Scientists have developed a new message that can be beamed to intelligent aliens that might exist in the Milky Way, Scientific American reports.
The new space-bound message is named the Beacon in the Galaxy (BITG), and it’s the latest in a series of human attempts to contact other lifeforms in the universe.
The Beacon was devised by Jonathan Jiang and his colleagues at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“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 digitized depictions of the Solar System, and Earth’s surface,” Jiang and his colleagues said in the study. “The message concludes with digitized images of the human form, along with an invitation for any receiving intelligences to respond.”
In composing the Beacon, Jiang and his colleagues opted to take a similar tack to many previous interstellar messages by writing the BITG in binary code.
“Though the concept of mathematics in human terms is potentially unrecognizable to ETI, binary is likely universal across all intelligence,” the scientists wrote. “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.”
Humans have sent many messages intended for aliens to outer space over the years, including the Golden Records onboard NASA’s Voyager probes, which, like BITG, also carry images of the naked human form.
Some experts, however, have warned that broadcasting Earth’s position in the galaxy could be an invitation for a potentially hostile species to do damage to our world. Jiang and his colleagues acknowledge this risk, but ultimately counter that any aliens capable of deciphering the BITG message are not likely to be aggressive conquerors.
“Logic suggests a species which has reached sufficient complexity to achieve communication through the cosmos would also very likely have attained high levels of cooperation amongst themselves and thus will know the importance of peace and collaboration,” the team said.