Re: Alien Communication Re: Ethics of being a Creator

Paul Hughes (
Tue, 28 Apr 1998 14:44:49 -0700

Jones, Spike wrote:

> paul, i am surprised at how often i hear this argument. alien
> intelligences could send us black and white photos of themselves, newsprint
> style, using a long string of binary digits. i dont think the whales have
> ever attemped such a
> thing. i suspect that when we finally do receive signals from the cosmos, they
> will
> be easy to understand, by careful design.

Watch yourself here. Sending a simple black and white photo presupposes:

1) That they have electromagnetic vision similar to ours.

2) That their vision is at the same frequency as our - highly improbable. Our
'visible' spectrum makes up much less than 1% of the EM range. Have you seen a
picture of a human face in infrared? Its very difficult to tell where one
feature ends and another begins.

3) That they would have the same spatial awareness to put something into a 2-d
grid. Why not a tetrahedron or some kind of non-linear grid system? What is
'simple' to them may be extremely difficult for us because of vastly different
evolutionary histories.

As a test it would be fun to take an x-ray photograph of a jellyfish and then
digitize it into 0's and 1's and then send this binary coded message to SETI to
see if they can interpret it. Depending on how clever they are, it could take
them years to figure out what it is.

Paul Hughes