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Transmitting signals over interstellar distances: three approaches compared in the context of the Drake equation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 March 2013

Luc Arnold*
Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, OHP (Observatoire de Haute Provence), Institut Pythéeas, UMS 3470, 04870 Saint-Michel-l'Observatoire, France e-mail:


I compare three methods for transmitting signals over interstellar distances: radio transmitters, lasers and artificial transits. The quantitative comparison is based on physical quantities depending on energy cost and transmitting time L, the last parameter in the Drake equation. With our assumptions, radio transmitters are the most energy-effective, while macro-engineered planetary-sized objects producing artificial transits seem effective on the long term to transmit an attention-getting signal for a time that might be much longer than the lifetime of the civilization that produced the artefact.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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