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Proceedings Paper

Factors affecting calculation of L
Author(s): Mark P.A. Ciotola
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Paper Abstract

A detectable extraterrestrial civilization can be modeled as a series of successive regimes over time each of which is detectable for a certain proportion of its lifecycle. This methodology can be utilized to produce an estimate for L. Potential components of L include quantity of fossil fuel reserves, solar energy potential, quantity of regimes over time, lifecycle patterns of regimes, proportion of lifecycle regime is actually detectable, and downtime between regimes. Relationships between these components provide a means of calculating the lifetime of communicative species in a detectable state, L. An example of how these factors interact is provided, utilizing values that are reasonable given known astronomical data for components such as solar energy potential while existing knowledge about the terrestrial case is used as a baseline for other components including fossil fuel reserves, quantity of regimes over time, and lifecycle patterns of regimes, proportion of lifecycle regime is actually detectable, and gaps of time between regimes due to recovery from catastrophic war or resource exhaustion. A range of values is calculated for L when parameters are established for each component so as to determine the lowest and highest values of L. roadmap for SETI research at the SETI Institute for the next few decades. Three different approaches were identified. 1) Continue the radio search: build an affordable array incorporating consumer market technologies, expand the search frequency, and increase the target list to 100,000 stars. This array will also serve as a technology demonstration and enable the international radio astronomy community to realize an array that is a hundred times larger and capable (among other things) of searching a million stars. 2) Begin searches for very fast optical pulses from a million stars. 3) As Moore's Law delivers increased computational capacity, build an omni-directional sky survey array capable of detecting strong, transient, radio signals from billions of stars. SETI could succeed tomorrow, or it may be an endeavor for multiple generations. We are a very young technology in a very old galaxy. While our own leakage radiation continues to outshine the Sun at many frequencies, we remain detectable to others. When our use of the spectrum becomes more efficient, it will be time to consider deliberate transmissions and the really tough questions: Who will speak for Earth? What will they say?

Paper Details

Date Published: 3 August 2001
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4273, The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in the Optical Spectrum III, (3 August 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.435363
Show Author Affiliations
Mark P.A. Ciotola, San Francisco State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4273:
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in the Optical Spectrum III
Stuart A. Kingsley; Ragbir Bhathal, Editor(s)

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