When it comes to the search for intelligent extra-terrestrial life throughout the universe, we’ve already been sitting quietly and using the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) initiative to listen to spikes in radioactive activity throughout our universe that could be coming from sources of intelligent life.
Image Credit: SETI
SETI has already managed to discover some faint signals, but scientists aren’t so sure they’re coming from aliens. In fact, lots of interference from the Earth itself, or from other sources in space could be clouding our understanding of what looks like an alien’s attempt to communicate.
On the other hand, some scientists out of San Francisco are a little more motivated to contact intelligent life somewhere in our universe than others are, so a group of them are coming together to launch a new initiative called messaging extraterrestrial intelligence (METI) sometime in 2018.
This initiative won’t take such a passive approach; instead, it will actively send signals into space rather than idly standing by and waiting for aliens to contact us first, which so far hasn’t been very effective.
According to the initiative producers, it will be the latest attempt to send a message into space, as we’ve already been doing throughout time, such as in sending the famous Arecibo message towards the globular star cluster M13 in the 1970’s as well as various other radio signals leading up to today.
Those of METI would reportedly be some of the most powerful radio signals ever sent into space, and more importantly, we would focus them at various exoplanets throughout the Milky Way in the hopes that some kind of alien civilization out there would be able to hear and decipher our messages.
Of course, that’s where one of the biggest struggles comes in. There is a big chance that even though we might get in contact with aliens, they probably won’t know how to understand what we’re trying to send to them. We have many different languages here on Earth, but no matter which we choose, we might sound like a barking dog to them because they could communicate in a completely different way.
Concerns are also weighing in heavy with this initiative because of popular science fiction movies that depict aliens as world-destroying, advanced civilizations. Sending messages that let them know we’re here could open Pandora’s Box and enable aliens to travel to Earth and potentially put mankind in danger, so not everyone is onboard with trying to communicate. As a result, scientists argue their point for METI in Nature.
Most scientists agree that most forms of alien life out there aren’t advanced enough to pose as a threat, as microbes and other forms of life are more likely than advanced alien civilizations. After all, if they were out there, our modern space observation equipment seemingly would have picked up on something by now.
It should be interesting to see if METI helps us to reach out to anything worthwhile or if it’ll just be a bust like all other attempts to find a communication signal in space.