TED Conversations

Sabin Muntean

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology


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What should be our first message towards ET?

Inspired by Seth Shostak's talk about picking up messages from ET, I'd like to hear your ideas about what humanity's first radio message directed towards them should be.

Given the fact that an extraterrestrial civilization may be far more advanced than we are and perhaps already be aware of our existence just as we are aware of the ants walking around in the dirt what should we say when we first directly adress them?

The Voyager Golden Record and the Pioneer Plaques were designed to give some general information in case other forms of intelligence happen to come across them but if we were more certain that our message would be heard would be say something different?

I'm looking forward to your answers!


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    Jun 9 2012: They won't speak any form of Earth language, so communicating with them in that way is out of the question. Anyways they might communicate in a completely different form than we do. I think the best we can do is show them that we can do mathematics, and show them binary code to prove to them we are an intelligent species. It would also probably help if we showed them a map of our solar system, and possibly the galaxy, and also that planets orbit the sun in an elliptical orbit. If we show them that they will know we think beyond our own planet, and that we are curious about the universe. The hard part of course will be trying to understand them after we communicate all that stuff to them.
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      Jun 11 2012: They've had nearly 100 years of radio and TV to analyse. If they aren't smart enough to have deciphered the most common languages, they probably aren't smart enough to come up with interstellar travel. I would guess they will introduce themselves in english, french and possibly several other languages. English and french because world wide events seam to be broadcast in these two languages. Olympics etc
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        Jun 12 2012: Good point, but they would only be able to decipher our languages if they communicated in a similar fashion to us. Even if they evolved on an Earth like planet, it is still possible that they don't use language as a way to communicate. If they have evolved on a planet completely unlike Earth it is possible that they have never encountered language before, so if they encounter our radio and TV signals they may have no idea how to decipher it because they have no idea what it is. Or they could be so many millions of years advanced, language is a primitive form of communication to them so they wouldn't even bother making contact with us.
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          Jun 13 2012: I'm relying on them being not too different to us. They will have evolved in similar conditions to have similar senses. For example all sighted life on Earth see the same frequencies of EMR. They have independantly evolverd this ability because planetary atmospheres are only transparent at particular frequencies. There's no point being able to see UV or X-rays as they don't penetrate the atmosphere. Their chemistry should be similar as well. We are based on hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen because they are common throughout the universe. We are far from special.

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