If aliens call us, it will take a year to understand them

If aliens call us, it will take a year to understand them

The Seti scientific program rests on the shoulders of one person: Daniela de Paulis. This Italian artist was the only person to know the meaning of a mysterious radio message. With a whole group of scientists, she carried out the operation A Sign in Space.

The objective was to pass this message off as extraterrestrial communication. The mission would thus be a simulation of the scenario where we would come into contact with beings of a third type. To make the experience as realistic as possible, the message was sent to Earth by the European Space Agency’s ExoMars probe.

It left the orbit of Mars on May 24, 2023. 13 minutes after the signal was transmitted, it was captured in its entirety by the Allen and Green Book radio telescopes, both members of the Seti program. It was then the start of the second phase of the mission, by far the longest.

The whole world searched

Always for the sake of realism, the scientists behind this program have decided to publish the intriguing message received. It was then possible to join the mission’s Discord server to try to decode the message.

In addition to scientists affiliated with this mission, the general public was able to take part in the research. A reinforcement which was not too much, because the revelation of the hidden meaning of this message was only published this week. More than a year after the first decryption work.

Finally the radio message represented 5 amino acids in their universal organic molecular diagram representation. The artist has not yet really explained the choice of this representation. As for the people behind this discovery, they chose to remain anonymous and simply signed their exploit under the pseudonyms “John” and “Sarah”.

Either do better

The conclusion of this experiment is unequivocal. We are very bad at understanding messages from space. The “a sign in space” project was only a first version of the experiment, the simplest of all.

The message had been designed by a person who had lived on Earth, knew our world and spoke our language. If his choice of representation was as universal as possible, it remained standardized on our earthly knowledge.

There is no indication that an extra-terrestrial civilization uses the same process of classifying matter. If the atoms making up a molecule are the same, they could be seen through different prisms. The laws of physics are the same everywhere in the Universe, but their interpretation differs in many aspects.

You only need to see the reaction of a French person to a distance of 17 miles, 6 yards and 3 feet or a temperature of 56°F to know that reading instruments are crucial in the correct understanding of a message.

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