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Do We Need a Special Language to Talk to Extraterrestrials?

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November 5, 2019           (wired.com)

• In May 2018, from a radar facility in Tromsø, Norway, ‘Sónar Calling’ trained its antennas on a potentially habitable exoplanet located 12 light years from Earth called GJ237b. Sónar Calling is an interstellar messaging project by the nonprofit METI International, or ‘Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence’ which began in 2017 (as the sister organization to SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).

• The Sónar Calling messaging project has sent two transmissions to potential cosmic cousins. Both messages, each sent over the course of three days, have consisted of a selection of short songs and a primer on how to interpret the contents. The second broadcast was notable for sending an extraterrestrial language devised by physicists Yvan Dutil and Stephane Dumas in the late 1990s.

• Dutil and Dumas’ “language” is based on a communication system known as “Lincos”, a mathematical format developed by Dutch mathematician Hans Freudenthal in 1960. The ‘primer’ begins by introducing ET to numerals and basic arithmetic, and then progresses to more complex topics like human biology and the planets in our solar system. This mathematical language has been sent into space twice before in 1999 and 2003.

• Many mathematicians believe that math is a constant in the fabric of reality. Math isn’t something that humans created so much as it is something that the human mind discovered. Still, Lincos rests on the assumption that an ET is “human-like in its mental state”. If ET does in fact think like a human, does that alien also have some kind of human-like language? Early artificial intelligence researcher Marvin Minsky argues that ET is likely to have language because language is an ideal solution to fundamental problems faced by any intelligent species including constraints on time, energy, and resources.

• A deeper question is whether ET’s language will be similar to our own. Noam Chomsky has argued that universal grammar is a structure common to all human languages on earth. Brain imaging studies have shown that the structure of human language manifests in our neural brain activity. So if extraterrestrials do have a language similar to earth languages, it might imply that they also have a functionally equivalent neurobiology.

• Astrobiologist Charles Cockell compares the likelihood of biological similarities between humans and extraterrestrial beings with the similarities between humans and other animals here in earth. Cellular life arises from the same four nucleotides to create the structure of an eye or a wing. Universal biological similarities puts constraints on the trajectory of evolution tempered with adaptations to conditions on their home world. It is therefore reasonable to assume that extraterrestrial evolution might arrive at similar solutions to common issues, such as evolving a brain capable of recursive languages.

• If that’s the case, then the best way to communicate may not be designing artificial languages, but sending ET a set of encyclopedias. If ET has developed its own artificial intelligence, it could potentially decipher the structure of a natural language message. Aliens will still need some kind of language to connect some language symbols to their meaning. But as on earth, the best way to start an interstellar conversation might simply be by saying “hello.”

[Editor’s Note]   A lot of assumptions were made to get to the theory that extraterrestrial beings may have similar language skills, and therefore similar neurobiology as humans on earth. This strikes me as a lot of scientific gibberish meant to assure the average mind-controlled human that smart scientists are working day and night to unlock the mystery of whether there may be other intelligent extraterrestrial life in the universe. What other organization commonly uses this modality…. hmmm… oh yes! SETI. This sounds a lot like what SETI does to make people believe they are earnestly searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, when they and their Deep State handlers know for a fact that intelligent extraterrestrials exist all around us and regularly interact with our elite. According to these ‘deep thinkers’, a major obstacle is how we might communicate with these advanced beings. Have they ever heard of telepathy which requires no spoken language, and which virtually everyone who has had an encounter with an alien being has reported?

 

In May 2018, a radar facility in Tromsø, Norway, trained its antennas on GJ237b, a potentially habitable exoplanet located 12 light years from Earth. Over the course of three days, the radar broadcast a message toward the planet in the hopes that there might be something, or someone, there to receive it. Each message consisted of a selection of short songs and a primer on how to interpret the contents.

                Stephane Dumas
                  Yvan Dutil

This was the second iteration of Sónar Calling GJ273b, an interstellar messaging project by the nonprofit METI International that began in 2017. Although both transmissions were billed as a “music lesson for aliens,” the second broadcast was notable for rehabilitating an extraterrestrial language developed by the physicists Yvan Dutil and Stephane Dumas in the late 1990s.

This custom symbolic system begins by introducing ET to numerals, and then progresses to more complex topics like human biology and the planets in our solar system. An earlier version of the language was first sent into space in 1999 and again in 2003 as part of the Cosmic Call messages—a crowd-sourced interstellar messaging project that marked the first serious attempt at interstellar communication since Carl Sagan and Frank Drake sent the Arecibo message into space 25 years earlier.

All of these formal messaging attempts have taken basically the same approach: Teach numerals and basic arithmetic first. But as some recent insights in neurolinguistics suggest, it might not be the best way to greet our alien neighbors.

        Charles Cockell

The world’s first interstellar communication system, the lingua cosmica, or Lincos, set the tone for all subsequent attempts by placing

Marvin Minsky

basic math at its core. Designed by the Dutch mathematician Hans Freudenthal in 1960, Lincos inspired several other mathematicians and scientists to try their hand at designing extraterrestrial languages. Each system is ultimately an attempt at solving a remarkably complex problem: How do you communicate with an intelligent entity you know nothing about?

The question gets at the nature of intelligence itself. Humans are the only species on Earth endowed with advanced mathematical ability and a fully fledged faculty of language, but are these hallmarks of intelligence or human idiosyncrasies? Is there an aspect of intelligence that is truly universal?

Scientists and mathematicians have grappled with these questions for centuries. As the Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner once observed, mathematics is “unreasonably effective” at describing the natural universe, which has led a significant contingent of mathematicians to conclude that math is baked into the fabric of reality. From this perspective, mathematics isn’t something produced by the human mind so much as something the human mind discovers.

Most interstellar communication systems were designed around this conclusion. The goal isn’t to teach ETs about addition and subtraction—presumably they know as much if they can build a telescope to receive the message. Instead, these systems teach ETs about the way we code numbers as symbols. Then they can build up to more complex ideas.

It’s an elegant solution to a difficult problem, but Lincos still rests on the assumption that an ET is “human-like in its mental state,” as Freudenthal once conceded. But if ET does in fact think like a human, does that alien also have some kind of human-like language?

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We Keep Looking for Space Aliens. Are They Looking For Us?

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Article by Seth Shostak                   September 18, 2019                     (nbcnews.com)

• “It seems a safe bet that if advanced aliens do exist in our galaxy, they would at least know our planet is here,” says Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The real challenge for these inquisitive ET species isn’t finding habitable planets such as Earth, it is discovering details that will narrow their search – mass, size, approximate temperature. The aliens will have really big telescopes trained on us. Being aware of our world and its properties, would they be spurred to transmit signals in our direction? Extraterrestrials could have learned enough about us by now to even pay us a visit.

• An enormous alien telescope would see the Earth as a dot of light. Directed through a prism, they could analyze its spectral fingerprint and detail the Earth’s atmosphere. Researchers here on Earth recently used spectroscopy to detect water vapor in the atmosphere of planet K2-18b, 110 light-years from Earth. An alien telescope could surely detect oxygen on our planet. Oxygen betrays photosynthesis, a sure tip-off that this is a living planet. Light patterns would tell the alien astronomer that the Earth rotates, perhaps even revealing oceans and continents in low-res images.

• Shostak continues to ruminate: “If we can imagine it, some of (the aliens out there) have probably done it. Of course, the most interesting thing these hypothesized neighbors might find is not the outlines of the Americas or even the oxygen in our atmosphere. They might find us.” If they’re within 70 light-years of us, they could pick up the radar or television signals that we’ve been sending into space since during World War II. Roughly 15,000 star systems lie within 70 light-years.

• Researchers using data from NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory recently simulated how an extraterrestrial astronomer might gather information on the Earth, resulting in a world map more accurate than the Greeks had. It’s hardly inconceivable that alien astronomers have not only found Earth but learned that we humans inhabit it.

[Editor’s Note]   The assumption that Shostak is making here, is that intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations are as technologically deficient as we are here on earth – taking spectrometer readings from telescopes to search the galaxy for the elusive intelligent civilization. In reality, the plethora of extraterrestrials with advanced technologies have far more effective ways of watching us than telescopes, and they are literally here already. But Shostak goes through this meaningless drill of speculating what non-terrestrial aliens would do if there were any alien civilizations out there whose technology had “equaled” our own. Not that we don’t possess advanced technologies ourselves. But the elite power brokers on the planet have prevented the general populace from having knowledge of or access to these technologies. Instead, they limit the use of these technologies to their super-secret space programs and black projects, which Shostak’s disinformation is intended to hide.

The truth is that the extraterrestrial beings that are visiting our solar system and interacting with certain elite factions of our human species are far more advanced in their technological development than we. They know everything about us. But Shostak and his Deep State handlers want people to think they are continuing the hard work of searching for extraterrestrial worlds and beings. And since they haven’t found any (on purpose), there must not be any extraterrestrials out there who can reach our star system. It is all a carefully controlled psy-op that SETI has helped to perpetrate since 1960. But when it is finally revealed that advanced extraterrestrial beings not only exist but have been here throughout the history of this planet, Seth Shostak will be out of a job.

 

Scientists have been trying to discover planets around other stars for generations. They finally succeeded in the 1990s, and more than 4,000 have been catalogued since then.

But could aliens have found our planet? Is Earth cataloged by even a single population of extraterrestrials? If so, what do they really know about terra firma?

            Seth Shostak

You may consider this an idle question, of no greater importance than asking if gerbils enjoy oboe concertos. But the answer is of real consequence for those who scan the skies for signals from intelligent aliens. After all, if extraterrestrials are unaware of our world and its properties, what would spur them to transmit signals in our direction?

Additionally, if you’re among the many folks who are convinced that aliens are sailing through the troposphere, it might help your self-esteem to know that extraterrestrials could have learned enough about us to pay a visit.

It seems a safe bet that if advanced aliens do exist in our galaxy, they would at least know our planet is here. If human astronomers can find thousands of worlds in two dozen years, how many exoplanets —planets around other stars — will the denizens of other solar systems find in, say, a millennium of slogging away?

The real challenge for these exo-catalogers isn’t finding the planets, but discovering details beyond the gross characteristics — mass, size and approximate temperature. To learn more, the aliens will need really big telescopes.

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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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