New project aims to message nearby worlds
By T.K. Randall
February 9, 2015 · 65 comments
Is sending messages out in to space a good idea ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Hajor
Astronomers are planning to send radio messages to Earth-like worlds within a range of 20 light years.
For decades the SETI Institute has been listening out for signs of extraterrestrial radio communications in an attempt to discover whether or not intelligent life might exist elsewhere in the universe.
Now in an effort to step up their efforts scientists are planning to start broadcasting radio messages of their own in to the depths of space in an attempt to attract the attention of any curious extraterrestrials who might be listening out in our direction.
To maximize the chances of being picked up the messages would be directed towards stars around which potentially habitable planets have already been discovered by astronomers.
"There could be many civilizations out there but if they are all listening and no one is broadcasting then nothing will happen," said SETI's chief executive David Black.
"One question is...if we go ahead, what message should we send? Should it be the work of a few scientists or should we involve the whole world, perhaps through the Internet?"
While many scientists have approved of the project, some, such as Professor Stephen Hawking, have criticized the endeavor as dangerous on the basis that broadcasting our existence could have dire consequences if the message were to be picked up by a hostile extraterrestrial race.
"If aliens do visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didnít turn out well for the Native Americans," he said.
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