Alien Ambassador

For some reason everyone thought the U.N. named an “alien ambassador” to handle communications with whatever aliens decide we are worth their time to communicate with. The U.N. named no such person, but it makes me wonder, is this necessary?

The tricky thing about space is that it’s huge. It also has laws, like the speed of light. That means that communication in space takes a very long time. Let’s say that there is a planet with intelligent life about 35 light years away. They have giant radio telescopes capable of picking up signals sent from Earth. The first thing they might see is Hitler (broadcast about 70 years ago in 1939), then a bunch of WWII stuff, followed by the Cold War. Great introduction to the human race. Assuming they thought “Hey, this Hitler fellow seems interesting, let’s send them a message,” it would take 35 years to get back to Earth. That is today. As our bubble expands the signal gets weaker, following the inverse square law. At a certain point the signal will be too weak to read. We have the technology to send a focused transmission to other stars, but so far the ones we have sent things too are hundreds of light years away. We won’t have to worry about the return message, if there is one, anytime soon.

We are in our own little bubble now, completely isolated from the rest of the universe. The only signs of life on this planet will be seen through a telescope doing a spectral analysis of this world and seeing the oxygen and water. But life does not mean intelligent life. I’m sure that when we find a world like ours we will send the  a “hello” message in hopes of getting a response, but that depends on intelligent life to be at almost same stage of their technological development as we are. If they are in their version of an industrial revolution they won’t get our message; they could also have moved beyond using radio waves as their primary form of communication, although this seems unlikely due to the ease of sending radio transmissions. Alternatively, they could destroy themselves before our message gets there.

What I’m saying is that any communication we hear form an alien civilization will most likely be their version of I Love Lucy reruns, not a directed message to the people of Earth. Some speculate it could also be some kind of galactic navigation beacon at the center of our galaxy, but that isn’t two-way communication either.

I doubt they will visit us either. It’s too far, too impractical. It would take hundreds of years to meet the energy requirements to travel that distance and sustain life. If we are visited, it will probably be by some kind of probe, and if we are lucky it might have some form of AI allowing us to talk to it, but in my mind this isn’t really communication with an alien civilization as it’s only one way. It would be like talking to your neighbor’s car.

So no, I do not see the need for an “alien ambassador.”

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