Messages to ET & SETI musings.

Posted in Science by jukeboxparables on April 24, 2009


NewScientist is running a story with the lead; “Why we shouldn’t hide our problems from ET”. In summary director of interstellar message composition at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Douglas Vakoch; states that prospective messages to the stars should point out we aren’t perfect, that such messages should also contain our shortcomings and frailties as well as conveying hope and generally just saying “Hi”.

I agree that in the unlikely case of a dialogue being opened between us and another civilization that the Issues facing Earth should not be hidden and the problems we face should be transparent. But this is one step removed from broadcasting them across the galaxy in a one-way advert. Various media of war, poverty, atrocities, crime and hate aren’t exactly good conversation starters with strangers.

Imagine placing an advert on a friendship/dating site along the lines of “Hi, I’m 4.5 billion years old. I enjoy; moonlit strolls along the beach while children starve to death, Croquet and genocide, Hiking whilst destroying natural habitats, Watersports while Nuclear testing. I’m looking for something long-term, someone I can really talk to… about exciting new technologies for military application so as to gain a subversive upper hand on my fellow human beings.” Does that sound like an Ad you’d answer?

My point is, In getting to know someone (or something else) we should strive to apply our unspoken Human tradition of; small steps and common ground first. Because a traditional human greeting is all we’re capable of after all.

I don’t agree with Douglas in that “If we continue to dodge controversy, we risk sending messages that are both brief and boring” I just don’t see how receiving a message from across the vastness of space could be boring.

Though I suppose this is all one big moot point; Basically we’ve been sending signals into space since TV has begun broadcasting. That’s right, everything from news to sports to random television sitcoms are right now beaming across the blackness of space. Something like 60 years of television has created an imaginary ‘globe’ of radiowaves emitting from the earth, light years in diameter passing through countless solar systems.

Of course the further such radiowaves get, the less power they carry. But there has been concentrated broadcasts purposely directed for space.

In February 2008. NASA aimed its eye towards the North Star, 431 light years away. And began playing The Beatles – Across the Universe. Yes, apt indeed.

Besides broadcasts though, us Earthlings do have another presence in Space. Pioneer 10 & 11 and Voyager 1 & 2 carry information (symbolic, mathematical, cultural) physically on the spacecraft themselves. And every second they’re hurtling through space, further and further from home (more on them sometime soon)

If you could have chosen one song to beam into space, what would it be and why? Or what about your thoughts on a default Earth greeting?

You can submit your greeting ideas to SETI because they’re opening their doors and accepting greeting ideas from around the world very soon. The greetings won’t be broadcast (as yet) It seems they’re just testing the waters, gathering data, listening for input.

It’s good that such an initiative has been taken, Perhaps before NASA go attaching Golden Records to things they should conduct some type of Music pole to see what Sounds best represent Earth. But more on that another time.


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