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Dear Aliens Contest
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'Dear Aliens' Contest

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Friday, April 1, 2011 - 5:00pm
Paul Davies

Thank you for your interest in the Dear Aliens contest. The contest is now closed.

A Brief History of Searching for Aliens

For millennia, human beings have gazed up into the starry night skies and asked ‘Is there anyone out there?’ At one time humans thought there might be living beings on Mars, called Martians, which they imagined to be war-like creatures who hoped to take over our planet. But scientific research has shown us that Mars is an empty, cold, desert-like planet. The absence of intelligent life on Mars, though, doesn't mean that there aren't other civilizations somewhere out there in the vast expanse of our universe.

Using powerful optical and radio telescopes, we can now look and listen further and further across the universe to find habitats that might be suitable for life. We can see huge distances, and may one day find a far distant planet which doesn’t just have the perfect conditions for life – but life actually already thriving on it.Perhaps one day we’ll hear some alien music or eavesdrop on a conversation. And because we are a pretty noisy planet, with our radio and TV traffic leaking out into space, it just might be possible that aliens will one day pick up our signals and decide to investigate.

It is especially relevant to talk about communicating with aliens here at ASU because this is the place where the content of humanity’s response to the aliens would be decided. ASU professor, Paul Davies, is head of the SETI Post Detection Task Group. (SETI stands for Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.) This means that if the aliens make contact, it is his job to decide what to say! This is a big task and a big responsibility! And Dr. Davies could really use your help! A signal or broadcast from ETi could come tomorrow or it could arrive decades from now, we should at least have some idea of what we would say for ourselves.

And it makes sense that YOU help us because young people are the very people who may, in the future, find themselves communicating with beings from another planet. So we’re asking for your help. Please join us in this extraordinary, extra-worldly competition and send us your ideas on what to say when the aliens speak up.