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'A Sign in Space' Gives Practice In Decoding ET Messages

What would it be like to receive a message from another world? A Sign in Space gives us all a chance to practice.

A Sign in Space is an interdisciplinary project by media artist Daniela de Paulis, in collaboration with the SETI Institute, the European Space Agency, the Green Bank Observatory and INAF, the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics.

The project consists in transmitting a simulated extraterrestrial message as part of a live performance, using an ESA spacecraft as celestial source. The objective of the project is to involve the world-wide Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence community, professionals from different fields and the broader public, in the reception, decoding and interpretation of the message. This process will require global cooperation, bridging a conversation around the topics of SETI, space research and society, across multiple cultures and fields of expertise.

You can download the message, as well as other materials, at ASignIn.space.

One of the earliest science fiction writers to think about communicating with extraterrestrials was, not surprisingly, Jules Verne. He describes his idea in From the Earth to the Moon:

I am bound to add that some practical geniuses have attempted to establish actual communication with her. Thus, a few days ago, a German geometrician proposed to send a scientific expedition to the steppes of Siberia. There, on those vast plains, they were to describe enormous geometric figures, drawn in characters of reflecting luminosity, among which was the proposition regarding the `square of the hypotenuse,' commonly called the `Ass's Bridge' by the French.

`Every intelligent being,' said the geometrician, `must understand the scientific meaning of that figure. The Selenites, do they exist, will respond by a similar figure; and, a communication being thus once established, it will be easy to form an alphabet which shall enable us to converse with the inhabitants of the moon.'

(Read more about Jules Vern communicates with extraterrestrials)

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