How Do You Talk to an Alien?
With SETI's search for extraterrestrial life running on all cylinders again, two questions must be raised: How do we make contact? And how do we make meaningful contact? Big Think asked Bill Nye, aka, 'The Science Guy,' who heads The Planetary Society.
"And I'll know my song well before I start singing"
-Bob Dylan, A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall
What's the Big Idea?
With SETI's search for extraterrestrial life getting a second lease on life, two questions must be raised: How do we make contact? And how do we make meaningful contact?
That is to say, if we happen to discover signs of life on any one of the billions of candidates in our Milky Way galaxy, and we happen to be able to reach them with a message -- which may take tens of thousands of years until it is received -- are we all agreed on what message to send?
Hardly. The first radio transmission powerful enough to reach space was Hitler's message during the 1936 Olympics, which doesn't exactly show humanity in our best light. (In the 1997 film Contact this message is received by ETs and returned to Earth interlaced with data). While radio astronomy might be light years ahead today, there is still no universal agreement on how to represent the human race to extraterrestrial civilizations, let alone a protocol for what to do in the case a contact is made.
So Big Think turned to Bill Nye, aka, 'The Science Guy,' who heads The Planetary Society, an organization that fosters ways for the public to be actively involved in space exploration, including the search for extraterrestrial life.
Watch the video here: