A team of scientists is intending to transmit a radio transmission containing Earth’s position deep into space in the hopes that it would be heard and understood by an alien civilisation one day.
The Beacon in the Galaxy (BITG) message is essentially a modernised version of the renowned Arecibo message, which was the first broadcast in 1974 for the same purpose.
Moreover, the Arecibo message was broadcast from Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory.
Further, that was sent in binary code, which was converted into a visual picture depicting a human figure, our DNA, and a representation of our solar system.
Meanwhile, BITG will also include a graphic of DNA, a representation of the male and female forms, and much more information about basic arithmetic and physics than the Arecibo message conveyed.
“The proposed message includes basic mathematical and physical concepts to establish a universal means of communication, followed by information on the biochemical composition of life on Earth, the Solar System’s time-stamped position in the Milky Way relative to known globular clusters, as well as digitised depictions of the Solar System and Earth’s surface,” according to the BITG’s website.
The communication ends with digitised representations of the human form and a request for any receiving bits of intelligence to reply. The message will be conveyed in binary code, which is thought to be basic and straightforward to decipher.
According to BITG, “Though the concept of mathematics in human terms is potentially unrecognizable to ETI, binary is likely universal across all intelligence. Binary is the simplest form of mathematics as it involves only two opposing states: zero and one, yes or no, black or white, mass or empty space. Hence, the transmission of the code as binary would very likely be understandable to all ETI and is the basis of the BITG message,”
Furthermore, the BITG message blends engaging content with a scientific grounding to properly introduce mankind and, ideally, encourage response from any Extraterrestrial life form receivers. Unlike the Arecibo Message, which was designed to demonstrate the capabilities of radio astronomy, the BITG message directly targets the Milky Way region most likely to hold intelligent life.
In addition, the BITG research team explained, “By choosing a star cluster between 2 kpc and 6 kpcs from the centre of the galaxy as the intended destination, we maximize the chances of the message being received by an ETI; thus, we maximize the probability of receiving a response in the distant future,”
Future messages might include music, such as Beethoven, Mozart, Bach symphonies, or scientific discourse, according to the scientists.
BITG ignores Stephen Hawking’s warning against reaching out to Aliens
Professor Hawking had recommended listening to signals from ETI at a breakthrough listen to the event in 2015 but warned against actively reaching out to them.
In 2015, as scientists began Breakthrough Listen, a $100 million experiment aimed at searching for extraterrestrial life in space, the renowned physicist issued a warning against contacting alien life.
He had added at the time, “We know little about aliens, but we know about humans. If you look at history, contact between humans and less intelligent organisms has often been disastrous from their point of view, and encounters between civilizations with advanced versus primitive technologies have gone badly for the less advanced.”
Furthermore, he added, A civilization reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead of us. If so, they will be vastly more powerful, and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”
Moreover, he also expressed concern that aliens who detect the signal may not regard us [humans] as any more precious than microbes.
However, Jamilah Hah, a researcher involved in the BITG project, believes that the benefits may exceed the hazards.
She said, “Stephen Hawking’s quote is absolutely inspiring and my personal conclusion was that any species capable of understanding and interpreting our message will likely be equally if not more intelligent and wary of our existence.”
In addition, she said, “Thus, as long as contact is approached with a clear sign of peace, it can be assumed that the hopeful possibilities and discoveries that come alongside communication outweigh the risk.”
Despite Professor Hawking’s warning, the BITG team is optimistic, saying, “Humanity has, we contend, a compelling story to share and the desire to know of others – and now has the means to do so.”