Leave it to NASA to come up with a new way to send unsolicited nudes. In a recent study proposing a new type of message to beam to intelligent life forms, scientists shared a slide containing a naked photo of a man and a woman.
Named A Beacon in the Galaxy, the message was laid out in a paper written by Jonathan Jiang, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and his colleagues. The team hopes to build on past attempts to connect with extraterrestrials through a message written in binary code that contains basic concepts in mathematics, chemistry, and biology.
One of the slides is titled “Illustrations of the Human Form,” and it contains a pixelated man and woman standing next to each other with nary a piece of clothing in sight. On one side of the “depiction of human male and female” is a double helix, with an “object falling downwards” on the other.
By drawing on the design of the 1974 Arecibo message and other past attempts at contacting extraterrestrials, the BITG team believe they have taken a major leap. “The motivation for the design was to deliver the maximum amount of information about our society and the human species in the minimal amount of message,” Jiang told Scientific American. “With improvements in digital technology, we can do much better than the [Arecibo message] in 1974.”
According to the scientists, using binary code is the best way to convey the concepts to ETI (extraterrestrial intelligence). “Though the concept of mathematics in human terms is potentially unrecognizable to ETI, binary is likely universal across all intelligence,” the paper reads. “Binary is the simplest form of mathematics as it involves only two opposing states: zero and one, yes or no, black or white, mass or empty space.”
The study adds, “The proposed message includes basic mathematical and physical concepts to establish a universal means of communication followed by information on the biochemical composition of life on Earth, the Solar System’s time-stamped position in the Milky Way relative to known globular clusters, as well as digitized depictions of the Solar System, and Earth’s surface. The message concludes with digitized images of the human form, along with an invitation for any receiving intelligences to respond.”
Should BITG actually be brought to concept, it wouldn’t be the first time NASA has sent a naked photo into space. Back in the 1970s, the Pioneer plaques carried aboard the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 featured an illustration of the naked human form. Whether or not aliens would welcome the nudes in the first place is another story.
Read the full Beacon in the Galaxy paper here.