Reach for the sky: Help scientists craft a message to aliens

October 31, 2018

Who’s out there? Humans aren’t just searching for extraterrestrials using radiotelescopes and exoplanet research. We also are actively attempting to help aliens find us. And, according to an October 30 report by Futurism, we all can be part of that effort.

About 44 years ago, Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory—a  facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by the University of Central Florida—sent a message to a star cluster roughly 21,000 light years away.

The so-called Arecibo Message—transmitted via radio signal—marked humanity’s first deliberate attempt to draw the attention of extraterrestrials, and now the observatory is asking the world to help it write an updated message to aliens.

American astronomer Frank Drake wrote the first Arecibo Message with the help of colleague Carl Sagan and others, and there’s no word yet on how the observatory thinks we might be able to improve upon a message crafted by some of the most brilliant minds in science.

The original message comprised 1,679 binary digits that conveyed a wealth of information about life on Earth—including the elements that comprise DNA, the location of our planet within the solar system, and the basic dimensions of the average human. When converted into graphics, the message looks something like the world’s weirdest game of Tetris, Futurism said.

Now, the observatory has sent out a press release to kick off a weeklong celebration —from October 28 through November 3—of its 55th year in operation; and, at some point during the week, it will reveal more details on what it’s calling “the #NewAreciboMessage global challenge.”

If you have ever wanted to communicate with aliens, this is your chance. But there is one major caveat, according to the Futurism story: Should we even be reaching out at all?  There’s no telling who our message might reach, and the reaction to our epistle  could be less-than-friendly. With that in mind, optimists only should apply.

Research contact: info@areciboobservatory.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *