Teacher. Photo: jameslee1 (Getty).
If any aliens are reading this, I’m sorry our planet’s smartest people are sending you homework.
It’s been long assumed that we’re not alone in the universe, and we’re convinced life exists and prospers on other planets far beyond our solar system. Scientists work every day to try and communicate with alien life, beaming messages into space in hopes of getting some sort of response. The latest attempt, however, has them acting like algebra teachers emailing you assignments.
Scientists Send Aliens Math In Effort To Communicate
Last month, a group named Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI), with some bankrolling from Sónar, sent encoded radio signals toward a red dwarf star over 12 light years away. They hope that the messages are received by anyone — or anything — inhabiting GJ 273b, a planet orbiting the small star named Luyten’s star. The messages were sent from an installation in Norway run by EISCAT, an organization that beamed their own message into space in 2008 . That message was a 30-second Doritos ad, which we can only assume made aliens hungry for chips.
The messages from METI contain tutorials in math and physics, which is pretty funny if you think about it — aliens probably look at these tutorials and are like, “We been known how to do this, fam.” The messages are followed by music, which were provided by artists like French composer Jean-Michel Jarre.
Dr. Douglas Vakoch, who leads the team at METI, hopes he’ll get some sort of relayed response from aliens after they receive his messages… 12 years from now in 2029. Wow, someone needs to upgrade their cell service.
More from The Economist:
Dr Vakoch’s data were encoded in binary and sent on two frequencies, with a pulse in one frequency standing for “1” and the other for “0”. They include a count from one to five, mathematical operations like addition and multiplication, simple trigonometry and a description of electromagnetic waves. There is also a clock that counts the seconds that have passed since the transmissions began. That is the science.
The goal of this whole ordeal is simple: we want to talk to aliens. Not everyone has been happy about the effort, though, citing concerns for humanity’s safety when alerting aliens of our existence. Dr. Vakoch, on the other hand, isn’t sweating it, so he’s going to keep sending math problems into space because aliens apparently like doing homework.