Finally shedding all reticence, humans are making an all-out effort to reach aliens with some conversation starters by sending a transmission to Proxima b — the closest exoplanet neighbor.
The novel plan is devised by scientists at San Francisco-based Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (METI) who want to beam signals to communicate with aliens instead of waiting for them to call.
Accordingly, METI researchers would like to make the process operational by the end of 2018 with a first message "Hello."
METI, set up in 2015, will be holding workshops in St. Louis and Paris in 2017.
As mentioned, laser or radio signals will be beamed to Proxima b that orbits Proxima Centauri — the closest star to Solar System at around 4.25 light-years away.
"If we want to start an exchange over the course of many generations, we want to learn and share information," said the president of the METI, Douglas Vakoch, justifying the move and calling it beautiful.
The project will beam repeated and intentional messages to the same planets for months and years from Earth.
However, the content of the message will be carefully crafted. The METI team will plan the messages by making sure that the alien life forms can decipher them.
For the project, METI will go on a fund raising move and hopes to raise around $1 million a year for running the transmitter.
According to analysts, the project has a semblance with NASA's Project Cyclops of the 1970s that proposed a series of radio telescopes to peer beyond 1,000 light-years into space. However, the project had to be shelved due to lack of funding.
Concerns over the messaging plan were raised by Mark Buchanan in a paper published in the Nature Physics journal. He argued that broadcasting messages into space amounts to just "searching for trouble."
"We have almost zero idea of whether aliens are likely to be dangerous," he added.
Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist is also against trying to communicate with alien civilizations as he feels they may be more advanced than humans and is afraid such life forms may underrate humanity as weaklings and seek to conquer.
However, the move is also applauded by many. The job of scientists is to test hypotheses, they point out.
"Through METI we can empirically test the hypothesis that transmitting an intentional signal will elicit a reply," METI's Vakoch said.
The argument in favor of METI's plans is that someone must make the first move. Andrew Fraknoi, an astronomer at California's Foothill College calls it the right move and notes, "if everyone decides only to receive messages, it will be a very quiet galaxy."
The mixed reactions show that some are wondering at its rationale and smells risk in letting know the whereabouts of humans, in case they are hostile.
Botched Efforts Of Past
There were many attempts to contact aliens in the past as well, as no regulations exist on sending signals into space.
In the 1970s, Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft of NASA tried messages through gold plaque and phonograph records.
Similarly, a radio message assembled into a pictogram of images was sent by SETI's Frank Drake.
The Breakthrough Listen project funded by internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner at the University of California has been scanning the space to find signatures of alien technology.