While the truth might be out there, technological aliens don’t seem to be — at least not yet. New results from the most comprehensive Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program ever undertaken — which surveyed 1,327 nearby stars for signals from intelligent beings — have turned up empty.
The search was conducted as part of the Breakthrough Listen initiative, a 10-year, $100-million endeavor funded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner that aims to scan the skies for techno-signatures: transmissions or other evidence created by technological creatures on other worlds. The initiative, which kicked off in 2015, relies on two of the world’s most powerful telescopes — the 328-foot-diameter (100 meters) Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and the 210-foot-diameter (64 m) Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia — to try to eavesdrop on alien communications.
“There’s certainly nothing out there glaringly obvious,” Danny Price, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of a paper about the results, which were published in The Astrophysical Journal, told Live Science. “There’s no amazingly advanced civilizations trying to contact us with incredibly powerful transmitters.”
While the team didn’t find anything this time around, Price said that there could be many explanations for the lack of alien signals. Perhaps the search was conducted at the wrong frequencies, or those signals were hidden by radio interference from Earth. Any such undertaking is limited by the methods and discoveries that humans happen to have made in the course of our own history.
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