Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Something Useful Island

Calling occupants...
  [vote for,

Instead of rich nations building more islands in the shape of palm trees, why not build one in the shape of something useful?

As there's a decent chance that the man-made land masses might one day be seen from space, perhaps we should use them to send messages to intergalactic explorers.

A large human-shaped island might be a good start. Better still build Croissant Island and Fishbone Island, and judge them by their choice of landing site.

Fishrat, Oct 15 2012


       I suggest multiple archipelagoes (archipelagi?) spelling out 'NOT WORTH THE TROUBLE' in binary.
Alterother, Oct 15 2012

       I think the point of the palm tree islands was that they _are_useful, in the sense of providing the maximum beachage. However, I cannot find fault with the concept of a fishbone island, which would provide similar coastality.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 15 2012

       or a croissant for the mountains and fjords.
FlyingToaster, Oct 15 2012

       I hate to put a dampner on the whole binery writing thing, but I doubt that most of the universe speaks binery fluently.
TomP, Oct 15 2012

       Oh, 01100010 01101111 01101100 01101100 01101111 01100011 01101011 01110011 to it.
Fishrat, Oct 15 2012

       I'll 10nd that.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 15 2012

       Well, I suggested binary because I figured math is fairly universal, but what the hell do I know? Feel free to suggest another form of inscribed communication that visitors from another planet might be able to interpret. What's important is that they get the message: this is a dinky little world that has been half-stripped of its natural resources by the global ecosystem's apex predators, who are stubborn and devious and will fight you to the bitter end. I mean, if we're going to write some kind of message that's readable from orbit, it might as well be disclaimer.
Alterother, Oct 15 2012

       Binary to any other numerical base is fairly logical to interpret. The problem is the ASCII or Unicode to turn it into language is what's not going to be readily interpretable. Heck, we can't do that on our own planet and hardware half the time.
MechE, Oct 16 2012

       Honestly, have you guys never heard of galactic Esperanto?
Fishrat, Oct 16 2012

       Yes, the caffeine content is astronomical.
ytk, Oct 16 2012

       And Way too Milky.
Fishrat, Oct 16 2012

       //Well, I suggested binary because I figured math is fairly universal//   

       Yeah, I agree with that, the trouble is that if I were a spaceman flying around planets and I stumbled across this, I'd probably think it was a planet with lots of nice little islands that happen to line up - some sort of underwater mountain ridge that just pokes above the surface. It's fine using it on something like the Voyager Record because it's strapped to something that doesn't look very natural.
TomP, Oct 17 2012

       Islands in the shape of arrows would be useful - to indicate the movement of nearby tectonic plates.
hippo, Oct 17 2012

       The 2nd Palm Island has an Arabic poem written around it, but something like the proof of Pythagoras' theorem might be slightly more universal.   

       The World Islands would be a clear communication if they looked more like the actual map of the world. Aliens would see that it was a recreation.   

       Perhaps oil rigs should be positioned in constellations.
marklar, Oct 17 2012

       //nice little islands that happen to line up//   

       Which is why you make the Islands a pretty good aproximation of square, something that isn't likely to occur due to natural processes.
MechE, Oct 17 2012

       [marklar] Are those "World Islands" recursive? - i.e. is there a tiny set of islands where they would be on a map of the world?
hippo, Oct 17 2012

       // Which is why you make the Islands a pretty good aproximation of square //   

       Or make them in uniform shapes that could not feasably occur naturally, such as dashes and dots, squares and triangles, or ones and zeroes.   

       A display of advanced geometrical knowledge might also give the impression that we knew what we were doing and weren't just building pretty shapes for our own amusement.
Alterother, Oct 17 2012

       So, not satisfied with the gigawatts of electromagnetic radiation your planet is already emitting, you want to play games with huge quantities of rock and earth …
8th of 7, Oct 17 2012

       It worked for the Dutch.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 17 2012

       The ability to communicate various forms of media via controlled electromagnetic transmission is not necessarily a sign of higher intelligence. Just look at the Fox Network, for instance.
Alterother, Oct 17 2012

       Ah. Good point.
8th of 7, Oct 17 2012

       I like the idea, so [+], but I have thought about how SETI has found nothing in all these years, so maybe they are going about it in the wrong way. This could be an alternative way to attract some kind of extraterrestrial beings.
xandram, Oct 17 2012

       I've always thought that SETI has overlooked a couple of glaring possibilities: firstly, they seem to assume that we as humans have the intellectual capability to recognize a comepletely alien form of intelligence*, and secondly, an alien race possessed of sufficiently advanced technology to communicate/travel between solar systems may not _want_ us reading their mail and therefore uses point-to- point communication or simply maintains strict interstellar 'radio silence'.   

       *this is an even more significant consideration to me personally, since I have actually met a creature as intelligent as I am** and shared with him a moment of mutual acknowledgment in which each of us were cognizant that, due to vast differences in our perception and understanding of sentient thought, we could never share the benefit of our intellects.   

       **an adult male Minke Whale
Alterother, Oct 17 2012

       //a creature as intelligent as I am** **an adult male Minke Whale //   

       It pains me to disagree, but I disagree.   

       We can, of course, say that whales* lack technology because they do not need it. We can, of course, say that their language is as complex and subtle as it needs to be. We can, of course, say that they understand ocean currents better than our best computer models.   

       However, we can also point out that flocks of humans do not, in general, run into waist-deep water and then stay there until they drown. It's also a fair bet that, if humans were hunted by whales, we would organise ourselves very quickly and very well to outwit them. Put a few thousand humans in whale-suits, give them long-range underwater communication, and I don't think whalers would have much of a chance, do you?   

       I think its fair to say that whales' intelligence lies somewhere on the spectrum between parsnips and humans, and may well be closer to the human end than to the parsnip end.   

       But the fact that we draw attention to some intelligent behaviours of whales (oh look - they learn songs!) underlines the fact that they are not as smart as we are. Nobody says 'oh look - the Swiss can use language!', because we sort of take that as a given.   

       (*and indeed the Welsh)
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 17 2012

       [Max], since you and I both obviously rank among the significant geniuses of the modern era, I think you will understand this: you know that momentary flash of insight you have when you look into the eyes of somebody with whom you are interacting and you suddenly know that they are your equal or better in terms of intelligence and intuition? It's the little glimmer of brilliance that you dearly miss when you give that cursory nod of thanks and brief but affable eye contact to the twenty-nine year old gum-snapper who bags your groceries. When you connect with a true intellectual peer, however, you just know it in an instant.   

       That was the moment I had with the whale. I can give no greater support to my argument.
Alterother, Oct 17 2012

       //flocks of humans do not, in general, run into waist-deep water and then stay there until they drown// No, but have you seen some of the things that groups of humans do?
pocmloc, Oct 17 2012

       //but have you seen some of the things that groups of humans do?//   

       True, but they do them to whales more often than whales do them to us.   

       I suppose the simple solution is to say that whales have whale intelligence, humans have human intelligence, and parsnips have parsnip intelligence. Then everyone and everything can have the same intelligence (100%), and we don't need to embarrass the whales or the parsnips.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 17 2012

       I see a fundamental problem with this. Many ancient civilizations may have left messages like this: pyramids, Stonehenge, Nazca Lines, etc. But rather than understanding the message, we just marvel at how such primative societies could have accomplished those feats, and speculate about what religious purpose they could have had served.   

       So what does Stonehenge say in binary? I suspect that if anyone has found real hidden messages in these artifacts they have been lumped with the tinfoil hat crowd and ignored.
scad mientist, Oct 17 2012

       // rather than understanding the message, we just marvel at how such primative societies could have accomplished those feats//   

       I'm clearly destined to disagree a lot today. Egyptologists, hengeologists and the like spend little time marvelling. Instead, the work out how the things were built and, as far as possible, why.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 17 2012

       // When you connect with a true intellectual peer, however, you just know it in an instant.//   

       Oh dear. I am turning into a curmudgeonly old git.   

       I've had the same feeling when looking at monkeys (macaques) in the wild though not, oddly when looking at them in zoos. You get the feeling that there is a connection, that they are looking back at you. And no, it is not the same feeling you get when looking at the checkout guy.   

       However, I truly don't honestly believe that the macaque is more intelligent than the checkout guy. I think that being looked at buy a macaque is striking because it's an animal that obviously recognises the features of your human face, and makes eye contact - which is not something that most animals do.   

       For what it's worth, I am jealous of anyone who has had the chance to look at a whale close up.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 17 2012

       // the(y) work out how the things were built and, as far as possible, why. //   

       That I agree with. There are plenty of archeosites in the world whose purposes went unexplained for many years until somebody who was thinking at the relevant frequency stopped ogling the pretty stones and realized that the thing was a seasonal clock, or a barrow-mound, or a slow- burning practical joke.   

       // For what it's worth, I am jealous of anyone who has had the chance to look at a whale close up. //   

       For what it's worth, it was sudden, entirely unexpected, very intimately close, and utterly terrifying. Only the six or seven pints of adrenaline that instantly saturated my body allowed me to metacogitate objectively for the few seconds that the encounter lasted. Meanwhile, everything from my brain stem on down was very busy figuring out how not to anger a forty-odd foot whale that can effortlessly reduce your sturdy wooden canoe into toothpicks. But it was also one of the most profound and significant events of my life, and your envy is entirely appropriate.
Alterother, Oct 17 2012

       Odd. I have these same experiences when I look a crawdad in the eye. But I can only do it so long, because my brain must devote itself back to the difficult task of pumping oxygen.
RayfordSteele, Oct 18 2012


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