A list of star systems reached by ‘The Brady Bunch’ broadcasts

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.

Gravitational lens attributed to the presence of Dark Matter. NASA, public domain.
Gravitational lens attributed to the presence of Dark Matter. Or possibly the universe trying to shut out Earth’s TV broadcasts. NASA, public domain.

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

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8 thoughts on “A list of star systems reached by ‘The Brady Bunch’ broadcasts

  1. What a wonderful post. Love it. Maybe our space cousins have incredibly advanced detectors to pick the programmes. But I wonder if they will understand the concept of ad-breaks. There is a very long running astronomy programme in the UK called The Sky at Night. That would probably be screened on Glebulon 5’s sci-fi channel.
    Also … do you know anything about the 1951 Hydrogen Line in Radio Astronomy ?
    All the best. Chris.

  2. Your saying that “our general broadcasts – radio and TV alike – are only going to be detectable from a few light years distant” suggested to me that general broadcast signals coming from our alien counterparts would likewise degenerate over the course of a few light years of travel. Are there broadcasts, or even just casts, that escape the inverse law limitation?

    1. Any electromagnetic broadcast – which is what TV is – has this issue. A directed signal, deliberately focussed on a specific target, is a different issue but even those start demanding unfeasible scales of energy when larger interstellar distances are involved.

  3. Will theses star systems have to wait 50 years for Game of Thrones, or will they just illegally download it like everybody else?

  4. I’m wondering if this is why no aliens have seen fit to make themselves known to us. They’ve probably decided this planet is inhabited by ignorant creatures with poor taste.

  5. “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.”

    That’s a relief.

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