Saturday, November 26, 2011
To Our Children's Children's Children
There has been talk for years about 'messages from outer space'. They've been at the heart of many a science fiction plot and, reasonably enough, are a natural extension of a belief that somewhere out there is life that has evolved to the point where those other 'beings' ask themselves the same question as we have been asking: "Is there anyone else out there?"
We've been sending messages out into the universe for thousands of years - initially without realising it and more recently deliberately with a view to showing any potential recipients the stage to which we ourselves have evolved. The changes to our atmosphere, energy emissions, land use and unnatural shapes formed are just a few would have indicated that there is someone on Planet Earth, or whatever name our world is given, alive and well and living here. If our alien observers missed those then some of our more focused efforts may have, or might one day, get noticed.
Until today, though, I hadn't been aware of our actually having received any messages. Yes, there have been rumours galore but no-one with any official standing has confirmed that we might have done in any public arena. So I was astonished to read a post on Google+ from someone called Daryl Kuzyk referring to a release by the National Security Agency titled Key To The Extraterrestrial Messages and written by Dr Howard Campaigne, a mathematician and cryptology specialist who has been working in the field of interpreting code since the Second World War and who seems to be someone who talks sense, even if it is pretty complicated sense.
It appears that Key To The Extraterrestrial Messages was published in 2004 but was only actually made public after a request under Freedom Of Information legislation in April this year. Quite why this did not make big news or, at least, appear on my radar screen, a few months ago I don't know. It may be simply because the article itself is not easy reading and, of course, the very fact that it has been released and is Unclassified tends to diminish its importance in the eyes of those who might have been inclined to tell the world about it, being more impressed, perhaps, by articles or recordings smuggled out of meetings and documents with Top Secret stamped all over them, especially those with black rectangle redaction on every page.
Or it could just be this, NSA telling us: "OK, folks, we have had something that appears to be communication from somewhere other than Planet Earth. It might be something someone here has sent out that has found its way back to us but our experts reckon it is from an alien source. Not much more we can say, really. Our chap Campaigne has done his best to make some sense of it and we've published what he says for those of you who have trouble sleeping at night to read. No big deal. No green monsters about to invade. No chance of seeing anyone or any thing in our lifetimes or, for that matter, in our children's children's children's lifetimes either so here you are, have a look."
If you're interested, here's the document itself and an article about it in more detail.