Are we alone?
The age-old question that’s plagued humans for years, but a team of NASA-led scientists are updating a previous space message to see if anyone or anything will reply.
In 1974 scientists sent a message into deep space known as the “Arecibo message” which contained information about humanity through several graphics. Fast forward almost 50 years and a new message is being sent out as a part of the “Beacon in the Galaxy” project but this time it will contain vital information on how to establish communication with earth.
Researchers have detailed the message will be a binary code that includes “basic mathematical and physical concepts to establish a universal means of communication”. It will also contain information about life on earth as well as our location in the Milky Way.
Rounding out the memo will be pictures of humans as well as an official invitation to respond to the signal. Experts from NASA, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and the California Institute of Technology will utilise a powerful radio telescope in China as well as the SETI Allen Telescope Array in northern California for space transmission.
Scientists detailed why mathematics and binary were chosen as the language.
“Though the concept of mathematics in human terms is potentially unrecognisable to ETI [extraterrestrial intelligence], binary is likely universal across all intelligence,” they said.
“Binary is the simplest form of mathematics as it involves only two opposing states: zero and one, yes or no, black or white, mass or empty space.”
The message will be sent sometime between March and October, the best time for minimal interference from the earth and sun. SETI researchers have set a location for the signal that is about 13,000 light years away as there has been recent ‘activity’ in that area.
While the Beacon project may or may not prove successful, criticism has been thrown at it from the scientific community. Senior research fellow at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, Anders Sandberg said that the message was reckless and could have implications.
“[It would have] such a high impact that you actually need to take it rather seriously,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“Many people just refuse to take anything related to it seriously, which is a shame because this is important stuff.”
Famed Professor Stephen Hawking also warned that humans shouldn’t attempt to contact ETs, comparing it to “when Columbus landed in America” in which he added that it “didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans”
Tell us what you think, should we be trying to connect with aliens?