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Is Humanity Unusual In The Cosmos?

Adam Frank: With the discovery of so many exoplanets, astronomers will now be spending a lot of time staring at these other worlds in many different wavelengths of light (not just radio). This is how they hope to find bio-signatures. But what about techno-signatures? Avi Loeb and Manasvi Lingam have explored a number of different ways we might find markers of another civilization. What, for example, would be the consequences of a civilization covering large portions of its planet in solar cells to generate power? Lingam and Loeb have shown that light reflected from such a planet would carry a “signal” of all that silicon on the planet’s surface, making it an intriguing example of a techno-signature. Over the past couple weeks, I had a chance to ask Loeb some questions about what we should be thinking about when we consider exo-civilizations.

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