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OPTICAL SETI AND THE ARECIBO MYTH

  

H. Paul Shuch

Executive Director

The SETI League, Inc.

PO Box 555,

Little Ferry, NJ 07643

n6tx@setileague.org

 

H. Paul Shuch

Copyright: Stuart Kingsley

 

Abstract

One of the arguments frequently made against conducting an Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (OSETI) deals with the propagation range limitations of optical signals. Example 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 activities in general, and optical SETI in particular.

 

12 Pages


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