Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Little Green Men

We send/sent space probes to float around in the Milky Way with pictorial messages attached to them. For example, the 1977 Voyager probes had golden records, with inscribed diagrams depicting the human form and our location. The records were made based on the fact that little green men can understand basic math and geometry. Why is it that math and science are used to communicate with aliens? Wouldn't they have other ways of knowing?

6 comments:

Deep Chandegara said...

Pragmatically speaking, math and science are more useful than reading or writing or literature or some other AoK. They're also more universal. The laws of math and science don't change if you go from one place to another. The laws of physics will still govern us whether we live on earth or another planet and 5! will always equal 120 no matter where you are. Other WoK's change because aliens may have different ways of knowing than the 4 we learn about in class.

Mike Phamalama said...

I'm not sure what you mean by math and science are more universal or if there are degrees of universiality if that's a word. But I don't know if we can claim math and science to me universal. Science is based on the our world, the earth. Math is universal in our eyes because our eyes our really concerned with issues of the earth, and in those issues, math is always the same. That may not be true outside of our world assuming if there are little aliens out there. I dont' know if this post means anything, but I'm putting it ouit there...

april said...

I have to disagree with Deep because our concept of math is based solely on abstract concepts which we've applied to yet another abstract ideal. Pure math is nothing more than man making something up in order to describe physical occurances. Physics could be one of the only areas which may be universal, however communication with another group of beings may be entirely impossible because we base all of our knowledge on our experiences on earth, developing language and even the ways to communicate physics. So, i feel as though communication among other beings at a distance is a fruitless attempt due to our lack in ability to communicate in any truly universal language.

Robert said...

I also have to disagree with Deep, since we can easily see how our method of writing numbers has changed. I believe that the diagrames used have the best chance because to me pictures seem more universal as pictures are a direct description of the item instead of a representation of the concept.

Sam I Am said...

Though I wanted to see how ppl would respond with the depiction of math and science as more universal, I think it could be made more relevant (communicating with aliens that may or may not exist is hardly connected with the study of people). Humanities were valued more in this post than I thought; the apparent limitation, i.e. humanities only applies to humans, isn't really a limitation since humans encompass all our experience, anyways. And...if the "universe" only consists of humans (as it does for most everyone), than universality doesn't really apply. And, if communicating with people rather than aliens is your goal, than humanities would be more valuable, since people are foremost emotional beings and secondarily rational (no matter how much more "practical" science is). Any attempt to move away from using local slang, to national language, to a science-based vocabulary, to mathematics, to computer binary notation, inevitably sacrifices the personal connection for universality.

Daniel said...

I would have to say that I saw a little wikipedia article a while ago about how they came up with that whole thing, and they certainly put a lot of effort into it. It is all in binary, and there are pictures of the voyager spacecraft next to everything for scale. However, there is pretty much no way that aliens are going to understand it. If there is intelligent life out there it is so different, simply from an evolutionary standpoint, that it was have absolutely no basis from which to view these pictures. For some reason aliens are supposed to understand binary...? I think not... I know that I completely missed the point of the post, but i just saw the little voyager picture a few days ago and I thought it was kind of ridiculous.