24 June 1996 Optical SETI and the Arecibo myth
Author Affiliations +
One of the arguments frequently made against conducting an optical search for extra-terrestrial intelligence deals with the propagation range limitations of optical signals. Examples abound, dating back to the Cyclops report, which show microwave signals to be easily capable of trans-Galactic communications, whereas optical signals reputedly are not. Could proponents of microwave SETI have perhaps overstated the capabilities of their systems, and unwittingly stifled the development of optical techniques in the process? The author, a strong supporter of microwave SETI, concedes the possibility. He reviews the assertion that Arecibo (Earth's largest radiotelescope) would be able to detect its theoretical twin across the Galaxy. This paper challenges the veracity of that widely held belief, through detailed range calculations. It traces the propagation of what the author calls the Arecibo Myth, and explores its impact upon public perceptions as to the validity of SETI acitivites in general, and optical SETI in particular.
© (1996) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
H. Paul Shuch, "Optical SETI and the Arecibo myth", Proc. SPIE 2704, The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in the Optical Spectrum II, (24 June 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.243447; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.243447

Back to Top