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by Elizabeth Howell            April 30, 2018              (space.com)

• If aliens reach out to us, what would happen first? Would it cause a panic, as when the H.G. Wells novel “War of the Worlds” played on the CBS Radio system across the United States? Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) researcher Duncan Forgan thinks that the “War of the Worlds” broadcast may be instructive as SETI scientists worldwide update their “first contact” protocols. The International Academy of Astronautics SETI Permanent Committee created a post-ET detection protocol in 1989 which was updated in 2010. The new update should be finished in a few years, says Forgan.

• Scientists assume alien contact would happen through a signal purposely sent toward Earth. The signal would be verified by multiple observatories, and once confirmed it would be announce this to the world at a press conference. Everyone in the project would need to be sworn to secrecy during the verification period. But in this day and age, it would likely be leaked. In such a case, scientists would inform the public on the degree of likelihood that the alien contact is “real.”

• If aliens physically arrived here, these “first contact” protocols likely would be useless as the ET beings would do whatever they liked. The manner in which the ET’s presented themselves to the planet would be up to them.

• The first modern SETI experiment searching for an extraterrestrial ‘signal’ took place in 1960. Under Project Ozma, Cornell University astronomer Frank Drake pointed a radio telescope (located at Green Bank, West Virginia) at two stars called Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. On August 15, 1977, the Ohio State University SETI’s program made international headlines after a project volunteer wrote, “Wow!” beside a strong signal received by a telescope there. The “Wow” signal was never repeated, however.

• The SETI Institute was founded in 1984, giving rise to many other independent SETI groups at universities and institutions worldwide. Currently, the SETI Institute, in collaboration with other institutes, is working on a concept called the Allen Telescope Array, which has dozens of radio dishes in northern California.

• Greetings to aliens have also been offered through space probes such as Pioneers 10 and 11 on which a plaque was mounted showing the form of the human body and where the Earth is located in the galaxy. The Pioneer spacecraft also contained two golden records with recorded Earth sounds ranging from whale calls, to music, to the word “hello” in many languages. A 1974 radio transmission from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico included such things as the numbers 1 through 10, the atomic numbers of elements such as hydrogen and oxygen, information about DNA, and diagrams of a human body, the Earth and our solar system.

 

If aliens reach out to us, what would happen first?

It’s a question that has puzzled science fiction fans and scientists alike for decades, and we already may have a hint of how people will react. On Oct. 30, 1938, a dramatized version of the 1898 H.G. Wells novel “War of the Worlds” played on the CBS Radio system across the United States. The story details how Martians attacked Earth.

The radio broadcast caused a reaction when people mistook it for a real radio report, but accounts vary as to how much of a reaction. Some accounts describe nationwide panic, while others say not very many people actually listened to the broadcast. The promise of alien life stars in Episode 1 of “AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction,” which debuts on AMC tonight. Still, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) researcher Duncan Forgan told Space.com the “War of the Worlds” broadcast may be instructive to think about as SETI scientists worldwide update their “first contact” protocols.

“If you pick the right science fiction — the hard science fiction — it’s placed in the best possible educated guesses about what will happen,” said Forgan, who is a research fellow at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. He explained that “hard” science fiction refers to science fiction that emphasizes accuracy (think the 2015 movie “The Martian,” for example).

If researchers find a signal today, Forgan said, one of the things they will have to manage is a public used to getting constant news updates on Twitter and other forms of social media. It’s something Forgan and his colleagues are already working on. The International Academy of Astronautics SETI Permanent Committee created a post-detection protocol in 1989 that was slightly updated in 2010; a new update is starting soon and should be finished in a few years, Forgan said.

Scientific work

For the most part, scientists assume alien contact would happen through a signal purposely sent toward Earth. The “acid test” is to make sure the signal is verified by multiple observatories, said SETI Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak. “It would take a while to verify, and then the people who like to think about these matters say you would have a press conference and announce this to the world,” he said, but he added that wouldn’t work unless everyone in the project were sworn to secrecy. In this era of news leaks, he said that situation is very unlikely to hold.

So, scientists try instead to stick to a protocol that includes informing the public. The 2010 IAA protocol only runs to two pages and covers facets such as searching for a signal, handling evidence and what to do in the case of a confirmed detection.

If the evidence gets out to the public while the scientists are still analyzing the signal, Forgan said they could manage the public’s expectations by using something called the Rio Scale. It’s essentially a numeric value that represents the degree of likelihood that an alien contact is “real.” (Forgan added that the Rio Scale is also undergoing an update, and more should be coming out about it in May.)

If the aliens did arrive here, “first contact” protocols likely would be useless, because if they’re smart enough to show up physically, they could probably do anything else they like, according to Shostak. “Personally, I would leave town,” Shostak quipped. “I would get a rocket and get out of the way. I have no idea what they are here for.”

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.

by David Cassel        December 10, 2017        (thenewstack.io)

• China is building the world’s most powerful radio telescope, with the hopes that it could find evidence for life on other planets. The five-hundred-meter (five football fields wide) Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (or FAST) will also be able to hear aircraft-radar waves. This is but one of a growing number of radio observatories in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa that will cooperate on space research.

• What happens if the Chinese actually do hear something? International protocols require the disclosure of first contact, but this is a non-binding protocol. China could make such an alien signal a state secret.

• If we do get an alien signal, how should we reply? Stephen Hawking says that we should be wary of answering back at all. NASA has already been broadcasting signals out into space. The most recent was on September 5, 2017 which stated: “We offer friendship across the stars. You are not alone.”

• Quoting from the original article from The Atlantic, “No civilization could last tens of millions of years without learning to live in peace internally.” “Anyone we make contact with will almost certainly be older, and perhaps wiser.” “We may be humbled to one day find ourselves joined, across the distance of stars, to a more ancient web of minds, fellow travelers in the long journey of time.”

 

China is well underway on building the world’s most powerful radio telescope, with the hopes that it could find evidence for life on other planets, noted a new article in the Atlantic, “What Happens If China Makes First Contact?”

The facility’s chief scientist has pointed out proudly that “We look for not only television signals but also atomic bomb signals. We’ll give full play to our imaginations when processing the signals… as we don’t know what an alien is like.”

China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (or FAST) will also be able to hear aircraft-radar waves, according to the Atlantic, or another “fading artifact of a civilization’s first blush with radio technology” in its ongoing search of “tens of thousands” of star systems.

The Atlantic describes the telescope, nestled in the Karst mountains, as “a radical expansion of the human search for the cosmic other.” The site’s senior science and technology editor ponders the massive human construct that would listen for aliens: “Five football fields wide, and deep enough to hold two bowls of rice for every human being on the planet, it was a genuine instance of the technological sublime.”

Of course, China isn’t the only country involved in the hunt for alien life. The article cites a growing number of radio observatories that will cooperate on research, including new space observatories in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Russian billionaire Yuri Milner also invested $100 million in a new program in 2015. The article suggests that through this ongoing effort, “we may come to know a new metaphysics,” as it reaches its grand conclusion. “We may be humbled to one day find ourselves joined, across the distance of stars, to a more ancient web of minds, fellow travelers in the long journey of time.”

The Atlantic piece argues that researchers from SETI Institute, an organization entirely dedicated to searching for life elsewhere in the universe, have taken the search to the next level, becoming “philosophers of the future.”

They have tried to imagine what technologies an advanced civilization might use, and what imprints those technologies would make on the observable universe. They have figured out how to spot the chemical traces of artificial pollutants from afar. They know how to scan dense star fields for giant structures designed to shield planets from a supernova’s shock waves.

Although not everyone is so optimistic we will find anyone out there…

The Fermi Paradox

The SETI Institute also has a whole page dedicated to “the Fermi Paradox,” named after the nuclear physicist “best remembered for building a working atomic reactor in a squash court.” Given the age of the universe — ample time for leaving some sign of existence — Fermi had asked the question: where is everybody? Why are there no signs, anywhere, of alien lifeforms, given this vast universe, and a vast scale of time?

Counter-arguments have been proposed — for example, that “early extinction could be the cosmic default for life in the universe” because the earliest habitable conditions for any planet also tend to be unstable. Another theory says we’re just too early in the dawn of the universe to see other advanced civilizations. Others argue we’re too late — that advanced civilizations invariably extinguish themselves. Or maybe the relics that aliens left behind are the laws of physics embedded in our reality.

There’s even been some discussion of a “postbiological artificial intelligence that had taken control of its planet.” (The Atlantic argues that “Maybe the self-replicating machinery required to spread rapidly across 100 billion stars would be doomed by runaway coding errors.”) And this is where theories become indistinguishable from science fiction.

It might have transformed its entire planet into a supercomputer, and, according to a trio of Oxford researchers, it might find the current cosmos too warm for truly long-term, energy-efficient computing. It might cloak itself from observation, and power down into a dreamless sleep lasting hundreds of millions of years, until such time when the universe has expanded and cooled to a temperature that allows for many more epochs of computing.

Famed Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin shares a similar theory with The Atlantic: that the absence of signals just means extraterrestrial civilizations are really good at hiding. An older civilization would, after all these years, surely know by now the risks of making contact. Cixin believes that no alien civilization would ever send a beacon — unless it was a “death monument” announcing their civilization’s impending extinction.

Can we even be sure we’d recognize signals from a civilization that’s had billions of more years to evolve?

And yet, we search…

Beyond Contact

So what happens if these researchers actually do hear something? First, there’s the prosaic answer. “International protocols require the disclosure of first contact,” reports The Atlantic. But then there’s an important caveat: these protocols “are nonbinding.”

Maybe China would go public with the signal but withhold its star of origin, lest a fringe group send Earth’s first response. Maybe China would make the signal a state secret. Even then, one of its international partners could go rogue. Or maybe one of China’s own scientists would convert the signal into light pulses and send it out beyond the great firewall, to fly freely around the messy snarl of fiber-optic cables that spans our planet.

But beyond that, there’s already a surprising amount of serious consideration being given to the inevitable follow-up question: if aliens do contact us, how should we reply? Science fiction writer Cixin advises humankind not to detail our own history to the aliens, because “It’s very dark. It might make us appear more threatening.” The Atlantic editor counters that aliens may already have spotted the flash of our atomic weapons, adding “The decision about whether to reveal our history might not be ours to make.”

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.

First-contact

On October 31, an alleged communication was released from an extraterrestrial group calling itself the Intergalactic Board of Council regarding the Puu Oo lava flow in the Puna region of the Big Island of Hawaii and its connection with First Contact. Major national news outlets have covered the lava flow which is poised to cut through the town of Pahoa, and flow soon after over Route 130, the major roadway connecting lower Puna to the rest of the Big Island. If the lava flow continues on to the ocean, which is a distinct possibility, the only access to the lower Puna region will eventually be through Chain of Craters road which is currently being rebuilt in case Puna is cut off. Chain of Craters road runs through the Volcano National Park which puts it under U.S. Federal jurisdiction in terms of who will have access into and out of lower Puna. This is a significant fact when it comes to the possibility that lower Puna will be a location where extraterrestrial First Contact will allegedly occur, making possible the creation of a model society for the rest of Hawaii, and the planet.

First it will be useful to explain a little about the Intergalactic Board of Council which has previously issued what it calls “communiques” through Gesanna, an individual chosen by the Council as their “oracle.” The October 31 communication is the 20th in series that began in early 2013, and is available for free on the website, Contact2Ascension.com. The messages have been psychically received by Gesanna, either through automatic writing or telepathic means. In a previous article I have commented on the importance and relevance of Gesanna’s communications which are worth considering, especially given what is happening with the Puu Oo lava flow and the changes it is bringing to the lower Puna region.

The October 31 Communique begins with Gesanna receiving information regarding the flow and how it will impact on her own home which is in the projected lava path. The communique claims that while a secret government cabal has been trying to influence the lava flow through technological means, the flow is essentially being directed by natural Earth changes, which for native Hawaiians is represented by Pele, goddess of volcanoes. The end result has been foreseen by the Intergalactic Board of Council as lower Puna being eventually cut off, and becoming an island within an island. This is where things become interesting since the Council claims that it will play a role in First Contact happening, and lower Puna becoming a model society for the rest of the planet to emulate as it sees fit.

It is worth pointing out that by “First Contact,” what is meant is that contact with extraterrestrial visitors occurs for a whole community, that is then able to transmit this information through modern communication technologies to the rest of the planet. While contact with extraterrestrials has been occurring since the Second World War era, this has always happened with select individuals that have been deliberately discredited, and/or secret government organizations that have kept such information highly classified. The planet’s population has been kept largely ignorant of these previous extraterrestrial contact events which are described in the book, Galactic Diplomacy: Getting to Yes with ET. Consequently, events predicted to occur in lower Puna represent a First Contact event that potentially impacts the whole planet.

The October 31 Communique also mentions other significant recent developments such as the creation of a Hawaii Star Visitor Sanctuary in the lower Puna area called Kalapana. The Intergalactic Board of Council says that the Sanctuary will be the primary location for First Contact to occur. What makes the Council’s message especially significant here is that the dedication and opening ceremony for the Hawaii Star Visitor Sanctuary occurred on June 27, 2014. That very evening, some of the more than 200 people who attended the ceremony saw major flashes of light at the Puu Oo crater, which is a major vent of Kilauea Volcano. Those flashes of light were the start of the new lava flow currently affecting Puna which was named by the U.S. Geological Survey, the June 27 lava flow.  This is a remarkable fact. It is more than coincidental that a major lava flow affecting the entire Puna region occurred the same day that a Sanctuary aiming to facilitate First Contact was dedicated and opened.

Click Map to Enlarge
Click Map to Enlarge

Significantly, the only access road into the lower Puna region, if and when it is cut off, Chain of Craters road, will be controlled by U.S. Federal Government authorities through the National Parks Service. This prediction really impressed me when reading the latest Intergalactic Board of Council communication. The National Park Service had indeed already announced that it will limit access to Chain of Crater’s road, once it is open, to lower Puna residents only. If First Contact was to occur in Kalapana, lower Puna, then it would be predictable that elements of the U.S. Government would want a means of exerting influence over what they would probably regard as an “experiment.”

If the Intergalactic Board of Council is correct in its predictions that lower Puna is destined to be cut off, and First Contact will occur there, then that will certainly create the conditions for a model society to be created. Such a society could indeed transform the rest of the Hawaiian Islands, and eventually the planet. Many of the predicted events in this latest Council communication are yet to happen, but it is worth keeping these in minds as the June 27 lava flow slowly winds its way to whatever its final destination. If the lava flow does indeed cut off lower Puna, and it becomes an island within an island, with remote access, then it would be feasible for extraterrestrials to make open contact for the first time with an entire community. First Contact would not only transform the people and area of lower Puna, but the rest of the planet.

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