...Yes, you read that correctly, and your reaction may have been the same as mine when Ms. K.M. sent this article to me, so we'll get straight to it:
Now, if you're paying close attention, you probably figured out that there's a "teensy weensy" problem with the plan, if one takes this article at face value, and I suspect that this teensy weensy problem was the reason Ms. K.M. sent it to me in the first place, having seen it herself. The tweensy weensy problem thing concerns these paragraphs:
So how does it work? In order to find planets outside our Solar System, we watch other stars and look for signs of their light dimming periodically, which indicates that a planet is passing in front of them.
By watching how often a planet crosses its sun, and how much light it blocks, we can get a pretty good idea of how close the planet is to its star, and how big it is. And because we can't possibly examine every planet in the Universe, we use that information to work out which might be most interesting to us. So for humans, that's planets that might contain water, or could be habitable.
Assuming big-bad aliens use a similar technique to look for planets that interest them, we'd have to find a way to stop them from noticing Earth as it passes in front of the Sun if we wanted to stay off their radar - and that's where the lasers come into it.
A team from Columbia University has now proposed a system that would fire a laser at the precise moment Earth crosses in front of the Sun, so that stars lying along the same plane wouldn't even notice the light dimming.
The idea started off as an attempt to alter the signal we were broadcasting about our planet's orbit into space, but then the team realised we could actually cloak our planet entirely if we wanted.
Now, the scheme here is interesting, because as the article points out, the plan works only when you're firing your "cloaking" lasers during the approximate minutes a your planet is passing in front of your star, relative to any potential observer along the plane and line of site of observation. Firing them in one direction at a specific period of time won't work for an observer lying in a completely different direction.
In short, the system simply won't work as advertized, i.e., as a general system of planetary cloaking, but rather, only as a system of cloaking in certain directions whence - moreover - one might suspect some "nasty guys" might originate. So why propose such a system to begin with?
Well, I'm sure most readers here can see the implications, particularly if such a system were ever actually built, for the construction of such a system would tend to indicate some "intelligence" that "this spatial region potentially contains some nasties that we don't want coming here. If the "laser firing data" were ever made publicly available, one would also be able to determine those areas considered to be "potentially nasty" by the powers that be, for oneself.
And, for all of you who remember that famous affidavit of Dr. Carol Rosin about the "game plan" for weaponizing space - first Communists, then terrorists, then nations of concern, then asteroids, and finally, ETs - this might be the first little indicator that we're moving into ET phase even as the increasing calls for "asteroid defence" weapons have been increasing around the world.
See you on the flip side.