In the noble pursuit of contacting aliens, we humans have broadcast images, music, voices, and more into space, but have you ever stopped to think that maybe we’re sending mixed messages? Some astronomers have, and to counter that problem they’ve suggested creating standard rules for all future space-bound missives–and they want to harness the power of crowdsourcing to “edit” these messages.
In their Space Policy paper, a team of alien-hunting scientists say that standard message protocols would increase the likelihood that aliens would hear us, one goal for those involved with SETI, or the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Wired Science quotes astrobiologist Jacob Haqq-Misra:
“The paper is really a call for unity among thinking about messaging exraterrestrials,” Haqq-Misra said. “Right now it’s messy, it’s kind of all over the place. Maybe we can increase our success chances by being more unified about this.”
Such a protocol would set guidelines for the message’s topic and length, and would outline how the signal should be encoded and the technology used to send it. And once this protocol is set, the researchers hope to use crowdsourcing to choose the best messages. To do this, they plan on creating a website where anybody can submit messages, and where they can also try to decode the messages sent by others. This would help researchers find the clearest messages to send to space. As Wired Science reports:
“The basic idea is, if you’re going to talk to aliens, you’d better have something that’s understandable to humans,” said UCLA planetary scientist Michael Busch, who has previously tried to design an ideal alien postcard but was not involved in the new work.
As for the website, the researchers expect to have it up by this coming summer–so if you don’t have an alien’s mailing address but are hankering to contact an extraterrestrial, just wait a few months. I’m sure the aliens won’t mind.
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Image: flickr / LabyrinthX