Under the second law of thermodynamics, the structure would produce incredible amounts of waste heat in the form of infrared radiation. In September, a Penn State team led by astrophysics professor Jason Wright began searching the sky for just that by combing through data from NASA‘s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The Penn State work is also being funded by Templeton.
If Dyson spheres pop up in the data, Marcy thinks they would more likely appear as a patchwork of solar panels rather than a solid sphere. Perhaps the dimming of a star would be erratic or quasi-periodic, unlike the regular transit of planets.
To detect such aberrant dimming patterns, Marcy’s Templeton grant is funding the salary of a Berkeley student to write software that will chew through the Kepler data.”Writing the computer code is not easy,” Marcy says. “There’s no prescription in any computer science book about how to search for aliens.”
Galactic laser internet
The rest of the $200,000 grant is buying Marcy time on the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the largest telescope in the world, to search for – what else? – a galactic laser internet.