Feeds

Astrobioboffins seek funds to search for ALIEN HAIRSPRAY

If a planet has CFCs, it likely has intelligent life

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Asteroid's SHOCK DINO MURDER SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
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.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.