These Scientists Want To Tell Aliens Where Earth Is – Not Everyone Is Happy

If a person is lost in the desert, they have two options. They can research civilization, or they can make themselves easy to spot by lighting a fire or writing HELP in big letters. For scientists interested in the question of whether intelligent extraterrestrials exist, the options are much the same.

For more than 70 years, astronomers have searched for radio or optical signals from other civilizations in search of extraterrestrial intelligence, called SETI. Most scientists are confident that life exists on many of the 300 million potentially habitable worlds in the Milky Way galaxy. Astronomers also believe there is a good chance that some life forms have evolved intelligence and technology. But no signal from another civilization has ever been detected, a mystery called “The Great Silence”.

While SETI has long been a part of mainstream science, METI, or extraterrestrial intelligence messaging, is less common.

I am an astronomy professor who has written extensively on the search for life in the universe. I also serve on the advisory board of a nonprofit research organization that designs messages to send to extraterrestrial civilizations.

In the coming months, two teams of astronomers will be sending messages into space in an attempt to communicate with any intelligent extraterrestrials who might be listening.

These efforts are like making a big bonfire in the woods and hoping someone finds you. But some people wonder if it is wise to do so.