A NASA project aims to send data about our planet to intelligent life forms that may inhabit the galaxy. A bad idea for some scientists.
A “galaxy beacon”. This is how the name of NASA’s project to send a message across the galaxy in hopes of establishing contact with potential extraterrestrials can be interpreted. The project “Beacon in the Galaxy” plans to transmit information about life on Earth, such as our DNA or the location of our planet.
The idea of contact with hypothetical extraterrestrial civilizations is not new. In 1974, a first message, the Arecibo message, was sent to the Hercules cluster, 22,000 light-years from Earth, chosen because of its abundance of stars, increasing the chance of reaching a potentially puy planet. -an.
Since then, several messages have been teleported into space, including an ad for the Doritos brand or an invitation, written in Klingon (the fictional language of the Star Trek fictional universe), to a Klingon opera in La Haye, as will be recalled. The Keeper.
Information about the Earth and about mankind
These calls remain unanswered, scientists want to try their luck again. The message carried by the “Beacon in the Galaxy” project could be broadcast in a dense ring of stars near the heart of the Milky Way, the region considered most promising for the form of life.
This message is made with simple communication principles incorporated thanks to the binary system. It includes the basic concepts of mathematics and physics, the components of our DNA and the biochemical composition of living organisms on Earth or even a drawing of the human form.
“People have, we believe, a compelling story to share and a desire to get to know others – and now there is a way to do that,” the NASA team wrote.
The message also includes the timestamped position of the solar system in the Milky Way and even on Earth, supplemented with information about our planet with, for example, images of nature such as mountains and lakes. Finally, it also has an invitation to respond, for foreigners.
Like “Christopher Columbus landing in America”
This is accurate information that however worries some scientists. First, according to them, the chances of an intelligent extraterrestrial civilization being able to suppress the message are extremely low. In addition, once a contact has been established, it is difficult to establish a conversation because a response can take years. Also, these life forms often do not understand the signal.
“The chances of the message reaching extraterrestrial life are slim, but whatever it is, it has such an impact that it needs to be taken seriously,” warns Professor Anders Sandberg, researcher at the Institute for the Future of Humanity (FHI) at University of Oxford, in statements reported by The Independent.
For many years, the idea of sending a message to the universe was divisive, especially when it involved information about the Earth and humanity.
“If extraterrestrials visit us, the result will be the same as when Christopher Columbus landed in America, which is not good for Native Americans,” Stephen Hawking said in 2010.
Are the disadvantages more than the advantages?
Professor Toby Ord, also a researcher at Oxford University, believes that the main problem has to do with the proportion of peaceful civilizations compared to those that may be against us.
“We have very little evidence to determine if this ratio is high or low, and there is no scientific consensus. Since the harms can be greater than the benefits, this for me is not a good situation to make. in active steps. to a contact, “he explained.
In response, the NASA team, led by Professor Jonathan Jiang, proposed overcoming our fears in the name of science. According to these scientists, an alien species that can communicate with the entire universe may have learned the value of peace. “We believe that the scientific progress that can be made to continue this work, if communication is established, is beyond the concerns,” they concluded.