A NASA project aims to transmit data about our planet to intelligent life forms that may be living in the galaxy. A bad idea for some scientists.
A “beacon in the galaxy.” This is how the name of the NASA project could be translated to send a message across the galaxy in the hopes of making contact with potential aliens. The Beacon in the Galaxy project aims to transmit information about life on Earth, such as our DNA or the location of our planet.
The idea of coming into contact with hypothetical extraterrestrial civilizations is not new. In 1974, a first message was sent, the message of Arecibo, to the Hercules cluster, 22,000 light-years from Earth, chosen for its richness in stars, which increased the chances of potentially reaching a planet. habitat.
Since then, many messages have been teleported into space, such as a Doritos ad and an invitation, written in Klingon (the fictional language of the fictional Star Trek universe), to a Klingon opera. in The Hague, as you remember. The guardian.
Information about the Earth and humanity
After those calls went unanswered, scientists want to try their luck again. Thus, the message of the “Beacon in the Galaxy” project could be conveyed to a dense ring of stars near the heart of the Milky Way, the region considered the most promising for the emergence of life.
This message is made with simple communication principles composed thanks to the binary system. It includes 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 appearance of human beings.
“We believe that humanity has a compelling history to share and a desire to know others, and now it has the means to do so,” the NASA team wrote.
The message also contains the time-marked position of the solar system in the Milky Way and even of the Earth, added to information about our planet with, for example, images of nature such as mountains and lakes. Finally, he also has an invitation to respond, aimed at aliens.
Like “Christopher Columbus Landing in America”
However, it is this accurate information that worries some scientists. First, according to them, the chances of an intelligent extraterrestrial civilization intercepting the message are extremely low. Also, in the event that a contact is established, it would be difficult to establish a conversation as an answer may take several years. Also, these life forms may not understand the signal.
“The chances of the message reaching extraterrestrial life are slim, but it would have such an impact anyway that it should be taken quite seriously,” said Professor Anders Sandberg, a researcher at the Institute for the Future of Humanity. (FHI) of the University. of Oxford, in statements reported by The Independent.
For years, the idea of sending a message to the cosmos has been divisive, especially when it involves information about the Earth and humanity.
“If they visit us aliens, the result will be almost the same as when Christopher Columbus landed in America, which was not good for Native Americans,” Stephen Hawking said in 2010.
Greater disadvantages than advantages?
Professor Toby Ord, also a researcher at Oxford University, believes that the main problem is the proportion of peaceful civilizations compared to those that would be hostile to us.
“We have very little evidence to determine whether this ratio is high or low, and there is no scientific consensus. Since the harms could be far greater than the benefits, this does not seem like a good place to take active action. contact, “he explains.
In response, the NASA team, led by Professor Jonathan Jiang, suggests overcoming our fears in the name of science. According to these scientists, an alien species capable of communicating through the cosmos may have learned the value of peace. “We believe that the scientific advances that can be made to drive this task, if communication were to be established, would far outweigh the concerns,” they conclude.