It occurred to me the other day that the first broadcasts of The Brady Bunch – which originally aired on US TV in 1969 – have reached the following stars, all 47-48 light years distant: Nu Lupi, Theta Boötis, Asellus Primus, Iota Ursae Majoris, Talita (HR7898), Psi Capricorni, 111 Tauri, Psi Serpentis, Psi Capricorni and Alpha Corvi.
Meanwhile, episode I regard as the best ever – #117, ‘The Hair-Brained Scheme’, which gains that accolade because it was the last – has only got to HR-4587, Alpha Aurigae (aka Capella, which is actually a quadruple system) and HR-6998.
Luckily we aren’t likely to have Thog the Alien arriving any time soon with a war fleet, demanding that Mr Schwartz atone for having created something even worse than Gilligan’s Island. Despite endless jokes about the Slob Monsters of Aurigae III being able to judge us by the intellectual calibre of our TV broadcasts, the reality is that the inverse square law applies – meaning that signal strength drops radically as distance increases – along with attenuation from interstellar dust and particles.
What this means is that, in practise, our general broadcasts – radio and TV alike – are only going to be detectable from a few light years distant. After that, they’ll be lost amid the natural background radio ‘noise’. So even the Gloob Creatures of Proxima Centauri B won’t be able to pick them up. Especially ‘The Brady Bunch’.
A bit of a relief, really.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2016