Ask Ethan: Would An Alien Civilization Classify Earth As An ‘Interesting’ Planet?
“I was thinking about the projection of light through space. My curtain was open and I saw the stars and something from a book popped into my head. It had said that the stars we see are basically reruns. The light is from so long ago, we don’t even know if the star still exists or not.
[…] Whatever signals we send out, or changes in our planet that might be observable to prove intelligent life lives here, would take billions of years to reach anything alive and capable of responding! What do you think?”
The cosmic distances separating the stars and galaxies are absolutely tremendous, and even though the speed of light is the fastest speed there is, it still takes an awfully long time to traverse the astronomical abyss of space. Humanity has only been a technologically advanced civilization for a few hundred years, and we’ve only entered the space age a few decades ago. Yet that doesn’t mean we’re off-limits to advanced aliens who might be looking for us at all. Even if they couldn’t discover our technosignatures, they could still tell, even from billions of light-years away, that Earth was an interesting, inhabited planet, using nothing more than more advanced versions of the technologies we’re using today and in the near-future to look for life on exoplanets in our cosmic backyard.
An alien civilization with more advanced technology could detect cosmically interesting things about Earth from extremely far away. Here’s where your hopes and fears meet with reality: on this week’s Ask Ethan!