Feeds

Astrobioboffins seek funds to search for ALIEN HAIRSPRAY

If a planet has CFCs, it likely has intelligent life

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

Forget searching for radio-frequency signal patterns or exoplanetary megastructures. The new hotness in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence is the detection of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the ozone-eating greenhouse gasses formerly found in refrigerators and cans of hair spray.

"Detecting alien 'hair spray' in the atmosphere of an exoplanet would be a strong signal for intelligent life existing on the surface," writes the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science in its plea for private funding on the science-research community website, Petridish.

The reason for the BMSIS's eagerness to search for exoplanetary CFCs is simplicity itself. "There are no known natural process that can create chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere," they write, "which makes them a great candidate as 'biosignature'."

Biosignature is bioboffinary lingo for any sign of life – and for astrobioboffins it means anything that can be detected out there in the cosmos that could indicate past or present life on another planet. Such as CFCs.

Specifically, the folks at BMSIS believe that an advanced alien civilization may have used the radiative-forcing powers of greenhouse-gas CFCs to terraform a planet.

For example, let's say we puny humans someday decide that Mars would be a nice place to live, but that it's uncomfortably cold. Well, we could pump shedloads of CFCs into its atmosphere, their greenhouse effect would trap the sun's heat much as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are currently doing here on our own planet, and presto: in no time at all, Gale crater would be as warm as Miami.

Well, maybe it's not quite that simple, but you get our point.

The BMSISers postulate that a planet-hopping alien civilization may have worked just that magic on an otherwise uninhabitable orb, and due to the distinct light-wavelength absorption qualities of CFCs, such terraforming gas should be detectable from our perch here on Earth.

There are certainly enough exoplanets to test for CFCs. As of this Tuesday, the count on Exoplanet.eu sits at 852 planets in 671 planetary systems. Should one of them be found to have CFCs in its atmosphere, there's a decent chance that someone – or something – put it there.

Or, perhaps, that planet is populated by an alien race fond of 1960's bouffant hair styles. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Would it be BAD if the Amazon rainforest was all FARMS? Well it WAS, once
Used to be all fields round here: Jungle tribesman saying
'BIGGEST BIRD EVER': 21-foot ripsaw-beaked flying HORROR
Fossil avian cruised above sea like toothy ekranoplan
Help us out readers: How would you sniff and store network traffic?
Phase two of our deep desert project needs your wisdom
Boffins urge European Commission to reboot electric brain project
Billion-Euro simulated mind project criticised for narrow thinking
Going up: Fancy a virtual flight to 30km above the PLANET?
Space boffin rattles tin for immersive Oculus Rift experience
In space no one can hear you scream, but Voyager 1 can hear A ROAR
Boffins now very, very, sure craft is in interstellar space, and it's picking up 'sounds'
Cranial RAM cram plan aims to restore memory
DARPA wants to help those with brain disease or injury
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization
Virtualization continues to be one of the most effective ways to consolidate, reduce cost, and make data centers more efficient.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.