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Why We’re Sending Music to Extraterrestrials

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Article by Daniel Oberhaus                          January 2, 2020                            (slate.com)

• Any musician will tell you, there is a deep logic inherent to music: There are equal distances between notes in a scale, notes can be combined in certain ways called harmonics, rhythm can be expressed in numerical ratios called time signatures, and so on. Music is a hybrid of logic and emotion, the yin and yang of the human experience.

• In this respect, music is an ideal medium for interstellar communication, but it must be tailored for transmission across billions of miles of empty space. The music must first be encoded into the radio wave in either an analog or digital format. Music’s inherent formalism suggests that even an ET that lacks the ability to hear could gainfully analyze various elements of music—its rhythm, pitch, and so on—by studying the way these elements are encoded in radio waves.

• The founder of the METI Institute (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligences) Douglas Vakoch, music composer Andrew Kaiser, and Dutch computer scientist Alexander Ollongren have all proposed unique ways for encoding musical concepts in interstellar messages. Vakoch believes that musical messages can teach ET quite a bit about human physiology. The number of notes in a scale can be used to establish how sensitive we are to differences between notes. Musical and rhythmic concepts can be readily taught to extraterrestrials.

• If the goal of METI is to convey information about Earth and the people who inhabit it, neglecting to include music would be a major oversight. Music has long played a fundamental role in the human experience. So how do we select which songs to send to ET? We’ve already sent into space Mexican folk music, early rock and roll, a Peruvian wedding song, Gershwin, and of course Beethoven and Vivaldi. Many Beatles songs have found their way to space. Until now, a small committee of Caucasian scientists have leaned toward classical music. It is simply impossible to create a corpus of music that represents every cultural group on Earth or every genre of music.

• The most promising path forward is designing music specifically for interstellar transmission. It would effectively be to create an entirely new genre of music. Not only would it avoid selection bias, but it opens the possibility of creating music that carries a maximum amount of information about the species that created it.

• Sónar is an annual three-day festival in Barcelona, Spain dedicated to electronic music, art, and design. To celebrate Sónar’s 25th anniversary in 2018, the festival partnered with the Catalonia Institute for Space Studies and the nonprofit METI International to send a series of interstellar messages directly to Luyten’s star, a red dwarf about 12 light-years from Earth. The closest potentially habitable exoplanet orbits this red dwarf.

• In late 2017 and early 2018, over the course of several nights, a radar system in Tromsø, Norway, blasted a custom message from the Sónar festival toward Luyten’s exoplanet, GJ237b. It consisted of 33 prime numbers repeated on two alternating radio frequencies. This was followed by a brief tutorial intended to teach ET to extract the music written by Sónar-affiliated musicians and embedded in the message.

• The Sónar music might only be called music in the loosest sense of the word. They are basically seconds-long noises based on a computer algorithm or random frequencies. The thinking is that even random screeches reveal our basic technology and physiology – topics that would presumably be of interest to an extraterrestrial recipient.

• An artificial language for interstellar communication called the ‘lingua cosmica’ based on logic, mathematics, and natural language syntax was actually developed in the 1960s. Dutch computer scientist Ollongren proposes to upgrade the lingua cosmica based on lambda calculus.

• When Carl Sagan set about designing the Voyager Golden Record, he recognized that “launching this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.” The same holds true for musical interstellar messages, even if our terrestrial melodies never grace an extraterrestrial ear.

 

Each summer for the past 25 years, tens of thousands of people have flocked to Barcelona, Spain, to witness Sónar, a three-day festival dedicated to

         Douglas Vakoch

electronic music, art, and design. Something of a cross between a TED talk, Burning Man, and Coachella, Sónar has evolved from a small experiment into an event that the New York Times described as a “European institution” in 2017. It’s also the closest thing we have to an extraterrestrial envoy.

To celebrate Sónar’s 25th anniversary in 2018, the festival partnered with the Catalonia Institute for Space Studies and

             Andrew Kaiser

the nonprofit METI International to send a series of interstellar messages to Luyten’s star, a red dwarf about 12 light-years from Earth. Although red dwarfs are the most common stellar objects in our galaxy, Luyten’s star is remarkable for hosting GJ237b, the closest potentially habitable planet outside of our own solar system. No one knows for sure whether GJ237b hosts life, intelligent or otherwise, but if ET does call the planet home, Sónar wants to rock its socks off.

Over the course of several nights in late 2017 and early 2018, a radar system in Tromsø, Norway, blasted a custom message from Sónar toward GJ237b. Like any good correspondence, the message began with a greeting: In this case, the first 33 prime numbers repeated on two alternating radio frequencies functioned as a stand-in for “hello.” This was followed by a brief tutorial that the message designers hoped would teach ET to extract the music written by Sónar-affiliated musicians and embedded in the message.

Each song in the Sónar messages is only a few seconds long and might only be called music in the loosest sense of the word. One track was created by feeding an algorithm music and letting it remix the notes as it saw fit, which resulted in something that sounds like a horror movie sound effect. Another

    Alexander Ollongren

uses the atomic numbers of a handful of oxygen, silicon, and other elements as the frequencies for pure tones. These arrangements don’t make for easy listening, but that’s not the point. Instead, the artists use music as a way of conveying information, whether it’s about our aesthetic sensibilities, our technology, or our physiology—all topics that would presumably be of interest to an extraterrestrial recipient.

In many respects, the Sónar messages are on well-trodden ground. The first human-made object to make it to interstellar space, the Voyager 1 spacecraft, carries a gold-plated phonographic record that includes Mexican folk music, early rock and roll, a Peruvian wedding song, and more. In 2001, a message sent from the Evpatoria radar in Ukraine included theremin renditions of Beethoven, Vivaldi, and Gershwin; a few years later, NASA blasted a Beatles song at a star 400 light-years away.

 

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Will 2020 Be the Year We Find Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life?

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Article by Leonard David                            November 26, 2019                        (space.com)

• So far, astronomers have found more than 4,000 exoplanets and more are being discovered, suggesting that every star in the Milky Way galaxy hosts more than one planet. Space.com asked top SETI experts whether they will detect life elsewhere in the galaxy or even intelligent extraterrestrials?

• In searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, senior SETI astronomer Seth Shostak relies on detecting narrow-band radio signals or brief flashes of laser light from nearby star systems. If there are 10,000 extraterrestrial societies broadcasting radio signals in the galaxy, then he estimates that SETI will need to examine 10 million star systems to find one. That will take at least two more decades.

• But with the new receivers for the Allen Telescope Array in northern California that is scheduled for 2020, SETI will be able to search for laser technosignatures, which may improve their chances. Says Shostak, “[O]ne can always hope to be taken by surprise.”

• Michael Michaud, author of the book: Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials, says that improvements to search technologies could boost the odds of success. But there are still vast areas of the galaxy that we are not looking at. In searching for chemical technosignatures, we’ll most likely find simple life forms before finding a technological civilization.

• If SETI did find evidence of life in the galaxy, Michaud thinks the news will leak quickly. How should they announce the discovery? “[G]overnmental authorities won’t have much time for developing a public-affairs strategy,” says Michaud. Premade plans for such an announcement are unlikely because agency personnel won’t be able to get past the “giggle factor”, thinking that it is all just too absurd.

• Pete Worden, executive director of the Breakthrough Initiatives, which is affiliated with SETI, said, “I think this is going to be a long-term project. I estimate a very small probability of success (of finding extraterrestrial life) in any given year.” Nevertheless, “The Breakthrough Initiatives is committed to full and immediate disclosure of any and all results,” said Worden.

• Steven Dick, an astrobiology scholar and author of the book: Astrobiology, Discovery, and Societal Impact, says despite the work by Breakthrough Listen and NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), there’s no reason to think 2020 would be the year for discovery. “[A]ll these things combine to increase the chances over the next decade of finding extraterrestrial intelligence. I would caution, though, that any discovery will be an extended process, consisting of detection and interpretation before any understanding is achieved,” said Dick. “I see the search advancing incrementally next year, but with an accelerating possibility that life will be discovered in the near future.” “One thing that is certain is that we are getting a better handle on the issues of societal impact, should such a discovery be made.”

• Douglas Vakoch, president of the SETI-affiliated nonprofit Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI), notes that “We are right now on the verge of finding out whether there is life elsewhere in the universe.” We scan with available technologies: Earth-based observatories, space-based telescopes, and even craft that travel to other planets and moons in our solar system. “It all depends on how plentiful intelligent extraterrestrials are. If one in 10,000 star systems is home to an advanced civilization trying to make contact, then …the news we’re not alone in the universe could well come in 2020,” Vakoch says.

• “As the next generation of space telescopes is launched, we will increase our chances of detecting signs of life through changes to the atmospheres of planets that orbit other stars, giving us millions of targets in our search for even simple life in the cosmos,” says Vakoch. But we probably won’t have “definitive proof” until after 2020 when NASA launches the James Webb Space Telescope, or 2028 when the European Space Agency starts its Atmospheric Remote-Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey, or ARIEL, to study the atmospheres of exoplanets for potential signs of life.

• “[D]on’t hold your breath for discovery by 2020,” says Vakoch. Humans cannot control whether or not there is life elsewhere in the universe. “Either it’s there or it’s not.” “To be human is to live with uncertainty.” “If we demand guarantees before we begin searching, then we are guaranteed to find nothing. But if we are willing to commit to the search in the coming year and long afterwards, even without knowing we will succeed, then we are sure to discover that there is at least one civilization in the universe that has the passion and the determination to understand its place in the cosmos — and that civilization is us.”

[Editor’s Note]   Seth Shostak and his band of idiots at SETI make their living by covering up the widespread existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life all around us, on behalf of their puppet masters, the Deep State elite. Are they liars or are they being fooled themselves? If they are half the scientists they claim to be, they must know the truth. Therefore, they are the very face of the Deep State lying to the public. They are reprehensible. They talk in scientific terms about the new technologies that they employ in their phony search to find a needle in a haystack. But they insist that it will take years, and probably lifetimes before they find a microbe on a distant exoplanet. Then they add platitudes of what a grand discovery it will be if they ever find life in the universe besides humanity. But make no mistake. Their job is to never find life beyond the Earth, and they have gotten very good at it.

 

In the past three decades, scientists have found more than 4,000 exoplanets. And the discoveries will keep rolling in; observations suggest that every star in the Milky Way galaxy hosts more than one planet on average.

                  Seth Shostak

Given a convergence of ground- and space-based capability, artificial intelligence/machine learning research and other tools, are we on the verge of identifying what is universally possible for life — or perhaps even confirming the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence?

Is 2020 the celestial payoff year, in which objects of interest are found to offer “technosignatures,” indicators of technology developed by advanced civilizations?

Space.com asked top SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) experts about what next year may signal regarding detecting other starfolk.

Michael Michaud

Gaining speed
“Well, despite being the widely celebrated 100-year anniversary of the election of Warren G. Harding, 2020 will not likely gain fame as the year we first discover extraterrestrial life,” said Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.

The search for intelligent beings elsewhere, Shostak said, is largely conducted by checking out nearby star systems for either narrow-band radio signals or brief flashes of laser light. And those might succeed at any time, he told Space.com.

“But one should remember that this type of search is gaining speed in an exponential fashion, and that particular technical fact allows a crude estimate of when SETI might pay off. If we take — for lack of a better estimate — Frank Drake’s opinion that there might be 10,000 broadcasting societies in the Milky Way, then we clearly have to examine at least one [million] – 10 million stellar systems to have a reasonable chance of tripping across one. That goal will be reached in the next two decades, but certainly not in 2020,” Shostak said.

             Pete Worden

Improved searches

But there are still reasons for intelligent-alien hunters to be excited and optimistic about the coming year. Multiple existing projects will either be expanded or improved in 2020, Shostak said. For example, the SETI Institute will get new receivers for the Allen Telescope Array in northern California, and both the SETI Institute and the University of California, Berkeley, will conduct new searches for possible laser technosignatures.

“And, of course, there’s always the unexpected,” Shostak said. “In 1996, the biggest science story of the year was the claim that fossilized Martian microbes had been found in a meteorite. No one really saw that coming. So one can always hope to be taken by surprise.”

Previous predictions

“I am skeptical about picking a specific year for the first discovery. Previous predictions of success have been wrong,” said Michael Michaud, author of the thought-provoking book “Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials” (Copernicus, 2007).

“I and others have observed that the continued improvement of our search technologies and strategies could boost the odds for success,” Michaud said, noting that the primary focus of SETI remains on radio signals. “However, we still don’t cover all frequencies, all skies, all of the time. Other types of searches have failed, too, such as looking for laser signals or Dyson spheres [ET mega-engineering projects]. Those campaigns usually have limited funding and often don’t last long.”

                   Steven Dick

A new possibility has arisen because of exoplanet discoveries, Michaud said: “In some cases, astronomers now can look for chemical evidence of life in planetary atmospheres. It is conceivable that we will find simple forms of life before we find signals from a technological civilization.”

     Douglas Vakoch

Prevailing opinion

If astronomers do someday confirm a SETI detection, how should they announce the discovery? It is an old question that has been answered in several ways.

“The prevailing opinion among radio astronomers has been that the news will leak quickly. If that is correct, scientific and governmental authorities won’t have much time for developing a public-affairs strategy,” Michaud said.

“It remains possible that the sophisticated monitoring capabilities of intelligence agencies might be the first to detect hard evidence,” Michaud said. “One might think that the government would have a plan to deal with such an event.”

But, Michaud said that his own experience suggests that such plans are unlikely to be drawn up due to a “giggle factor” and would be forgotten as officials rotated out of their positions. He previously represented the U.S. Department of State in interagency discussions of national space policy.

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Belief in Aliens Not So Far Out for Some Catholics

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Article by Carol Glatz                     September 5, 2019                  (angelusnews.com)

• Jesuit philosopher and astronomer, Father Jose Funes, has been appointed to the advisory council of METI International. Father Funes will join over 80 experts that make up the advisory council. METI’s president and founder, Douglas Vakoch, said, “It’s natural for METI to be in dialogue with Jesuit astronomers because they understand the science behind our search, giving us common ground, while also having expertise in theology, providing a new perspective for our scientists.”

• METI, or “Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence”, is an offshoot of SETI, “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” which began its search for ET in 1959 by scanning the sky for unusual radio and laser signals from sources that may indicate signs of alien technology. METI looks at what and how to communicate in a vast and mysterious universe.

• The Vatican has also been active in discussions about extraterrestrial life, the ethics of space exploration and the religious significance of a universe that could be teeming with life. Father Funes is the former director of the Vatican Observatory and an expert in galaxies and extragalactic astronomy.

• Father Funes, who holds the chair in science, religion and education at the Catholic University of Cordoba, Argentina, and also chairs a think tank initiative called “OTHER”, says that these Catholic organizations help us to understand alien life “in order to understand better who human beings are”. This is instrumental in educating the general public, teachers and students about the dialogue between science and religion.

• Vakoch is an astrobiologist and psychologist who spent 16 years at the SETI Institute, where he was director of Interstellar Message Composition. Vakoch says that if METI/SETI does find life out there someday, “many people will look to their religious leaders to help understand what it means to all of us down here on planet Earth.” “One of the great misconceptions of the general public is that discovering life beyond Earth will threaten people’s religious beliefs,” Vakoch says. “But time and again, across the centuries, we have seen that religions adapt to scientific discoveries. The same will be true if someday we discover we’re not alone in the universe.”

• Father Funes has introduced “something new or at least original” for SETI research to consider: the search for spiritual signs or signatures in the universe. Is spirituality a part of our evolutionary process? Vakoch said that “Hollywood portrayals of marauding aliens, coming to Earth to annihilate us” serve to generate fear or negative reactions to potential alien life. But there are “hopeful depictions of first contact,” says Vakoch, such as Steven Spielberg’s ‘E.T. the Extraterrestrial’ where a visitor comes to Earth, transforming lives and overcoming death through love. The same for ‘Starman,’ starring Jeff Bridges in the title role that was a thinly veiled reference to Christ.”

• Father Funes said the Catholic Church is optimistic in its faith because “we trust in God” when it comes to space exploration and messaging potential intelligent life. Vakoch says, “Some worry that learning about the existence of extraterrestrials will make humanity less unique. I suspect just the opposite will happen.” “[T]here will never be a duplicate of Homo Sapiens. There may be beings out there who are more wise or powerful than we are, but they will never be more human.”

[Editor’s Note]    It is no surprise that METI/SETI would team up with the Vatican in trying to dominate the limited soft disclosure dialog of the massive extraterrestrial presence, and the government’s long standing cover-up. They are both dedicated to doing the Deep State’s bidding. They see that the public’s revelation about the true existence of extraterrestrials is imminent, so who better than the combination of scientific and religious “experts” to guide the public through this transition. But the primary agenda of these institutions is to maintain control over the populace once the extraterrestrial presence is finally revealed. They want to position the Catholic religion as the savior of the people, thereby assuring its continuance after the extraterrestrial disclosure. While at the same time, METI/SETI will continue to deny any extraterrestrial presence until the very last minute.

 

More than 2 million people RSVP’d to a recent social media invitation to “storm” Area 51 in Nevada, in the hope of discovering whether alien life or spacecraft may be secretly stored at this U.S. Air Force base.

Though the proposed raid was a spoof, it has morphed into a real, more peaceful encounter. Now dubbed, “Alienstock,” the Sept. 20-22 festival aims to be a place “where believers gather” to discuss and celebrate confidence in the existence of alien life and the wonders of the unknown, according to its website, alienstockfestival.com.

           Father Jose Funes

But another brand of believers — a “Men in Black” of a spiritual kind — are the pope’s own Jesuit astronomers; they have long been active in discussions about extraterrestrial life, the ethics of space exploration and the religious significance of a universe that could be teeming with life.

The huge amount of interest the general public has shown in life existing elsewhere in the universe is part of the age-old question, “Are we alone?” said Jesuit Father Jose Funes, former director of the Vatican Observatory and an expert in galaxies and extragalactic astronomy.

The fascination with seeking extraterrestrial life or intelligence “reflects very deep human issues that are important for us” and makes people think about “who we are,” he told Catholic News Service in late August.

         Douglas Vakoch

“We have to become alien somehow” and step outside oneself “in order to understand better who human beings are,” said the priest, who holds the chair in science, religion and education at the Catholic University of Cordoba, Argentina. The chair and the think tank initiative, “OTHER,” he directs are instrumental for educating the general public, teachers and students about the dialogue between science and religion, he said.

Father Funes’ multidisciplinary expertise in astronomy, philosophy and theology has now earned him a unique place in ET research — serving on the advisory council of METI International.

METI, or Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence, takes the next step in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI.

The SETI project, which started in 1959, represents a major coordinated effort in scanning the sky for unusual radio and laser signals from sources that may indicate signs of alien technology. METI looks at what and how to communicate in a vast mysterious universe.

Part of the METI mission, according to its website, METI.org, is to conduct high-level scientific and multidisciplinary research, discuss the importance of searching for life beyond Earth and study the impact searching for, detecting or messaging ETI would have on the world.

More than 80 experts from a huge array of fields — including ethics, linguistics and theology — make up METI’s advisory council, and it was just last year that the group’s president and founder, Douglas Vakoch, asked Father Funes to join the team.

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