No one can accuse the infamous Stephen Hawking of resting on his laurels. Recently, the professor announced an initiative to try and jumpstart the search for intelligent life in the universe — a venture that involves broadcast signals, powerful telescopes, and millions of dollars. Others from around the world have been invited to take part, and plenty have accepted; that said, there are those that wonder if even a single move is the right one.
A group of researchers in the UK met and held a conference to discuss one of the major points on the docket: contacting potential aliens by sending a message into space. The idea sounds simple enough on paper, but those in attendance found that opinions split evenly between yes and no. In the worst-case scenario, sending a message instead of merely listening could make countless sci-fi movies come to life — and even lead to humanity’s end. It’s an unlikely scenario, but it’s been on several researchers’ minds.
In the end, they’ve decided that they should at least compose a message. But that in turn opened up a host of new debates; there’s still the question of what they’re supposed to put into that message. Communicating in English might not be feasible when dealing with aliens, so it may come down to images or math. Even then, there’s no guarantee that anything will work — but in their eyes, it’s still worth a shot.