How SETI will Determine Intelligent Messages
The branch of SETI called “Communication with Extra Terrestrial Intelligence” focuses on deciphering messages from space whether it be a direct un-coded contact attempt, or if the message is encrypted and needs to be decoded. After confirming a signal, the task of extracting information from it could prove to be an extensive process depending on the nature of the received message. Many SETI researchers expect the signal to be a direct and deliberate contact initiative taking the form of an unambiguous nature. Andrew Siemon, a PHD candidate in astronomy at SETI Berkley says
“Due to the random motions of the particles that are ultimately at the source of natural electromagnetic emission, these emissions tend to get spread out in frequency or in time. Technology, on the other hand, is capable of producing very fine time and frequency structure. We can use this fine structure to distinguish between natural and ‘unnatural’ sources.”
Siemon stresses that’s it’s important to understand that there may be some natural processes in the cosmos that could mimic signals from space and that confirming intelligent signal sources is all a part of the task. Siemon says they may use the properties of astrophysical objects, like pulsars, quasars or the shape of our galaxy as a first step in teaching us their language if they choose to do so. Alien civilizations closer to us within 40-50 light years may know more about us that we think since our early radio and TV signals may have reached their planet by now and therefore it may be much easier to communicate with SETI in a way that we can understand.
It is thought by scientists and mathematicians that forming a signal which denotes intelligence shouldn’t be too difficult to create for our potential cosmic neighbors and that they expect the message to be in the form of mathematical code, and don’t expect a signal that simply translates to “Lucy, Im home.”