Should we phone E.T?

“Are we alone?” It’s a question that mankind has asked since we crawled out of the primordial ooze. That’s why it comes as no surprise to learn that a NASA-led team of international scientists has decided to send out a message to the heavens, the latest in a long history of “Ceti” (Communication with extraterrestrial intelligence) attempts.

The project, called Beacon in the Galaxy, wants to say hello from the other side (with apologies to Adele). The message will include information about basic concepts in communication, maths, physics and even the constituents of DNA. It will likely be sent to the heart of our galaxy, the Milky Way, by the Seti Institute’s Allen Telescope Array in California and China’s 500 metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope. 

Having barely survived pandemics, wars and global financial crashes, perhaps it IS time that Scotty beamed us up. 

But these ongoing attempts aren’t without their detractors. The great, late Professor Stephen Hawking has previously warned against making first contact with potential visitors from the skies. Hawking said that if aliens visited us, the outcome would be akin to Columbus landing in America. As he put it, that “didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans”. 

Assuming that E.T is smart enough to understand any of the data we share, the scientists plan to include our address and some helpful information about us as a species. (Warlike, don’t like to recycle, actively driving extinction?) Hopefully, this alone would be enough to deter any intelligent species to stay away, for their own good, really.

If aliens do come calling, one hopes they’re more like E.T. and less like Klingons. The last thing we need is an alien overlord that does not come in peace. We already have Mark Zuckerberg.

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 21 April  2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.

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