How To Commit Planetary Suicide


by Karl Denninger, Market Ticker:

There is dumb.

There is really dumb.

Then there is planetary suicide dumb.

Those proposing the latter need to be taken out and shot should it ever be demonstrated that they’re serious, as the alternative to doing so is the literal end of our species on this planet.

Scientists want to build a laser that could guide an extraterrestrial civilization and bring them to Earth.

A new research paper from an MIT graduate student suggests that humanity could theoretically build an infrared laser that could be both hot and bright enough to attract the attention of intelligent civilizations, if it was aimed at nearby exoplanets. James Clark, the study’s lead author, believes it would “certainly attract attention.”

We have the technology to detect and reasonably determine that a planet orbiting around another sun is in the “habitable zone” and we’re getting closer to being able to narrow the probability to a very high degree that said planet has water on it.  Those two things together make a planet capable, in theory, of supporting life.

The problem is that it’s theory.  It won’t tell you, for example, if the atmosphere is full of poison gases, which under low concentrations (likely invisible to said distance-based imaging techniques) will kill anything that tries to live there.  It also is likely incapable of telling you whether said planet has a rotating, molten, magnetic core, which is necessary to produce the radiation shield that not only keeps our atmosphere from being stripped off over time by solar wind it also provides the necessary radiation shield so anything living there is not killed.

This probability stack inhibits random “check it out” sort of trips; if the odds of a “habitable zone” planet being actually able to support life is 1 in 10 or even 1 in 1,000 your odds suck and the cost of the expedition is very real.  Taking a 1-in-1,000 shot is utterly insane until and unless your ability to do so, and the incremental cost, starts to approach Star Trek type technology.

There is another gating factor and that is FTL travel, or at least, what appears from our frame of reference to be so.  Actual travel faster than light has never been demonstrated and the laws of physics say you can’t.  But what you can do, if you have enough energy, is cheat.

The nightmare scenario is that we build such a beacon, it is actually noticed and the “things” that notice it have mastered the energy production and control necessary to cheat on FTL travel.

That is, they’re not 10,000 years away from us (at best) as first appears they’re just a few years away — or less!

Having determined that our planet is not only in the habitable zone it fits all the other requirements too — because we’re living on it — they decide to “pay us a visit.”

That visit may not be peaceful and if it isn’t we’re all dead.

Every last one of us.

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