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Decrypting an alien message could be the biggest Citizen Science project ever



  Decryption of Alien News May Be the Biggest Citizen Science Project Ever

Artistic Concept of Intelligent Alien

Credit: Albert Ziganshin / Shutterstock.com

Stay sharp! They may be needed to decrypt a message from intelligent aliens someday.

The work of professional linguists, mathematicians and scientists "probably will not be enough" to unravel a cosmic mystery, said Sheri Wells-Jensen, a linguist at Bowling Green University in Ohio, who also sits on the board of METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence), a San Francisco based non-profit organization

"We must all have hands on deck," Wells-Jensen told Space.com. "We will all need it, and we need to generate multiple meanings for a message we get." [1

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An experiment recently conducted by Wells-Jensen shows why we need the power of the human swarm. She presented the students with various puzzles programmed in the manner of Lincos, a constructed language understood by intelligent aliens. The students have the simple things, such as: For example, basic mathematical functions are pretty well understood – but things got tricky as the concepts became more complicated.

For example, Wells-Jensen gave the students the equation for the circumference of a circle and a slightly coded representation of "pi" (the ratio of circumference to diameter).

"And I said, 'OK, what's the right word?' And they invented all sorts of crazy things," she said. "Some made poetic leaps and said" world ", some of them took an opposite poetic leap and said," infinity. "Some of them thought that I thought the circle's diameter ended on a wall and said" prison. "

And this is for a message written by a fellow human being.It will undoubtedly be much more difficult to decode anything conceived by creatures from a distant solar system who share no culture or evolutionary history with us may rely on different senses to perceive and communicate their environment, and who are technologically likely to be far advanced.

So, we probably need to gather together the collective wisdom of the world in a massive Citizen Science project to find the "right one." "Identifying (and agreeing) to respond, Wells-Jensen said, and our chances of success in this endeavor would be significant If we all went into the books a bit to improve our critical thinking and understanding of nature and functioning, she added.

"One of the goals of METI – and I really think it should be a goal for all of us – is to work on this problem of science education," said Wells-Jensen.

The linguist should present her results on Saturday (May 26). during a workshop at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) 2018 in Los Angeles. But she does, after she runs out of time. Wells-Jensen was pretty busy; She led the workshop called "Language in the Cosmos" and co-authored another workshop study.

The one-day workshop organized by METI explored the possibility that language – or at least certain essential elements of language – could be universal throughout the cosmos.

The famous linguist Noam "Chomsky has often said that when a Martian visits Earth, he thinks we speak all the dialects of the same language, because all of the Earth languages ​​share a common basic structure," said METI President Doug Vakoch, who also has one Paper at the workshop, said in a statement. "But if aliens have a language, would it be similar to ours? That's the big question."

Two workshop works, including one written by Chomsky, expressed optimism. Wells-Jensen said she is more skeptical because she does not know our knowledge of the origins of human language and the difficulty of extrapolating from a sample of one person. (Wal-languages, however, could be complex enough to increase the sample of our planet to two, she added.)

"I do not think we know that, but that's a nice hypothesis to play with," she said about the language- Universality idea

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.


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