A plan to send out powerful radio messages with the intention to discover alien civilizations on other planets has caused concern for some scientists who think it would be akin to opening Pandora’s Box.
The call to send out the messages was made by the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence institute, or SETI, at a American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in San Jose, Calif. The scientists have discovered an “active” form of search called METI, or Messages to Extraterrestrial Intelligence.
But critics of the move, according to the Independent, have said that sending out such direct and powerful messages would prompt visits from malevolent aliens who could wide out humanity on Earth.
“A small cadre of SET radio astronomers has resisted the notion of international consultation before humanity takes the brash and irreversible step into METI, shouting our presence into the cosmos,” David Brin, who is a space scientist and author, told the paper.
“That’s all very well if the only one you’re putting at risk is yourself. But when that risk is imposed upon our children and all of humanity on the planet, is it too much to ask that we discuss it first?”
The current SETI initiative is more about listening instead of transmitting messages.
SETI director Dr. Seth Shostak said that it’s time to step up the search for extraterrestrials, reported the BBC.
“Some of us at the institute are interested in ‘active Seti’, not just listening but broadcasting something to some nearby stars because maybe there is some chance that if you wake somebody up you’ll get a response,” he was quoted by the BBC as saying.
He added: “A lot of people are against active SETI because it is dangerous. It is like shouting in the jungle.
“You don’t know what is out there; you better not do it. If you incite the aliens to obliterate the planet, you wouldn’t want that on your tombstone, right?”
But Dr. Douglas Vokoch, with SETI, said the messages should be sent out into space.
“With recent detection of Earth-like planets in the habitable zones of other stars, we have natural targets for such transmission projects,” he said. “Some would argue that we should avoid powerful transmissions at all costs for fear of an alien invasion. If this mindset became entrenched, it would signal a guarded vision for humankind as isolationist, avoiding exploration, trying to minimize risk at any cost.”
Back in 2010, astrophysicist and professor, Stephen Hawking, expressed concern about sending messages into space.
“If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” he said.
In 2009, the SETI institute determined the most popular messages to tell alien life:
“Peace, love and friendship.”
“Transmitting mathematical ideas and binary expressions.”
“We feel alone and are fearful, primarily because of our own propensity for violence.”
“You are alien to us, but you have know-how.”
“We are humans on the planet Earth.”
“Our gods and religions are influential in our lives.”
“We recognize our cultural heritages and the civilizations they produce.”