What is the message of the earth to the people

The Arecibo Message : Box picture as a puzzle for aliens

The Arecibo radio telescope on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was already so dilapidated that its operator, the US National Science Foundation (NSF), decided to demolish it. Now the radio telescope has collapsed.

On Tuesday, the 900-ton instrument platform fell onto the bowl below, the NSF said. According to initial findings, the top parts of all three supporting towers have been demolished. In addition to the bowl, the learning center of the observatory was also badly damaged by falling steel cables. "We are saddened by this situation, but thankful that no one was injured," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan.

The telescope was put into operation in 1963 and was ultimately still one of the most sensitive in the world. The telescope became famous, among other things, because it broadcast a message into space on November 16, 1974, with which human civilization informed the cosmos of its existence.

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1679 numbers

For just under three minutes, the radio telescope was transformed into the most powerful transmitter on earth, broadcasting humanity's calling card into space with an output of almost 500,000 watts. The message had been developed by the two astronomers Frank Drake and Carl Sagan. Your information was encoded in the radio waves by modulating their basic frequency.

In this way a sequence of 1679 zeros and ones was sent out. Every intelligent civilization in space should be able to easily decipher the content of the small message - the file size is just 210 bytes - their inventors believe.

First of all, the alien creatures will hopefully ask themselves: "Why 1679 numbers?" The answer is obvious: 1679 is the result if you multiply the two prime numbers 23 and 73 together. After some puzzling, the aliens will figure out that they need to line up the zeros and ones in 73 lines of 23 numbers each. Now you just have to be smart enough to replace the zeros with a black box and the ones with a colored one, and an image emerges from the jumble of numbers: the calling card of the earth and its inhabitants.

At the very top, in white color, the numbers 1 to 10 are shown from left to right, in the mathematical two-digit system. The bottom white box next to each number indicates the end of each number representation.

Colored purple you can see the representation of five further numbers underneath: 1, 6, 7, 8, 15. Every chemist in the entire cosmos should actually immediately recognize that these ordinal numbers only refer to the chemical elements hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and phosphorus can. After all, all chemical substances even in the last corner of the universe have the same properties as on earth. And the alien biochemist will conclude with razor sharpness that these six elements are the most important building materials of earthly life.

In green you can see the molecular building blocks of the nucleotide molecules listed below in the same systematics. Nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA. The first of these molecular building blocks is identified, for example, by the numbers 7, 5, 0, 1, 0. This characterizes the sugar molecule deoxyribose, which consists of seven hydrogen, five carbon and one oxygen atoms. The biomolecule in which the genetic material of all human life is stored can be seen in blue under the green nucleotide building blocks: the nucleotide chain of DNA that is formed into a double helix.

Underneath, people and their number on earth are depicted: around 4.3 billion, the number of the earth's population in 1974. It has now grown to almost 8 billion. But we have kept our rate of increase from the cosmos.

The solar system is shown in yellow below the human being: on the far left the sun, the largest body of the solar system. The third planet is lifted out. This is apparently the place of residence of the sender of the embassy. Planet 5, Jupiter, and planet 6, Saturn, are obviously larger.

Address: Globular cluster M13

Incidentally, the representation of the solar system contains misinformation: The box on the far right - Pluto - is one too many; In 2006 the inhabitants of the earth downgraded it to a dwarf planet. But the aliens who will one day receive our message will have to live without this information.

Finally, at the bottom is the radio telescope with which the message was broadcast. The white-blue row of numbers under the telescope frame indicates the size of the dish as a multiple of the length of the radio waves it emits: 306 meters.

The target of the radio message is the globular cluster M13 in the direction of the constellation Hercules. In around 22,000 years, the radio waves will fly through M13, past its 500,000 stars, and perhaps also past a planet on which an intelligent being just happened to have switched its receiver on to the correct wavelength during the almost three-minute transmission.

But even if the listener were to answer immediately, the patience of mankind would be put to a severe test: the reply could not reach Earth until around 44,000 years from now. One of the questions in it could be: How many are you left? (with dpa)

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