Scientists to Broadcast New Message to ETs Across the Galaxy

radio telescope

Scientists are planning a new message for any potential extraterrestrials in the universe, by sending a cosmic ‘hello’ to any intelligent life in space. 

When we make contact with extraterrestrials, how will we communicate with them? What if we sent them a message showing information about Earth, humanity, and our technological capabilities? 

That was the idea behind the Arecibo message in 1974, designed by Frank Drake and Carl Sagan. The now-famous message was the most powerful broadcast sent into space, from the, now defunct, Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico. The binary message consisted of our solar system, strands of DNA, a human figure, and chemicals related to Earth, among other things.  

Now, nearly 50 years later an international team of researchers introduced a new message intended for extraterrestrials. The team, led by Jonathan Jiang of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, felt it was time to update the Arecibo message since we have come so far technologically since 1974.  

The proposed message dubbed “the beacon in the galaxy” will include some similar information as Arecibo, including, “[B]asic mathematical and physical concepts to establish a universal means of communication followed by information on the biochemical composition of life on Earth, the Solar System’s time-stamped position in the Milky Way relative to known globular clusters, as well as digitized depictions of the Solar System, and Earth’s surface.

“The message concludes with digitized images of the human form, along with an invitation for any receiving intelligences to respond.”

But how will they transmit the message into space? The Arecibo Radio Telescope collapsed in December 2020. 

The researchers propose using the Chinese Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, also known as the “FAST” telescope. The FAST telescope is larger than Arecibo and its performance and sensitivity are higher than any other radio telescope in existence.

The SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array in California could also be used, but the main problem with both telescopes is they are “receive only” and can not yet transmit messages. Though their research team argues both satellites could be upgraded to send messages with new cutting-edge technology.

“If so profound a goal as communication with alien civilizations is to be realized the powerful tools of fast and data must be paired with an equally well designed and constructed message to transmit.”

This thinking is in line with many experts in space and the search for extraterrestrial life including Harvard professor Avi Loeb, who, when talking about the concept of intelligent life in the universe and how we should look for it, said,

“Well, the most important thing for us is to recognize the possibility that we are not alone and might not be the smartest kid on the block, and what that means is you have to keep your eyes open, rather than assume that we are unique and special and that there is nothing out there,” he said. “It’s sort of like closing yourself off at your home and not looking through the window, — if you do that you would never recognize that you have neighbors, but that will not make the neighbors go away. Just like the fact that philosophers who didn’t look through the telescope of Galileo didn’t make the sun go around the Earth — they didn’t look, they remain ignorant, and the Earth continues to move around the Sun. Reality doesn’t care whether we ignore it or not.”

There is no timeline yet for when “the beacon in the galaxy” could be transmitted, but as Jiang told Scientific American, “[T]his is an invitation to all people on Earth to participate in a discussion about sending out this message… we hope, by publishing this paper, we can encourage people to think about this.”

Is This a Solution to the Fermi Paradox?

Solution the Fermi Paradox

A new theory has been devised on why aliens have never visited Earth, that we know of, as a possible resolution to the Fermi paradox.

Many who are curious about the existence of ETs have heard about the “Fermi paradox,” named after famous astrophysicist Enrico Fermi.

The story goes that in a lunchtime conversation with other astrophysicists who reasoned that, given the vast size and age of the universe it stands to reason, there must be other intelligent life out there, to which Fermi asked, “where is everybody?”

For decades people have tried to answer that question if there are so many possible ET civilizations, where are they? Now, astrobiologists Michael Wong, of the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Stuart Bartlett, of the California Institute of Technology offer their hypothesis, and it’s a bit dark. 

Using studies of the growth of cities on Earth, they argue that civilizations grow infinitely but in a finite time. This infinite growth of population and overuse of energy will eventually lead to the death of the civilization or possibly saving themselves.

“We propose a new resolution to the Fermi paradox: civilizations either collapse from burnout or redirect themselves to prioritizing homeostasis, a state where cosmic expansion is no longer a goal, making them difficult to detect remotely.”

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