Professors Seek Alien Radio Waves

The question of whether human beings are the only intelligent life in the universe has baffled scientists for decades. Two Harvard professors think they have identified the equipment they will need to recognize radio waves from outer space, though one of them remains skeptical that alien signals will ever be found.

Astronomy Professor Abraham “Avi” Loeb and Professor of Astronomy and Physics Matias Zaldarriaga proposed earlier this month a way to use new radio wave observatories to search for radio emissions from alien civilizations.

Loeb, whose main area of research focuses on mapping the age of the universe, said he could use radio wave observatories currently being built in Australia to detect radio waves from space.

The finely tuned observatories, which consist of thousands of radio towers, are carefully arranged to sift out radio waves from television, radio, and military broadcasters on Earth, giving them the unprecedented capability to search for these common radio wave types lightyears away without any interference.

Loeb explained that the “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” program, commonly known as SETI, has done similar searches but has not been able to search for the most common radio wave frequencies.

Loeb added that these experiments will remain secondary to his primary goal of helping map the age of the universe.

“I’m just pointing out that the same observation equipment could be able to check for intelligent forms of life in the universe,” Loeb said.

He said he also remains skeptical at the likelihood of finding any signs of intelligent alien life.

“I don’t have a prejudice one way or another... most astrophysicists will tell you that it’s quite unlikely that we’ll find anything,” he said.

Loeb added that the new equipment can only search tens of lightyears outside of our own solar system, a distance that is relatively small compared to the enormous size of the universe.

Still, Loeb stressed the importance of scientific investigation regardless of whether or not conclusive results are reached.

“All I’m planning to do is delineate, to explore the possible future of these experiments,” he said.