Book on ET: NASA Provides Details About Alien Communication

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By Silvana Peters | May 22, 2014 4:34 PM EST

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has officially published an e-book tackling the topic of alien communication.

Dr. Douglas Vakoch, director of Interstellar Message Composition at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI), edited the 330-page volume that details the work and methods used by the organisation related to the search for life outside Earth.

The book is titled Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication and is a collection of various chapters written by different authors that discusses alien communication history as well as its future. 

In the beginning of the book, Vakoch mentioned the challenges of detecting, decoding and interpreting any communication that may exist.

"Even if we detect a civilization circling one of our nearest stellar neighbors, its signals will have traversed trillions of miles, reaching Earth after traveling for years," said the director.

He added, "To move beyond the mere detection of such intelligence, and to have any realistic chance of comprehending it, we can gain much from the lessons learned by researchers facing similar challenges on Earth."

He mentioned the contributions of other sciences, namely that of archaeology and anthropology, we may be better prepared should a signal or first communication ever comes.

"Like archaeologists who reconstruct temporally distant civilizations from fragmentary evidence, Seti researchers will be expected to reconstruct distant civilizations separated from us by vast expanses of space as well as time."

Arguably what is the most controversial part of the book will be found in the last chapter, Constraints on Message Construction for Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence, written by William H. Edmondson of the University of Birmingham who used ancient rock art as an example.

"Consider again, therefore, the desirability of establishing symbolic/linguistic communication with ETI [Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence]. It is helpful to review some parallels from human existence that pose problems for us today. One of these is "rock art," which consists of patterns or shapes cut into rock many thousands of years ago. Such ancient stone carvings can be found in many countries

"We can say little, if anything, about what these patterns signify, why they were cut into rocks, and who created them," he wrote. "For all intents and purposes, they might have been created by aliens."

The section does not confirm that markings are alien, but rather, while we know nothing of the its origin, it's likened to alien material that we cannot explain.

You may access the full version of the e-book here.

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