What Is METI?
METI is an organization that is dedicated to searching for and considering how to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence. It was approached by Barcelona's Sonar Festival to help develop a message that could be sent across the cosmos to celebrate the music and technology festival's 25th year. The result is named, "Sonar Calling GJ273b," and if everything goes perfectly, we could receive a response in 25 years from now, when Sonar turns 50.
Sonar Directors: Ricard Robles, Sergio Caballero, and Enric Palau stated that, "Given the largely negative impact of humanity on our planet, perhaps this is the best time to reach out to... hopefully superior... extraterrestrial intelligence to solicit help and advice on what we can do to change things." The Sonar Calling GJ273b signal was sent in the direction of GJ 273, also known as Luyten's Star, just over 12 light-years away. The signal was sent from the Eiscat transmitter in Tromso, Norway. It was enclosed with a tutorial in basic math and science that also builds upon those fundamentals, to explain concepts from physics, such as radio frequencies, and our conception of time. This could not only help the E.T's learn a little bit about us, but it could also help the communication process go a little smoother. Each of the 3 transmissions included six original pieces of music, constructed by Sonar. Short 10-second pieces by composers and musicians including, Jean-Michael Jarre, Autechre, and Matmos, also accompanied METI's tutorial on each transmission.
What Response Do We Want?
Vakoch stated, "In a reply message, I would first want to know that the extraterrestrials understood what we said in our first message. The easiest way to do this is to repeat our message, but in expanded form. We tell them that '1+1=2.' They could then let us know that they understand that '10+10=20.'" The message was repeated over three consecutive days. Because it will take a little more than 12 years for a message to travel between Earth and GJ273, it would take a minimum of about 25 years for our message to reach its target, and for a response from there, to reach our planet. "Another wonderful reply would be to hear the extraterrestrials develop these melodies into something more complex. I would love to hear what an interstellar symphony created by extraterrestrials sounds like," Vakoch said.
Why Luyten's Star?
This star was chosen because it is visible from the Northern Hemisphere, which is where the transmitter is located. The closest known potentially habitable exoplanet would be, Proxima B, which is just four light years away. If we get a signal from Luyten's Star, it will mean that the Milky Way is overflowing with life! Vakoch also said, "It seems more likely that we'll need to target not just one star, but hundreds, thousands, maybe even a million, before we get a reply back. Although there have been a few other, similar signals sent out into space, this is the first one that we know of that is going to target a nearby star system that is very possibly, holding life.
- What if the aliens aren't interested in making music with us?
- What if they don't answer back?
- What if they're more interested in making meat pies out of us?
Vakoch: "Any civilization that is capable of an alien invasion is already privy to our existence. Earth's atmosphere has been giving off evidence of the existence of life for two and a half billion years, by virtue of the oxygen in our atmosphere, so any paranoid aliens have had plenty of time to do us harm. There is no sign that they have been here."
Sonar Calling GJ273b