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Will we ever make contact with aliens?

Notes from Planet Earth

Among the programs currently run by the SETI institute is a website devoted to publishing ideas people have had regarding what we might say in reply to aliens should we receive a message from such beings. Stephen Hawking, the famed theoretical physicist, has reasoned we should not reply as there might be danger for us in so doing.

Nevertheless, many have made concrete suggestions and one can get some interesting perspectives on our own species by reading those posted on SETI's website. Far more controversial have been suggestions regarding what to say to aliens prospectively, that is before we know for certain whether anyone is “out there.” As a result it seems unlikely that an internationally agreed upon message will be devised. However, it has been pointed out that soon so many will have the capability of sending signals into space it will be impossible to control what we earthlings say anyway.

Aside from all these concerns is the consideration that radio and laser signals travel at the finite speed of light. Thus, to be heard and responded to in any reasonable length of time, aliens must reside on a planet circling a nearby sun and be at a level of technological expertise similar to our own. What might be the likelihood of that?

Questions and suggestions from readers are welcomed and will be responded to in future editions of this column. Contact me at cwdingman2@frontier.com.

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