I'm sure you've heard of the news last month of UFO sightings in Stephenville, Texas. One of my colleagues queried me if I felt there was any legitimacy to the story - could the UFO actually be some intelligent and advanced alien life?
Unfortunately, my answer is a dull almost certainly no. I feel there is plenty of good evidence to suggest life as we know it could arise independently across the universe. Given we have at least a grasp that how things are put together here (like stars and matter) this is probably how they are put together elsewhere. Also, given the vastness of space and the cosmically short time it has taken us to go from polymer goo to intelligent life, it seems ignorant to assume we are in some special and unique nook of the Big Everything, and everywhere else is just void storage.
That said, I also think us meeting up with another indendently arising alien race is also unlikely, for the very same enormity of the universe.
Our little probes, our pollution of the planet, our TV, radio and light waves, even our active search for aliens are riding on a lot of luck to suddenly be noticed by anyone, even if they are taking a hard look at our solar system.
The real trick would be to construct something BIG, and I think Jaron Lanier has the right idea: start moving stars around. Lanier proposes building up a fleet of gravitational tugs or tractors to move objects around, eventually one could get enough of them to start influencing a star's movement. From there, the idea is simply one of scale:
Why move stars around? Because then they could be guided into orbital formations that almost certainly would not have occurred naturally. An imaginable set-up period of tens of thousands of years could therefore be leveraged into a much longer period—billions of years, perhaps—during which aliens could observe the fruits of our efforts. A group of stars organized to present a sign in this way might be called a “graphstellation” (like a constellation, but also a form of writing).
Yeah, the bumps in the roads are almost as big as the objects that are being suggested to be moved into some sort of kitschy Vegas eyesore. Still, I think this is the first proposal I've heard of that even gets close to achieving what so many people feel they've done in Stephenville, Texas - get noticed by little green men.