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World

Web Desk
November 16, 2018

Google marks 44th anniversary of Arecibo message with a doodle

World

Web Desk
Fri, Nov, 18

November 16, 2018 marks 44 years of Arecibo message, a humankind’s first interstellar radio message sent to a star cluster in the space with anticipation that extraterrestrial intelligence may receive and decipher it. Google is celebrating this achievement with a Google Doodle.

Forty-four years ago today, a group of scientists gathered at the Arecibo Observatory amidst the tropical forests of Puerto Rico to humankind's first attempt at communication with intelligent life beyond our own planet, "Their three-minute radio message - a series of exactly 1,679 binary digits (a multiple of two prime numbers) which could be arranged in a grid 73 rows by 23 columns-was aimed at a cluster of stars, M-13, 25,000 light years away from earth,” Google said.

This historic transmission was intended to demonstrate the capabilities of Arecibo's recently upgraded radio telescope, whose 1000-foot-diameter dish made it the largest and most powerful in the world at the time, Google said in a statement.

"The subject of today's doodle lends itself to so many possibilities. Earlier concepts experimented with depicting the recipients of the Arecibo Message and their reactions," said Gerben Steenks, doodler at Google.

Dr. Frank Drake, then at Cornell University and creator of the Drake equation, wrote the message with help from Carl Sagan, among others. The message itself could be arranged to form a pictograph representing some fundamental facts of mathematics, human DNA, planet Earth's place in the solar system, and a picture of a human-like figure and an image of the telescope itself.

The message consists of 1679 bits, arranged into 73 lines of 23 characters per line (these are both prime numbers, and may help the aliens decode the message). The “ones” and “zeroes” were transmitted by frequency shifting at the rate of 10 bits per second. The total broadcast was less than three minutes.

"Since the Arecibo Message will take roughly 25,000 years to reach its intended destination (a group of 300,000 stars in the constellation Hercules known as M13), humankind will have to wait a long time for an answer. How long? In the 44 years since it was first transmitted, the message has traveled only 259 trillion miles, only a tiny fraction of the 146,965,638,531,210,240 or so miles to its final destination," Google explained.