Sunday, March 29, 2009

Are We Alone for 03/30/09 - Speaking Klingon

Are We Alone - "Speaking Klingon"
Ever try talking to an alien? In the movies, they always speak perfect English. But what if we really made contact? Could we just whip out a universal translator - or even a babelfish - to understand one another?

Let's say we do learn to communicate: what to say, what to say? We'll hear the protocol for just how to reply to ET. And, from Klingon to Esperanto: the recipe for creating a language from scratch.

Plus, get ready to babble with your Blackberry: how computers are learning to recognize - and respond - to human speech.

Q1=B4t'.f:t'.ql. P4&=tr'w.k*.k*n.=D5^Q5=P4^B5 P4&=D1>s'.t*.ql.=B5
What does this mean? Listen to the show to find out!

  • Terrence Deacon - Professor of anthropology and neuroscience, University of California, Berkeley
  • Douglas Vakoch - Director of Interstellar Message Composition, SETI Institute
  • Donald Boozer - Librarian, Coordinator of Cleveland Public Library's recent exhibit "Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond...The World of Constructed Languages"
  • Jim Glass - Director of the Spoken Language Systems Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Systems.
    Ask MIT's Jupiter about the weather!
You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Are We A Blog?, the companion blog to the radio show.

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