Broadcasting to the Stars
For decades, TV and radio broadcasts may have been reaching an unintended audience. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Ambience “I Love Lucy” excerpt
Vakoch: Ever since human beings created radio and then a little bit later, television, we have been sending unintentional messages off into space. I Love Lucy has been streaming out toward the stars at the speed of light for over 50 years. So we have been making ourselves known to the cosmos. But only incidentally are they going to other civilizations.
Doug Vakoch is president of METI International, which stands for Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Unlike SETI, which has primarily been listening for evidence of life in space, METI wants to take a more active approach.
Vakoch: We’re saying in addition to those communications with ourselves, we want to send the extraterrestrials a clear cut message saying we want to engage in a conversation with you.
But not everyone thinks sending intentional messages into space is a good idea.
Vakoch: One of the vocal opponents of METI is Stephen Hawking, the British cosmologist. Hawking makes the point that whenever a more advanced civilization meets a less advanced civilization, it almost always turns out poorly for the less advanced civilization. So his solution is to try to stay as quiet as we can.
But there’s one big problem. Our accidental TV and radio signals are streaming out into space at the speed of light. There’s no way we can hide ourselves from a civilization that has the capacity to come here.
We’ll hear more about messaging outer space in future programs. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet