Thursday, August 06, 2015

Creating a Germanium Flare

This post is a follow-up to the one at that had argued that emission spectral lines of heavy elements are especially attractive for interstellar signalling.

Let us consider further the experiment of sending a few tons of a heavy element such as germanium to fall into the solar atmosphere; I use the term “heavy element” to refer to elements that are not synthesized in stars. We would not need to use high purity Germanium, even 90% purity may be sufficient for this purpose. We would need to study the dynamics of the inserted material in the chromosphere. How much energy will it release in specific spectral bands as narrow as individual spectral lines? What would be the time constants of the energy release? What will be the signal to noise ratio that a remote observer would have to work with, to detect the event? What will be the extent of broadening of the spectral lines due to the temperature in the chromosphere?  These are interesting scientific questions.

Then there is the usual SF question: would we be sending out with a germanium flare a signal that we exist, and possibly attract a violent reaction from some advanced civilization? An option would be to send a smaller package of Germanium to fall into the Sun’s atmosphere – big enough to give us answers to our scientific questions and yet too small to be noticed at interstellar distances. A small package would also be more affordable; a ton of germanium probably would probably cost a million dollars or more!

A possibility that terrifies me is that no other civilization exists that we could communicate with; and, that we are all alone.

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