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Space Technology

Crowd-Funded Radio Beacon Will Message Aliens 196

Posted by samzenpus
from the is-there-anybody-out-there? dept.
astroengine writes "In the hope of uniting people around the globe in a long-duration project to send a radio 'message in a bottle' METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) signal, a crowd-funded project utilizing a refurbished radio telescope in California has begun its work. Lone Signal is a project initiated by scientists, businessmen and entrepreneurs to set up a continuous radio beacon from Earth. To support the operations of the Jamesburg Earth Station radio dish in Carmel Valley, Calif. (a dish built to support the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969), a crowd-funding effort has been set up so that for a small fee, users can send images to the stars. If you're content with sending a text message, your first message is free. The radio dish's first target is Gliese 526, a red dwarf star 18 light-years from Earth, but the project will be considering other stellar targets believed to be harboring habitable worlds."
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Crowd-Funded Radio Beacon Will Message Aliens

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  • by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @07:15PM (#43990771)

    I sure do hope they get this right. It would be a shame if it turned out they created a intergalactic message like this [shutterstock.com].

    • by durrr (1316311) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @08:11PM (#43991241)

      Don't worry. I'm just going to send a copy of the book "How to Serve Man"

    • you joke, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @09:33PM (#43991687) Journal
      This is at best a waste of money. I know he catches some flak for this, but Stephen Hawking has it right. There's no reason at all we should expect intelligent alien life forms to deal with us as respected equals, especially if they are considerably more advanced. At the same time, it would be too much to hope for them to ignore us. Our planet would be a treasure trove of scientific interest to them, and even practical interest in the same way rainforests are useful to biochemists or bacteria are useful to genetic engineers. The altruism argument ignores how very limited it is here on Earth. Forget intercultural conflict, how many people give/gave a shit enough about dead dolphins enough to boycott tuna? Or save the poor bonobos? Their intelligence is a lot closer to ours than ours would be to any life form advanced enough to travel the stars (unless they had some kind of taboo on both genetic and cybernetic enhancement.) Overall point being: altruism isn't a prerequisite for advanced spaceflight, but relentless pragmatism is.

      Fortunately, what with the speed of light being what it is, this shouldn't be of any immediate concern.

      Also, I think there's a recent 'obligatory' xkcd that's quite on-topic here if anyone wants to whore some karma. In the what if section.
      • > I know he catches some flak for this, but Stephen Hawking has it right.

        No he doesn't.

        In 10 years you will have proof that a) we are not alone, b) they look very similar to us, c) our fear of _them_ keeps them away as they know the true human potential whereas we are still ignorant & blind.

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Except that the star they are pointing it at is 18 light years away. So at best it will be 36 years before they'll be able to send get a signal back to us. That's assuming they detect the signal right away, and have the capability to send another message back to us. The planet that receives the signal may have intelligent life, but they may be a little behind us in terms of scientific knowledge. We've only had radio for less that 150 years, but humans have been around for 195,000 years, and the earth is
  • instead of text messages which have no inherent means of even being understood, why not transmit useful information about ourselves that we would wish aliens to send to us: pictures, society structure, arts, science...this was done to limited extent with the "pioneer plaque"; that's the direction we should be thinking

    • How would an alien decode the .jpeg, .bmp, or whatever else we send them. I think we should send a message like in contact. Groups of pulses arranged in prime number sequences. It's distinct, it's easy to decode, and it would be near impossible to be natural.
      • by Mitreya (579078)

        How would an alien decode the .jpeg, .bmp, or whatever else we send them.

        Let's just send out BluRay streams. Everyone in the galaxy knows that these have to be licensed + players constantly updated, so the aliens will know what to do.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          How would an alien decode the .jpeg, .bmp, or whatever else we send them.

          Let's just send out BluRay streams. Everyone in the galaxy knows that these have to be licensed + players constantly updated, so the aliens will know what to do.

          In the 18 years it will take for the signals to reach the alien civilization on Gliese 526, the MPAA's reach will include the entire Galaxy, and relations with the alien civilization will be soured when each member of their society is fined $150,000 and extradited to the USA for punishment after receiving the and decoding the movie stream.

          • You've got to read Year Zero by Rob Reid. It deals with just this sort of situation only with music instead of movies. Very clever and funny science fiction.

      • by iggymanz (596061)

        You don't compress the image, you present pure sequence of pixels with scan line and frame completion markers as on the Voyager Golden Record. Have a look at it, the instructions to "play" the disk are engraved on the disk and are crystal clear even to young teen: I was 13 when I first saw it and system was obvious.

        Sure, start things out with your pulses, then go to diagrams and pictures like the Voyager Golden Record

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          You don't compress the image, you present pure sequence of pixels with scan line and frame completion markers as on the Voyager Golden Record. Have a look at it, the instructions to "play" the disk are engraved on the disk and are crystal clear even to young teen: I was 13 when I first saw it and system was obvious.

          Sure, start things out with your pulses, then go to diagrams and pictures like the Voyager Golden Record

          Crystal clear? Really?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Sounds_of_Earth_Record_Cover_-_GPN-2000-001978.jpg [wikipedia.org]

          • by iggymanz (596061)

            yes, that is trivial to understand the basic binary numbering system employed, play direction, and demarcation of scan line and frames.

            what would be hard to comprehend, on the other hand, is that business in lower left quadrant of location of earth by bearing to pulsars.

            • by hawguy (1600213)

              yes, that is trivial to understand the basic binary numbering system employed, play direction, and demarcation of scan line and frames.

              what would be hard to comprehend, on the other hand, is that business in lower left quadrant of location of earth by bearing to pulsars.

              I can't even pick out the 1's and 0's in that top waveform. Are the waveforms below it related to the top one? Why is the first part of the wave a perfect and uniform triangle wave followed by a clear and steady zero-level, then it degrades into a much noisier signal? What do I, I- and II mean? Do I rotate the disk clockwise or counter clockwise to read it?

              • by iggymanz (596061)

                oh dear.

                I I- II are one, two, three. - is zero

                you should now be able to answer the rest of your questions.

              • by tftp (111690)

                Why is the first part of the wave a perfect and uniform triangle wave followed by a clear and steady zero-level, then it degrades into a much noisier signal?

                This knowledge is lost along with the analog television. Clear and steady zero level is blanking interval, and the "noisier signal" is the analog video of the scan line.

                If you rotate the disk backward you will get the image flipped, and the sequence of the frames inverted (assuming that the recording is done in a spiral, and thus has only two ends

  • We should stop this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by countach (534280) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @07:18PM (#43990797)

    I am hereby setting up a crowd funded effort to bomb and destroy this radio dish. I don't want any aliens appearing on my front doorstep. We've all seen the movies, this never ends well.

    Seriously though, it seems to me incredibly arrogant and self centred for a private group of people to try and contact aliens, because the potential results of aliens turning up could be catastrophic, and that's a decision that all mankind should make together, not some private group.

    The only reason I'm not concerned is that I think this has precisely a zero point zero chance of success.

    • by xevioso (598654)

      When was the last time "All Mankind" agreed on anything at all whatsoever, let alone whether or not to try to contact aliens?

      We've been sending out transmissions for decades now, much stronger than this. What harm can another few do?

      Most importantly, aliens won't detect us because of our signals...they will detect us based upon the signatures we've left on our atmosphere, which is how we are most likely going to detect life on other planets.

    • by ClintJCL (264898)
      ....Because of course all of mankind would agree unanimously.
    • by Joe Tie. (567096)
      The fact that so many people base their views on bad science fiction is why private groups need to. They're walking into the 'haunted house" for the people scared of ghosts.
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Maybe this is the solution to the Fermi paradox, all the other aliens are hiding on their planets pissing themselves about imagined invaders too.

  • I have an uneasy feeling with this.
    OK, maybe I just read/watched too much bad Science Fiction.
    Nevertheless, the message I'll send will be:

    "Nothing to see here, move along!"

    • by Molochi (555357)

      Howabout,

      "Hi, Do you have good taste? We'd like to serve you!"

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      I have an uneasy feeling with this.

      Hook up the NSA Prism into this, that will keep the aliens away.

  • What if it turned out to be like a scantily-dressed 18-year-old female yelling "Here I am! Come get me!" in the middle of a crowd of bikers at Sturgis?
    • It will be more like a scantily-dressed 18-year-old female yelling "Here I am! Come get me!" in the middle of an ocean, with nothing but said ocean in sight.

  • Several ideas for my first free message: 1) Anally Probable monkeys here, $15 each. (I'll be rich!) 2) Earth thinks you are a pack of 6 eyed jerks, and challenges you to a fight. 3) WE CLAIM THE WESTERN ARM OF THE GALAXY, AND DOMINION OVER ALL WHO DWELL THERE. How is this whole project NOT a bad idea on every level?
    • by xevioso (598654)

      Because other people will send out messages entirely different and opposite to that. So the Aliens will see reasonable messages and unreasonable ones, leading them most likely to do nothing more than be exceedingly amused.

  • by danlip (737336) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @07:23PM (#43990835)

    enough said

    • by TWX (665546)
      (translated Alien speech)

      "I didn't think there was a Nebula over there... Who's sending that to us?"
  • The reason there aren't a whole lot of beacons detected by SETI is pretty clear. Every time someone lights up a beacon, the Space Lizard Starfleet turns up in orbit and it's buffet time. Beacons are like an evolutionary test. The races that send them out end up as lunch. The races that keep quiet get to live another day.
  • It's hard to see how there's anything useful in sending disjointed messages without at least providing a primer on English or whichever Earth language the messages are going to be in. Something like transmitting all of Wikipedia and Project Gutenburg so there's a big enough sample of the language so they have a chance of deciphering it.

    • This all assumes that large-scale interstellar space travel is economically feasible for a sufficiently advanced civilization.

      It's just as likely that it isn't (eg sending the Lizard Armada to another star requires way more energy than the Lizards are willing to spend, even if we are delicious) and therefore we as a species are safe wrt being eaten.

  • by KitFox (712780) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @07:34PM (#43990947)

    Rookie error #3: Point the radio transmission directly at the star.

    Unless the target is moving directly toward or away from us relatively speaking, pointing it at the star will target where the star was 36 light years before the transmission will arrive. If it -is- moving directly toward or away, are they accounting for Doppler?

    • by Xyrus (755017) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @07:54PM (#43991097) Journal

      Of course, rookie error #1 is getting involved in a land war in Asia and rookie error #2 is going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

      All kidding aside, I'm not sure I like this idea. It's not really a good idea to announce your presence in an area where the natives could be restless and you could be considered "tasty".

    • Rookie error #1 - pedantic posting about stuff he doesn't understand.

      Stars move slowly, and radio transmissions (even relatively tight beamed ones) spread out the farther they get from the source - and 18LY is a very long way away.

      Not to mention the dangers of assuming too much from a very simple statement - like exactly where the antenna will be pointing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's a 30-metre antenna. If they're transmitting radio waves with (say) 3 cm wavelength, the beam will be 0.001 radians ~= 0.05 degrees across. For the star to get out of this beam before the signal arrives, it needs to be travelling at over 0.001 of the speed of light, which is ridiculously fast for a star. So, pointing straight at the star isn't a problem.

      Doppler shifting isn't a problem, either. It's only important if your transmitter and receiver have been tuned to exactly the same frequency; and al

  • I'm all for METI as long as it's honest.

  • They should release the binary contents of the haling message and message content as a codebreaking challenge and see if anyone here on earth can decode it.

    • Here you go: 01101000 01110100 01110100 01110000 00111010 00101111 00101111 01110111 01110111 01110111 00101110 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110100 01110101 01100010 01100101 00101110 01100011 01101111 01101101 00101111 01110111 01100001 01110100 01100011 01101000 00111111 01110110 00111101 01000100 01000101 00101101 00111000 01111001 01001111 00110011 01100110 01101110 01001010 00110100
      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Here you go: 01101000 01110100 01110100 01110000 00111010 00101111 00101111 01110111 01110111 01110111 00101110 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110100 01110101 01100010 01100101 00101110 01100011 01101111 01101101 00101111 01110111 01100001 01110100 01100011 01101000 00111111 01110110 00111101 01000100 01000101 00101101 00111000 01111001 01001111 00110011 01100110 01101110 01001010 00110100

        Those are going to be some pretty pissed off aliens, maybe they really are going to come and destroy us.

  • how much time it will take until the transmission even arrives 'somewhere'? This story is bullshit.
  • by Rubinhood (977039) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @08:06PM (#43991197)

    Can the senders please make sure that if those guys are predators, the rest of us are safe. Thanks.

    As a side note, I tend to feel strangely unsure that such things are a good idea when unknown extraterrestrials receive more attention than starving 3rd world fellow terrestrials.

  • The deep ocean is a dangerous place. The jungle is a dangerous place.

    To think whatever might be lurking in deep space is all warm and fuzzy, ready to submit to our dominion, or tenderly treat us like children, eager to school us in the secrets of the universe, seems a bit naive.

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      The deep ocean is a dangerous place. The jungle is a dangerous place.

      To think whatever might be lurking in deep space is all warm and fuzzy, ready to submit to our dominion, or tenderly treat us like children, eager to school us in the secrets of the universe, seems a bit naive.

      You'd have a much better chance of thrusting your hand in the ocean at random and retrieving a fish than pointing a radio telescope at a random star system and finding an intelligent civilization

    • by stenvar (2789879)

      Professor Donald Kessler: We know they're extremely advanced technologically, which suggests - very rightfully so - that they're peaceful. An advanced civilization, by definition, is not barbaric.

      Martian Translator Device: We come in peace! We come in peace!

      • by tftp (111690)

        An advanced civilization, by definition, is not barbaric.

        So what is the Skynet, not an advanced civilization or not barbaric?

        There could be civilizations that don't even realize that chemical compounds may interlink to support life. There could be civilizations to which we are microscopic creatures; or the other way around. We destroy bacteria in most places where we come across them, and if they attract our attention we just do it faster.

        There may be civilizations that define the word "barbaric" dif

      • by KGIII (973947)

        Ack ack!

  • I thought the conventional wisdom on this is that we shouldn't be sending them messages, but we should be listening? At least that's what Stephen Hawking says [go.com].
    • by 0111 1110 (518466)

      Do you have any idea how unlikely it is that there is someone listening at Gliese 526 or any other target less than100 light years from us? I'm guessing that you don't. BTW, Hawking is simply wrong about this issue.

  • Einstein was right, you can't solve problems at the same level in which they were created. The greatest transmitter is the human body. It can span time distance and dimensions. All you gotta do...is get on the same frequency. Everyone.
  • Yea, with how crappy humanity is to each other and other species on this planet; the beacon needs to send this quote from The Doctor "Run and hide, because the monsters are coming - the human race."
  • No license means the owner concede no right at all to the user. This is in fact an unspoken trust license: do whatever with it and trust me to not sue you.

    This should drive corporations away because of the legal risk and just keep end user that do not care about IP laws

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Crowd-funded radio bacon?

  • Maybe I should crowdfund/crowdsource/kickstart/Angelfire/Tripod/Zynga a project to hire that blonde guy with the giant teeth from Contact to blow up the telescope. You know, since it's a really stupid idea to tell aliens we're here. That's the consensus from intelligent people at least.
  • What they are doing is similar to what I want to do.

    1. Build minimum 350 kW, 10 Ghz, long pulsed, pulse position modulated, Klystron / Gyrotron.
    2. Build parabolic dish 20 meters or larger in diameter. Ideally at a latitude where your most important target star passes right above (at your zenith).
    3. Aim dish at Gliese 581 or other interesting targets within 30-50 ly.
    4. Profit ???
    5. After round trip time, if you are still alive, listen for a response.

    We do need to make a profit in order to sustain the operating costs in order to keep doing it."

    Ruh roh. I wonder what their "operating costs" are. Just

  • Gold Here! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bayoudegradeable (1003768) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @02:56AM (#43992835)
    Perhaps it will sound like this: Greetings Mr. Cortez! You are searching for gold, we are having it! Please visit our lovely Aztec mines. You will love our gold! Have a nice time with our women while you are at it. Please, cross the ocean and come visit us. We don't even have gunpowder! We don't have resistance to small pox either! See us soon!

    Or perhaps.... Hey Spike! Wanna go dig up some bones?!
  • And then we get the reply:

    This is a new phone, I don't have anyone's numbers. Who's this?

  • 1) No idea if they will be nice. Simply no way to tell.

    2) What makes them think they can speak for me, or for the rest of humanity for that matter?

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