Carl Sagan Destroys The World

“Do you come in peace?  No?  Dammit, shoulda kept our big mouths shut…”

Another “Oh Crap!” idea — rememeber the plaque that was affixed to the Pioneer satellites that got shot out of our solar system in the ’70’s?  Carl Sagan (one of my heroes) was involved in designing a diagram that would explain to any aliens who happen upon the satellite, just who was responsible.  Aside from bitching about the nudie pictures on the plaque, a few complaints about it (and about communicating with alien life in general) surfaced soon after.  What if the alien civilization who finds it is hungry?  Or needs some civilization to enslave?  Or is just really annoying?  Do we really want to announce our presence to the universe like this, without learning a bit about the neighbors first?

Since the launching of these satellites (which are currently out past Pluto but not yet beyond the crud at the outskirts of the solar system), there have also been a handful of attempts to transmit electromagnetic messages from Earth (like the radio messages sent from the big Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico).  Did we just doom ourselves to a visit from big nasty green aliens, armed to the hilt with anal probes?

Alexander Zaitsev addresses this question (except for the anal probe part) in a paper you can find on ArXiv.  He refutes the idea that we should keep our messages to ourselves, by making a good point — he essentially says that if we didn’t want to be detected, then we shouldn’t have pumped out all those electromagnetic signals (like TV, radio, etc) over the last 100 years.  One more little signal from a couple of science nerds isn’t going to change things now.  As pointed out over at The Daily Galaxy , if the brain-snorting aliens are going to find us, they’ll have plenty of Beverly Hillbillies reruns to detect us with.

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