TRAPPIST-1 / Article from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Quantum World

last update: Mar. 8 '17

Like Something From Science Fiction
text by Erich Habich-Traut,, all image credit

"This Weird Planetary System Seems Like Something From Science Fiction", wrote my friend Seth in an article for NBC news

"Yes, it does.", I agree:

Trappist-1"A Trappist red dwarf star in the constellation Aquarius harbours seven earthlike planets, on all which the conditions for life to have developed exist. And three planets are presumed to carry liquid water, which is even better.".

Seth mentions in his article that our best radio telescope can pick up transmissions from Trappist-1 from 39 lightyears away.

As long as they have the power of 10 airport radar dishes.

This leads to my question: "How could one increase the sensitivity of our SETI radio telescopes ten fold?"

Then, one could receive the signals transmitted with the power of normal airport radar.

A treasure trove of planets found
We would then not depend on intentionally directed radio messages: we could hear the ET-chatter.

Do all major radio telescopes co-operate on SETI?

All are switched into an array (VLA)?

It doesn't even have to be simultaneous. It is sufficient to synchronize the times and record the coordinates...
and them feed then through a data processor..."

I know that the timings would be off, but a pattern may emerge nevertheless,
because the waves and the random noise coming from a particular location might be altered.

'The cumulative effect of weak radio signals on random noise' could be an essay describing this effect.

_Sci-Fi Speculation:

EMP mechanismI. ALPHA
I'm sure I'm not the first one, to have thought of this effect.

Our own planet has been emitting weak radio signals already for a long time. Some even not that weak (the nuclear weapons tests).

'The cumulative effect of weak radio signals on random noise'
If such an effect could be proven, it might mean that our own Earth attracts extraterrestrial attention, unwittingly. And that since some time.

What kind of radio signature would even the first nuclear weapons test have presented themselves to an intelligent population on Trappist-1?

The first could have been like a nearby super nova in the radio spectrum. But it didn't just happen once.

TrappistII. BETA

Trappist scientists began to scramble for a solution. First they tried to detect an intelligent pattern, in the sporadic radio bursts from Earth.

Not even anyone on Earth was aware of such a pattern. ...

Would nuclear explosions on Earth be counted as a sign of intelligent life by the extraterrestrial Trappists?


After a series of nuclear tests, that were described as a carrier wave during the Manhattan project, the first transmissions commenced.

Thought the Trappist scientists.

A clear signal was followed by two in rapid sequence.
The binary system was established.

They thought. ...
and thought... (Und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind dann denken sie noch heute.)

The next day.

(Trinity), written Sep 15. 2016

Where is everybody? (The Fermi Paradox)

If you were an extraterrestrial civilization and you would like to draw attention to your existence you would create a signal that cannot be overlooked.

A beacon.

Rhythmically pulsing...

Like a Pulsar, for instance.

When Pulsars were first discovered by a radio-telescope near Cambridge, the astronomers waited a year, before they went public with their discovery.

They called their first fluctuating radio-source LGM 1 (for Little Green Men) and did not announce it to the world before a satisfying cosmological explanation could be found for their existence, that did not involve extraterrestrial civilizations.

And when Pulsars started being found all over the sky, the possibility that any pulsars were of extraterrestrial intelligent origin was dismissed entirely.

It simply could not be, that there are SO MANY extraterrestrial civilizations that send radio beacons into space...

For the source of our pulsars, we have found a few candidates that can be observed through our telescopes, which fit the cosmological description of their evolution.
The most famous example is found in the Crab Nebula. The image shows a composite visual/X-ray picture, which reveals the structure of a natural Pulsar.

It wasn't long after the discovery of the first Pulsars, that the first extra-solar planets were discovered, just in the vicinity of such a Pulsar. That was a sensation back in the day, although it was quickly concluded that life most likely would not be able able to survive the intense radiation of a Pulsar (should it hit the orbiting Planet).

Until today, only a handful of such Pulsar Planets have been found.
Not all Pulsars emit radiowaves at the same interval.

Same are slow, and slowing down quickly,
others are fast and have a stable interval.

Some millisecond Pulsars are more accurate than our most precise Atomic Clocks.
The explanation of how Pulsars function is not complete.

Though the general picture of pulsars as rapidly rotating neutron stars is widely accepted, Werner Becker of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics said in 2006, "The theory of how pulsars emit their radiation is still in its infancy, even after nearly forty years of work."

Any extraterrestrial radio-transmitter could mimic the exact same characteristics of any star we can observe in the Universe. Unless there is contradictory evidence from radio-astronomy.

The Crab Nebula displays visually and in the radio-spectrum a structure which spans many light years as the result of a cosmic catastrophe: a supernova.

But there must be other Pulsars that don't share this characteristic.

A sign of a possible artificial origin for Pulsars would be if some of them exhibited an irregular pattern in their broadcast. This is called an "intermittent Pulsar".

It just so happens that a paper has been published two weeks ago, on 1. September 2016, that announces the discovery of two candidates:

"Two long-term intermittent pulsars discovered in the PALFA Survey":
Following discovery with the Arecibo Telescope, extended observations of these pulsars over several years at Jodrell Bank Observatory have revealed the details of their rotation and radiation properties.

The Pulsars show long-term switching between active (ON) and inactive (OFF) emission states and indicating the presence of a large, hitherto unrecognised, underlying population of such objects.

In our search for extraterrestrial intelligent life we have sent a map to the stars, on the Pioneer and Voyager space probes.
The map shows the location of Earth, relative to 14 Pulsars.

Better and more reliable than any GPS, any life form with a Pulsar Positioning System can find us easily.
It's only the question if anyone would find the probes.

Now, if we wanted to draw the attention of ET to our Earth,
we could make a big electromagnetic wave.

The irregular interval would be a sign of artificial origin.

Humanity has been making these EM-Pulses since July 16, 1945, 5:29 am 45 seconds.

That was the time Trinity, the first atomic bomb, was detonated.

We don't just threaten our own extinction with this (nuclear bombs),
we also announce our presence to the cosmos in this way.

There must be a more subtle way...

Solar system Trappist-1
Conference call,
location: the three water planets

The natives spoke in a strange, alien language:

"Seit 5:45 Uhr wird zurück gesendet!", claimed Perry,
the leader of the mute ant-like Trappist scientists and rubbed his eyes that were tired from looking at the screens for so long.

"Veräppelst du uns?", asked someone with barely concealed curiosity.

Ozma, the senior radio astronomer, shook himself:
"Das ist keine Behauptung mit der wir spassen sollten. Die Auswirkungen sind zu immens...".

The Trappists descended into silence again. Because on their world they only spoke, when it was necessary.


"What a ludicrous notion! Delta Rays!", shouted Hank to his colleague in the observatory.

"Yes, nobody ever heard of this. To increase the sensitivity of our Greenbank telescope?", replied Hanson from his desk,

"Why couldn't we hook up a radio-telescope to an electron microscope to see much more detail?".

Hank shook his head in frustration, "Those two systems are totally different. It's like looking at a telescope through a microscope! What do you want to see?"

"Delta rays are secondary electrons caused by ionizing radiation. We can see them in the cloud chambers of the Large Hadron Collider as spiralling tracks. Before they vanish."

"So you want to see tracks? What kind of tracks?"

"I would like to see where the tracks continue...", answered Hanson.

"Because the Delta rays don't actually 'vanish'. They are being quantum tunneled at FTL speed to a different location".

"Aha!", huffed Hanson, "And how do you propose to built such a Delta ray radio-telescope?"



Sunrise on any particular world of the Trappist-1 solar system is always spectacular.

The red dwarf Sun is enormous from such a close distance, but during the day it would not get brighter than on Terra, nor is it any darker. Knah felt like being in two solar systems at once.

Because he pondered what life would be like for beings on the recently discovered candidate for ETI. They had named that solar system Sól-1.

This name had a special meaning to the Trappists.

It came from their ancient language, Solas...

Knah was a Trappist of the J'dai order.

Known for their special indulgence, the production and consumption of Habish-bia, a special tonic that enhanced their senses. The translation from the hitchhikers guide shows that Habish-bia means spirit of the J'dai people in their language. What the meaning of J'dai is?

That unfortunately is not mentioned.

End fiction.
Although the phonetic transcription 'sheddai' leads to the entry 'el shaddai', which is one of the names of the G-d of Israel.
That doesn't fit

VR: On the Surface of Planet TRAPPIST-1d (360° view)

Knah heard the call from P'rry, the leader of the order of the Ad'nai, when he visited Nod-nol. A'Donai meant scientists in Solasian, which was the language of Solas, their planet.

And he had meditated as the members of the J'dai are apt to do, by rocking his body back and forth and forgetting all time.

Normally a rather contemplative order, they sprang into only to action when a common cause was identified, willing to give their all.

They needed a cause and a leader, and P'rry was such a man. In the language of Solas P'rry meant lion.