Are we sending aliens the right messages?


via BBC:

Despite decades of sending sounds and pictures into space no aliens have responded. Have we been doing it wrong? Tracey Logan investigates, and discovers some novel attempts to make contact – including the smells of our planet.

Artist Carrie Paterson has long dreamed of beaming messages far out to the emptiness of space. Except her messages would have an extra dimension – smell.

By broadcasting formulae of aromatic chemicals, she says, aliens could reconstruct all sorts of whiffs that help to define life on Earth: animal blood and faeces, sweet floral and citrus scents or benzene to show our global dependence on the car. This way intelligent life forms on distant planets who may not see or hear as we do, says Paterson, could explore us through smell, one of the most primitive and ubiquitous senses of all.

Her idea is only the latest in a list of attempts to hail intelligent life outside of the Solar System. Forty years ago this month, the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico sent an iconic picture message into space – and we’ve arguably been broadcasting to aliens ever since we invented TV and radio.

However in recent years, astronomers, artists, linguists and anthropologists have been converging on the idea that creating comprehensible messages for aliens is much harder than it seems. This week, Paterson and others discussed the difficulties of talking to our cosmic neighbours at a conference called Communicating Across the Cosmos, held by Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). It seems our traditional ways of communicating through pictures and language may well be unintelligible – or worse, be catastrophically misconstrued. So how should we be talking to ET?

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17 Comments on "Are we sending aliens the right messages?"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Nov 16, 2014 at 3:49 pm |

    the converse of this idea
    that alien life forms are broadcasting data to us
    and that we don’t recognise their messages
    is never mentioned or considered
    neither is the idea
    that maybe “aliens” are truely alien forms of life
    which we fail to recognize as life forms

    frankly, if I was an alien decoding our entertainment transmissions
    and I was an intelligent alien
    I’d skip Earth till after Homo sapiens killed themselves off

    • Westphal Ricardo | Nov 16, 2014 at 7:14 pm |

      And what if they’re sending these messages in a way that is completely recognisable to us, but mainstream media prefers not to mention or consider them, or even try to make them look like bullshit?

      • BuzzCoastin | Nov 16, 2014 at 7:57 pm |

        if they were sending completely recognizable messages
        seems like we’d have some incontrovertible evidence
        leaked by someone at this point
        if there are intelligent life forms out there
        their lack of communication speaks volumes

  2. InfvoCuernos | Nov 16, 2014 at 4:59 pm |

    Wow, just pick and choose your logic. So, you operate on the assumption that maybe aliens don’t communicate the way we do, but by smell. Then you just make the insane broad assumption that the things that we like to smell are the same the things they like to smell. What if they like the smell of farts? What if they don’t? Maybe the best course of action is to not try to communicate with someone else blindly. Wait until we make contact and know for sure that they want to communicate with us.

    • not to mention their love of sci-fi speculation of the powers of aliens. They’re not giving them smells, they re giving them molecular formulas, as if they necessarily have a 3-d micro chemical printer.

      • Westphal Ricardo | Nov 16, 2014 at 7:07 pm |

        In fact, if and advanced extraterrestrial civilization is able to communicate and visit us, that’s because they’re powers are far more greater than our sci-fi speculation could imagine, that’s why they can make a huge crop circle with complex geometric and fractal forms whitout killing the wheat, or go to 0 to 7000 mph (or even more) with their flying saucers in a blink of and eye without being crushed against the wall of the ship by the gravitational force (as various air force officials from around the world have testified).

    • Westphal Ricardo | Nov 16, 2014 at 6:20 pm |

      Let’s analize your comment by logic:

      1- “you operate on the assumption that maybe aliens don’t communicate the way we do, but by smell”.

      Smell is by far the most common way that living beings communicate in our planet (or at least the most common of the ways known/accepted by materialistic scientists), verbal communication is exclusive to human beings, and some other forms of life are able to hear and see, but not always the same frequencies of sound and/or light that our anatomy allows. Since we can’t communicate in an “alien language” (because we only know the forms of communication used in Earth), that’s the most plausible and smart attempt of space communication (from the materialistic point of view) that I ever heard of.

      2 “Then you just make the insane broad assumption that the things that we like to smell are the same the things they like to smell. What if they like the smell of farts? What if they don’t?”.

      Where did you read that they’d sent only the smells liked by humans? That’s not what the article says, in fact they sent a broad variety of smells so that the ETs could ‘explore’ life on earth, from “animal blood and faeces” to “sweet floral and citrus scents” or “benzene to show our global dependence on the car”. Please read the articles more carefully if you want to write usefull comments.

      • InfvoCuernos | Nov 17, 2014 at 2:57 am |

        Here, let me help you with this: If we don’t know what they like, then we’re basically just sending out a bunch of random words without any context. Does that make a little more sense? That we have acknowledged that we don’t know what is out there, does not mean we should just broadcast random shit.

        • You’re right. When it comes to communicating through smell, humans are diletantes compared to other lifeforms on this planet. Also we’d never be able to string together smells to represent a complex idea.

  3. Tchoutoye | Nov 16, 2014 at 5:11 pm |

    Trying to contact aliens is a complete waste of time. It’s a vanity project giving those who engage in it a false sense of importance that they’re acting on behalf of the whole planet.

  4. Westphal Ricardo | Nov 16, 2014 at 6:52 pm |

    All that, in my opinion, is useless, as well as other attempts of communication using images and sounds (sent by radio signals or by physical devices such as the phono cartridge on Voyager). Simply because the ETs communicate in the most efficient way that exists in the Universe: telepathy!

    And that’s not about sending messages in human language directly from one brain to another or reading someone’s mind (the two most common things that people imagine when they hear this word), but it consists on the transmition of a greater range of brain waves than the ones whe use to process language, in a way that emotions, abstract and/or complex ideas could be comprehended instantly. That’s what happens when your dog ‘understands’ what you say (in fact it doesn’t know and will never learn the spoken our language, but it can perceive what we mean by other kinds of energy that we emit while speaking).

  5. Oh those guys, they’re just laying low and make fun of stupid humans: getting in people’s heads and act as gods and such…

  6. trompe l'oeil | Nov 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm |

    The only language our fellow galactic members of the cause will understand, is clearly, macaroni necklaces.

  7. Simon Valentine | Nov 17, 2014 at 3:37 pm |

    a 13-dimensional object does not translate sound or smell to the same experience ye simpole 3d object users dote over

    communicate babes and boobs

    don’t tell the duke

Comments are closed.