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NASA scientists are planning to beam a new message across the Milky Way galaxy in the hope of making contact with intelligent extraterrestrial beings, the Guardian reported.
The “Beacon in the Galaxy” will include simple principles of communication, a few basic concepts about mathematics and physics, as well as a history of Earth and humanity. The research team has also placed a return address in case there is a reply.
“Humanity has … a compelling story to share and the desire to know of others – and now has the means to do so,” the team wrote in their paper.
Lead author Jonathan Jiang said the message will be delivered to a dense ring of stars near the center of the Milky Way, a region believed to have the biggest potential for life to have emerged.
Still, a lot of questions linger about the move, such as whether the message will ever be picked up and if the recipients will understand it. And if they do, when – and how – they will reply.
The late scientist Stephen Hawking had posited the dangers of such an endeavor and compared it to Christopher Columbus’ arrival in America.
“(It) didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” he told a Discovery channel documentary.
But Jiang and other researchers are looking at the bright side, suggesting that humanity “could have much to learn” from others in the universe.
The beacon is not the first human attempt at interstellar communication.
In 1974, scientists sent out the Arecibo message toward a cluster of stars about 25,000 light-years away. It won’t arrive any time soon.