An MIT Scientist Sent Aliens Images Of Our Junk
Scientists have tried several different times to send pictures of humans to aliens. Today, we're going to tell you about the perviest and least authorized of these attempts.
First off, you've likely heard of the Pioneer plaque, which featured a nude man and woman (and other stuff) engraved on aluminum. As awesome an effort as this was—carving a message and sending it billions of miles—it was largely symbolic. This message won't be reaching aliens anytime soon. Traveling at 28,000 miles an hour, Pioneer will take millions of years to approach another star system.
We might have better luck sending out a radio message at the speed of light. In 1974, MIT sent out the Arecibo message, which used radio to send some information and pictures, in the form of a diagram measuring around 20 pixels across and 75 pixels high. Like the Pioneer plaque, it featured the image of a human, but at 9 by 10 pixels, the figure left little room for detail.
This angered MIT scientist/artist Joe Davis. The image of a human lacked any genitals, he noted. It also lacked eyes and a mouth, but he was mainly concerned with this other omission. In fact, even the Pioneer plaque had fallen short when it came to depicting genitals of the female variety. Carl Sagan had designed the drawing and included a penis but gave the woman the featureless crotch of ancient Greek female statues, figuring NASA would reject anything more detailed. Davis had to rectify this error.
But even if he got control of MIT's Millstone Hill antenna, he couldn't just beam out a TV signal of naked people. Barring some crazy coincidence, aliens wouldn't have the exact tech to decode such a signal. Nor could he use the same technique that produced the Arecibo message—an image made of those few binary dots would be too low-res. He had to figure out some kind of repeating analog waveform that represents genitals. And so, he decided to record ballerina vaginas contracting.
Some sources say he recorded the sound of a ballerina's vagina contracting, but as all you ballerinas reading this know, vaginas do not contract very audibly. He actually recruited dancers and converted the movements of their vaginas to a waveform using "a water-filled polyallomer centrifuge tube mounted on a hard nylon base that contained a very sensitive pressure transducer." Having penetrated several women in the name of science, he got to Millstone Hill and blasted the wave into space. Though the Air Force shut his transmission down after only a few minutes, the message got out, and it must have reached neighboring star systems decades ago.
You may have recently read viral headlines about NASA wanting to send our nudes into space, but that story was exaggerated and not very different from those original NASA ventures. When it comes to sending true explicit messages to aliens, all credit must go to brave pioneer Joe Davis.
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For more on our attempts to hit up aliens, check out:
6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Future
R.I.P. Arecibo Telescope - You Absolute Unit
We Almost Sent John Lennon's Voice Into Space, But Alas
Top image: Sydney Smrzel, Daderot/Wiki Commons