The LiveScience article tells us: “… researchers at Pennsylvania State University [claim that] …An extraterrestrial civilization might notice our planet by detecting changes in the spectral signature of Earth — the light radiated by our planet and atmosphere — caused by greenhouse gas emissions. . .The group’s thinking goes like this: From the rate of change of the chemical composition in our atmosphere, the aliens will deduce our rapid expansion and, because of that, possibly view us as a threat, thinking we’ll soon pursue resources on other worlds. “‘If [they] doubt that our course can be changed, then they may seek to preemptively destroy our civilization in order to protect other civilizations from us,’ the researchers write.”
Yeah, right. But I’m attracted to the article because it’s exotic, because I’m sometimes a science-fiction writer, because I like to think about the interstellar strange, and because the global warming connection interests me. I’m a guy who thinks that human beings are causing climate change, this time, and it’s going to be a major problem. (I don’t think it’ll destroy civilization. It’ll just make civilization miserable. And a lot of people will die in famines.)
The downside of the Univ of Pennsylvania claim is, it’s not very well thought through–and that might besmirch the climate change thing. It could make its adherents sound like they’ve gone off the deep end. I can imagine Senator Inhofe jeeringly pointing at that one. “Now they’re telling us space aliens are gonna get us, folks!”
I mean, by the time an alien race sees our light signature, because of the time it takes for light to travel to other star systems, any data about heating will be irrelevant to assessing our civilization. They will not be able to conclude, anyhow, that the indicators of greenhouse gas changes are from misuse of technology. They mostly are, but the ETs would know they could also be from other causes: volcanic, for example. And they’d also know that even if we got interstellar travel going, our chances of finding them out there, and causing them problems, in this vast cosmos, are infinitesimal.
Now, the article at space.com about the Diamond Star, that thrills me: “A newly discovered alien planet that formed from a dead star is a real diamond in the rough. The super-high pressure of the planet, which orbits a rapidly pulsing neutron star, has likely caused the carbon within it to crystallize into an actual diamond, a new study suggests.”
That captures the imagination. It’s like something from an early Larry Niven story, or Arthur C. Clarke–it’s even like something from an old science-fantasy tale. I could imagine Lovecraft alluding to a star made of diamond. It glimmers in the imagination.
One imagines interplanetary travelers questing for the diamond sun, trying to find a safe way to mine it, finding some astounding secret in its very center, where space and time are compressed like light through a ruby…
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