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Center for World’s Largest Single-Dish Radio Telescope

Article by Li Yan                            April 14, 2020                           (ecns.cn)

• China’s ‘National Development and Reform Commission’ has approved a feasibility study for a data processing center to support the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope in the Guizhou Province. Experts believe the massive radio telescope will significantly improve the study of the universe, including the discovery of extraterrestrial life.

• The $24.14 million center for ‘China Sky Eye’, which will technically support the “FAST” radio telescope, contains a scientific research and data processing center to facilitate observation, scientific research, and data storage. The center will facilitate the calculation of the enormous amount of data generated by the telescope.

• Senior technology expert Xiang Ligang said that data is constantly being produced from the telescope and is then stored and analyzed, including information about the births and deaths of planets and extraterrestrial life. Says Xiang, “Recording both pulsar and hydrogen data streams requires a massive process of information collection, storage and analysis. The establishment of the center will undoubtedly play an important role in information screening and discovery, and help produce more discoveries and research results in the study of the universe.”

• FAST has already accumulated a total of 1,000 hours of observation time, one-third of its entire mission for this year. It has detected and certified 114 pulsars (ie: stars or other celestial bodies that emit radio wave pulses). In the next three to five years, the FAST telescope and processing center will likely lead to breakthroughs in low-frequency gravitational wave detection, the origins of rapid radio bursts and interstellar molecules.

 

A feasibility report for the FAST scientific research and data processing center, to be built in Guizhou Province, has been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission.

Experts believe the center will significantly improve the study of the universe — including the discovery of extraterrestrial life.

With a total investment of roughly 170 million yuan ($24.14 million), the center for China Sky Eye, the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope known as FAST, will facilitate three scientific research frameworks — observation, scientific research and data – providing support for the storage and calculation of massive data generated by long-term operations, media reported.

Xiang Ligang, a senior technology expert, told the Global Times on Monday that in theory, data is being produced from the telescope constantly and is then stored and analyzed, including information about the births and deaths of planets and extraterrestrial life.

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Thoughts of China’s Astronomers on Advanced Extraterrestrial Life

Listen to “E212 Thoughts of China’s Astronomers on Advanced Extraterrestrial Life” on Spreaker.

December 22, 2019                         (dailygalaxy.com)

• With China poised to lead the world in Artificial Intelligence and supercomputers, astronomers are wondering if China will also be the first nation to discover extraterrestrial life. Here is what some Chinese scientists and science fiction writers say:

• Mao Shude of the National Astronomical Observatories of China and a professor of astrophysics at the Jodrell Bank Observatory said, “Who knows what they are and how they think? … we only have one sample (of intelligent life) from Earth.” “If we could find more [examples of intelligent life] in the universe, we could look at the puzzle more comprehensively and solve it more easily.” Mao continued, “I’d like to know how life spreads in the universe. Is it distributed uniformly in space or clustered?”

• “[O]ur radios and televisions [are] broadcasting in space all the time,” says Mao. “Aren’t you curious what our counterparts would look like?” “If they are much more intelligent than us, they wouldn’t be so narrow-minded as to compete with us. … [T]hey likely have the power to transform the entire globe already. What’s the point of eliminating a much lower civilization (as ours)?”

• Science fiction writer and winner of sci-fi’s Hugo Award, Liu Cixin observed: “Perhaps in ten thousand years, the starry sky that humankind gazes upon will remain empty and silent. But perhaps tomorrow we’ll wake up and find an alien spaceship the size of the Moon parked in orbit.” In his book, The Three Body Problem, Liu depicts the universe as a jungle, and every civilization a hidden hunter. Those who are exposed will be eliminated.

• Another Chinese science fiction writer, Han Song, believes humans naturally want to connect, citing the Internet as proof. “I think aliens might think similarly,” says Han. “It is a biological instinct to connect with each other. Everyone wants to prove that they are not alone in the universe. Loneliness is intolerable to humans.” “Humans will ultimately go to space to find resources and expand their living area, so it will be hard to avoid aliens. Contact with them, especially those with more advanced intelligence, may help us leap forward in civilization.”

• Perhaps China’s new FAST Radio Telescope, aka: ‘Eye of Heaven’, the world’s largest single-dish radio observatory, will provide an answer using radio waves to locate exoplanets that may harbor extraterrestrial life. Twice the size of the next-largest single-dish telescope, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the FAST Radio Telescope can detect extremely faint radio-wave whispers from an array of sources across the universe. The Chinese government is expected to give the observatory the final green light to begin full operations in January.

• But sci fi writer Liu Cixin points out that our current searches assume that aliens communicate in radio waves. “But if it’s a truly advanced civilization, it is possible [they will] use other more advanced forms of communication, such as gravitational waves.” FAST’s chief scientist, Li Di, responds, “We [will] look for not only television signals, but also atomic bomb signals. We’ll give full play to our imaginations when processing the signals.” “It’s a complete exploration, as we don’t know what an alien is like.”

• Jin Hairong, deputy curator of Beijing Planetarium, says, “It is highly possible that life on other planets is entirely different from that on Earth, and it might not be carbon-based.”

• “We can receive weaker and more distant radio messages,” said Wu Xiangping, director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, “[This] will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and explore the origins of the universe,” underscoring China’s race to be the first nation to discover the existence of an advanced alien civilization.

• However it turns out, Professor Mao believes the result will be significant. “If we find other life, it will undoubtedly be the most important scientific discovery in our history.” “[I]f not, it shows that life on Earth is unique and we should respect life and cherish each other.”

 

With China poised to lead the world in AI and supercomputers, astronomers are wondering if it will also be the first advanced nation to discover extraterrestrial life? Perhaps the world’s largest single-dish radio observatory, China’s new FAST Radio Telescope –Tiyan, the “Eye of Heaven”– will

                     Liu Cixin

provide an answer as it prepares to explore a frontier in radioastronomy — using radio waves to locate exoplanets, which may harbor extraterrestrial life.

             Mao Shude

During a visit to the remote facility, Liu Cixin, China’s acclaimed science fiction writer and winner of the Hugo Award for his novel “The Three Body Problem”, observed: “Perhaps in ten thousand years, the starry sky that humankind gazes upon will remain empty and silent. But perhaps tomorrow we’ll wake up and find an alien spaceship the size of the Moon parked in orbit.”

Whispers from the Cosmos

The Chinese observatory’s massive dish will collect radio waves from an area twice the size of the next-largest single-dish telescope, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico means that it can detect extremely faint radio-wave whispers from an array of sources across the universe, reports Elizabeth Gibney in Nature, helping in the hunt for gravitational waves and probe still-mysterious fleeting blasts of radiation known as fast radio bursts. The Chinese government is expected to give the state-of-the-art observatory the final green light to begin full operations at a review meeting scheduled for next month.

Concluding his tour of the gargantuan FAST facility nestled in the remote mountain fastness of Dawodang depression in the Guizhou province of southwest China, Liu Cixin pointed out our current searches assumes that aliens also communicate in radio waves. “But if it’s a truly advanced civilization, it is possible to use other more advanced forms of communication, such as gravitational waves.”

                              Han Song

With no clues of extraterrestrial life questions are constantly asked as whether the search methods are appropriate. “Some strange signals have been found, but it’s hard to confirm their origins, because these signals do not repeat,” says Li Di, FAST’s chief scientist. “We look for not only television signals, but also atomic bomb signals. We’ll give full play to our imaginations when processing the signals,” Li says. “It’s a complete exploration, as we don’t know what an alien is like.”

“We can receive weaker and more distant radio messages,” said Wu Xiangping, director-general of the Chinese Astronomical Society, “It will help us to search for intelligent life outside of the galaxy and explore the origins of the universe,” he added underscoring the China’s race to be the first nation to discover the existence of an advanced alien civilization.

The dish will have a perimeter of about 1.6 kilometers, and there are no towns within five kilometers, giving it ideal surroundings to listen for signals from space. Scientists have depicted it as a super-sensitive “ear” capable of spotting very weak messages – if there are any – from “cousins” of human beings.

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