THE PROJECT / RESEARCH
The Lighthouse Theory is a temporary name for this Voyager update project. In a nutshell we want to mark our territory. This post is sort of the social connotations and implications of this effort. Before I get into the specifics of the social contextualization, I want to first iterate why this idea of marking our territory is so compelling for us.
Curiosity & Humility
In thinking about why we want to communicate with an alien life form we realized that there is no way to really come up with anything practical. The alien could be in the spectrum of our imagination, but most likely is something outside of that limited bandwidth of the imaginary alien. This forces us to look within at our own Earth and Solar System.
Aside from us not being able to imagine or comprehend what we could be communicating with. There are some humane implications that our group felt were worth considering. The first being that any sort of artifact blasted into space, particularly with contents from our earth (a la KEO and Voyager), could render whatever life form overwhelmed. A literary example would be Ice-Nine in Kurt Vonneguts's Cat's Cradle.
A commonplace example would be the episode of the Simpsons where the Simpsons go to Australia. The last scene in the episode finds a Koala Bear on the plane that carries the Simpsons back to the United States. Subsequently the United States becomes overcome with Koala's.
The inclusion of these examples is to bring up the notion of colonialism. This overwhelming of an element or some other artifact from Earth could damage and possibly hurt the recipient of our message. This is something we do not want as we desire a friendly or at the very least platonic relationship with these aliens. The result is to look within and make our own planet the message.
So, we're not looking to pillage like Western Europe has for the few hundred years. Well not yet at least. However, this message isn't intended to be so egotistical that we get stuck and stare at the pond like Narcissus. The contents of the message is still up in the air, and for the message itself is not as important as making some kind of connection. That is why the driving force behind our idea is curiosity. This is not like the 60's where we were in hot pursuit of the moon to be better than Russia, this is an age of Web 2.0. This collective knowledge is a powerful symbol of humanity and the curiosity that drives this is what our group wants to harness for this project.
So what exactly is it that we're doing? Well we're marking our territory. More specifically, we want to create a lighthouse for the rest of the universe. A beacon stemming from our planet or solar system. We see this in many forms from a dog peeing on a fire hydrant, to pheromones, to the yellow stickers German Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria
This lighthouse describes our marking system the best. Not for its physical qualities, but for the social qualities it happened to exude. The wikipedia article goes into further depth, but here are the main reasons for choosing this marking system.
It was a navigational beacon.
It was a resource silo.
It notified other nations, specifically the Chinese in the 13th century AD, that these lands have been accounted for.
Finally, it was a monument of spectacle.
This is just our first iteration, so the marking system will undoubtedly change. We are currently talking about the feasibility of cosmic background radiation as the practical means of communication. But, figuratively this is the intent of the group.
Cosmic Background Radiation: The Medium
Cosmic Background Radiation is essentially a left over from the cooling of the universe. It originated 400,000 years after the big bang. This was the time of last scattering, which is when the universe had cooled enough that there wasn't enough energy to keep electrons and protons apart. So the universe went from being a plasma to consisting of helium and hydrogen and the areas the were more dense with these kept attracting more and more matter around them and formed the galaxies.
Our instrument of detecting CBR:
The CMB photons scatter off free charges such as electrons that are not bound in atoms. In an ionized universe, such electrons have been liberated from neutral atoms by ionizing (ultraviolet) radiation. Today these free charges are at sufficiently low density in most of the volume of the Universe that they do not measurably affect the CMB. However, if the IGM was ionized at very early times when the universe was still denser, then there are two main effects on the CMB:
1. Small scale anisotropies are erased (just as when looking at an object through fog, details of the object appear fuzzy).
2. The physics of how photons scatter off free electrons (Thomson scattering) induces polarization anisotropies on large angular scales. This large angle polarization is correlated with the large angle temperature perturbation.
So if we can ionize (removing charged particles such as electrons) parts of the CBR around us it will change the ripples (small scale anisotropies) in the areas around our galaxies
There have already been machines built that have been able to do massive scale ionization on earth. This was done in the hopes of being able to control the weather and is called atmospheric ionization.