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If we encounter aliens, how do we communicate with them?

If we do encounter extraterrestrial intelligent life (commonly known as aliens), then a key question is “how to communicate with them?” Not long ago, an international research team detailed a method for contacting aliens. new information. The team, led by Jonathan Jiang of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), called this new information “Beacon in the Galaxy.” The message consists of 13 parts and is an update to the 1974 Arecibo message. The Arecibo message is the first attempt by humans to actively send messages to extraterrestrial intelligent life.

Hongtao Jiang and colleagues plan to send information to a dense ring of stars near the galactic center where habitable planets may be located. The message also contained a newly designed return address to help any aliens who received the message pinpoint our location, allowing them to start an interstellar conversation as the researchers hoped. Jiang Hongtao said: “The original intention of this new message is to convey the richest information about human society and human beings with the least ‘language’. Thanks to advances in electronic technology, we can do better than we did in 1974. ”

To date, almost all messages sent by humans to space have been designed based on concepts from mathematics and basic science, in the hope that aliens with the ability to receive radio signals can understand the meaning, because we humans and higher extraterrestrial civilizations You are probably familiar with these concepts. However, when choosing a method of encoding information, many designs (including the newly proposed “lighthouse in the galaxy”) choose to encode information as a bitmap ( bitmap), which is a method of creating bitmap images from binary code.

Bitmap method is a logical method, any intelligent life should be able to identify on/off and presence/absence, and this two-state system is the essence of binary. But this method is not perfect. Frank Drake, a pioneer in the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life (SETI), after prototyping the Arecibo message, emailed the binary message to a number of colleagues , including some Nobel Prize winners. However, no one understands the content of this message, and only one person finds that it is a bitmap.

Also, even if the aliens manage to decode the information, they may not be able to see the solved graphics. “One of the main reasons is that the sight of animals on Earth today has evolved over many times,” explains Douglas Vakoch. Vakoch is president of METI (Send Information to Extraterrestrial Intelligence) International, a non-profit organization that studies how to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence. “Similarly, aliens may have vision, but that’s just speculation. And even if they can see, they won’t necessarily be able to understand the meaning of the graphics, because there’s a lot of cultural context involved.”

Hongtao Jiang and colleagues report the new information in the journal Galaxies. In addition, the design of this new message is mainly based on the information sent by the “Cosmic Call” mission in 2003, when the message was sent by the Yevpatoria RT-70 radio telescope in the Crimea peninsula of. This design features a custom bitmap “alphabet” that reduces transmission bit error rates. This new message begins with a prime number to indicate that the sender is a human, and then leads us to our decimal counting system and elementary mathematics with the aforementioned distinct alphabet. Then, using a common phenomenon—the generation of radio waves by hydrogen atoms due to energy level transitions—to explain the concept of time and to mark the time when this message was sent from Earth. In addition, the new information introduces elements commonly used in the periodic table and describes the structure and chemical properties of DNA.

The last part is likely to be the most interesting to aliens, but also the most difficult to understand. With the new information, the researchers want to show portraits of men and women, maps depicting the entire Earth’s surface and a schematic diagram of the solar system, along with radio frequencies that aliens could use to reply. In addition, they provided solar system coordinates in the reference frame of the positions of globular clusters, which are densely packed with thousands or even millions of stars and are very stable.

Jiang Hongtao and his colleagues proposed that the newly designed information be sent by the Allen Telescope Array in California and the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in China in the future. After the destruction of the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, the two telescopes became the only radio telescopes in the world available to SETI researchers. However, at present they can only passively receive signals from the universe. Jiang Hongtao said that it is not a trivial matter to assemble transmission equipment for any of the telescopes. But it’s not impossible, Jiang Hongtao continued, saying that he and the paper’s co-authors are discussing how to collaborate with the FAST research team in China to send this new message.

A deeper question is whether we should be sending information to the universe, which has sparked a debate among SETI researchers: Could all efforts be just a waste of time? Will the information sent be subject to malicious attacks? Sheri Wells-Jensen, a researcher at Bowling Green State University in the United States, said: ” I don’t have to worry about alien invasion all day, but others may live in fear. Although I can’t empathize, but that doesn’t mean their concerns are irrelevant.” Wells-Jensen is an expert on linguistics and culture in designing interstellar dialogue. However, Wells-Jensen added: “The difficulty of reaching a global consensus on ‘what message to send’ and ‘whether it should be sent’ doesn’t mean we should give up trying. Fight for it, and give It is our responsibility to provide relevant information from as many people as possible.”

Moreover, many believe that the potential rewards of active search for extraterrestrial intelligent life (active SETI, also known as METI) far outweigh the risks. Their claim is that the first contact with aliens would be a momentous moment in human history, but nothing could be gained by simply waiting for other life to contact. As for the danger of being destroyed by malicious aliens, we exposed ourselves very early on – those aliens who could reach Earth must have been able to detect the chemistry of life on Earth for centuries It can also detect electromagnetic radiation signals “leaked” from radio, television and radar systems.

“We invite all human beings to participate in the discussion and discuss whether this message should be sent,” Jiang Hongtao said. “We hope that this paper will inspire people to think about this issue.”

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