Here's How We'll Make First Contact If Aliens Are Listening

Thursday, 16 November 2017 - 12:05PM
Alien Life
Thursday, 16 November 2017 - 12:05PM
Here's How We'll Make First Contact If Aliens Are Listening
Image credit: Pixabay
If math is a universal language, could music be just as good of a way to make first contact with intelligent alien life?

A joint effort between scientists and an annual music event has sent a message to an exoplanet with just that logic in mind. 

A partnership between the Sónar festival, The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) and METI International (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence), has put together a project known as Sónar Calling GJ273b with the goal of contacting alien life through transmitting music to an exoplanet.

Back in October, the venture utilized the EISCAT (European Incoherent SCATter Scientific Association) antenna in Tromsø, Norway, to send detailed transmissions to GJ 273b, an extrasolar planet in orbit around GJ 273, also known as Luyten's Star.

Found in the constellation Canis Minor, GJ 273 is about 12.4 light-years from Earth, and its b-exoplanet lies in what is considered the star's habitable zone.



Douglas Vakoch, president of METI, explained the reasoning behind choosing the distant world as the target. "We can send a message, and possibly get a reply back in 25 years," said Vakoch. "It's a very nice coincidence, because that coincides with Sónar's 50th anniversary in the year 2043."

Sónar, which describes itself as "a festival of music, creativity and technology" has been held yearly in Barcelona since 1994. 

Sónar says it's "tracked the Earth to detect the most advanced sounds on the planet," and in celebration of its 25th anniversary "has decided to turn its antenna and send music to space with the aim of getting the first contact with intelligent outside life."



The message will consist of 36 pieces of music, divided equally across six broadcasts, each holding six 10-second musical cuts.

"We can't assume the aliens would understand English, or Spanish, or Swahili," says Mr. Vakoch, "we need to start with something we have in common…music, at its core, can be described in terms of mathematics and physics." 

Vakoch said the October transmissions were only in two frequencies, but the next round of messaging scheduled for April 2018 will include "a mathematical and scientific tutorial that will communicate the essential ideas needed to understand the radio signals that we're sending, and what could be more basic than just saying how we count." 

The transmission will also include the specific date when the project team will be listening for the reply in 2043, with the hope that the music and math sent to GJ 273b will not only find a recipient—but one who can possibly send back some tunes as well.
 
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Alien Life
Here's How We'll Make First Contact If Aliens Are Listening