Man’s knowledge is like a circle, the inside of the circle is known, the outside is unknown. The more you know, the bigger the circle, and the more you don’t know. This phrase, written by the ancient Greek philosopher Zeno, still applies today. In just a few centuries, there has been a major paradigm shift in the field of astronomy, and the human understanding of the universe has deepened, but in fact it is still beyond the scope of human understanding.
On April 28, 2020, China’s “Sky eye”, the 500-meter spherical radio telescope (Five-per-meter-meter Aperture Telescope,FAST), officially opened the search for extraterrestrial civilizations. 30, the FAST telescope discovered for the first time a new rapid radio storm about 8.5 billion light-years from Earth.
However, whether “Sky Eye” can find aliens, fast radio storms exactly what kind of signal, is still a mystery.
China’s “Sky eyes”
To understand the vastness of the universe, tools must be used.
In 1931, at the famous Bell Laboratory in the United States, Karl Guthe Jansky, a radio engineer specializing in searching for and identifying telephone interference signals, discovered a radio interference that would occur every 23 hours, 56 minutes and 04 seconds.
The following year, Karl Guthe Jansky wrote in an article that the interference signal was radio radiation from the Milky Way, which led to a new era in the study of celestial bodies using radio waves, and the birth of radio telescope, one of the most important tools in astronomy.
However, unlike the usual telescopes used for concert-chasing, radio telescopes look like a giant pot.
Specifically, radio telescopes can be used to observe and study radio waves from celestial bodies, including the collection of radio waves of directional antennas, high-sensitivity receivers to amplify radio signals, information recording, processing and display systems, etc., to measure the intensity, spectrum and polarization equivalents of celestial radio.
It is worth mentioning that the “four great discoveries” in astronomy in the 1960s – pulsars, quasars, cosmic microwave background radiation, and interstellar organic molecules — are all associated with radio telescopes.
In 1993, at the International Union for Radio Science conference in Tokyo, astronomers from 10 countries, including China, proposed the construction of a new generation of radio telescopes in the hope of harvesting more e-signals before the global telecommunications environment deteriorates to an unmanageable level.
The concept of FAST engineering was introduced in 1994. However, given the huge financial resources and the vast amount of scientific research, the construction of radio telescopes is no easy task:
In 2001, FAST pre-research as the first batch of “innovative engineering major projects” project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences;
In July 2007, the National Development and Reform Commission approved the proposal for national major scientific and technological infrastructure for the 500-meter spherical radio telescope, and agreed to include the FAST project in the national high-tech industrial development project plan, which entered the feasibility study phase;
In March 2011, the FAST project start report was approved, and the preliminary design and estimate of the project was approved by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Guizhou Provincial People’s Government;
On July 3, 2016, the FAST main project in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province was successfully completed;
On September 25, 2016, FAST was inaugurated and began receiving electromagnetic waves from the depths of the universe;
On January 11, 2020, FAST successfully passed the national acceptance and put it into operation;
As of March 23, 2020, FAST has identified and certified 114 pulsars;
On April 28, 2020, FAST officially opened the search for extraterrestrial civilizations.
The most accurate clock in the universe
According to Baidu Encyclopedia, this nearly 26-year-old project, construction, officially put into use of China’s “sky eye”, has four major application value:
Extending China’s space measurement and control capabilities from geosynchronous orbits to the outer edge of the solar system will increase the downlink rate of deep space communications data by 100 times.
Increase the accuracy of pulsar arrival time measurement from 120 nanoseconds to 30 nanoseconds, making it the most accurate pulsar timing array in the world.
The weak spatial signal is diagnosed with 1HZ resolution and identifies the weak space signal as a passive strategic radar for national security.
Search for Alien Signals – Dan Werthimer, chief scientist of the US Plan to Search for Aliens (SETI) and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, hopes our researchers will be able to add equipment to FAST to explore extraterrestrial civilizations.
As Kaiming Wang, chief craftsman of fast telescopes, says:
The top of FAST’s scientific goals is the search for pulsars.
Pulsar, literally, is a neutron star that constantly emits electromagnetic pulse signals.
So, what is a neutron star?
In fact, a black hole is a point that has no size but mass, so the density is almost infinite. Neutron stars are the densest stars except black holes. Neutron stars and black holes form in a similar way – when a star is about to die, its core rapidly shrinks, collapses, and explodes powerfully under the influence of its own gravity. It can be seen that neutron stars are as mysterious as black holes.
In October 1967, a 24-year-old female graduate student, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discovered the pulsar PSR1919-21, the first pulsar found in human history, in a laboratory at the University of Cambridge.
It is understood that because the signals sent by pulsars are strictly cyclical, they are considered to be the most accurate clocks in the universe, and because of their mystery, many netizens have added them to the “Cosmic Guinness” category.
As mentioned above, the FAST telescope has now discovered and certified 114 pulsars, and its strength is evident.
Can you find aliens?
It is worth noting that FAST also has an important task – to explore extraterrestrial civilizations.
The National Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said:
In September 2018, Zhang Zhixuan, a Ph.D. student at the National Observatory, worked with Professor Dan Werthimer and Beijing Normal University to test the installation of the high-resolution SETI backend at the FAST site. In July 2019, researchers analyzed and processed drift scanning data, achieved a frequency resolution of 4Hz, and successfully removed most rf interference, sifting out multiple narrow-band candidate signals, laying a solid foundation for opening up the search for extraterrestrial civilizations.
On April 28, 2020, FAST officially opened the search for extraterrestrial civilizations.
However, even if FAST is so powerful, there is no hard evidence to support the existence of aliens around the world, and the search for aliens is likely to be something we can’t witness in our lifetimes.
As Liu Boyang, a master of astrophysics and a master of knowledge, said:
While there is anticipation for fast’s future in the field of searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, it’s all about people, listening to God, and that’s it.
The history of exploring extraterrestrial wisdom dates back to the 1960s:
In 1960, mankind began to receive and analyze various possible radiowaves from space, hoping to find clues about extraterrestrial civilization;
In 1971, NASA called on astronomers to search for SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) signals, and proposed the Telescope Forest project to build a huge array of 1,000 radio telescopes that would use advanced equipment, such as radio telescopes, to receive electromagnetic waves from the universe and analyze regular signals to discover extraterrestrial civilizations;
In 1984, the SETI Institute, a non-profit research organization in California, was established by NASA and the National Science Foundation’s main research contractor;
In 1999, the University of Berkeley launched the “Crowdfunding” Global Idle Computing Force Analysis of Electromagnetic Wave Signals for Alien Search SETI@home, which officially entered hibernation on March 31, 2020.
In addition, Hawking warned in his lifetime that “humans should not actively seek out aliens.”
And regardless of time, money, manpower and other costs or technical level, whether to find aliens, whether aliens will pose a threat to us, is a mystery.
The internet’s narrative is varied, and many netizens agree that the active search for aliens should be cautious – if aliens are well-intentioned species, then there will be a happy ending, but this may be a small probability event, while others are more like the “dark forest” theory in The Three-Body Problem, humans may face not-so-good results.
The universe is exciting energy?
On April 30, 2020, the FAST telescope discovered for the first time a new rapid radio storm about 8.5 billion light-years from Earth.
The National Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said researchers Zhu Wei, Li Wei and others used their own search techniques, combined with deep learning, to quickly search for massive amounts of FAST data and discover new rapid radio storms.
It’s worth noting that this is the first FRB found in a blind search of the FAST telescope. And this happened in the depths of the universe, a fleeting flash, after 8.5 billion years of long journeys, finally arrived on Earth on November 23, 2018.
In fact, fast radio bursts (FRBs) are short, violent bursts of radio waves that suddenly appear in the universe, with extremely short durations that release the same amount of energy as the sun releases throughout the day.
In 2019, Canadian astrophysicist Victoria Kaspi was named Nature’s Top 10 Scientific Person of the Year for discovering FRBs using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Telescope (CHIME), known as the “FRB Hunter”.
For FRBs, it can only be described as “unknown”, but is often thought to be related to extraterrestrial civilizations because humans communicate with radio waves.
It is not difficult to find that whether it is pulsars, aliens, or rapid radio storms, many times only a question mark. After all, in the long river of the universe, we are all just short waves.