August 18, 2022


The world of science and technology

SETI – The Early Years

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When sending or receiving interstellar messages it pays to think big. The bigger your radio, the further you can send, the bigger the web you spin, the more you can catch.

At the Arecibo Observatory in 1974 the first deliberate broadcast from Earth was made. A short stream of binary information beamed to M13, a cluster of a million stars in the constellation of Hercules. Decoded by an intelligent alien, the signal would form a picture providing basic information about human technological achievement. It was a symbolic rather than a serious attempt, as even at the speed of light the message will take 25,000 years to reach its destination.

The lesson is clear – if impatient, you should listen, rather than send.

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