Experts Urge New Messages From Earth to Aliens Which Focus More on Diversity

If the truth is really out there, we should be showing the universe how wonderfully varied the human race can be.

image via (cc) flickr user encouragement

For nearly as long as humans have looked up to the skies, there have been those who wondered whether there were, perhaps, others beings out there doing the exact same thing back at us. The idea that we might someday make contact with a race of extraterrestrials is one which has captivated the minds of scientists, astronauts, authors, and ordinary people, alike. And so, coinciding with the advent of high powered radio telescopes and unmanned deep space probes, efforts were made to share a bit of who we are as a species, by beaming and blasting messages about the human race into unknown regions of the cosmos, on the off-chance that someone out there was listening. Many of those, like the Arecibo message, or the Pioneer 10 plaque are likely familiar in image, if not in name.

Now, decades after those messages were first shot toward listeners unknown, a team of scientists have begun calling for a new round of intergalactic communications, still designed to introduce our species to any open-eared aliens out there, but which also more accurately represent the diversity and equality of the human race.

pioneer plaque via wikimedia commons

The newly-formed Breakthrough Initiative has announced they are offering a one million dollar prize for whomever can do just that: Create a new, more diverse, message to represent our species in outer space. It’s a challenge has been taken up by the British branch of the international Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) organization, according to The Guardian. Speaking with that publication, London School of Economics Space Policy Expert Jill Stuart explained why the Breakthrough Initiative’s challenge mattered, using Carl Sagan’s iconic “Pioneer Plaque” (at right) as an example:

“The plaque shows a man raising his hand in a very manly fashion while a woman stands behind him, appearing all meek and submissive. We really need to rethink that with any messages we are sending out now. Attitudes have changed so much in just 40 years.”

In regards to the apparent ethnicity of the figures depicted on the plaque, she added:

“I would be uncomfortable with sending out any images or messages that include Western-dominated material.”

Funded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, and spearheaded by astronomical heavies such as Stephen Hawking and Lord Martin Rees, The Breakthrough Initiative was launched earlier this year with the intent to focus scientific energies on listening for the very same type of message the group is now hoping to create–a “hello, here we are!” announcement from a distant planet. To that end, they have contracted with number of leading astronomical observatories around the Earth for a comprehensive search that will be fifty times more sensitive, and cover ten times as much area, as previous extraterrestrial investigations, reports The Guardian.

Of course, this could all be for naught. As astronomer Enrico Fermi postulated in his now-famous paradox, it may ultimately be impossible to ever find, much less communicate, with extraterrestrial life. What’s more, as author Cixin Liu recently postulated in his bestselling novel The Dark Forest (in part as a response to Fermi), the universe itself may be predicated on different, and disparate, life forms never knowing that one another exists in the first place.

Still, on the off-chance that we’re not alone in the vast inky blackness of space, it’s good to know that, not only are we doing our best to find out who else is out there, but we’re doing it by putting our best, most diverse, foot forward, as well.

[via the mary sue]

via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less