Alien Contact

The first time I heard about alien contact was actually from Scooby Doo and the Alien Invaders. I don’t know if anyone remembers that movie but there was a site in the movie where there were a ton of satellite dishes and they were receiving signals from “the great unknown.” I have always wondered what we were doing to attempt to make contact with possible life forms beyond Earth and I learned from this class that at this point we have sent enough radio signals that if there was something out there they would know we exist. While I was researching this I found an article that talked about just how far back the idea of life on other planets was considered valid and I learned that the ancient Greeks, two thousand years ago, actually considered the possibility of life on other planets. The idea really took off in the 1820’s when a man named Carl Friedrich Gauss first invented something called a heliotrope. He reflected sunlight towards other planets. He was also said to have been responsible for cutting a giant triangle in a forest and planting wheat inside it to make a giant shape visible to alien life forms if they passed by Earth. It was not until 1901 that Nikola Tesla reported that he received a strange signal, which he believed could have been from Mars, on his transmitting tower in Colorado Springs.

And then finally in 1974, which was 150 years after Carl Friedrich Gauss first tried communicating with life forms in space, Frank Drake (yes the Drake equation) transmitted the first actual SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) message using the Arecibo radio telescope picture below. So far everyone in the world is waiting to hear something back and I think in the near future we will find something.

telscope and radar

2 thoughts on “Alien Contact

  1. I wrote about SETIs a couple weeks back. What most interested me was all the moral debates about broadcasts – is it really safe to be broadcasting our exact location to anyone capable of listening? Who even gets to decide if it is or isn’t?

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  2. Grader comments: Nice aerial photo of Arecibo! It is neat to think that we are in an ever-expanding bubble of radio signals reaching out in all directions. I wonder what ever became of Tesla’s mysterious signal?

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