Anyone hoping that an alien civilization will make contact with Earth may have to wait a lifetime, or more precisely several lifetimes, according to astronomers at Cornell University. In fact, it could be around 1,500 years, or the year 3517, before Earth finally receives a message from alien life, with Cornell undergraduate student Evan Solomonides noting that the vastness of space makes it hard to expect any more immediate responses to our signals.
Earth Signals Cover Just 0.1% of Galaxy
Up until now, broadcast signals traveling from Earth would have reached only about 80 light-years into space,or about the time that Adolf Hitler broadcast the 1936 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in Berlin to 41 countries across the planet. Of course this wasn’t the first broadcast, but it was of a high frequency making it more likely to have escaped through the Earth’s ionosphere.
Taking his assumption further, Solomonides explained that if we consider humanity to be average in terms of advancement and technology, then other civilizations could have reached a distance with their signals similar to our own. Therefore, such signals would only have touched around a 0.1% of our galaxy, meaning that we shouldn’t even concern ourselves with contact for at least another 1,500 years or so, as that is how long it might take for our signals to cover the entire Milky Way galaxy.
This research is based in part on taking apart Fermi’s paradox which points to a conradiction between the billions of potentially habitable planets in the universe and the lack of extraterrestial visitors to the Earth. When Fermi put together this paradox, however, exoplanets surrounding stars were only a hypothesis, whereas today, scientists think that almost every sun they encounter will have at least one if not more planets around it, thus helping to increase the likelihood that life has evolved throughout our galaxy and the universe. Even still, many believe that the lack of a confirmed signals from extraterrestrials means that life might not be as common as we think.
80 Years of Signals
Cornell scholars say that alien life could have received TV and radio signals coming from Earth over the last 8 decades. However, aliens would likely find these signals indecipherable, according to Solomonides, who thinks they that would need to transform the light waves into sound and then pour over 3,000 of our languages in order to decipher any messages.
Even with these obstacles, scientist believe that Earth’s broadcasts have touched every star within 80 light-years of our planet, which comes to around 8,531 stars, and 3,555 earthlike planets. In the meantime, it is worth noting that our galaxy alone consists of some 200 billion stars, with astronomers thinking that the Earth might get some word back from any potential civilizations when about half of the Milky Way has been signaled, which is estimated to take 1,500 years.
The Search Continues
This doesn’t indicate that we as a species should stop looking for signals or broadcasts. Instead, we should continue to broadcast our own signals and keep listening to the void so that we don’t miss any revolutionary orhistoric alien contact event that may occur. While we wait, however, we should simply learn to limit our expectations, and not expect to hear anything back from our galactic neighbors anytime soon.