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Scientists just sent a message to a possible alien civilization, and it could have disastrous consequences

Published Nov 16th, 2017 11:40AM EST
alien messages
Image: NASA

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Humans, generally speaking, are incredibly interested in the potential existence of intelligent alien life. The idea that an alien civilization exists somewhere in the cosmos has always fascinated us, but we’v yet to find any evidence that our dreams are more than fantasy. Now, scientists have taken a big step towards contacting extraterrestrials, sending a message to a nearby star system that may well host an advanced civilization, but not everyone thinks that was such a good idea.

A group of scientists hungry for evidence of aliens took it upon themselves to send a message to the system called GJ273, which resides approximately 12.4 light-years away from Earth. That’s a pretty sizable distance, but the signal will eventually get there, and if ET is listening they’ll most certainly know it’s not an accident.

The message, which reportedly included samples of music, language, and math, also included a request that anyone who gets it should attempt to respond. If the scientists strike gold, a message would likely be headed back our direction by around 2042, and astronomers will be listening closely for any sign of it.

However, many scientists have voiced their displeasure at the idea that mankind might proactively contact an alien civilization, especially one that has mastered spaceflight. Without having any idea of whether or not our needle-in-a-haystack signal is retrieved by a peaceful alien race or a hostile one, many fear that we could be setting the stage for the ultimate destruction of mankind and perhaps Earth as we know it.

One of the more vocal opponents of the effort is world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking, who has suggested that yelling into the void may bring dire results. Likening the arrival of an alien race to Earth to that of Europeans arriving in America, Hawking warns that a more advanced species could do whatever they wanted to our planet with little regard for mankind’s fate.

The signals, which were sent in mid-Otober, should arrive at their destination many years from now, and if we indeed to hear back, it will be a momentous occasion. Let’s just hope we don’t annoy them if they’re having a bad day.