Extragalactic communications: so, what’s the problem, exactly?

14 Mar 2023

Despite the fact that we don’t know if extraterrestrial intelligent beings even exist, we know some important problems in communicating with them. The huge distance that probably separates us from them is the first and perhaps the main problem. Or is it? Let’s discuss some cool ideas.

The great distance of extraterrestrial beings casts doubt on the very notion of their existence. It means nothing to us, nothing at all, that some alien life form exists in the Greater Andromeda Galaxy, now, at this moment, if we have no information about them.

Or take the reverse example. Until the information reaches us that the Sun has disappeared, it exists for us. If the Sun were to disintegrate at this very moment and stop shining, it would exist for us for the next 8.5 minutes, as it takes the sun’s rays to reach us. We would sunbathe for 8.5 minutes and maybe even get burned by radiation from a body that doesn’t exist.

Let’s say that the folk from the Andromeda Galaxy are writing us a message now. It will reach us in about 2.5 million years, if it goes at the speed of light. It takes a total of five million years to become aware of each other and exchange the first messages.

But precisely the fact that we know nothing concrete about possible alien life forms and the problem of communication with them gives us the freedom to assume some solutions, and to conclude that the huge distance may not necessarily be an insurmountable problem. In fact, it might not be a problem at all.

If we think like that, maybe a period of five million years to exchange information with the aliens is not long. For example, we are interested in data on dark matter and dark energy. These are the most important questions of science, but in communication with the aliens they do not make any sense, because we will find the answer to those questions ourselves before the answer arrives from another planet.

These are such important questions that we cannot solve them in a short time. Perhaps it would be a matter of the collision of our two galaxies. That event is coming to us in about 4.5 billion years, and by that time we could exchange 900 messages with the neighbors from far away.

It might be good to point out that perhaps the right of property is an entirely meaningless concept of social relations for the aliens.

Our two galaxies will merge into one and it would be good to settle the rights issues. It would be good to decide who will be responsible for what, who is allowed to do what, without endangering other inhabitants of the new galaxy. Some boundaries and areas for further exploration and settlement should be determined.

Or, which is probably more realistic, how to deal with the problem of massive black holes, star explosions and how to use all this for the further development of all the inhabitants of the galaxy. Of course, it is also important to determine what “further development” means in general. We shall wait and see.