1. ## First contact message

Running a scyfy game.

The players are about to make first contact with an alien species (As part of a task force). I'm trying to come up with a suitable first contact message for the NPC side to broadcast.

Right now I've got the aliens sending a broadcast consisting of a series of pulses. First 1, then a pause, then another then a pause, then 8 in rapid succession. Looping to repeat.

The logic being that the only two things which an alien species could garuntee that we would have in common if we were meeting them in space would be basic math and science. The message is supposed to indicate water. (one pulse, first element-Hydrogen. Another hydrogen. then 8 pulses, 8th element-Oxigen. Hence H2O) Water being, as far as we know, essential to life, and in every culture I checked, associated with life and peaceful intent.

Is this a plausible first contact broadcast to try to communicate peacful intent despite a language barrier? what else could I use that would be good?

Explosions?

3. ## Re: First contact message

Your scenario does seem plausible, but if I was trying to make contact with some aliens, I'd transmit a mathematical sequence (such as the first 5 prime numbers or the start of the Fibonacci sequence) so that the aliens could show that they understand by continuing the sequence.

4. ## Re: First contact message

I'd say it's a good idea, but don't count on the players (unless they're scientists in real life.) figuring out on their own.

5. ## Re: First contact message

Major questions are "What frequency are they transmitting on?", "Is the signal frequency or amplitude modulated?" and "What is the base signal intensity?".

Depending on their base communications they could be using frequencies we'd use for weapons. If its amplitude modulated they could be viewed as attacking.

Best way to communicate would be to etch onto a very large surface images, formula, and other scientific information sufficient so that a recipient could work out what frequency they use along with how they transmit.

The biggest problem with using a signal otherwise is if your time interval doesn't correspond to something the recipient is using they don't get the message. Think for a second what would happen if you were to hear a gigabyte per second transmission. To your ear it would be meaningless. Likewise using a full second for each bit in a megabyte transmission would make little sense to us.

6. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by Freed
I'd say it's a good idea, but don't count on the players (unless they're scientists in real life.) figuring out on their own.
Yeah - it depends upon the group, but I'd probably find this sort of thing frustrating. it seems like one of those things which is interesting to read a background squib about, but not as much fun to play.

7. ## Re: First contact message

Counting Primes could be a good tactic. Primes are math & universal but pretty simple to recognise

All your base are belong to us

Or

Peace. Communication. Peace. Commerce. Peace. Etc. Repeating Peace & throwing in a word of intent, like talking & trading.
Think, "opposite of They Live's 'OBEY'" message

8. ## Re: First contact message

This poster suggests using the theorem of Pythagoras:
http://www.joeydevilla.com/wordpress...act-poster.jpg

9. ## Re: First contact message

@ OP: I'm glad you haven't succumbed to this idea about prime numbers at least. The notion that math will be viewed the same by an alien species is very far from certain*. Humans seem to have a fetish for prime numbers. Aliens may have a deep seated fear of them, and interpret the sending of a long string of them as a dire threat. Or they may consider them as utterly unimportant and consider us morons for picking that as our message.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 (longer pause) 2 4 6 8 10 12 (longer pause) 3 6 9 12 (longer pause) 6 12 (longer pause) 12
And then repeat, sending on various frequencies which vary in a likewise predictable patterns. It's not trying to say anything overly clever, only 'this is obviously not naturally occuring, and we mastered radio (or whatever you use to send the messages with)'. Of course, even this could fall foul of misinterpretation of, say, a species where the number 12 is deeply taboo in some fashion.

*Edit: Mathematics is undergoing constant expansion and revision, and not all mathematicians agree on everything. Some of the most advanced mathematicians of their time didn't recognize the number 0, and others avoided numbers when possible as being unreliable. Who knows what paths an alien mathematician is going down, and how it affects their view of the paths we've gone down?

10. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by hymer
@ OP: I'm glad you haven't succumbed to this idea about prime numbers at least. The notion that math will be viewed the same by an alien species is very far from certain*. Humans seem to have a fetish for prime numbers. Aliens may have a deep seated fear of them, and interpret the sending of a long string of them as a dire threat.
Yeah, some numbers may have culural meaning, like 13 or 666 for us

Originally Posted by John Longarrow
Major questions are "What frequency are they transmitting on?", "Is the signal frequency or amplitude modulated?" and "What is the base signal intensity?".

Depending on their base communications they could be using frequencies we'd use for weapons. If its amplitude modulated they could be viewed as attacking.

Best way to communicate would be to etch onto a very large surface images, formula, and other scientific information sufficient so that a recipient could work out what frequency they use along with how they transmit.

The biggest problem with using a signal otherwise is if your time interval doesn't correspond to something the recipient is using they don't get the message. Think for a second what would happen if you were to hear a gigabyte per second transmission. To your ear it would be meaningless. Likewise using a full second for each bit in a megabyte transmission would make little sense to us.
To the eye you mean; it's em radiation

11. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by Bohandas
Yeah, some numbers may have culural meaning, like 13 or 666 for us
Yeah, but any alien civilization with the brains to realize there might be other life out there should also have the brains to realize we don't share their cultural beliefs and most definitely won't know what numbers are offensive to them.

If aliens started broadcasting the first 666 digits of pi in binary, or something like that, that doesn't mean they're hellish monsters coming here to steal our souls (and if they are, it won't be because of the number).

12. ## Re: First contact message

If you've intercepted previous messages or broadcast information then broadcasting those back, with or without alteration, can be a good option.

13. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by Telok
If you've intercepted previous messages or broadcast information then broadcasting those back, with or without alteration, can be a good option.
I suggest at least some alteration, preferably in a way that implies logical thinking. Receiving the exact message you sent could (at least theoretically) be the result of non-intelligent phenomena, but receiving said message with each prime numbered sign removed is harder to explain.

14. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by hymer
@ OP: I'm glad you haven't succumbed to this idea about prime numbers at least. The notion that math will be viewed the same by an alien species is very far from certain*. Humans seem to have a fetish for prime numbers. Aliens may have a deep seated fear of them, and interpret the sending of a long string of them as a dire threat. Or they may consider them as utterly unimportant and consider us morons for picking that as our message.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 (longer pause) 2 4 6 8 10 12 (longer pause) 3 6 9 12 (longer pause) 6 12 (longer pause) 12
And then repeat, sending on various frequencies which vary in a likewise predictable patterns. It's not trying to say anything overly clever, only 'this is obviously not naturally occuring, and we mastered radio (or whatever you use to send the messages with)'. Of course, even this could fall foul of misinterpretation of, say, a species where the number 12 is deeply taboo in some fashion.

*Edit: Mathematics is undergoing constant expansion and revision, and not all mathematicians agree on everything. Some of the most advanced mathematicians of their time didn't recognize the number 0, and others avoided numbers when possible as being unreliable. Who knows what paths an alien mathematician is going down, and how it affects their view of the paths we've gone down?
So aliens can view prime numbers as a threat but wont see any oher string on numbers as culturally taboo?
The reason primes work is because its simple to identify, & doesnt occur in nature
Any sequence that repeats in a steady pattern will be dismissed. You have to send something incongruent

Like a sequence of numbered pulses followed by a sequence of the same numbers minus one of the numbers, escalating

Such as
12345
2345
1345
1245
1234

Another way is to use 3-4-5 triangles since they dont really appear in nature.

15. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge
Yeah, but any alien civilization with the brains to realize there might be other life out there should also have the brains to realize we don't share their cultural beliefs and most definitely won't know what numbers are offensive to them.
Should? Humans are smart enough to consider the possibility of alien life, and look at the way we carry on. Even with things we can imagine there can be trouble*, and aliens could be utterly beyond our ability to guess or understand. A different intelligence doesn't have to measure to human standards. We're good at what our biology needs us to be good at, and some stuff we stumble on by accident. But we're only beginning to understand the bizarre limitations of our minds. Aliens could certainly have blind spots that seem inconceivable to us, if they just evolved very differently from us.
It could be something as bizarre as 'why would you think we were hostile when we shine lights into your eyes? It's meant as a compliment, we didn't realize it was painful and disconcerting and looks like the prelude to an attack. Why would a species have such weak eyes? No creature on our planet reacts like that.'

*Say a caste society has the leaders, the scientists, and the artisans. When the scientists receive our message they respond favourably, but aren't in charge of what to do, so it gets debated. The artisans flip out when they hear of aliens being above their caste, and the leaders decide to put an end to this alien menace, not because they think we're all that dangerous, but just to get peace in their own backyard.
Or suppose only a specific subspecies of the alien is capable of seeing the significance of prime numbers. They could be very much in favour of making peaceful contact with the prime numbers fetishists, as they already feel they have something in common with them. But their traditional rivals react very differently, worried that the rival subspecies are about to make a useful ally.

Originally Posted by Anderlith
So aliens can view prime numbers as a threat but wont see any oher string on numbers as culturally taboo?
Actually, I said

Originally Posted by hymer
Of course, even this could fall foul of misinterpretation of, say, a species where the number 12 is deeply taboo in some fashion.
As for the rest, I can see you don't have my doubts about how prime numbers could be seen as appalingly insignificant or uninteresting by an alien species. Fair enough.

16. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by Bohandas
Yeah, some numbers may have culural meaning, like 13 or 666 for us

To the eye you mean; it's em radiation
Nope... Each species may choose different frequencies / methods of transmission based on their technology and application. If you are a species that relies heavily on tight beam transmissions you may not notice a non-directional broadcast as anything other than static. If the signal is weak enough that it doesn't interfere with tight beam transmissions it may be completely unnoticed.

Then again if you are using a tight beam directional transmission and you do not expect your receiving side to use high power you may be sending out what to us would be considered 'laser blasts' (or radiation blasts, or what ever) aimed at our sensitive detection gear, what would seem to us to be an attack.

The only way you can communicate is if both parties view the frequencies you transmit on as "Communications" frequencies. Otherwise the target may not even realize your sending out microwaves for communications.

17. ## Re: First contact message

Everybody here has heard of the Wow! signal?

If you haven't here's a quick primer.

Okay, so it was never repeated, doesn't appear to be natural so what is it? What if it was a signal not meant for us from a passing vessel? We'd never see it again because that specific signaler isn't in that specific spot other than the exact moment the signal occurred. So one of the important things for first contact is to broadcast a message that can't be mistaken for a natural phenomena, but also must repeat frequently enough that it is obvious that the intended recipient is the species you're sending the message to.

18. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by John Longarrow
Nope... Each species may choose different frequencies / methods of transmission based on their technology and application. If you are a species that relies heavily on tight beam transmissions you may not notice a non-directional broadcast as anything other than static. If the signal is weak enough that it doesn't interfere with tight beam transmissions it may be completely unnoticed.

Then again if you are using a tight beam directional transmission and you do not expect your receiving side to use high power you may be sending out what to us would be considered 'laser blasts' (or radiation blasts, or what ever) aimed at our sensitive detection gear, what would seem to us to be an attack.

The only way you can communicate is if both parties view the frequencies you transmit on as "Communications" frequencies. Otherwise the target may not even realize your sending out microwaves for communications.
The point was that you can't hear electromagnetic radiation, at most you can have a device like a radio reciever that artificially converts it to sound. You can see it however if it's sufficiently red or blue shifted.

EDIT.
Well, I suppose maybe also if your cochlear nerve was being irritated by by a high-intensity laser shined directly at/onto it or something like that.

19. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge
I suggest at least some alteration, preferably in a way that implies logical thinking. Receiving the exact message you sent could (at least theoretically) be the result of non-intelligent phenomena, but receiving said message with each prime numbered sign removed is harder to explain.
Or maybe just the message reversed

20. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge
Yeah, but any alien civilization with the brains to realize there might be other life out there should also have the brains to realize we don't share their cultural beliefs and most definitely won't know what numbers are offensive to them.

I give you the Earth/Minbari War....

There was a wise man named Murphy who has a saying that will probably apply to first contact.

And also... I've never lost money betting on stupidity.

21. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by hymer
Should? Humans are smart enough to consider the possibility of alien life, and look at the way we carry on. Even with things we can imagine there can be trouble*, and aliens could be utterly beyond our ability to guess or understand. A different intelligence doesn't have to measure to human standards. We're good at what our biology needs us to be good at, and some stuff we stumble on by accident. But we're only beginning to understand the bizarre limitations of our minds. Aliens could certainly have blind spots that seem inconceivable to us, if they just evolved very differently from us.
It could be something as bizarre as 'why would you think we were hostile when we shine lights into your eyes? It's meant as a compliment, we didn't realize it was painful and disconcerting and looks like the prelude to an attack. Why would a species have such weak eyes? No creature on our planet reacts like that.'

*Say a caste society has the leaders, the scientists, and the artisans. When the scientists receive our message they respond favourably, but aren't in charge of what to do, so it gets debated. The artisans flip out when they hear of aliens being above their caste, and the leaders decide to put an end to this alien menace, not because they think we're all that dangerous, but just to get peace in their own backyard.
Or suppose only a specific subspecies of the alien is capable of seeing the significance of prime numbers. They could be very much in favour of making peaceful contact with the prime numbers fetishists, as they already feel they have something in common with them. But their traditional rivals react very differently, worried that the rival subspecies are about to make a useful ally.

Actually, I said

As for the rest, I can see you don't have my doubts about how prime numbers could be seen as appalingly insignificant or uninteresting by an alien species. Fair enough.
Not sure what you have against Primes. Or how you see them as in significant. Or why you keep refering to them as a fetish. Makes the imagination go to dark places lol. The idea that proving intelligence through a non natural idea is paramount. So you have to go with math, you have to exclude all natural sequences. No even numbers, no simple repeating patterns. We are left with Fibonacci, a perfect fractal & enough to seem unnatural. A Perfect Triangle (3-4-5) or Primes. Maybe a few others, like grid coordinates that make a simple shape of say, a dot orbiting another dot. It has to be simple but unnatural. Sure primes in math arent interesting, but they show an advanced mind. Its like saying you dont like the hydrogen atom so we shouldnt use it as an example of comunication, even though its a good example to any being who understands what an atom is.

22. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by Bohandas
The point was that you can't hear electromagnetic radiation, at most you can have a device like a radio reciever that artificially converts it to sound. You can see it however if it's sufficiently red or blue shifted.

EDIT.
Well, I suppose maybe also if your cochlear nerve was being irritated by by a high-intensity laser shined directly at/onto it or something like that.
Well, you'd see/hear it only if you have the same anatomy that developed on earth. Then again we do have creatures that use sound to "See" with echolocation, so even then you get some different types of detection.

Problem is anyone transmitting to us would most likely be trying to contact our tech, not the tech's creators, with their signal. Most long range transmissions require the receiver to provide energy for detection something organic life doesn't do well. Plus since they are pointing it to tech they are using their own technology as a basis. Means what works for them is what they will assume we have.

23. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by eru001
Running a scyfy game.
"Sci-Fi". SyFy is a TV station

24. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by Freed
I'd say it's a good idea, but don't count on the players (unless they're scientists in real life.) figuring out on their own.
all four players, in their normal lives work in STEM Fields. Two hold masters degrees in a STEM field, one is working on his PhD in chemical engineering.
They can all science very well (better than I can in fact though I too work in a STEM field).

Science fiction was not a random choice for our game setting.

Between the five of us we have a Chemical Engineer, a physicist, a biologist, a math teacher, and a civil engineer. If we all walk into a bar, comedians can probably get some milage out of us.

25. ## Re: First contact message

Originally Posted by eru001
all four players, in their normal lives work in STEM Fields. Two hold masters degrees in a STEM field, one is working on his PhD in chemical engineering.
They can all science very well (better than I can in fact though I too work in a STEM field).

Science fiction was not a random choice for our game setting.

Between the five of us we have a Chemical Engineer, a physicist, a biologist, a math teacher, and a civil engineer. If we all walk into a bar, comedians can probably get some milage out of us.
Ok then, I think that your idea is really good and they will definitely understand the first message, but might not fully understand what the water represents. It'll probably end up well, but maybe nudge them a bit if they take too long.

26. ## Re: First contact message

Suppose they figure it out. So what? What does solving the puzzle tell them to do?

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