Calling the Universe: Is There Someone Here?

Soviet socialism proclaims itself the representative of humanity in its entirety and issues the first message of history destined for outer space. Directed in Morse to the planet Venus, its content - the words Peace/World (in Russian, it is said the same), Lenin and the USSR - was far from being able to launch a message agglutinating the common aspirations of the people. In 1974, the astrophysicist and disseminator, Carl Sagan designed with other colleagues the most generic message sent from the radio telescope of Arecibo (Puerto Rico), which even today, continues its journey to the old star cluster M13, 25,000 light years away. The information that encapsulates was conceived to expose to its potential receptors some mechanisms of our thinking with data such as the numbers from 1 to 10 or a graph of the solar system.

In this last half century, a dozen communications have been sent as are destined beyond our planet. Today, these efforts have resulted in a sepulchral cosmic silence that echoes the recent discoveries of numerous extrasolar planets capable of harboring life. Already in 1950, Fermi's paradox posed the contradiction between the apparent possibilities of existence of other intelligent beings in the vast cosmos and the fact that they had not given signs of life. "That's why we're trying to establish a relationship with some civilization that might be found in a nearby star and maybe be listening to us secretly."

The efforts have been translated into a cosmic silence that echoes against discoveries of planets capable of housing life.

The one who speaks - via email - is the American Douglas Vakoch, director of METI International, a private non-profit organization whose acronym in English translates as "sending messages to extraterrestrial intelligences". The split of SETI, the organization for the search (passive, unlike the active search of METI) of cosmos partners, last November issued the first signal ever addressed to one of those potentially habitable exoplanets: the relatively close GJ273b, about 12 light years. For April, the initiative, which emerged from the Barcelona festival Sónar, plans to carry out the second phase of broadcasts. Written in binary code, this interstellar mail includes 33 electronic melodies and a scientific and mathematical tutorial. It is expected to arrive in the recipient's mailbox on March 11, 2030. According to Vakoch's logic, if it works, this call could only lead to a happy encounter between humans and our counterparts in other galaxies.