Scientists propose to send a message to the aliens with directions to help them reach Earth.
Scientists are developing a new transmission to send into the stars to let aliens know where we are.
While the proposed message, called “The Beacon in the Galaxy” (BITG), will not be the first human being sent into space, it will have more information about the human race than any that have come out before. Including directions on how to find us.
Swinburne University astronomer and director of the Space Technology and Industry Institute, Associate Professor Alan Duffy, told the news.com.au podcast I have news for you that the new message was an advance on previous efforts to contact extraterrestrial life.
“It will be a more powerful telescope, or indeed, two telescopes that will send the signal,” he said.
“We think it’s a smart message that comes with more information and should still be reasonably easy to crack. It is also being sent to a target that we have reason to hope at least, it might have aliens. “
While scientists have yet to decide whether they will send the message into space, the message would be transmitted by both the 500-meter-aperture spherical radio telescope in China and the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array in Northern California. The broadcast will be targeted at a selected region of the Milky Way, which has been proposed as the most likely place for the development of life.
“It’s towards the center of our galaxy and it’s a dense collection of stars where we think they’ve had a longer time to have potential life,” said Professor Duffy. I have news for you.
“That dense number of stars means there are more potential places for life to come, but the fact that they are older stars than ours also means there was even more time for intelligent life to arise.”
The message itself was designed by a team led by NASA with international contributions. The concept was to make the language as simple as possible so that the aliens could decode it.
“The only thing we think is universal is math,” said Professor Duffy.
“Using math framing you can start building a bit of a dictionary, a sequence of ones and zeros, bits that computers read.”
It is proposed to send the BITG message as a broadcast radio wave encoded in binary. Any reference to human language and culture will be excluded from the message in favor of more universal concepts such as physics and biology. Information about human DNA and the fact that we are bipeds will be included, which means we have two legs.
More controversially, Professor Duffy said that information about the position of the Earth will be included.
“We do this with what we hope is fairly obvious global signage, or at least cosmological signage with a known globular cluster,” he said.
A globular cluster is a tightly bound cluster of tens of thousands of gravity-bound stars in the shape of a sphere. The message maps our location to nearby clusters with the hope that intelligent life points to the map.
If the message ever leaves the planet, it wouldn’t be the first. The first was sent in 1974 by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. It described the basic chemical composition of the DNA molecule, as well as sketches of a human and our solar system.It was aimed at a cluster of stars over 25,000 light-years away and as such it won’t come anytime soon. Many other messages have since been sent including the Beatles song “Across the Universe,” a Doritos commercial, and an invitation in the fictional Klingon language from Star Trek to a Klingon Opera in the Netherlands.
This is the first message, however, that will provide a map to help aliens reach Earth. So clearly conveying the position of our planet is not without controversy. More than a decade ago Professor Stephen Hawking was adamant that making contact with advanced alien life probably wouldn’t work so well for humans.
“If aliens visited us, the result would be when Columbus landed in America, which was not good for Native Americans,” he said.
“Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, trying to conquer and colonize whatever planet they can reach.”
The researchers leading the BITG project disagree. Lead researcher, Dr. Jonathan Jiang of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, wrote in a preliminary document still to be reviewed by peers that advances in science should be contacted would far outweigh the concerns.
“A species that has reached sufficient complexity to achieve communication across the cosmos would most likely also have achieved high levels of cooperation between them and thus know the importance of peace and collaboration,” he wrote.
Professor Duffy is also unsure whether the message should be sent. He argues that while we cannot assume that no alien will be a benevolent being by sending the message, scientists today are making a decision for the rest of humanity.
“You’ve been making a call the whole time, you can’t take that message back,” he said.
If some nasty alien intending to colonize Earth were to receive the message, it would take tens of thousands of years to reach us, not to mention the thousands of years it would take for the message to reach its destination.
Despite all the work that has been done on the broadcast, Professor Duffy doesn’t think there is really a need to send it.
“Any intelligent civilization more advanced than us … will know we are already here,” he said.
“We are already sending signals into space with our radio and TV signals. The radio has been broadcasting for over 100 years.
It acknowledges that the two telescopes in China and California will send out significantly stronger transmission than our daily average frequencies.
“I think that [the concerns] it should make us all think and perhaps reconsider sending the message, but I like the fact that we think about what the message itself should be. “
Hear the rest of the interview with Professor Alan Duffy on I’ve Got News For You here.
Originally published as The Beacon of Galaxy message attempts to make contact with aliens