Talking to Aliens

What do you say to a space alien? This question might not be the foremost puzzle in your life, but it was the subject of a lively two-day conference at California’s SETI Institute this week.

Here’s why: A decade of research by astronomers now suggests that a trillion planets dot the Milky Way. It takes a real Debbie Downer to believe that they’re all as dead as the Equal Rights Amendment. Unless Earth is special beyond reason, you can confidently assume there are plenty of societies out there.

That doesn’t mean that they’ll come to Earth (or, as many believe, already have). Interstellar travel, despite what you’ve seen at the local multiplex, is hard. But we could easily get in touch via radio signals or flashing laser lights.

SETI — the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence — is already scanning the skies, looking for such signals. So far, they haven’t found any. But some practitioners figure we should also transmit signals; that we should try speaking without first being spoken to.

Doing so would raise a lot of questions. For example, in which directions should you beam your broadcast, and how do you encode the —> Read More Here


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