It seems like so long ago the paper actually went public onto the arXiv, but I guess the press embargo just ended.
However, lots of interesting plasma physics effect occur between us and the FRB. The dominant thing that happens is that low frequencies arrive later than high frequencies (as they travel slow in a plasma). This causes the FRB to be smeared over many seconds rather than a millisecond. There's also multi path interference effects and an whole bunch of other stuff that happens. So actual the temporal structure of the burst tells you much more about the intervening medium than it does about the source.
Sorry for the possibly noob question, but why is this? I can't think of an intuitive explanation
Example of this inference, from the Wikipedia on Fast Radio Bursts (but I have seen in many contexts):
> The sources are thought to be a few hundred kilometers or less in size, as the bursts last for only a few milliseconds
Does that make sense?
Though his creative interpretation of higher dimensions was interesting (sending the tiny probe that unfolds on earth).
The most useful follow up has been for repeating FRBs. What happens there is that the discovery telescope tells you were it is roughly, and you know it repeats, so you can point a high resolution radio telescope (something like https://www.evlbi.org) to get a more precise location and then you can follow up with other telescopes.
One thing telescopes like CHIME are trying to do in the near future is to build their own long baseline station to give much higher resolution, such that they can get localisation on bursts which don't repeat, and do better follow up.
I think astronomers often make it worse. I mean, we like thinking about why things are actually aliens as much as anyone else (LGM1 was already mentioned), and while we mostly try to restrain ourselves, every now and again a famous astronomer breaks and lets out a paper about it.
(Of course, you could say that everyone's ceasing to exist, here, because your rules of what counts as a person and what's their copy applies to everyone. But please realize that, from the point of view of those who think having a copy survive is better than all of them dying, and is partial survival in some sense, that being simulated is a form of winning, even if you think both the person and the copy are deluding themselves.)
(Though I do wonder how you go about the day without having a nervous breakdown, given that your evolving state is probably quantized, or at least sliceable, meaning there's no great physical difference between your pattern shifting from one [smallfractionofa]second to the next, destroying the old one and replacing it with a new one, and your old pattern being destroyed and replaced somewhere else. It's not like your past self is aware of your future copy in normal life, either!)
(I'm not saying you're wrong; just that the situation is a lot worse than you think it is, and that we should all be living (and repeatedly dying) in absolute existential terror.)
Of course, one could argue that me having a past is a complete illusion anyway, as I am just some atoms.
Flu-like symptoms are probably just an unfortunate side effect. Things break during updates, it's an unfortunate fact of life. Maybe when a critical mass of people accept the update, they'll start building a giant transmitter for FRB's to let the sender know that the update was accepted.
I'm sure others have written more, and more intelligent things, but my general thinking about panspermia is:
- it seems like a universal rule there are more small things than large things
- there are more small red stars than stars like our sun
- there should probably be more brown dwarfs than small stars
- there are more small planets than large ones
- planets can and do form without stars
- planets should outnumber stars, and planets without stars should outnumber planets with stars
- there are probably more oceans below the surface of objects in our solar system than on the surface
- the universe existed for a long time before the solar system
...so it kind of seems intuitive to me that life should have developed underground where there's warmth from radioactivity and water, on countless free floating planets over billions of years and occasionally one of those gets blown to bits and something like that seeded our unusual planet.
...and it doesn't seem entirely implausible to me that there should be so much biological material in space that we get a certain amount all the time like micrometeoroids.
I sort of regret not picking it; it's too funny. I'll definitely be reading it when whoever got it's done.
All his stories are listed here, whether they be published on his website or elsewhere:
It's kind of hypocritical to use nod-wink-aliens-clickbait to drum up media attention, then ridicule the first rube who asks if aliens could possibly be involved.
Also agree that it would make sense to replace the link with the actual paper, or an article about it. University press releases are mostly there to play up their own contribution.
That's why I always ridicule the mars colonization and alien contact scifi fanbois on HN, who actually believe in that nonsense.
Here's a question for them. The History channel used to have documentaries, but now it has alien fiction videos. Is that your fault?
I guess he probably didn't talk about this because of the press embargo though.
Try finding the RSS feed of the channel and adding it to Antennapod, but I am not sure it will work
...unfortunately, it's not a podcast RSS format, so there's no way to load it into Podkicker.
In AntennaPod, it'll subscribe, but won't download or play the episodes...
I'm not super involved on the FRB side of CHIME, so I'm not 100% clear what is public and what isn't. But you can an idea from public info around the internet. I think the last total number made public was over 700 in March this year, and the previous one 30 in October 2018 (https://aasnova.org/2020/03/13/chime-detects-even-more-repea...).
In fact, when the first pulsar was discovered, it was (somewhat jokingly) called LGM-1 for "little green men".
I'm sure the news hype cycle will come up with similar ideas this time, and I'm just as sure that we'll find a perfectly reasonable explanation not involving intelligent, extraterrestrial life forms.
"Greetings from ___." "Oh, hello... uhh, so those signals were your house and not a trefoil of two black holes and a quasar?
Also, if an alien happens to be shining a beam at us rhythmically, that's also "explained" by physics but we won't actually know if the source is a natural phenomena or an alien shining his super flashlight at us.
And it may not actually perfectly explainable ever. Nothing guarantees we can get a perfect understanding of physics.
We can worry about whether it's explainable by 21st century human physics when that stops being true.
 Although there is evidence very weird things have happened on Earth, like the recent confirmation that the US Navy UFO videos are genuine.
Mick West's full playlist with explanations:
An article mentioning Mick West:
People's intuitive maps don't tend to distinguish greatly between the plausibility of sapient suns and the plausibility of sapient aliens.
Ironically in 1948 when FM was standardized and countries were assigned spectrums Germany wasn’t really invited as it wasn’t a state for that short period and wasn’t assigned a spectrum so they started broadcasting in VHF because that wasn’t covered by the Copenhagen Agreement.
A few years later people realized that VHF was supper efficient for FM unlike AM and (W)Germany ended up holding all the cards.
This is why (primarily older) VHF FM radio compatible receivers in Europe will have UKW FM or UKW option in the turner which stands for Ultrakurzwelle (Ultra short wave) that was before UHF was standardized above the VHF spectrum.
More than once
In other words, the things we see as negative might not bother aliens much, if they mostly indicate we might destroy ourselves.
Same thing with UFOs, despite the fact that there's been decades of R&D into weaponizing and developing novel UAVs.
If it's powerful enough to be seen 500 million ly away, one of the two orbiting objects is going to be a black hole.
I don't think either needs to be a black hole though. What I consider the most plausible candidate for emission is probably magnetars (i.e. neutron stars with extremely strong magnetic fields), and there's no reason the companion would need to be a black hole either, you just need a companion that gives a 16 day orbit and that's very easy to do with another star or neutron star.
This galactic magnetar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SGR_1806%E2%88%9220) affected the Earth's atmosphere.
Just how luminous can an extra-galactic one be? Is the FRB an axial emission?
You can imagine other cyclical processes, but I don't know any are realistic.
I realize there is most likely an explanation that doesn’t require intelligent alien life, but that screams Dark Forest Theory.
Which books, if I may ask?
2) You start by explaining the encoding first, before sending coordinates, maybe by establishing X and Y axes as well as compass direction based on “landmarks” that should be visible from the receiver.
That’s the first thing that came to my mind at least.
This article describes a source that seems to start and stop at regular intervals of several days (much longer than any known pulsar's rotational period) but within the active intervals, the bursts appear to be random. That suggests a more complex mechanism is at work.
xx xxx xxxxx xxxxxxx
So they just go around and around, including the light, from the point of view of a far away perspective
As a method to communicate with people you don’t know exist, it’s not very good because chances are they won’t be viewing your satellites edge on. For people you know are there, it’s needlessly complicated and expensive.
If you’re going to go to the trouble, you’d be better off making a Dyson swarm and cloaking your star completely. You’d get energy back and be just as detectable for a civilization that thought to compare visible and IR sources (which some Earth scientists have done, with negative results).
The only exception to this is the Crab pulsar, which is observed to occasionally have "giant pulses" which are 1000s of times brighter than a typical pulse. If you put the a somewhat brighter version of the Crab pulsar in an FRB host galaxy at the low end of the known distances, you might just about be able to see it.
I know the odds of this being life are (literally) astronomically low, but every time I hear news like this, I can't help hoping there's another species out there that found the will & the way to reach out.
I wonder if we're all destined to stay within our own solar systems due to the light speed barrier, or if we'll ever figure out how to do FTL or bend space. It's frustrating that we can't seem to break out of our tiny bubble.
Maybe there is a prime directive that has nothing to do with a species achieving warp, but instead attempts to see if a species can work together on a planetary scale to tackle disease, hunger, energy, climate...etc? If so, we're doing a poor job, but are making progress.
Don't known much about astronomy, but day as a unit of time is just a constant specific to our particular solar system. I guess a function of the sizes of the sun and the planets here. There should be nothing special about it. To think that 500M light years away there is something that has similar time proportions to be observed here as periodic is amazing by itself.
So the period is neither an integer multiple of days, nor exactly the same each time. There's some small variance involved - about 1%.
It is a high-risk low-reward strategy.
It should be a stronghold, just for comms, fully expendable, probably with no information in any local hard/soft/wetware about where they actually reside.
If we answer, we would be probably be talking to "a phone tapped to another phone"
in the data stream, sure, but the underlying data framing would probably still have very strong patterns as compared to true noise
My pet theory for a while has been that they use point-to-point communications (lasers), rather than wasteful omnidirectional radio waves, so that you have to get very lucky in order to eavesdrop on them.
How are they able to know how far it's coming from?
I wonder how these aliens manage to work only for 4 days and then rest for almost 2 whole weeks. They must be quite advanced.
Or some kind of giant vessel arriving to a close star.
Could be no luck at all too.
And even if there was, we don't understand the mechanism behind FRBs, so we wouldn't necessarily be able to distinguish a Doppler shift from some other effect that caused the frequency to change.
Yes, you know what it is. :D
This paper was submitted to Nature as it would be fairly high profile, and Nature does now allow you to put in on the arXiv at submission, which was done in January. Since then it has been going through peer review, and being queued up to get published in the journal which finally happened on June 17th. However, during that whole time there is a press embargo. So although you may have seen it back in January, that was because a few outlets picked it up by scanning the arXiv themselves, and no one within the collaboration has been allowed to talk about it to the press, and no universities to publicise it in the intervening time. That embargo has presumably just been lifted which is why this is all coming out now.
Because of the embargo you wouldn't have seen quotes and comments from people involved in the initial coverage back in January, and even if I'd noticed it getting posted to HN back in January I would have not been allowed to comment on it like I'm doing now.
So, it's aliens. what would they possible be communicating?
What kind of information would actually matter to communicate over 500 million light years?
I bet it would be: a way to reply
I wouldn't bother to try to send intructions for them - us - to build another 500 million light-year capable transmitter,
But maybe, just maybe, they could be sending information for making us able to build a wormhole.
A we'd know where the other extreme would be located, so we "just" need to build one and point it to them.