Researchers have been aiming sensors and giant microphones at space hoping to catch some sort of signal that would signify the existence of extraterrestrial beings for years. It’s basically a decades-long version of waiting by the phone for a call that never came.
Now, it would seem that they have had enough. A group called the Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (METI) is asking for $1 million in order to send a message to space, essentially amounting to sending a “You up?” text.
METI is a startup in San Francisco that will be scheduling its first messages for some time in the next two years. Douglas Vakoch, President of META, is also a former member of SETI, which has been organizing the search for intelligent life from its California headquarters since the 1980s.
But before METI can start sending out its greetings, scientists first need to figure out exactly what that message will be. How do you greet a different species that has no knowledge of humanity, our languages, or our customs?
Then there’s the matter of whether or not we should actually attempt to contact aliens at all, as it’s impossible to know whether or not they’d be happy to hear from us. The popular sci-fi trope of an alien civilization waging war on Earth is, hopefully, far-fetched, but anything is possible. The group will attempt to answer these questions and craft humanity’s best opening line before starting the messaging experiment.
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METI’s first target will likely be a planet currently orbiting Proxima Centauri, which may have the capacity to support life. The group then plans to send greetings to other areas much farther away, keeping their fingers crossed that someone — anyone — is listening.