Carl Sagan wrote the novel ‘contact’ and he is also a notable astronomer as well as a science writer. In his novel, he focuses upon quite a number of astrological issues that are currently creating a lot of controversy. These include; the relationship between religion and science, how non-scientists can be communicated to using scientific findings (Davidson, 1999). Also, he focuses on how extra-terrestrials can be contacted using radio telescopes. For a long time, people have been wondering about life in the other planets. They often view the universe as well as themselves as being quite different. Therefore, they believe that, in the other world, there might be societies, technologies, and even biologics, which are all exotic. Also, mankind believes that aliens exist, and this is not science fiction, as people are meant to believe (Davidson, 1999). On the other hand, Sagan claims that the only way which the extraterrestrials can be viewed is through the use of high-tech radio telescopes. This will provide the answers that human seek to know concerning ‘Is there anybody out there?’.
Many scientists among them being Sagan, are trying to answer the question regarding radio telescopes. They have tried to find out how it can help know more about the Milky Way Galaxy by estimating the advanced technological civilizations that exist through the use of the radio telescopes (Michaud, 2006). The latter refers to the radio astronomy that is residing in the Milky Way Galaxy. It means that quantities like the numbers and ages of stars should be given numerical values. Also, it means estimating the life that exists as well as its origin and the planetary systems abundance. In modern society, many Scientists engaged in heavy arithmetic, in order to come up with results that are conclusive (Michaud, 2006). They have chosen to ignore the use of radio telescopes as it does seem to contact the extraterrestrials in the manner described by Sagan. They have established that in the Galaxy, there are an estimated one million civilizations of a technical nature. The figure is extremely high and one just needs to imagine the commerce, lifestyles and diversity of the galaxy world. In the Galaxy Milky Way, there are more than 250 billion stars (Michaud, 2006).
Radio telescopes are widely used in the search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, but unfortunately, it is extremely expensive. The radio telescopes are usually large satellite dishes that have antennas. This means that scientists use the radio telescope to find radio signals from intelligent civilizations that have beamed earth. It is possible that space would be full of leaked radio waves if other civilizations would beam it. Sagan believes that human beings often leak radio signals even without knowing it. For example, when one opens the door of a garage they have already leaked into space a radio signal. In reality, the use of radio telescopes is quite expensive, due to the vast computational resources that are needed. Davidson (1999) believes that the radio telescope can effectively listen to a wide range of frequencies. Therefore, it can differentiate between noise and an intelligent signal.
In terms of technology, the best available method that can assist in this task is the radio. The latter is quite affordable and radio signals are known to travel faster than anything on earth. This radio is part of a spectrum that is electromagnetic and it does not engage in anthropocentric activities (Michaud, 2006). It means that if there is life in the Galaxy, the radio will discover it instantly. In this modern society, ‘zeta rays’ will be used as an efficient method of communication (Michaud, 2006). For example, the largest radio telescope in the world is known as the ‘Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope’. It has the ability of knowing if alien life exists as it can listen to almost 86 planets that are earth like. Also, in Puerto Rico, there is a radio telescope known as Arecibo and it can observe stars such as the sun. Unfortunately, all the mentioned telescopes have not been able to view any extraterrestrials (Hair, 2011).
There have been developments by scientists trying to find out if Sagan’s claims are true or can be realized. In the year 1959, in West Virginia, the National Radio Observatory made an attempt to use radio signals. The project organizer known as Frank Drake witnessed Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridnai, which were two stars (Burchell, 2006). The results were quite negative, because if one wants to estimate the Galaxy’s civilizations, millions of stars have to be witnessed. The scientist must make use of random stellar selection, which has been proven to be effective. Countries such as the Soviet Union and Canada have also adopted such projects, but none has yielded positive results (Burchell, 2006). In the future, it will be possible to put more effort and witness what seems to be impossible. Small and large radio telescopes have been used in most of the observing projects. Philip Morrison did some work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He found out that it was indeed possible to use radio technology to find out if there were other life forms outside the earth (Burchell, 2006).
If the radio signals could be detected from space, many questions would then be answered by philosophers and scientists. The signal would mean that it is not an unlikely event that life’s origin in space would be known. It would mean that the operation of natural selection would take place and thus, intelligent and complex forms would evolve due to technology (Hair, 2011). Moreover, the technology will not come from our society rather from the other sources. Radio astronomy will not exist in societies that are not as developed as the ones on earth. It will only originate from civilizations that are extremely advanced (Hair, 2011).
There is a chance that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence might not have a positive outcome due to the use of radio telescopes. It means that people would have wasted their time in developing technology that should have been used elsewhere. Since there is a need to establish a transmitting service that is radio powered, society should not be influenced excessively by other factors (Hair, 2011). It is in my opinion that the author Carl Sagan has indeed vital information regarding astronomy through the use of radio telescopes. Therefore, it is vital that scientists develop radio telescopes that can realize Sagan’s dream. In conclusion, if this is done, a final verdict will be found regarding whether the extraterrestrials can be contacted by the radio telescopes. The novel ‘Contact’ by Sagan is valid in matters that concern radio telescopes as even to date, scientists use advanced models to contact extraterrestrials.
Burchell, M. (2006). ‘Wither the Drake Equation” International Journal of Astrobiology, 5, 3, 243-250.
Davidson, Keay. (1999). Carl Sagan: A Life. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Hair, Thomas. (2011). “Temporal dispersion of the Emergence of Intelligence: An Inter-arrival Time Analysis”. International Journal of Astrobiology, 10, 2, 131-135.
Michaud, Michael. (2006). Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fear about Encountering Extraterrestrials. New York: Copernicus Books.
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