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Scientists will tweet if aliens got in touch

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 17:37

London: Astronomers who are searching for extraterrestrial lives have said that they would not conceal any information if aliens got in touch and will let us know through Twitter.
Researchers from Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence scan the universe for signals coming from the world’s largest radio telescopes, hunting for any unusual signs.

And while conspiracy theorists argue there would be a government cover-up or global upheaval Seth Shostak, the Seti Institute’s principal astronomer, told the BBC that both groups are unnecessarily panicking.

“The idea that governments would keep this quiet because otherwise the public would go nuts, is nuts. History shows that’s not what happens,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

“In the early 1900s, there were claims that there were canals on Mars - a vast hydraulic civilisation just 50m km from Earth. The average guy in the street said ‘well, I guess there are Martians’ - they didn’t panic,” he stated.

If the computers flag up an interesting signal they need other telescopes to confirm it, which could take days - during which time the word would quickly spread by social media.

News of alien contact may reach most people via a tweet from a Seti astronomer, according the BBC.

Seti say they have no obligation to report it to an official body, and can simply inform people what they have discovered and they do not know of any formal procedure of how to deal with it.

Paul Davies of the Beyond Center at Arizona State University, who heads up the Seti Post-detection Taskgroup, are coming up with ways of how to respond to aliens.

It could just be a beacon, saying nothing more than “Hello, Earthlings, we are here,” said Prof Davies.

The Seti community firmly believe they should respond to whatever contact aliens may send us, but many disagree about what they should say back.

Prof Davies told the BBC that it would have to be something aliens and humans could both understand: “The only thing that we’ve got in common has got to be at a mathematics and physics level.”

Some Seti scientists argue that, once we know where to direct contact too humans should send the contents of the entire internet, streamed down a laser light beam.

Aliens would then have plenty of mediums - music, art - from which to draw information about humans.


First Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 17:37
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