A drawing of a hydrogen atom. A map of Earth. A visual representation of DNA’s double-helix structure.
Scientists hope that these and other messages, written in binary code of zeroes and ones, will resonate with extraterrestrial life forms in the Milky Way galaxy and invite them to strike up a conversation with Earthlings.
And if they don’t, maybe the nude illustrations researchers intend to transmit into space will.
Researchers from a range of institutions, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, recently published their proposal for communicating with aliens in the open-source scientific repository Arxiv.
Though the decision to include pixelated drawings of naked humans in the mix may seem odd at first blush, researchers have good reason to include them, reasoning that aliens would, naturally, want to know what humans look like.
The page containing the two human figures “can easily be considered one of the most important parts of the message,” the scientists write, adding that the physical depiction “would certainly be of compelling interest.”
The proposed message won’t be the first to include nudes. In 1972, researchers launched the Pioneer 10 space probe,
which contained a small gold plaque with an illustration of a naked man and woman, along with Earth’s location in the galaxy and other messaging.
It’s not clear whether extraterrestrials ever received Pioneer 10’s message, but the probe sent its last signal in January 2003 while it was 7.6 billion miles away.