Our new word for the weekend. From Ross Pomeroy at RealClearScience:
Most thinkers, including famed astrophysicist Carl Sagan, agree that mathematics could serve as the foundation for our discussions. With that in mind, British scientist Lancelot Thomas Hogben rafted a language system called Astraglossa. Communicated over radio signals, short pulses called “dashes” would represent numbers, and longer batteries of pulses called “flashes” would represent mathematical symbols like addition or subtraction. Once the basics of arithmetic are established between our species, Hogben imagined moving the discussion on to astronomy, a hobby we would obviously both have in common. After all, two aliens species talking about space would probably be like two Earthlings talking about the weather.
But maybe not. What if it’s true that rocks have minds and the aliens are rocks?
“We could be utterly, completely incomprehensible,” xenolinguist Sheri Wells-Jensen told SETI Institute Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak on his podcast. “There’s about 7,000 languages in existence on the planet today. Only about 50% of those have writing systems. So we can’t guarantee that [aliens] have writing.”More.
Worse than that They’re Not Out There. They Are Out There and we have nothing much in common. 😉
See also: How do we grapple with the idea that ET might not be out there?