October 15, 2015

Natural possibilities must be ruled out before claims of an alien megastructure are made

Here is a SETI paper written by Jason Wright who was on the team that found a star which has observed emissions that are consistent with a Dyson Swarm Jason Wright's philosophy of SETI is that you should reserve the alien hypothesis as a last resort. It would be such a big deal if true, it’s important that you be absolutely sure before claiming you’ve detected something, lest everybody lose credibility. Much more so for SETI.

But from a SETI perspective, one should focus one’s resources on the best targets. Looking for astronomical anomalies is a reasonable way to focus one’s search. There is no inconsistency between assuming purely natural explanations for all phenomena, and targeting SETI efforts at the most astrophysically inexplicable phenomena.

An Extraordinary Hypothesis for an Extraordinary Object

We have in KIC 8462 a system with all of the hallmarks of a Dyson swarm: aperiodic events of almost arbitrary depth, duration, and complexity. Historically, targeted SETI has followed a reasonable strategy of spending its most intense efforts on the most promising targets. Given this object's qualitative uniqueness, given that even contrived natural explanations appear inadequate, and given predictions that Kepler would be able to detect large alien megastructures via anomalies like these, we feel is the most promising stellar SETI target discovered to date. We suggest that KIC 8462 warrants significant interest from SETI in addition to traditional astrophysical study, and that searches for similar, less obvious objects in the Kepler data set are a compelling exercise

Natural possibilities vs megastructures





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