Google doodle celebrates humanity’s first message to aliens

James Marshall
November 18, 2018

In 1974, scientists sent humankind's first, three-minute long interstellar radio message - the Arecibo Message - and 44 years later, Google on Friday celebrated the feat with a Doodle.

The radio message carrying basic information about humanity and Earth was sent to globular star "cluster M13" which is 25,000 light years away. Drake recalled thinking. "We could send a message!"

Engineers translated it into sound in order that those gathered could perceive it during transmission. Simply, the composition is made up of colourful squares shaped in such a way to form a pictograph, which represents facts about mathematics, human DNA, planet earth, and humans.

Google celebrating anniversary of Arecibo message with a doodle.

His team from Cornell University in NY sent the message using an Arecibo radio telescope, which was the largest and most powerful in the world at the time.

"It was a strictly symbolic event to show that we could do it", said Donald Campbell, professor of astronomy at Cornell University.

This historic transmission was meant to demonstrate the capabilities of Arecibo's recently upgraded radio telescope, whose 1000-foot-diameter dish made it the largest and most powerful in the world at the time.

Dr. Frank Drake, then at Cornell University and creator of the Drake equation, wrote the message with help from Carl Sagan, among others.

Although the message has already travelled 416 trillion kilometres, the journey to its intended destination which will take roughly 25,000 years to complete. The Drake Equation is used to estimate the number of planets hosting extraterrestrial life within the Milky Way Galaxy.

Also, the star cluster targeted by the message will have moved out of the way as part of the galaxy's normal rotation by the time the message arrives.

Since, this message would reach its destination in 25,000 light years and similar time to receive a reply, it could be said that it was just a demonstration of human technological advancement rather than an attempt to set up a real communication with extraterrestrials.

However, with the advent of science and space technology, our understanding of the cosmos has advanced by leaps and bounds, raising hopes that someone may be out there, listening.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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