Messaging Extraterrestial Intelligence (METI), a team of scientists and philosophers, are preparing to send messages into space by2018, hoping possible alien civilizations nearby would find them. They plan to aim these messages at Proxima b, the nearest star to our Sun.
METI have begun discussing what the messages should say, and plan to send them by 2018. They will be holding a conference in 2017, to discuss what should be said.
This isn’t the first time messages have been sent to potential alien civilizations. In 1974, the Arecibo radio telescope sent a message to the star cluster M13.
In 1977, the infamous “Golden record” was also sent on the Voyager in hopes that an alien civilization would find it. The likelihood that these messages would be recognized remains to be very low.
For that reason, METI is currently planning a more systematic approach: they plan to build or buy a transmitter to send extended powerful signals. “The project will test the hypothesis that a powerful, intentional, information-rich signal from Earth may elicit a response from extraterrestrial intelligence, even if they already know of our existence from accidental leakage radiation,” METI’s strategic plan states.
Many have celebrated this plan, however, as expected many remain opposed to the concept, including Stephen Hawking.
In August, Mark Buchanan, the former Nature editor, wrote in Nature Physics that it is dangerous to alert other civilizations that may be more technologically advanced than us.
The METI president Douglas A. Vakoch has responded by saying: “The risk we most often hear about – alien invasion – is simply not plausible,” he wrote. “Any civilization slightly more advanced than we are could already detect our presence through accidental electromagnetic radiation. Only a virtual twin of modern terrestrial technology would pick up information-rich beacons but be blind to the BBC at interstellar distances. If we are in danger of an alien invasion, it’s too late.”