(Inverse) Scientists have spent years hunting for alien life by listening in on the radio signals that bombard our planet from outer space to see if they can detect transmissions beamed using extraterrestrial technology. But this search method has a flaw: What if a highly developed alien civilization has figured out a way to communicate in encrypted code using particles of light instead of light?
Quantum communication uses the properties of quantum physics to relay encrypted messages from point A to point B.
This is a technology that aliens may have already conquered.
Ravi Kopparapu, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, explains to Inverse that scientists typically look for signs of alien technology based on what we have right now on Earth. As quantum communication becomes increasingly sophisticated here on Earth, it would be a good one to add to the arsenal, he says.
“I would say it’s a good way to communicate and send a lot of information to another civilization,” Kopparapu says. “So it’s an interesting idea to propose.”
What’s new — The idea is essentially to create a new focus for a so-called “quantum SETI.”
The modern search for extraterrestrial life has focused on detecting technosignatures from foreign worlds. SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) is a series of interrelated programs looking for intelligent life beyond our solar system. Scientists may want to add signals of quantum communication to their list of so-called “technosignatures” — the signals that reveal technology must be at play.
“I argue that future searches should also target quantum communications,” Michael Hippke, a researcher at Sonneberg Observatory and lead scientist of the new research, writes in the preprint. “They are preferred over classical communications with regards to security and information efficiency, and they would have escaped detection in all previous searches.”