that case, we could speculate that the aliens wised up and cleaned up their act. Or in a darker scenario, it would serve as a warning sign of the dangers of not being good stewards of our own planet," says the study’s co-author, Avi Loeb.
IMAGE CREDIT: Christine Pulliam (CfA, artist rendition of an Earth-like planet with widespread pollution) View high resolution

Can Pollution Be The Key To Detecting Alien Life?

As astronomers continue their visual exploration of the universe, they also teach us different concepts and methods of understanding what we’re seeing. Using the human race and our Earth as the primary example, it turns out we’re actually quite a loud species. Wireless signals being transmitted all around the world are now the norm which would otherwise be considered alien to a person from a couple hundred years ago. The same can be said for the footprint the human race is creating on this planet, our pollution.

"We consider industrial pollution as a sign of intelligent life, but perhaps civilizations more advanced than us, with their own SETI programs, will consider pollution as a sign of unintelligent life since it’s not smart to contaminate your own air," says Harvard student and lead author Henry Lin.

A group of theorists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics believe that since we already have a limited ability to detect the make-up of an exoplanet’s atmosphere, we could possibly use that ability to search for planets that give off signatures that would indicate the presence of atmospheric contaminants, more specifically CFCs. Though this would be a tough feat to accomplish, the Harvard group believes that the James Webb Space Telescope would be the proper piece of equipment for the job. The group believes that it could be possible that an advanced civilization would intentionally pollute a planet that might otherwise be too cold to support life even if it contained the right elements, among many other possibilities. This method could also allow astronomers to detect the remains of a civilization that died out long ago. There are certain pollutants that can last up to 50,000 years and others that last only a decade. The presence of long term pollutants and absence of short term pollutants on a planet can indicate a civilization once inhabited it.

"In that case, we could speculate that the aliens wised up and cleaned up their act. Or in a darker scenario, it would serve as a warning sign of the dangers of not being good stewards of our own planet," says the study’s co-author, Avi Loeb.

IMAGE CREDIT: Christine Pulliam (CfA, artist rendition of an Earth-like planet with widespread pollution)

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  8. terminallyintelligent reblogged this from the-actual-universe and added:
    I would agree, but we are assuming that intelligent life forms on other planets used the same contaminants that we did....
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    SO INTERESTING
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