Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
(Serving suggestion.)

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.



test SETI language skills

experts create a new language to test our SETI skills
  [vote for,

I'm imagining a group of linguists, SETI scientists and maybe even sci-fi writers creating an "alien" language and using it to construct a message with a tutorial.

The message is then given to teams in competition the translate. A prize could be offered. The first team to translate the message correctly and compose a reply in the "alien" language wins.

The skills learned in translating and construction could be applied to making a message, should we choose to broadcast a message to the stars. If we ever receive a signal, we could then have a better preparation (or practice at least) for interpreting it.

It could also be a tool to teach ourselves about and challenge concepts of linguistics.

talldave, Jul 05 2003

How to speak Klingon http://www.kli.org/
[Amos Kito, Oct 04 2004]

Alien Arithmetic: An Experiment http://humane.sourc...ien_arithmetic.html
An attempt at testing the viability of this type of message [mannby, Oct 04 2004]


       People have proposed using math, physics and chemistry as a basis for translation and there may be a lot of utility to it. But picture-book type symbols might be useful. There may be other methods as well.   

       Part of the point of the exercise is to explore these methods to see just how useful they are.
talldave, Jul 05 2003

       There will be limitations. The way people form language may be quite different from the way alien minds form language. But I do think the exercise could reveal some unexpected things.   

       It is an exploration and like most explorations the unexpected can be the most interesting.
talldave, Jul 05 2003

       If I meet another human, I instantly know we share a huge mass of common experience and feeling. Without having any idea of this person's language, I already have a basis for communication.   

       How many assumptions can we lose without losing the basic concept of communication?   

       Bun - "not because it is easy, but because it is hard"
lurch, Jul 06 2003

       Baked. Crickets have been conducting this contest for years, and have been paitiently waiting for us to decode their clicks and chirps. First prize is the secret on how to jump multiple times our own height.
Worldgineer, Jul 07 2003

       It would be interesting to see how many humans can accurately translate the Drake Arecibo message without looking up the answers. It would be even more interesting to see how many can interpret it based only on the broadcast signal and not the image it generates.
waugsqueke, Jul 07 2003

       Let me first off say. +   

       Yeah, you have to even translate your carrier signal into something that you can recognize. They would have to do the same or perhaps look at the radio waves the way you perceive sound waves.   

       You don't fully posess the capability to produce acurate star maps yet. Your second closest star is off by 4 years. Making it possible for some stars to shift far enough to look like other star maps elsewhere. They have to be in a 3 dimensional format at the very least.   

       Then you have to take in their time frame (how much time do they have to just scoot over here) and current technological progression not to mention economic situation and alliances. Maybe they know better about where you came from than you. Also you have to take into account their priorities. Do they even care about other or sending/receiving out messages. Are they paranoid? Do they not want to announce their position before an invasion?   

       Then there are laws. Do they have them? Are they allowed to talk back?   

       How do they perceive atoms? If you have seen how you look at them, one will note they are vastly simplified compared to how they act. Humans, have trouble categorizing light, how will they come to a communications agreement with another sentience that may have already classified light or a similar sentience that may have classified light in an incorrect way due to technological limitations.   

       But yes.
sartep, Jul 07 2003

       // I would think there are some basic assumptions you could make about anyone capable of receiving the message. You have to assume that they have some sort of symbolic way of representing abstract concepts. A numbering system would also be a reasonable assumption. Mathematics, physics and chemistry are also pretty much a given. //   

       [SDG] - I will grant you that I believe your outline to be the *most likely* scenario. However, I can also imagine a race whose path of technological growth has taken a sufficiently different path to arrive at radio without necessarily developing the Bohr model of the atom.
lurch, Jul 07 2003

       Your closest pulsar is 400 LY away making it 400 years in a direction different from where you see it.
sartep, Jul 08 2003

       Cute. I see this as a linguistic equivalent of the play-fighting of a pair of tiger cubs as hunting practice. They don't yet know what they will encounter, but practice on what they do have -- each other.   

       Attempting 'alien communication' between humans and trying to communicate with higher animals sounds like two of the best preparations I can think of.
st3f, Jul 08 2003

       Alpha Centauri A and Tau Ceti are also similar stars in the area. Assuming others suspect the yellow dwarfs as having life.   

       Most other pulsars are atleast 2800 LY away. While the area will be illuminated with interest, I still say this is not an accurate star mapping.
sartep, Jul 08 2003

       All this physics hoohah. I think the aliens would be just as likely to send a religious message, or maybe the most beautiful song their culture had produced.
bungston, Jul 08 2003

       You are correct, Bungston.
sartep, Jul 08 2003

       The original point is that we could possibly dispense with some of the conjecture and test things out. True, the test isn't perfect, but it would be a great start.   

       We've already sent some pretty stupid messages (IMHO). People from every culture in the world saying "hi" is great for PR, but pretty dumb if you really want an alien culture to understand us. But since the odds are these probes will never be picked up by anyone, ever, it doesn't really matter.   

       Thinking about stuff is great, but unless you get to a point where you can try it out, take the idea for a spin, so to speak, fluffy thinking can easily prevail.
talldave, Jul 08 2003

       The probes could also be left alone so they can be discovered by an intelligence of a similar technological level or so they can be retrieved by your own race for placement in a museum.
sartep, Jul 08 2003

       I didn't know about the pulsar maps. That's interesting...
talldave, Jul 09 2003

       There's a test sitting right here in the ocean, and we've been failing it for years: humpback whales (for starters)--they're non human intelligent beings, and we don't have much of a clue what they're talking about.
oxen crossing, Jul 10 2003

       This is a cool idea. Carl Sagan's book *Contact* imagines a scenario in which an alien message is received and decoded, with some trials and tribulations. It describes a very good method for establishing a common vocabulary of mathematical concepts, which then enable discussion of scientific concepts, after which is the content of the message. (I won't give it away.)   

       He also suggests encoding images as series of bits that are the product of two or three prime numbers (if you want a 2- or 3-dimensional image).
beland, Jul 16 2003

       Voyager II contains a few engravings as well as sound recordings on an LP. The LP has become a soon-to-be-lost relic of primitive technology before Voyager II has even made it out of the solar system. If aliens some day managed to stumble across V-2, not only would they not understand it, but neither would we.
Mungo, Mar 04 2004


back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle