Why do we insist on sending messages in space

Why do we insist on sending messages in space

What is the common point between Oxygen by Jean-Michel Jarre, Pythagorean theorem and wind noise? These sounds and this concept were sent in messages to potential extraterrestrials. All three may have been part of the first contact with an intelligent civilization.

Since the seventies, and the advent of scientific research in this field, messages of various content have been regularly sent into space. About twenty in total. At the moment, at the other end of the line, there is radio silence: we have no answer at all.

Find all episodes of the summer series dedicated to extraterrestrial life

“People have an insatiable curiosity.”

Not enough to discourage researchers: On October 4, 2022, a new message will be sent to potential extraterrestrials. Sent from a telescope in England, it will be aimed at the star TRAPPIST-1, which is located 39 light-years from Earth, or … 390,000 billion km. Scientists estimate that among the seven planets of the system, some can harbor water in liquid form, one of the prerequisites for life. A response is expected in … 78 years, the letter takes 39 years to cover this distance.

In all, about twenty messages have been sent into space and continue to be sent. Why all this stubbornness? The thought of the existence of non-human life has been a question that preoccupied humans for a very long time, long before it became a scientific question. I don’t know if there are societies that haven’t questioned whether the stars are alive.” Anthropologist Perig Pitrou, director of research at CNRS, analyzes. “Humans have an insatiable curiosity to understand how the world works. And space, despite very large barriers in terms of distance, for example, is a new frontier.”

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“These letters allow us to bring forward philosophical ideas and ask questions that have been around for thousands of years.” Including our existence in the universe, adds Florence Rawlin Cerso, historian of science and author of the book In search of extraterrestrial intelligence (New Scientist, 2019). And if these messages do not lead to anything, so be it. Calls to dream: “You also have to know how to escape considerations from time to time about what is useful or not”.

Footsteps, laughter and Kazakh DJ

Today, the project continues. With the discovery of more than 5,000 exoplanets [planètes qui se situent en dehors de notre système solaire]and more to come, these are all potential new targets for our messaging.

The first message sent to extraterrestrials, you may have already seen, was the “Arecibo” message in 1974. It took the name of this Puerto Rican radio telescope that broadcasted it. Content-wise, it is “So well designed that it was seized for further shipments.”Remember Florence Rollin Cerso…

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