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Say `Hi' to the next-door neighbours

Say `Hi' to the next-door neighbours

作者:武恙  时间:2019-03-08 07:10:02  人气:

By Charles Seife A CODED message designed to break the ice with attentive aliens will be broadcast across the Universe in March, scientists from Canada said at this week’s meeting. In 1974, the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico blasted a message towards the constellation Hercules. Designed by the astronomer Frank Drake, the message used symbols to describe our Solar System, the Earth and human DNA. But it will take more than 20 000 years for the message to reach its target, and during its journey the signal will mingle with dust and starlight, which will block parts of the message and introduce noise. According to Yvan Dutil, an analyst at the Defense Research Establishment Valcartier near Quebec City, the noise will make the message unintelligible. “If you remove one bit of the original Drake message, nobody would be able to decipher it,” says Dutil. So he and his colleague Stephane Dumas have designed a new message that will still be readable after some noise is added. In the new message, containing around 300 000 bits, information is duplicated in such a way that knocking out any one pixel does not remove any information. “It will be much easier to read,” says Dutil. The message will be broadcast on 14 March from a telescope in the Ukraine as part of a transmission sponsored by Houston-based Encounter 2001, a company that also plans to send hair samples into space. “Part one is a greeting, an attempt through maths and physics—the immutable laws of the Universe—to tell who we are and request a reply,” says Charles Chafer, president of Encounter 2001. Later, the company will broadcast the names and messages of 2000 people who sign up at their website (www.encounter2001. com) and pay a fee. The coded signal, and eventually its translation,