The new attempt to communicate with aliens is called beacon in galaxy (BITG) and was developed by a team of scientists at NASA. “The letter incorporates basic mathematical and physical concepts to establish a global means of communication, followed by information about the biochemical makeup of life on Earth,” said lead author Jonathan Jiang. The goal is according to him “To provide as much information as possible about our society and humankind in as few messages as possible.”
The letter also provides the position of the Solar System in the galaxy relative to other celestial bodies, along with digital images of the Solar System and Earth’s surface. The message ends with digital photos of a man and a woman, along with inviting any recipient to respond.
Binary code as a global language
Ultimately, scientists chose a binary code that they hoped intelligent aliens would understand. “This is likely universal for all forms of intelligence,” Jiang says. “It is the simplest form of mathematics because there are only two opposing states: zero or one.” Other messages sent into space over the years have also used binary code.
The message should be transmitted via China’s Five Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world’s largest radio telescope, and via the Allen Telescope Consortium in Search of Extraterrestrial Life (SETI). It will be sent to an area in the Milky Way that scientists think is most likely alive.
Not everyone is happy with the new attempt. Some experts warn that broadcasting Earth’s position could be an invitation to potentially hostile species. This reminds us of a theorydark forest‘, promoted by science fiction writer Liu Zixin.
The Dark Forest is based on a few simple proposals. First, everything that lives wants to survive. Second, there is no way to know if alien life forms are benign or not. The third statement is that if you want to make sure you survive, the safest option is to destroy other lifeforms before they can do that to you. The theory immediately explains why we can’t yet observe extraterrestrial life in a universe of trillions of stars. According to the theory, any life form that reveals its location will be destroyed.
While Jiang acknowledges this fear, he is convinced that perhaps intelligent aliens are benign. “Logic suggests that a species that has achieved sufficient complexity to allow communication across the universe is very likely to have also achieved a high level of mutual cooperation and thus will know the importance of peace and cooperation.”
Ancestors also in binary code
BITG strongly reminds us of the so-called Arecibo . message† That was a binary message sent into space in 1974 by the Arecibo Radio Telescope, one of the largest telescope installations ever built. The message consisted of only 1679 bits, and showed an elementary version of our solar system, DNA, a stick figure to represent a human being, and some biochemical elements.
Physical messages have already been sent into space. For example, Pioneer 10 and 11, two unmanned reconnaissance flights now flying far from the solar system, have a banner with some simple information. The successors Voyager 1 and 2 contain more in-depth information in a file gramophone record† Contains all kinds of pictures, music and greetings from Earth to would-be aliens.
Voyagers eventually became the first man-made beings to leave the solar system. according to However, that would take NASA about 30,000 years. The two spacecraft are expected to be able to send simple signals to Earth until 2036, after which they will not have enough power to do so.
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