UFO UpDates
A mailing list for the study of UFO-related phenomena
'Its All Here In Black & White'
Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Jan > Jan 31

Re: ET Call Earth

From: Stig Agermose <stig.agermose@get2net.dk>
Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 05:51:28 +0100 (MET)
Fwd Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 09:59:15 -0500
Subject: Re: ET Call Earth





BBC News Online: Sci/Tech

Saturday, January 30, 1999 Published at 15:52 GMT

ET call Earth

By BBC News Online's Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse


In a few weeks' time mankind will send out its first detailed
radio message into the cosmos, asking any aliens who may receive
it to get in touch.

It is part of a commercial project called Encounter 2001. This
company based in Houston, USA, is offering the public the chance
to send their own message into space for $30.

Not everyone thinks it is a good idea.

According the scientists involved in listening for intelligent
signals from outer space, called Seti (Search for
Extraterrestrial Intelligence), sending a message out into space
is almost certainly a fruitless exercise.

Dr Frank Stootman of Seti Australia, says that it is not a
message to aliens but to us. He adds that a reply is very
unlikely and certainly not within our lifetime. And, if an
answer does come, it will not be in English.

Chan Tysor of Encounter 2001 counters this. "It's a statement,
sending something of yourself away from the Earth to travel in
space forever. Whether it gets picked up by aliens or not many
people are excited by it."

The message

Before the individual messages are broadcast an encrypted
signal, based on logic and maths, will be sent.

Dr Yrvan Dutil, a scientist working for the Canadian Government,
is helping to design the cosmic message. He points out that the
only other signal deliberately sent into space in 1974 was aimed
at a group of stars that were unlikely to have planets.

Because this signal is aimed at a handful of stars like our Sun
he says that "for practical purposes this will be our first
detailed interstellar transmission."

He is still working on the message, to be transmitted into space
sometime in April by the Evpatoria radio telescope in the

The message will consist of a series of pages and will be
repeated three times over a period of three hours. The signal
will be 100,000 times stronger than a TV broadcast.

Don't listen, talk

Listening for radio signals from alien life in space is not new.
There have been about 70 attempts over the past 40 years. So far
no signals have been detected.

But transmitting a message into space has been tried only once.

In 1974, the Arecibo radio telescope sent a brief three-minute
message towards the distant M13 stellar cluster.

It consisted of 1,679 pulses. When arranged into a matrix, they
became an image showing atoms, molecules, our solar system and a
representation of a human.

But the cosmic message being contemplated this time will be much
longer, 400,000 bits.

Starting with basic symbols it will use logic to describe
numbers and geometry. It then goes on to introduce concepts such
as atoms, planets and even DNA.

It has been constructed to minimize the loss of information due
to noise introduced into the signal during its interstellar

"If any aliens ever intercept this message they will have
mastered science so much of the first part of the message, the
part that deals with numbers and atoms, will be familiar to
them", says Dr Dutil.

"They can then go on and deduce a few things about humans such
as where we live, how big we are and how many there are of us."

However, he does have some reservations about sending the
message. "I'm not comfortable about sending something in space
without a social debate."

Aimed at the stars

The message is aimed at stars from 51 to 71 light-years from
Earth. They are all similar to our own Sun. They lie in a region
of the sky called the Summer Triangle.

As well as the encrypted message there will be a series of
greetings written by the general public. Anyone can sign up to
send up to 30 words for $30.

According to Chan Tysor, things people have put on their cosmic
message include their hopes for a more peaceful future for
mankind and other races in space. One person said that we have
made a mess of our planet so asked aliens to put off a visit for
another 100,000 years.

Mr Tysor said that the signal was a kind of monument, "It is a
kind of immortality knowing that something you wrote is beaming
its way out of the solar system into the galaxy."

Questionable science

Many scientists do not think that broadcasting messages to the
stars is a good idea. Among them are many members of the
Setileague, a body that organises amateur searches for
intelligent signals from space using small radio dishes.

"Great entertainment, but questionable science," said its
executive director Dr H Paul Shuch.

It would be fun to beam personal greetings into space, Mr Shuch
concedes, but like a message in a bottle, the prospects for
successful contact are rather slim."

Carol Oliver of Seti Australia says that while she has
reservations about the message being sent into space she hopes
that it will inspire many to take an interest in Seti.

She adds that soon, because of a Seti Australia initiative,
hundreds of thousands of Australian schoolchildren will be
studying the search for life in space as part of a project to
help them find out about the universe and themselves.

But Dr Dutil is worried that the Encounter 2001 message will set
a precedent, "After us zillions of people will try to send a
message into space."

Just imagine he says, "a weirdo group could send what they want
into space and this may put humanity into trouble in the far

Internet Links:

*Encounter 2001
*Seti Australia

The BBC is not responsible for the content of
external internet sites.


[ Next Message | Previous Message | This Day's Messages ]
This Month's Index |

UFO UpDates Main Index

UFO UpDates - Toronto - Operated by Errol Bruce-Knapp

Archive programming by Glenn Campbell at Glenn-Campbell.com