Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?

Clément Vidal, author of a new paper about astrophysics and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, poses an interesting question about pulsars:

To emphasize the significance of this research program, imagine that we would find around Mars’ orbit well-distributed timekeeping devices with a precision comparable to atomic clocks, beaming timing information that can be used as a “Mars Positioning System”, just like GPS. Wouldn’t we be compelled to explore the hypothesis that extraterrestrial intelligence is at play? This is exactly the current situation with millisecond pulsars, but on a galactic scale.

In the view of the author, pulsars could not only be used as a navigation system but are also sufficiently good clocks that they could be used to synchronize the work of a civilization.


(Astrophysical vs. Terrestrial clocks)

First, all pulsars could be perfectly natural, but we can reasonably expect that civilizations in the galaxy will use them as standards (section 6). By studying and using XNAV, we are also getting potentially ready to receive and send messages to extraterrestrial intelligence in a galactically meaningful way. From now on, we might be able to decipher a first level of timing and positioning metadata in any galactic communication. We made a first risk-benefit analysis of asking permission to use PPS, but this largely remains to be debated.

Second, what remains uncertain is whether the pulsar positioning system is natural or artificial. We put forward the SETI-XNAV quest to answer this issue. It draws on pulsar astronomy, and navigation and positioning science to make SETI predictions. This concrete project is grounded in a universal problem and need: navigation. Decades of pulsar empirical data is available, and I have proposed 9 lines of inquiry to start the endeavor (section 5). These include predictions regarding the spatial and power distribution of pulsars in the galaxy, their population, their evolutionary tracks, possible synchronization between pulsars, testing the navigability near the speed of light, decoding galactic coordinates, testing various directed panspermia hypotheses, as well as decoding metadata or more information in pulsar’s pulses.

As far as I know, the earliest reference to this idea is in George O. Smith's 1952 story Troubled Star; he described a space beacon.

In his paper, Vidal states that by observing three or more pulsars, a position can be determined.


(A fix requires at least 3 pulsars)

In his 1959 short story The Repairman, Harry Harrison wrote about automated hyperspace beacons placed at ideal locations on lonely planets, as well as the number of beacons needed to determine one's position in the galaxy:

The first ships to enter hyperspace had no place to go - and no way to tell if they had even moved. The beacons solved that problem and opened up the entire universe. They are built on planets and generate tremendous amounts of power...

For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix. For long jumps, navigators use up to seven or eight. So every beacon is important and every one has to keep operating...
(Read more about Harry Harrison's hyperspace beacons)

Via Pulsar Positioning System: A quest for evidence of extraterrestrial engineering. Thanks to Winchell Chung (@nyrath) and Adam Crowl (@qraal)

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/30/2017)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.' - Harry Harrison, 1959.

Are Observed Radio Bursts An Alien Propulsion Technology?
'These cones were driven through space by light pressure, the possibilities of which force they had long utilized.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1929.

Caltech's ET Laboratory Looks For New Earths
'...set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching for a habitable planet.'- Edmond Hamilton, 1936.

Shh! USAF's Secret X-37B Space Plane Breaks Record
'More airplane than spaceship...' - Robert Heinlein, 1951.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Cattle Avoidance Feature In Indian Autonomous Cars
'The driver went about the business of gently slipping the teflon-coated metal scoop beneath the first animal...'

Project KOVR Fashion Protection From Infosphere
'... the entire shroudlike membrane took on whatever physical characteristics were projected at any nanosecond.'

Twist Bioscience High Density Digital Data On DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!'

'We're Not Creating A Terminator' Say Russians About Gun-Wielding Robot Fedor
Nobody is thinking about the Terminator. Westworld, maybe.

Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now that’s ninety-nine percent absorptive...'

Mercedes-Benz Autonomous Taxi Fleet In 3 Years
'... the taxi utilized sophisticated electronic sensors to perceive its surroundings.'

Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

Someday, You Might Like VR Enough To Move In
'That barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'

Humans Use Mental Power For Turtle Slavery
Now we need to start looking for animals with fingers...

Solar-Powered Moisture Vaporator
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'

DxtER! Tricorder Prize Won By Final Frontier Medical Devices
We've been waiting a long time for this, Star Trek fans.

President Trump's Wall As Otra Nation Hyperloop
'...an hollow tube must be constructed the whole distance... as to admit a four wheeled carriage...'

Pickup Lines From Artificial Intelligences
'They hate us, you know... The humans. They'll stop at nothing.'

Pooper Scooper Drone Robot Watchdog 1
'Robots pick up the garbage and junk...'

Cassie Robot Brings AT-ST Walker To Life
There's even a log test!

Hundreds Of Robot Lawnmowers Invade Texas Town
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.