How hairspray could help us find alien life

It's a subject we can't stop exploring — just how are we going to find alien life forms? Will we receive radio transmissions? Could we stumble upon them as we start asteroid-mining and deep space exploration? Or — could it be their use of hairspray, deodorants and other aerosols that could finally give them away?

What's the reasoning behind health and beauty products revealing alien life? It's more logical than it sounds.

Scientists from the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science , are a crowd-funded, non-profit coalition of astrobiologists and spectropocists tackling the idea of terraforming and providing unambiguous spectral evidence of life. They've reasoned the best way to tell if an intelligent life form has ever inhabited a planet is to look for signs via spectral analysis, that there may be artificial gases in their atmosphere. In other words, if we have changed our own planet's atmosphere via artificial gases and would likely need to do so to other planets to inhabit them, perhaps intelligent life forms have done the very same thing.

The hairspray and deodorant comes in when you consider creation of artificial gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have been a part of our industrial evolution as a species as we've inhabited Earth. At one time we rocked out a lot of them. The basic idea is perhaps aliens, like us, create or have created, artificial gasses of some form like the CFCs as part of their day-to-day lives that has affected their atmosphere and could tip us off to their presence.

And that's just one theory about how CFCs could help us find aliens. CFCs were once used liberally in all walks of life (and still created in the process of forming Teflon), but we now know the CFCs have caused damage to our ozone. They break up the radiation absorbing molecules and have thinned out our atmosphere's radiation shield — creating the infamous hole in the ozone.

Scientists had previously been focused solely on that radiation part and how we address its effects on the planet. But, the thinning atmosphere also lets radiation out and that's where it interesting. Some astrobiologists believe they can identify planets with vegetation by the light they reflect and refract through holes in their atmosphere letting radiation signatures out, just like ours.

To be clear, many in the scientific community take this last theory with a grain of salt, but there is one thing they do agree on. If a planet is discovered with artificial gasses in the atmosphere, someone or something put it there.

As Extreme Tech points out, it's interesting to note the idea of spectral analysis of a planet is not a new idea. Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy had a species he called Jatravartids — the little blue aliens with a plethora of arms and the distinction of inventing the aerosol deodorant before the wheel. Those guys would definitely messed up their atmosphere.

Physicist Freeman Dyson has also theorized advancing civilizations would need so much power they'd have to create a way to capture it from a nearby star; he called it a Dyson sphere. His suggestion was to look for alien life forms by searching for stars only visible in the gamma radiation range — if other forms of radiation weren't visible it could be that a power harvester such as a Dyson sphere was blocking them. That could suggest an intelligent life form must have created it.

This is all a lot to process — as any discussion of finding alien life always is. What it comes down to is there is a new method in our arsenal in looking for alien neighbors. Spectroscopy has already proved successful in proving distant dwarf planets have no atmosphere and Mars had no life. The scientists of the Blue Marble project are working on a list of biosignifiers that spectroscopy could pick up that would indicate life — spikes of light, the artificial gases created from getting their hair just right, and the like.

The best part is that somewhere out there may be an alien looking at our world and picking up on the same signals from our atmosphere. Good thing we're working on that Universal Translator.

AstroBio.net, via Geekosystem, Extreme Tech

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook