Communicating Across the Cosmos, Part 1: Shouting into the Darkness

The 70 meter Evpatoria Planetary Radar radio telescope in the Crimea was used to transmit interstellar messages in 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2008

The 70 meter Evpatoria Planetary Radar radio telescope in the Crimea was used to transmit interstellar messages in 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2008 Photo by S. Korotkiy

Over the last 20 years, astronomers have discovered several thousand planets orbiting other stars. We now know that potentially habitable Earth-like planets are abundant in the cosmos. Such findings lend a new plausibility to the idea that intelligent life might exist on other worlds. Suppose that SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researchers succeed in their quest to find a message from a distant exoplanet. How much information can we hope to receive or send? Can we hope to decipher its meaning? Can humans compose interstellar messages that are comprehensible to alien minds?

Such concerns were the topic of a two day academic conference on interstellar messages held at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California; ‘Communicating across the Cosmos’. The conference drew 17 speakers from a wide variety of disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, archeology, mathematics, cognitive science, philosophy, radio astronomy, and art. This article is the first of a series of installments about the conference. Today, we’ll explore —> Read More Here

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