Apr 11, 2022

Extraterrestrial Intelligence Messaging Has Changed Recently

Posted by in category: alien life

On April 1st this year, a team of scientists led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory posted a proposed new message to be sent to prospective intelligent extraterrestrials. The coincidence of April Fool’s Day in this case should be ignored. This actually is very real. The rationale for the message can be found in an article entitled, “A Beacon in the Galaxy: Updated Arecibo Message for Potential FAST and SETI Projects,” which has been submitted to the journal Galaxy and is currently posted on a pre-print server for review.

The article title includes the terms FAST and SETI. If you are not familiar with FAST, the acronym stands for the Five-Hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope being built in China (see picture above) that will be the largest parabolic radio telescope in the world and capable of intercepting the faintest radio signals from across the Universe. SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is far better known and was featured prominently in the science fiction movie, Contact, based on a Carl Sagan novel.

What kind of message is being sent? And how will intelligent aliens be able to decipher it? Since the first radios and television signals were broadcast, humanity has been streaming information into outer space with no thought of how the information would be perceived by an intelligent technically advanced civilization on the receiving end. And even before radios, sending a message to intelligent aliens was proposed. In the early 1800s an Austrian astronomer wanted to carve out a geometric pattern of trenches in the Sahara Desert, fill them with kerosene and then light it all up tobe a beacon for any aliens living nearby.

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