Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Search for Terrestrial Intelligence

recover lost documents of broadcasting history
  (+19, -1)(+19, -1)
(+19, -1)
  [vote for,

Many TV and radio classics broadcast before 1970s are forever lost because at the time tape archives were still too expensive to be used routinely. And because live shows were rarely recorded on film or vinyl. Or are they? Perhaps they could still be recovered - from space.

Simple concept: Build an extremely sensitive radio telescope (perhaps an array of dozens of telescopes).

Direct it at a star (or other astronomical object) 20 light years away and analyze the signal. With luck, you should be able to pick up radio wave transmissions from the year 1967 (40 years ago) that have made their way into space and been reflected off the star. So the concept is a bit like an inverse SETI.

As far as I can remember conducting objects with smooth surfaces and 90 degree edges are particularly good at reflecting radio waves back to their source (radar exploits this fact to find aircraft). The good news is that such objects also exist in nature in the form of cubic crystals. So if we could find a suitable astronomical object containing said crystals, and taking up a large area in the sky (a dust cloud perhaps?), we could increase the chance of picking up traces of the civilization of the 60s and 50s.

kinemojo, Aug 31 2007

Don't worry... http://totl.net/STI/
... only the joke has already been done, not the idea. [pertinax, Aug 31 2007]

A suitable astronomical object containing said crystal. http://www.universe...e-diamond-in-space/
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Aug 31 2007]

I'm waiting for a live Jimi Hendrix performance + http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/1967_in_music
[xandram, Aug 31 2007]

If it works for light why not radio? http://space.newsci...of-a-supernova.html
Astronomers are already looking for reflected light from historical supernovae [gtoal, Aug 31 2007]


       I'm voting for it because it's a great idea. I don't know if the science is in yet.
globaltourniquet, Aug 31 2007

       Terrestrial Search for Extra Terrestrial Signal Extras. Are you feeling sleepy?
the dog's breakfast, Aug 31 2007

       Arguably far more likely to succeed than SETI, even with the extreme paucity of intelligence on this planet. [+]
nuclear hobo, Aug 31 2007

       Utterly ridiculous. [+]
monk, Aug 31 2007

       // So if we could find a suitable astronomical object containing said crystals//   

       How about crystal. [link]   

       If one of those crystal mirrors was near enough, say under a light year away, we could use it like a giant backup tape. Or, to stay in your proposed line of use - a celestial tivo
loonquawl, Aug 31 2007

       Very weak science, methinks: there's no reason at all to suspect that stars would reflect your radio waves, rather than absorb them. Even if they did, the radio waves would be vanishingly weak by the time they reach the stars (inverse square law), making them impossible to pick out of the background noise of the star's own radiation.   

       Though I wouldn't be surprised if there were other astronomical anomalies that could cause radio waves to be reflected.
DrCurry, Aug 31 2007

       [+] [+] [+] [+] [+] [+] [+] [+] [+] [+] [+]   

       Absolutly love it.
evilpenguin, Aug 31 2007

       Why rely on bouncing off an improbably flat object? Just find a chain of stars in a large circular path, where the signal is deflected a little from one star to the next by its gravity. By the time the light has looped round this chain of stars, we'll probably have developed receivers sensitive enough to extract the remaining signal. Of course by then we might also be extinct.   

       (Actually your idea may have some validity, though I would think that the reflections would be more likely to come from interstellar dust clouds or maybe even planets rather than stars - I would imagine the thermal noise would swamp any possible signal bounce)
gtoal, Aug 31 2007

       How about you assemble a group of people who were around in 1967 and video them discussing these programs?
Mister Sketchly, Aug 31 2007

       note to self: the reflected radio waves from our own sun might make things tricky.
kinemojo, Sep 06 2007

       Perhaps if there was some form of a cosmic amplifier, like a ginormous electron cloud that somehow was recieving this radio signal at the exact instant that it was taking a really fast gravitational slingshot around a planet, and hence it sent that signal back to Earth. Eh, the chances are one in a million, but it would be a very good blind shot in the dark nontheless.
quantum_flux, Sep 12 2007

       In theory (my theory that is) radio waves from a 1967 broadcast of the Societe Lyonnaise string quartet will be distorted uniformly as they pass a black hole, with a portion of the wave absorbed, a portion deflected. A portion of the deflected waves will fall into orbit where they would be stored until degraded by interference (how's that for celestial storage?). An even smaller portion would complete half an orbit and be sent back towards their origin, et viola.
marklar, Sep 12 2007

       I was misled by the title, 'Search for Terrestrial Intelligence'. I thought you meant settling down on the surface of the moon then 'listening' to all of that human noise down there on Earth...   

       Anyway, great idea, you got my first shrimp in a long time.
mayihave, Sep 15 2007

       Just park the Tardis 70 light-years away, turn on the TV and the VCR, record the signal.
whlanteigne, Apr 06 2013


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