Are you alone in the universe? NASA wants to send representations of the naked human body to the far reaches of space in an attempt to contact possible extraterrestrial civilizations. A project born after a study by the space agency, part of the “Beacon in the Galaxy” project whose ambition is to define messages to be sent to space, and to broadcast them in all directions in the hope of one day get the answer from little green men.
But the message has little chance of being decoded. Indeed, scientists must face up to the first major problem: sending a message to space relies on technologies developed over the centuries by humanity and a way of communicating linked to these technologies. These images will therefore be sent in binary format.
And so that the message can be deciphered, NASA plans to send highly pixelated representations, as the researchers explained in the study: “while the concept of mathematics in human terms is potentially unrecognizable by intelligent extra-terrestrials, the binary system is likely to be universal across all intelligences”. They add that “the binary system is the simplest form of mathematics, since it involves only two opposite states: zero and one, yes or no, black or white, the presence of mass, or the absence, l ’empty space”.
An image of a naked man and woman, next to a strand of DNA
The authors of the study go on to state that “the proposed message includes basic mathematical and physical concepts, allowing to establish a universal mode of communication, followed by information on the biochemical composition of life on Earth, the position of the solar system in the Milky Way in relation to known star clusters, as well as digitized representations of the solar system and the Earth’s surface”.
And among the “information about the biochemical composition of life on Earth”, the researchers suggest including the representation of a naked man and woman next to a strand of DNA. But in any case, if there is indeed life in space, it will surely be necessary to wait a very long time before hoping to receive an answer. Indeed, interstellar distances are simply enormous, and the speed of light remains a fundamental constraint, whether to receive such a message, or more simply to travel.
This isn’t the first time scientists have attempted to project nude images of humans into space. In 1972, the Pioneer 10 missions and in 1973, the Pioneer 11 missions both contained illustrations representing the human body of man and woman in the simplest device.
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