Ancient Alien Probes and the Breakthrough Starshot Proposal

The Breakthrough Starshot  proposal from Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner got me to think about ancient alien probes again. Their proposal adds a twist to my earlier thoughts.

I’ve listed the ancient alien probe blog posts I did earlier at the bottom of this post.

Hawking, Milner and their collaborators have proposed a plan to send probes to visit nearby star systems.

Their proposal is to build a multitude of centimeter sized probes with meter sized light sails, which would be accelerated to 20% the speed of light by huge lasers. This would allow them to reach the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, in about 20 years.

One of the research goals is to develop the technology to build useful probes that are a thin wafer about 1 or 2 centimeters in size. While this is a big challenge, they point out that smart phones already have similar capabilities and the basic components are almost that small.

When I’ve thought of alien probes in the past, I’ve always envisioned them as similar to the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey”. It’s my favorite movie, so that influenced my thoughts. I assumed the probe would be of a similar size, something on the order of 3 to 4 meters.

The Starshot proposal made me realize that alien probes could well be no more than a few centimeters tall. A probe that small wouldn’t look very impressive, unless you are an ant.

It is quite realistic to search for a 4 meter tall probe. Large parts of the Moon and Mars have already been photographed in sufficient detail to spot something that large. However, a search for a 4 centimeter tall probe is far beyond what we are currently capable of.

A failure to find an alien probe with our current technology would not prove that there are no alien probes in the solar system.

Some other posts on Ancient Alien Probes:

“Felix” and The Ancient Astronauts

If There Really Were Ancient Astronauts, What Kind of Evidence Would We Find?

Why Would Ancient Astronauts Visit Earth?

Do Ancient Alien Probes Watch Earth?

A Brief Thought About the Fermi Paradox

Ancient Alien Visitations: Show Me the Garbage

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