Deep down, we know the Intergalactic Federation of Alien Races is waiting to make contact with us. Surely, pointing a giant laser into space and telling them we come in peace is a good idea.
Really, it is. Because the group of Scottish scientists building this laser don’t intend to obliterate any peaceful planets like the Death Star did.
Instead, it’ll be used to interpret light from distant galaxies in more detail. "Hundreds of planets have already been found but this will give us an even more distant reach,” said Professor Derryck Reid, head of optics and photonics technology at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.
The cost to go boldly where no man has gone before, from Earth, is a mere £250,000 grant to build the laser and mount it on the £1 billion (S$2.1 billion) European Extremely Large Telescope. Yes, they did have a lot of fun with that name.
Current astronomical equipment detects Jupiter-sized planets through the wobble in light waves, but the laser by the Heriot-Watt team is so sensitive, it’ll theoretically be able to detect life-supporting planets similar to or smaller than Earth. In short, the chances of finding intelligent life among the stars will increase tremendously.
Time to brush up on the universal greeting language.