In the 1800s, Austrian astronomer Joseph von Littrow reportedly wanted to dig a massive canal in the Sahara Desert, fill it with kerosene and set it on fire, all in an effort to communicate with aliens. Now, a group of scientists known as the “Beacon in the Galaxy” (BITG) are suggesting a comparably hot and attention-seeking approach: Sending nudes into space.
Their au naturel overture — as detailed in a paper published in the journal Galaxies that explains their plan — would be an update to the “Arecibo Message,” or the most powerful broadcast ever beamed into space, which in 1974 was sent to the star cluster M13, approximately 21,000 light years away. And while that initial message included a stick figure of a human, BITG’s newer version would “conclude with digitized images of the human form, along with an invitation for any receiving intelligences to respond.”
In other words, although an unsolicited nude doesn’t always warrant a polite response, the scientists are hopeful theirs will encourage the recipients to text back. For reference, they included a copy of exactly what they meant by “human form.” Nice.
The incredibly tasteful nude is coded in binary 0s and 1s, which researchers note is a form of communication that aliens are most likely to understand. “Though the concept of mathematics in human terms is potentially unrecognizable to [extraterrestrial intelligence], binary is likely universal across all intelligence,” they reason. “Binary is the simplest form of mathematics as it involves only two opposing states: zero and one, yes or no, black or white, mass or empty space. Hence, the transmission of the code as binary would very likely be understandable to all [extraterrestrial intelligence].”
BITG claims the reason behind their nude-foward broadcast is to facilitate communication, something that can be difficult with celestial creatures who don’t have any understanding of the human form. So along with nudes, the message includes a breakdown of our DNA and biochemistry. “This provides the information that humans, among other life on Earth, are a carbon-based form, this to better start a conversation, and additionally to infer how life on Earth came to be via complex self-replicating organic molecules,” the authors write. “The logical follow-on to the basal makeup of humans is a depiction of our physical form, along with basic data like height and our population at time of transmission.”
Here’s hoping that there are some gaseous sluts out there excited to send something less prudish back. Personally, I’m learning how to read binary, just in case.