[FPSPACE] Messages From Earth Beamed to Alien World
ljk4 at msn.com
Thu Oct 9 20:39:31 EDT 2008
October 9, 2008
Messages From Earth Beamed to Alien World
Written by Nancy Atkinson
The powerful opening scene of the movie "Contact" portrays radio and
television signals from Earth heading out into space. Then later in the
film, shockingly, one of those signals a televised speech by Adolf Hitler
is beamed back as a reply. Could that really happen? Could an alien
civilization "find" us from our inherent noise? Or, if we want other
intelligent life to know we're here, will we have to take a more proactive
or aggressive approach? Perhaps we'll find out.
Today, messages from Earth were beamed specifically at an alien world
considered capable of supporting life, the planet Gliese 581c, a
"super-Earth" located approximately 20 light years from us. The social
networking site Bebo sponsored a competition for young people to share their
views and concerns of life on Earth, and the winners' messages were
transmitted this morning from a radio telescope in Ukraine. Bebo was
assisted by Dr. Alexander Zaitsev, who says the only way alien civilizations
might find us is if we specifically make ourselves known.
501 photos, drawings and text messages were translated into binary format
and beamed through space in a four and a half hour transmission by the huge
RT-70 radar telescope in Evpatoria, Ukraine, normally used to track
The transmission started at 0600 GMT on October 9. Oli Madgett, from the
media company RDF Digital who came up with the idea, said the message
"passed the Moon in 1.7 seconds, Mars in just four minutes and will leave
our Solar System before breakfast tomorrow". The media company footed the
$40,000 (£20,000) bill for the transmission.
The message should reach the Gliese system by about 2029. Any reply to the
messages probably wouldn't reach Earth for 40 years.
Bebo's intent was to raise awareness for the concerns that young people have
for the future of Earth, and to generate interest in space exploration. Bebo
spokesman Mark Charkin said, "A 'Message From Earth' presents an opportunity
for the digital natives of today
to reconnect with science and the wider
universe in a simple, fun and immersive way."
Dr. Zaitsev was a consultant for the project, and is one of the world's
experts in interstellar radio communication and is Chief Scientist of the
Radio Engineering and Electronics Institute, at the Russian Academy of
Science. His early work helped design and implement radar devices to study
Mercury, Venus and Mars and Near-Earth asteroid radar research. Lately, he
has focused on interstellar radio messaging, and what he calls METI
Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.
"The leakage is of commercial television radio is much weaker than coherent
sounding radar signals, such as the Arecibo Radio Telescope or the Goldstone
Solar System Radar," Zaitsev told Universe Today. "The leakage is weakly
detectable against a background of solar radio emissions. I do not say that
any imaginable super-aggressive and powerful civilization cannot detect our
As opposed to SETI, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, METI
takes a more proactive approach. In his paper "Making the Case for METI,"
Zaitsev and two colleagues wrote, "It is possible we live in a galaxy where
everyone is listening and no one is speaking. In order to learn of each
others' existence - and science - someone has to make the first move."
Zaitsev has been involved in several deliberate transmissions to space in
hopes of making contact. "Otherwise," he said, "centers of intelligence are
doomed to remain lonely, unobserved civilizations."
METI, as well as the Bebo project, takes a complete opposite approach from
the recently formed WETI - Wait for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.
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