Space

New research pours cold water on alien civilization theory

New research pours cold water ...
Artist's impression of comets swarming around KIC 8462852 – one of the potential explanations for the periodic dip in the star's light signature
Artist's impression of comets swarming around KIC 8462852 – one of the potential explanations for the periodic dip in the star's light signature
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Artist's impression of comets swarming around KIC 8462852 – one of the potential explanations for the periodic dip in the star's light signature
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Artist's impression of comets swarming around KIC 8462852 – one of the potential explanations for the periodic dip in the star's light signature

New research is refuting the theory that the star known as KIC 8462852 is being stripped of its resources by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, as had previously been suggested. The star rose to prominence last year after a series of irregular, seemingly artificial fluctuations were detected in its light signature in observations made by the Kepler space telescope.

It was asserted that these occultations were theoretically in line with the pattern of dimming that could be expected from a Dyson sphere. A Dyson sphere is in effect a colossal artificial construct that would encircle or even entirely encompass a star.

The claims garnered so much media attention that the SETI Institute trained its powerful Allen Telescope Array on KIC 8462852 in an attempt to listen in for any potentially alien signals. Unfortunately, and much to the disappointment of those looking for signs we aren't alone in the universe, the search came up empty.

In January 2016, yet another paper was authored on the subject, this time by researchers from Louisiana State University. The study argued that KIC 8462852 had dimmed by roughly 20 percent over the past century, suggesting that the dimming could be explained by an advanced civilization stripping the resources from the star and converting it into the megastructures.

However, the source of information used by the researchers from LSU rang alarm bells for a number of scientists who promptly teamed up to publish an analysis on the study. The LSU researchers had made use of over 500,000 photographic glass plates containing observations of KIC 8462852 between 1885 – 1993. The plates were part of a digital resource called Digital Access to a Sky Century @ Harvard (DASCH).

The scientists reviewing the LSU paper believed that the star itself may not have dimmed at all, but an inconsistency in the type of equipment used to capture it over the period covered by the archive could instead be responsible.

"Whenever you are doing archival research that combines information from a number of different sources, there are bound to be data precision limits that you must take into account," states Keivan Stassun, Proffessor of Physics at Vanderbilt University and co-author on the recent paper. "In this case, we looked at variations in the brightness of a number of comparable stars in the DASCH database and found that many of them experienced a similar drop in intensity in the 1960's. That indicates the drops were caused by changes in the instrumentation not by changes in the stars' brightness."

Despite the repudiation of the latest alien theory, KIC 8462852 remains an oddity as far as the highly unusual periodic dips in light observed in Kepler data.

Source: Vanderbilt University

7 comments
habakak
LOL! People are so ridiculous. Always the most outlandish explanation has to be chosen. Read 'The eerie silence' by Paul Davies (the head of the SETI project). Chances are about 0 that we will find intelligent life in the Universe and be able to communicate with it. Just to find it already is almost 0. Finding intelligent alien life is as laughable as the idea people had a 100 years ago about Martians. Laughable.
Wolf0579
That there is other life in the galaxy (let alone Universe) is a given. The Earth is being visited by machines that are not of human origin. They exhibit intelligent control. All you have to do is look at the thousands of reports by credible people. (Ask ANY pilot of a thousand flying hours or more...) All that is needed is for ONE report (out of the hundreds) to be unexplainable by any other means, and you've got your proof.
ChecMate
Yes, I agree totally with Wolfo479, who sums it up completely and accurately about us being visited by advanced alien life, and this proves beyond a doubt to me and others, that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the Universe.
JohnHarland
The probability of life in other places is high. The probability of life with intelligence anything like that of human beings is exceedingly remote.
Even on Earth, that kind of intelligence has existed for only 200,000 years or so at an outside estimate, out of 4.5 billion years of existence of our planet. Unless we improve our act pretty quickly, it is not likely to last even a quarter-million years in total. That's near-enough to 1/20,000 of the life of the planet Earth.
The likelihood of that kind of intelligence evolving is actually very low. Contrary to vain human assumption, the kind of intelligence we have is optimal only in a tiny range of circumstances. If you look at the relative biomass of insects compared to all mammals, let alone human beings alone, you have some picture of what is the better kind of intelligence for long-term survival.
We are poor-enough at recognising other intelligence on Earth, even mammalian intelligence, let alone that of vegetation or microbiota, and we are even poorer at communicating with other forms of intelligence on Earth. The chance that we could recognise foreign intelligence is remote, even if other lifeforms were stupid-enough to go cruising through space on spec.
jkn
Watch http://www.ted.com/talks/tabetha_boyajian_the_most_mysterious_star_in_the_universe and then decide yourself. This talk does not mention 20 % dimming in last century, so nothing has changed. Only fools make up their mind before facts are known.
Road tar
The star dims when the solitary being that lives out there uses it to light its cigar. The irregularity of the dimming is linked to the being's bouts of depression. Where does this cigar come from you ask? Easily answered, Cuba of course!
Don Duncan
Given an infinite 'verse, I assume other sentient life. But our short existence, and self destructive beliefs (superstition is anti-life but almost universal) I expect our species to be extinct before we make contact, and get a rep as too dangerous to be associated with. This idea that ignorance of the cause of a phenomenon proves "ET did it" is a variation on a "god did it" proof. It is not scientific, or epistemologically sound.