Astronomers of the Future Club - September 2018 Meeting Report

by Duncan Lunan - 11:08 on 24 October 2018





Astronomers of the Future Club - September 2018 Meeting Report

by Duncan Lunan


On Thursday September 27th 2018, at the Troon meeting of the Astronomers of the Future Club, the speaker was Eamonn Ansbro of the Kingsland Observatory in County Roscommon, Eire, talking about ‘Quantum Communication’, the possibility of faster-than-light communication with other civilisations. The talk is to be given to the SETI Conference of the International Astronautical Federation, and the AOTF Club were the first to hear it.

Eamonn began with an account of the Kingsland Observatory, whose first telescope was created in 2000 by the late John Braithwaite, the last telescope maker in Scotland. Currently the Observatory is commissioning a new site in Spain, with a robotic telescope which will be remotely accessible by schools and colleges as well as to researchers.

On his main theme he distinguished between SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), CETI (Communication with ETI), and Active SETI, which aims to do both. With the growing number of exoplanets being discovered orbiting other stars, he argued that a new search strategy was needed which hopefully would encompass more ET civilisations than the search for signals from individual stars. At present optical searches are being made by the Lick Observatory in the USA, and radio searches at a number of sites including Parkes in Australia, FAST in China, Arecibo in Puerto Rico and Green Bank in the USA. A more advanced strategy would assume that extraterrestrial civilisation develop co-evolution and sociology in a network of cooperative cultures, actively exploring to find others. If they engage in interstellar travel, civilisations 7000 years ahead of us might be Slow Travellers, up to and including those moving whole solar systems; at 10,000 years beyond us there would be Fast Travellers, nomadic, using hyperspace; and 1 million years ahead, they could be Transuniversalists, using very advanced technology such as wormholes and zero point energy not just to travel within our Universe but to access others and alternative dimensions within them. On that timescale, even Slow Travellers could be using faster-than-light Quantum Superluminal Communication, of the type which Eamonn’s group are trying to accomplish, so there would be a high possible detection rate for other civilisations if it could be achieved.

After developing these arguments in more detail, Eamonn turned to the many ways in which first communication might come about. Dr. John Elliott of Leeds Metropolitan University argues that similar brain patterns are found in humans, orang-utans, dolphins, and in music, and they suggest that a universal language interpretation might be possible, also allowing communication with intelligent machines. Where radio SETI exchanges might never advance beyond saying ‘we exist’, QSC would be instantaneous, over any distance, and could allow meaningful relationships. Should we eavesdrop at first? Reply with a ‘holding signal’ to gain time? The new Contact Protocols would have to be much more flexible than the current ones for radio SETI. Not replying risks losing an opportunity for ever, but listening operatives would have to be highly trained and carefully selected, since they would be taking immediate decisions for the sake of all mankind. In Eamonn’s view, the operating principles would automatically select for beings at a level where we could communicate, and for those with benevolent intent, and the possible benefits far outweigh any possible dangers – but we are talking about huge responsibilities, because such events would change the world for ever. Predictably, the talk provoked a lively discussion, which continued at McKay’s Bar after the vote of thanks.

The next meeting of the Astronomers of the Future Club will be on Thursday October 25th, from 7.15 to 9 p.m. at the RSAS Barassie Works Club, 4 Shore Road, Troon, KA10 6AG. The talk will be the return of local astronomer Marc Charron, who this time will speak about ‘Space Exploration: Man vs Machine.’. For more details contact Duncan Lunan (07986 065437) or see the AOTF Club web page 



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