the message

Comments and questions about the APOD on the main view screen.
makc
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the message

Post by makc » Tue Mar 15, 2005 8:41 pm

What are the scientists were thinking about? What are chances that aliens would be able to decode this message? Starting on pure technical side of how would they gues the way this picture were encoded (dimensions/colors/etc), or how to figure out that this was actually a picture - and, on "conceptual" side, what are chances that this "info" would have any meaning for them? I'd say, if you'd print that out and show this to average human, he'd guess the monkey, and, doubtfully, numbers or telescope. The rest looks like meaningless mosaic. Let's be honest - these guys simply wasted government (or whoever else's) money.

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Orca
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Post by Orca » Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:06 am

Or another question: why did they choose a target that is 50,000 ly away?

Besides, when "they" get the message, it will show them just how primitive we are...they will think we still play Atari.

Boldra
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colour

Post by Boldra » Wed Mar 16, 2005 8:38 am

A good question about the colour Makc, the same thing occurred to me. RJN's posted this pic three times now (http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/apo ... sage+earth), always in colour, although the version on space.com is black and white. I suspect that the colour is only there for publicity.

I'd also be interested in a bit more explanation of how it's supposed to work. There also seems to be a lot of repetition (in the green), which I can't figure out. If it's numbers, it's 75131 or 13157. What's that supposed to mean? I did a bit of googling on the number (with words like "progression" and "prime"), but didn't come up with anything.

Boldra

Kid
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Re: the message

Post by Kid » Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:49 pm

makc wrote:What are the scientists were thinking about? What are chances that aliens would be able to decode this message? Starting on pure technical side of how would they gues the way this picture were encoded (dimensions/colors/etc), or how to figure out that this was actually a picture - and, on "conceptual" side, what are chances that this "info" would have any meaning for them? I'd say, if you'd print that out and show this to average human, he'd guess the monkey, and, doubtfully, numbers or telescope. The rest looks like meaningless mosaic. Let's be honest - these guys simply wasted government (or whoever else's) money.
I agree with makc as no one knows for sure if alien could even READ or have the technology to receive the message.(They could still be cavemen or not even existed in this Universe or we are the first to evolved to a intelligent being)
tell me if i am repeating questions

Beorn
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Post by Beorn » Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:51 pm

For what it's worth:

http://www.physics.utah.edu/~cassiday/p ... ssage.html

makc, the message was sent as part of a test of the new capability of the telescope so no money was "wasted" in this effort. Something would have been broadcast as part of the test and they decided to make it a message.

The message contains 1679 bits of information. The two prime numbers 23 and 73 multiplied together give you 1679, and the message in it's picture form is 23 columns by 73 rows. There are certain things that have to be assumed as "universal" in terms of communicating with an alien species. Binary numbers, prime numbers, the speed of light and the basics of an electromagnetic wave are all things that would certainly be known to any race advanced enough to recieve this sort of message. All of these things are used as part of the message. The idea is that, like on Earth, anyone looking for this message would be a "scientist" in whatever form that might be on another world. That's not to say non-scientists would not see the message and have any number of interpretations but the important thing is that, most likely, the first ones to decipher the message would be those best equipped to understand it.

Boldra, you are right, the color is just for publicity. Hopefully the explainations in the above link helps...

Boldra
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How a big an army

Post by Boldra » Thu Mar 17, 2005 9:51 am

Thanks for the link Boern. I particularly liked this quote:
At the right of the figure is another 32-bit number, this one about four billion, intended to give the approximate human population (back in 1974 --- it’s 6+ billion now). Aliens who correctly interpret this will know how large an army to send.
Personally, I had a lot of difficulty getting past the numbers. Although I'm quite used to thinking in binary, giving numbers 1..10 seems to indicate binary encoded decimal numbers are coming. I didn't recognise those numbers as traditional binary because of the "placer" bit. It's also confusing how the first numbers stack three bits then start a new column, but the later number stack an arbitrary number. Even after reading the explanation I think writing numbers across two different axes is very confusing.

Anyway, although the chances are very small that the message will be received, I find such messages a good exercise. And while it's pretty OT, it reminds me of http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... pikes.html, where the EPA in the US had to come up with a warning about the dangers of buried nuclear waste that would be understandable by a possibly very different culture in 10,000 years.

Boldra