September 12

How to Contact Extraterrestrial Intelligence


Astronomers have long held to the principle of mediocrity since Nicolaus Copernicus published his work. According to this theory, intelligent life could exist somewhere else in our galaxy and SETI is used to search for alien messages broadcast via radio signals from any possible alien sources.

Astronomers like Frank Drake established Project Ozma and later SETI with an aim of answering whether we are alone. But first we must listen.

1. Listen to the Sky

SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) seeks to detect radio signals that indicate intelligent life elsewhere in space. Astronomers use powerful radio telescopes in this search.

Researchers have developed another approach for sending messages into space called active SETI. This technique involves sending repeated signals into space in order to see if there is an answer from aliens – this method has proven both cost-cutting and time saving when compared with sending one single signal in hopes of seeing any response from outside worlds.

Though no such radio signals have ever been discovered, the prospect of encountering another civilisation is intriguing to many people and has inspired numerous science fiction stories and films that explore what might happen if ET were to contact us.

Some scientists fear that communication with aliens could be dangerous. British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking warned that their arrival could turn violent like Christopher Columbus did to Native Americans when he visited America.

Other scientists, however, hold that contact between humanity and alien civilizations would be beneficial to everyone involved. Carl Sagan and Frank Drake believed that intelligent life existed elsewhere in the universe and establishing dialogue would only benefit humanity in general.

2. Listen to the Earth

Astronomers have long searched for extraterrestrial life since telescopes first came into being. The first modern SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project, Project Ozma, began in 1960 and ran for only three months without finding any alien signals. Since then, different methods have been utilized in searching for alien life, from targeted searches on specific planets or stars to wide-sky surveys using some of the world’s largest radio telescopes such as Allen Telescope Array in West Virginia or China’s Five-hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope which covers 30 football fields!

Macy Huston and Jason Wright from the SETI Institute explain that humans unintentionally broadcast signals, like radio waves, into space. If an intelligent civilization on another planet detects these broadcasts and contacts Earth as a result, they could make contact and ask us questions or send greetings back home.

Scientists also search for signs of alien life by observing cosmic events such as supernovae or solar flares that might stand out, such as supernovae. Recently, Yale undergrad Andy Nilipour conducted his own academic study on this topic and discovered that supernovae may help narrow down their search.

Most excitingly, however, lies within active SETI’s newer approach – beaming a message into TRAPPIST-1 star system which holds seven planets including three that could host liquid water; it would take only 39 light-years for TRAPPIST-1 to receive it and reply back with its response.

3. Listen to Your Soul

No matter your beliefs about aliens, it can be fun and fascinating to consider. Scientists also work tirelessly in their search for signs of extraterrestrial life. Dean talks to Jill Tarter of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Tarter founded SETI along with other radio telescopes that were part of its initial lineup and is currently involved with BLIPSS radio telescopes used for SETI research. With her colleagues she hopes to send a message into space explaining some fundamental facts and concepts related to humanity if someone is listening – recording provided courtesy of SETI).

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4. Listen to Your Heart

Astronomers who spend their lives beaming radio signals into space with the hope of connecting with aliens must bear great responsibility in doing so. They alone determine what their message will say and how they will act upon any responses they receive.

SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is the term given to the practice of communicating with extraterrestrial intelligence, though other names exist such as CETI (contact with extraterrestrial intelligence), METI (messaging extraterrestrial intelligence), and Active SETI (combination search and messaging). Scientists who perform this task have been trained in being as cautious as possible by listening carefully to both themselves, the sky, their hearts, and each other in their communication attempts.

One fear surrounding ETIs is their potential threat to humanity, especially as their technological advances could easily surpass that of humanity and they might find ways to harm us like in War of the Worlds movie.

However, this perception is false; ETI does not pose the same threat to humanity that Copernicus did to European societies due to the existence of life on other planets not contradicting human belief that they are uniquely special in the universe.

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