Image via Cornell University.
On November 16, 1974, the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico was used to send the most powerful broadcast ever deliberately sent into space, with the intention of contacting alien life. The broadcast formed part of the ceremonies held to mark a major upgrade to the radio telescope. Some applauded this event as a mind-expanding attempt to remind people in 1974 that Earth is likely not the only planet where an intelligent civilization has evolved. At the time, others expressed concern. They felt we shouldn’t be attempting to reveal Earth’s location in space to unknown alien civilizations.
The broadcast itself was simple, and elegant. It consisted of a pattern of binary numbers. This message contained information about the basic chemicals of life, the structure of DNA, Earth’s place in our solar system and even a stick figure of a human.
Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, used in 1974 to broadcast the 1st intentional radio signal into space. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
It took three minutes to send 1,679 bits of information – a snail’s pace compared to modern computer modems. According to the SETI Institute:
The broadcast was particularly powerful because it used Arecibo’s ...