April 21, 2008

Lucy's Laugh Enlivens the Solar System

We make a lot of noise here on Earth with our TV and radio broadcasts and some of that sound escapes into space. But how far will those signals travel? Is someone or something in the distant universe hearing Lucille Ball in the sky right now?

According to National Public Radio, I Love Lucy passed Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our sun, around 1955 and has now moved past about 200 stars and who knows how many planets.

When Lucy's signal first left Earth in 1951, it was much, much louder than the hum of background radiation. But the farther waves go, the weaker they become. So while the signal may travel forever outward it eventually will become impossible to detect.

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