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"Human beings hardly ever learn from the experience of others. They learn; when they do, which isn't often, on their own, the hard way."
- Robert Heinlein

Communicate with Extraterrestrials  
  Early plan to communicate with life on planets removed from the earth.  

This effort preceded SETI by over a century. As far as I know, this is the first proposal to communicate with life not of this earth.

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.' So spoke the German geometrician; but his project was never put into practice, and up to the present day there is no bond in existence between the Earth and her satellite. It is reserved for the practical genius of Americans to establish a communication with the sidereal world.

From From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne.
Published by Various in 1867
Additional resources -

How prophetic can you be? It was indeed reserved for Americans to establish communication with other bodies in the solar system.

Frank Drake - a young radio astronomer working in West Virginia - independently fashioned an experiment to search for signals from extraterrestrial intelligence. On April 8, 1960, he aimed a 26-meter radio telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank at two nearby stars. Sweeping his single-channel receiver up and down the microwave band, Drake spent several weeks listening for extraterrestrial signals. Known as Project Ozma, this was the first modern SETI search.

It's possible that this method was suggested by Carl Fredrich Gauss (1777-1855) who apparently suggested drawing an enormous pythagorean triangle on the Siberian tundra.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from From the Earth to the Moon
  More Ideas and Technology by Jules Verne
  Tech news articles related to From the Earth to the Moon
  Tech news articles related to works by Jules Verne

Communicate with Extraterrestrials-related news articles:
  - Earth Barcoded For Alien Convenience
  - Google Earth Typography
  - Syrians Ask For Help From Mars

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SETI Workshop On Communicating Across The Cosmos

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