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In Search of the Intelligent Frugal Aliens in the Outer Space: the Benford Beacons Way

By Vicki Mozo

Maybe aliens are frugal beings; that is why the earthlings could not detect them.

This may sound funny but it seems to be the implication of the news recently released to the astrobiology community by the physicists, Gregory and James Benford. The Benford brothers argue that the SETI or Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence may be hunting at the wrong spot of the cosmos or may be sending messages to relatively crude or emerging extraterrestrial civilization.

SETI has been focusing their efforts in hunting and sending signals to cosmic sites that are relatively close to the Earth. The astrophysicists are beginning to speculate that the SETI methods may not be suitable to obtain positive results. For the last fifty years, the institution has been using radio signal detectors within the narrow-band range.


(Photo: Astrophysicist Gregory Benford in front of the UCI Observatory. He proposes the Benford beacons to detect alien life from distant cosmic zones. Image credit: University of California - Irvine)

Gregory Benfords explains that alien civilization may be sending signals to the cosmos at short, targeted blips, which he likened to the short posts called tweets in the website Twitter. Instead of sending signals continuously from all directions, advanced alien civilization may opt for signals that are pulsed and short but can reach greater distances. If aliens are presumed to live in advanced systems, they may be looking out for means of blasting signals onto the space in ways that are economical and less incursive to their resources.

Dubbed as Benford beacons, the short but the more targeted blips may turn in positive outcome. The Benford's frugal-alien model proposes hunting and sending signals to the core of the Milky Way galaxy where a huge percentage of stars are clustered.1 Their theory is promising since it could provide answers to the old question as to the possibility of intelligent life out there.



1University of California - Irvine. "Finding frugal aliens." Retrieved from http://www.uci.edu/features/2010/07/feature_beacons_100719.php

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