It’s hard for humans to listen to potential aliens

A leading researcher in the field of astronomy known as SETI, or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Dan Werthimer’s work involves scanning the universe with huge ground-based radio telescopes to look for strange or unexplained signals that may have originated from alien civilizations.

But in recent years, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has become more complex. Increasing demands on mobile phone services and wireless internet have congested the radio spectrum, creating interference that can distort data and add “noise” to scientific findings.

“The Earth is getting more and more polluted,” said Wertheimer, chief technologist at Berkeley City Research Center. “With some radio bands, it’s actually impossible to use SETI because it’s so full of TV transmitters, WiFI networks, and mobile phone bands.”

In essence, SETI research aims to answer the question: Are we alone in the universe? Wertheimer said that in the decades since scientists first began listening to space signals, improvements in telescope technology and data processing have bolstered the research.

Werthimer was recently one of the authors of a Prepress study led by Chinese researchers which identified a radio signal that several news outlets erroneously reported as having strange civilization characteristics. Wertheimer explained that the signal was found to be radio interference.

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Unidentified flying objects could be a military aircraft from here, or a foreign country. But it’s rare for the Department of Defense to come out and say it can’t determine something. LX News spoke to Luis Elizondo, former head of the Pentagon’s Advanced Space Threat Identification Program, for more context.

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