How To Chat With an Alien: The Official Guide

By Allison Bond | June 8, 2009 1:42 pm

aliensThe folks at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, or SETI, in Mountain View, Calif., want to make sure we earthlings are prepared for a conversation with extraterrestrials.  The group, which is dedicated to searching space for signs of life, recently began searching 10 billion channels using radio telescopes to give us a chance to communicate with beings on other planets.

The next step, of course, is to figure out what to say.  The institute has given the public the chance to chime in on this issue through the Earth Project, which asks space enthusiasts how we should converse with aliens.

Some of the suggestions so far:

“This is Earth speaking. We would like to know you. Please reply.”

“Down here we are all confused.”

“Don’t kidnap us and poke us. We hate that.”

Some contributors think we should keep our mouths shut: “If we discover intelligent life beyond Earth, we should not reply—we should freeze and play dead.”

SETI’s director recommended that rather than initiating a conversation, we listen first and reply later. That’s because  other intelligent beings likely have been around way longer than we have, considering the galaxy is billions of years old, and that could make us vulnerable to alien attack.

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Discoblog: Chatting With Aliens? Researcher Aims to Create Alien Translator

Image: flickr / joka2000

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Aliens Therefrom
  • Monsanto

    Play dead? Thats stupid. How about show some signs of intelligence like maybe SOS the number pie is.

    Our species needs to grow up and realize we need to all work for the common good. Money is evil and im not one who believes in the supernatural or good/evil but money and monsanto are evil. Monsanto is trying to patent all seeds/food and destroy our immune systems with GM FOOD. Money is debt, the perpetual debt machine (the fed) is no better than the MAFIA.

  • Corey C.

    “[…] show some signs of intelligence like maybe SOS the number pie is”?

    There are so many things wrong with that statement that I just don’t know where to begin.

  • Clark

    How about; “Is there intelligent life there, because we are unable to find any here.”

  • Terry G.

    Any broadcast we receive would more than likely be several hundreds or thousands of years old.

    A reply would take equal amounts of time. I say we have to first figure out how to communicate over those vast distances before we decide what to say.

    Perhaps we should figure out how to talk to the ones that are already here. :-)

  • Scholarly One

    Hypothetically speaking, If we place intelligent life into 2 basic categories, the kind that don’t have the ability to find us, and the type that do have the ability to find us, we can see that the one that “can’t” find us is really not a threat…their abilities are limited for the time being. The one that can find us…well…they either have or have not already done so. If they have then they are not a threat because it would take either “benevolence” or “fear” (aka lack of confidence) to resist such an opportunity. Meaning they are watching to get a game plan for the game day first encounter – aggressive or friendly) Either way, If they haven’t found us, then we need to find them first(scout) so that we “know” more about them to make our diplomatic decision. For that, the best policy for dealing with intelligent life is respect and the benefit of the doubt. Second best is to raise our guard just as fast as we lower it. Now offer me job with SETI and I’ll take it.

  • Pat Montana

    @ Monsanto…


    1) Pie comes from a bakery. The number is pi.

    2) You managed to cover the “Big Business” conspiracy (Monsanto, and either General Mills Foods or genetically modified foods…not sure which), the “Government is Out to Get Us” conspiracy (the “fed” debt machine), and the mob in what is one period away from a huge, run-on nonsensical sentence. If you could have worked in the “Moon Landing Hoax” it would have covered the Holy Trinity of conspiracy theories!

    Sounds like somebody buys their undies at “Paranoids R Us”!

  • robert

    If we do find alien life, the conversation would be very one sided.

    Remember that only 100 years ago we had model T’s and the Wright flyer’s. What we receive in information is the important part, because in the time it takes for them to get our message (say just 100) and for us to receive a response (another 100 years) we will be very different people then.

    The amazing part is what we will receive: maybe thousands of years of a civilization’s technological advancements! Or better yet, what if they received similar messages thousands of years ago. The information we get would be a galactic “chain mail” from many worlds halfway across the Milkyway from 100,000 years ago being repeated back from countless civilizations.

  • ares

    amazing part is what we will receive: maybe thousands of years of a civilization’s technological advancements! Or better yet, what if they

  • frank

    Do they play texas holden lol.

    Send them the bible in morse.

  • Pingback: Japan’s First Lady Claims She Went to Venus, Consorted With Aliens | Discoblog | Discover Magazine()

  • amphiox

    It’s not like we’d have to decide to reply right away. Why not listen for a while, learn what we can about the message, and then decide whether or not replying would be a wise thing to do? (We could use the intervening years to establish a colonization project going in the other direction if we’re really that worried)

  • Anastasia

    Ha. This blog post has made my day! XD Throughout the centuries people learned to believe in Heaven and Hell… and now, aliens. What’s next? Could aliens be the ones who made Heaven AND hell? Just for the fun of it? haha Maybe, they ARE the ones who control this universe! PS: Open to possibilities… ALL kinds of them.

  • Thesolindigo

    Although now, looking face to face with a being that is just as astounding and interesting in it’s existence as my own, maybe even more so from my perspective. I do not focus on it’s purpose, but honestly get lost in the realization that something as unique as myself stands before me. If any question passes my lips, it will be that of “Can you give me a tour of the universe, without putting me in a situation where I might be harmed/die?’. 

  • dunal

    But it is also possible
    some aliens are good
    they will no atack us without any reason


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