What would you tell an extra-terrestrial about life on Earth?
Last week, the social networking site, Bebo, beamed 501 images and text messages into space via the National Space Agency of Ukraine’s RT-70 radar telescope. Where are they going? An Earth-like planet named Gliese 581C that some think may harbor extraterrestrial life. Discovered last year, Gliese 581C orbits the red dwarf star Gliese 581 and has a climate that could support liquid water.
The messages were submitted by Bebo users, who are mostly teens and early twenty-somethings. Aside from the practical (the number pi, the average human height measured in hydrogen atomic radii) and the diplomatic (calls for peace, love, and recycling), they include pictures of Britney Spears, George Sampson, Heath Ledger, and kittens. You can browse through all the messages here.
Gliese 581C is 20.5 light years (120 trillion miles) away, so the digital missives won’t reach their destination until early 2029. That also means we won’t hear back from any alien correspondents for another four decades.
Of course, this isn’t the first time earthlings have reached out to the great beyond.
The SETI Institute has been listening for signs of alien life since the 1960’s. And in the last decade, we’ve broadcast radio messages detailing what we know about our solar system, our bodies, cells, and DNA. We’ve even sent out a symphony. But some people think we may be revealing too much — after all, there’s no guarantee that whoever’s tuning in out there has our best interests in mind. Plus, there’s always the chance of ruining our first impression—just imagine what ideas you’d get about humanity if your only example was Britney Spears.
Image: flickr/ urbanshoregirl