Sunday, January 11, 2015

Big Picture Science for Monday 12 January 2015 - How to Talk to Aliens

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Big Picture Science - How to Talk to Aliens

“Dear E.T. …” So far, so good. But now what? Writing is never easy, but what if your task was to craft a message to aliens living elsewhere in the universe, and your prose would represent all humankind? Got writer’s block yet?

What to say to the aliens was the focus of a recent conference in which participants shifted their attentions away from listening for extraterrestrial signals to transmitting some. In this show, we report on the “Communicating Across the Cosmos” conference held at the SETI Institute in December 2014.

Find out what scientists think we should say. Also, how archeology could help us craft messages to an unfamiliar culture. Plus, why journalists might be well-suited to writing the message. And, a response to Stephen Hawking’s warning that attempting to contact aliens is too dangerous.

  • Douglas Vakoch – Director of interstellar message composition, SETI Institute
  • Paul Wason – Archaeologist, anthropologist and vice president for the life sciences and genetics program at the Templeton Foundation
  • Al Harrison – Emeritus professor of psychology, University of California, Davis
  • Morris Jones – Journalist and space analyst in Sydney, Australia
  • Shari Wells-Jensen – Professor of English, Bowling Green State University


You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

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