In 1974 a group of scientist that included Dr. Frank Drake and Carl Sagan, sent out an interstellar radio message to a cluster of stars (M13 which is 25,000 light years away) in the hopes that extraterrestrial intelligence might receive and decipher it. Some people believe that in 2001 (27 yrs later) we finally got a response.
The message we was called The Arecibo message, and at the time it was the most powerful radio broadcast made by mankind. Dr. Frank Drake, then at Cornell University and creator of the Drake equation, wrote the message with help from Carl Sagan, among others.
The message consists of seven parts that encode the following (from the top down):
1)The numbers one (1) to ten (10) (white) 2)The atomic numbers of the elements hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus, which make up deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) (purple) 3)The formulas for the sugars and bases in the nucleotides of DNA (green) 4)The number of nucleotides in DNA, and a graphic of the double helix structure of DNA (white & blue) 5)A graphic figure of a human, the dimension (physical height) of an average man, and the human population of Earth (red, blue/white, & white respectively) 6) A graphic of the Solar System indicating which of the planets the message is coming from (yellow) 7)A graphic of the Arecibo radio telescope and the dimension (the physical diameter) of the transmitting antenna dish (purple, white, & blue)
(please note that the original broadcast was not in color, they are added for explanation purposes)
In 2001, a large crop circle appeared on a crop field near UK’s largest telescope and observatory, the Chilbolton. The crop formation looked very much like the Arecibo message (the original pictured on the right). There were of course some changes to the “response” which seemed like they were straight out of alien folklore which leads us to think that this “response” was simply a clever joke.
These were the changes made:
In the section detailing important chemical elements, the main focus is altered from carbon to silicon, and the diagram of DNA is re-scribbled slightly. At the bottom, the pictogram of a human is replaced with a shorter figure with a large, bulbous head.
Imagination is our window into the future. At NASA/JPL we strive to be bold in advancing the edge of possibility so that someday, with the help of new generations of innovators and explorers, these visions of the future can become a reality. As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future.