Today’s 14-minute digital transmission of 3,000 messages beamed toward Polaris, the North Star, by the European Space Agency’s Cebreros deep-space tracking station in Spain ends a year-long effort
known as “A Simple Response to an Elemental Message,” spearheaded by Irish-born artist Paul Quast, who solicited 3,775 text-only messages from around the world in response to this question: “How will our present environmental interactions shape the future?”
“The challenge of constructing any interstellar message is trying to anticipate what you and your recipient have in common,” said psychologist Douglas Vakoch, president of METI International, an organization dedicated to detecting alien intelligence.
“One thing we can guarantee is they won’t be native speakers of English or Swahili or Chinese.” And the same problem applies to any incoming message to Earth.
“It’s very reasonable to think that we will know there’s an extraterrestrial out there, that we will have a message that is distinctly artificial, but that we won’t be able to decipher it,” Vakoch added.[…]