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February 2010

Nostalgic Number

Here's a screen capture from Episode 9 of  'Cosmos".  Carl Sagan is working out how many bits of stuff there are in the universe, and needs to explain how very large numbers can be written in shorthand.  I don't remember the last time I saw 'Googol' rather than 'Google'.  

Sagangoogol

This episode kicked off with the quote "If you want to bake the perfect apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe".  A few minutes later, Sagan is lecturing in the Cavendish laboratory: 

Cavendisg sagan

What looks like a Go board to the right side of the table ends up being a representation of the periodic chart of elements.  It would have been nice if he had sat down with a couple of ghostly physicists and played a game or two.  I suppose the periodic table makes more sense, in context.


Principles of Communication with Inter-Stellar Consciousness

Principles of Communication with Inter-Stellar Consciousness 

(the following ideas are a summary of notes previously blogged)

  1.  Contact is occurring. 

  2.  We do not recognize contact either because it is so radically different from anything we have experienced before, or because it is so intrinsically familiar.
     
  3. Message construction is to puncture flat culture in such a way that we recognize contact.


Thoughts on Extra-Terrestrial message composition

(The following notes are a transcript of my 'Talking Head' appearance in Astrorama, a show written and produced by Squonk Opera in 2008.)

I started looking at electromagnetism as a viable artistic medium after I had worked with SETI on some projects that were specifically geared towards asking the question : How can we construct an outbound message that identifies more about what it is to be human and less about what it is that humans know? 

So the historical context for that in the seventies and early eighties we sent sanctioned messages and they were exciting projects to know about and to hear about but we took our understanding of mathematics and our binary arithmetic, arranged those in a series of pulses and said well if we know that one pulse and another pulse equals two pulses we can gradually build up a very elaborate concept of what we know. And it was a very elaborate message. 

When we anticipate the intelligence of an Extra-Terrestrial culture, without doubt that intelligence will be fundamentally different from ours. But equally without doubt it will share a common characteristic of being aware of itself. And when we have interlocking patterns of self-awareness across the vast distances of the universe we will find a common thread that is completely independent from whatever mechanism or medium we use to communicate.

 In a hundred years, or ten years - or in ten minutes -  when we wake up as a culture and recognize Extra-Terrestrial communication occurring, it will not be in the form of spacecraft visiting us from vast distances, and small creatures that look vaguely like us (or something like a beloved family pet). What it will be instead is an experience of our Selves and of this Other that is so profoundly different from anything we have experienced, that this is the reason that we have not yet experienced it. 

 The goal of message composition is to change our perception so that we may see the communication that is undoubtedly occurring even right now as we speak.

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