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E.T.’s TV

Gliese 581g and the other inner planets of the Gliese 581 system (credit: NASA)
Gliese 581g and the other inner planets of the Gliese 581 system (credit: NASA)
A newly discovered Earth-size planet may be capable of sustaining life. The planet, known as Gliese 581g, is 20 light years away from Earth, and is the first Earth-like planet to be found in a star’s region where a planet’s temperature can sustain liquid water on its surface (i.e. its habitable zone). The planet’s discoverers believe the chances of finding life on Gliese 581g are good. If the planet does contain life, and this life is intelligent, then what programming might these residents be seeing on their televisions?

Radio and television signals travel at the speed of light. With Gliese 581g being 20 light years away from Earth, our radio and television transmissions from 20 years ago are just reaching the planet. This means that extraterrestrials could be watching the Arsenio Hall Show and Cheers, or listening to Sinead O’Connor and Bell Biv Devoe.

Orbit of Gliese 581g compared to our solar system (credit: NASA)
Orbit of Gliese 581g compared to our solar system (credit: NASA)
This assumes, however, that the inhabitants of Gliese 581g have the technology to receive and interpret Earth’s signals. So could Earthlings watch 20-year-old TV from an alien planet like Gliese 581g? Again, it comes down to technology. SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is an organization on Earth searching for incoming signals from other planets. Seth Shostak, SETI senior astronomer, told Fox News, “In order to understand anything that E.T. might be saying to us, we’ll have to build far larger instruments to look for the modulation of his signal.”

If residents of Gliese 581g are able to watch our decades-old television shows, let’s hope they have a sense of humor when watching reruns of shows like Alf and Mork and Mindy . . .

Jason McClellan

Jason McClellan is a UFO journalist and the producer/co-host of the web series Spacing Out! He is also the web content manager and staff writer for OpenMinds.tv, and a co-organizer and technical producer of the International UFO Congress. As a founding member of Open Minds, Jason served as a writer and editor for the now defunct Open Minds magazine. He has appeared on Syfy, NatGeo, and, most recently, he co-starred on H2's Hangar 1: The UFO Files. ------ Follow Jason on Twitter @acecentric and subscribe to Jason's updates on Facebook.

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One Comment

  1. If “they” are watching our tv broadcasts, they’ll probably study them to try and figure out what the hell is wrong with us. If they have any answers i hope they’ll share them with us.

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