Space organizations will soon send binary-encoded messages to space from radio telescopes, hoping they eventually reach intelligent aliens. A NASA-led team of scientists is sending the right message to the wrong place. A group called Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) is sending the wrong message to the right place. Their overt purpose is to transmit interstellar messages to extraterrestrial civilizations, but their immediate audience is earthlings.
The NASA team’s message is called “Beacon in the Galaxy.” It contains objective facts about nature’s wonder, avoiding human values and cultural creeds that may annoy or confuse aliens. Rather than presumptuously virtue-signaling on behalf of humankind, “Beacon in the Galaxy” focuses on scientific precepts, some with universal application, including:
Our binary and decimal systems Prime numbers, including the largest prime number Mathematical operations, exponential operations, and algebra Particle physics The most common elements (hydrogen, helium, carbon, etc.) DNA structures
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