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Response to G_j (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 08:32 PM

25. Outside a relatively small distance from us, They don't love Lucy

While it’s interesting to imagine how far our radio signals have traveled into space, it’s extremely unlikely that an alien civilization will be able to catch the latest episode of ‘I Love Lucy’. This is thanks to the inverse square law. In Layman’s term, it’s a form of signal degradation.

As radio signals leave earth, they propagate out in a wave form. Just like dropping a stone in a lake, the waves diffuse or “spread out” over distance thanks to the exponentially larger area they must encompass. The area can be calculated by multiplying length times width which is why we measure it in square units – square centimeters, square miles, etc. This means that the further away from the source, the more square units of area a signal has to ‘illuminate’.

Another way to think of it, is that the strength of a radio signal will be only 1/4 as great once you are twice the distance from the source. At ten times the distance, the strength of the signal would only be one hundredth as great.



Because of this inverse square law, all of our terrestrial radio signals become indistinguishable from background noise at around a few light-years from earth. For a civilization only a couple hundred light-years away, trying to listen to our broadcasts would be like trying to detect the small ripple from a pebble dropped in the pacific ocean off the coast of California – from Japan.

http://zidbits.com/2011/07/how-far-have-radio-signals-traveled-from-earth/


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