teen age message

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Humanity’s First Interstellar Postcard

On November 16, 1974, scientists broadcast the first interstellar message out to the stars, a program that later became known as METI, the Message to Extra-terrestrial Intelligence.  Like SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), METI is a series of extremely small programs.  To date, only 9 messages have been transmitted by a variety of organizations:

  • {The Morse Message (1962)}
  • Arecibo message (1974)
  • Cosmic Call 1 (1999)
  • Teen Age Message (2001)
  • Cosmic Call 2 (2003)
  • Across the Universe (2008)
  • A Message From Earth (2008)
  • Hello From Earth (2009)
  • RuBisCo Stars (2009)
  • Wow! Reply (2012)

The first message, known as the Morse Message, does not technically belong on this list as the Russians directed the message to Venus, and thus the primary mission was not Interstellar.  The message targets vary in distance from the very short (the majority of targets are under 100 light years away) to the very far, including the Arecibo Message, which targets the M13 globular cluster 24,000 light years away. Messier 13, also known as the Heart of Hercules or Armpit of Hercules, is a globular cluster of several hundred thousand stars, and thought to be a good candidate for alien life.  While there have been some dissenting voices who argue that ‘revealing’ our location to enemy or hostile alien civilisations is ill-advised at best, most scientific consensus agrees that due to the physical restrictions on speed and travel (as currently understood) we are in no danger of imminent attack.  While the Arecibo Message won’t reach its target for another 25,000 years or so, the first of the other messages should arrive by 2029.  Other scientist point out that our current terrestrial radio and television broadcasts represent their own METI signal and thus we have no need to fund additional broad- or narrow-cast messages.  

Image of the Arecibo Message of 1679 bits in the public domain.  

Cool things that will/might happen in the future

2020s:

  • According to a report released by the National Intelligence Council, the United States will experience the relative decline of its economic and military power, driven both by the rise of new behemoths such as ChinaIndia and the EU and by domestic constraints on its global leadership
  • Futurist Ray Kurzweil puts 2029 as the year most likely for a breakthrough in Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). He expects that around this time, computers will reach human intelligence levels, and shortly thereafter surpass the capabilities of the human brain
  • By the end of the decade, the world population is projected to surpass 8 billion people, half a billion more than 2020, representing a slowdown in growth from the 2010s, which are expected to increase the population by 700 million
  • China’s coal production will peak and then rapidly decline in the year 2027

2030s:

Keep reading

“Okay, so, a friend of mine – bless her heart – felt like setting me up with this guy and failed to tell him I tend to start babble about George Stubbs and his paintings of horses after a few glasses of wine. So there we were, this poor man and a tipsy blonde who spent good twenty minutes googling paintings of different horses. I don’t think there will be a second date, but at least he got a fairly decent 101 on dear old George,” Tilly giggled without any shame whatsoever. “So, if the dating scene of this city starts to  spread rumours and whisper about a bizarre horse lady, that’d be yours truly.”

From the invention of wireless to Radio Broadcast to Space

The word radio was coined in 1907 after a decade of furious activity to discover the mechanism for wireless transmission.  A decade earlier, French physicist Édouard Branly coined the term radioconductorto describe a means of wireless transmission.  He based his term on the verb radiate which ultimately came from the Latin word radius meaning the spoke of a wheel, a ray or beam of light.  The word radio was first used by itself in a 1907 article by Lee De Forest. It was used five years later by the Navy to distinguish it from other wireless technologies and entered common usage in the next decade.  Radiotechnology advanced so quickly that a little over 50 years later on November 16, 1974, scientists broadcast the first interstellar radio message out to the stars, a program that later became known as METI, the Message to Extra-terrestrial Intelligence. To date, only 9 messages have been transmitted by a variety of organizations:

  • {The Morse Message (1962)}
  • Arecibo message (1974)
  • Cosmic Call 1 (1999)
  • Teen Age Message (2001)
  • Cosmic Call 2 (2003)
  • Across the Universe (2008)
  • A Message From Earth (2008)
  • Hello From Earth (2009)
  • RuBisCo Stars (2009)
  • Wow! Reply (2012) 

The first radio message, known as the Morse Message, does not technically belong on this list as the Russians directed the message to Venus, and thus the primary mission was not Interstellar.  The message targets vary in distance from the very short (the majority of targets are under 100 light years away) to the very far, including the Arecibo Message, which targets the M13 globular cluster 24,000 light years away.  

While there have been some dissenting voices who argue that ‘revealing’ our location to enemy or hostile alien civilizations is ill-advised at best, most scientific consensus agrees that due to the physical restrictions on speed and travel (as currently understood) we are in no danger of imminent attack.  While the Arecibo Message won’t reach its target for another 25,000 years or so, the first of the other messages should arrive by 2029.  Other scientist point out that our current terrestrial radio and television broadcasts represent their own METI signal and thus we have no need to fund additional broad- or narrow-cast messages.  

Image of the Arecibo Radio Telescope courtesy Marius Strom under a Creative Commons 3.0 share alike license.  

Image of the Arecibo Message of 1679 bits in the public domain.