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Space exploration   Conversation-starters via radio or laser signals

Scientists plan to send greetings to other worlds

Space explorationA new San Francisco-based organization called METI, or Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, plans to send signals to distant planets, rather than waiting for them to call Earth.

By the end of 2018, the project aims to send some conversation-starters via radio or laser signals to a rocky planet circling Proxima Centauri, the nearest star other than the sun, and then to more distant destinations, hundreds or thousands of light years away.

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It would be the first effort to send powerful, repeated and intentional messages into space, targeting the same stars over months or years, Lisa M. Krieger, The Mercury News, writes.

"If we want to start an exchange over the course of many generations, we want to learn and share information," said Douglas Vakoch, president of METI and former director of Interstellar Message Composition at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in Mountain View, Ca., known as SETI.

Founded last year, METI will host two workshops next year, one in Paris and the other in St. Louis. It also plans to start raising the $1 million needed annually to staff and build or borrow a powerful transmitter in a remote location.

Part of the mission will be to figure out how to craft the perfect message to say "Hello."

Like much else in science, the project has turned controversial. Some ask: If aliens are hostile, do we really want them to know where we are?

We shouldn't draw attention to ourselves, say science fiction writer David Brin and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.




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