Feeds

UK boffins are going on an alien hunt

Going to catch a big one...

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Physicists have been hearing this afternoon about attempts by UK astronomers to find evidence of alien life - buried in over 2000 hours of archived telescope data.

A group of researchers at Leeds University re-examined images collected by the Whipple Cherenkov telescope in Arizona, and presented the results at The Insititute of Physics conference, Nuclear and Particle Physics Conference at the University of Surrey.

Whipple is used primarily for detecting high energy gamma rays, but is also useful for spotting the kind of optical signal that could be used to identify alien civilisations, the researchers say.

Dr Joachim Rose at Leeds University said: “The Whipple telescope has an ultra high-speed camera to record faint flashes of light from cosmic rays and from high-energy gamma rays entering the Earth’s atmosphere. There are 20 to 30 naturally occurring light flashes recorded every second. A few unusual images from extraterrestrial’s signals would be easy to miss as the analysis software normally rejects anything that it doesn't expect.

"On average we see such an unusual flash every six hours when pointing in the direction of one of these candidate stars. However, this is comparable to the rate of similar flashes in other regions of the sky where there is no candidate star.

The team has examined more than 2000 hours of telescope data from the archives, and it isn't letting anything as boring as a lack of solid results get in its way. Dr Stella Bradbury, who also works on the project, quotes astronomer Frank Drake: “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.

She continues: ”So far only a minute fraction of the sky has been searched and arrays of telescopes can carry out much more sensitive searches than a single telescope”. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Who wants to be there as history is made at the launch of our LOHAN space project?
Two places available in the chase plane above the desert
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.