Scientists mull broadcasting ‘come find us’ signal for aliens, but dangers lurk

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Astrophysicists and scientists over at Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) in California are planning to send out a ‘come find us’ transmission into space in a hope that alien races will pick up the message and come looking for us.

Nothing has been inked in paper about this possible plan, but SETI will be discussing the new initiative at the annual meeting of the American Association of Advancing Science next week. The need for such a transmission arises from the possibility that all alien races are just listening for radio transmissions and none of them is actually sending out anything.

“There could be many civilizations out there but if they are all listening and no one is broadcasting then nothing will happen,” astrophysicist and SETI’s chief executive, David Black, told the Sunday Times.

“One question is…if we go ahead, what message should we send? Should it be the work of a few scientists or should we involve the whole world, perhaps through the internet?” Black added.

“For half a century SETI has been searching for something that we ourselves do not produce: Deliberate transmissions towards distant worlds,” director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute, Douglas Vakoch, said.

If the project does get a green signal, the messages will be sent to planets within a radius of up to 20-light years from Earth.

One of the major questions that needs to be answered is how much information will be sent out. Scientists have been considering sending the entire Wikipedia to help aliens understand human life. This will be one of the talking points in the upcoming discussion.

As with any new proposal, scientists have grouped themselves in two camps – those that are in favour of such a trasmission and those who are not.

Prominent among them is Stephen Hawkins, who has been advocating against calling the aliens as he believes that it would be a bad idea. Hawking in 2010 documentary said: “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.”

US scientist and NASA consultant David Brin has warned that contact with aliens would “transform human destiny, and that the it should only be conducted if the entire world is onboard.

Few other harmful scenarios envisaged by scientists include the possibility of humans contracting new diseases, risk of enslavement, environmental damage, risk to humans’ biological make-up among other things.