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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    RangerGuy

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    Default 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?
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: First contact message

    Explosions?

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default 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.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default 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.
    Last edited by Freed; 2016-12-23 at 09:24 PM.

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    John Longarrow's Avatar

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    Default 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.
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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by Freed View Post
    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. - Top - End - #7
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    Default 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
    Last edited by Anderlith; 2016-12-24 at 01:01 AM.

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: First contact message

    This poster suggests using the theorem of Pythagoras:
    http://www.joeydevilla.com/wordpress...act-poster.jpg
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    But you, as DM, have to be prepared for the PCs to do something stupid and self-destructive, because they will. They can't help it. They're like adorable homicidal children with pennies near a light socket, except that the pennies are chainsaws and the light socket is your plot. Also, the chainsaws are on fire.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default 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.
    How about this for a sequence:
    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?
    Last edited by hymer; 2016-12-24 at 04:22 AM.
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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    @ 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

    Quote Originally Posted by John Longarrow View Post
    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

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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    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).
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    Default 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.
    Niven's Laws, #5
    If you've nothing to say, say it any way you like. Stylistic innovations, contorted story lines or none, exotic or genderless pronouns, internal inconsistencies, the recipe for preparing your lover as a cannibal banquet: feel free. If what you have to say is important and/or difficult to follow, use the simplest language possible. If the reader doesn't get it then, let it not be your fault.

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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    @ 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.
    How about this for a sequence:
    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.
    Last edited by Anderlith; 2016-12-24 at 04:54 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge View Post
    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.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    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.
    Last edited by hymer; 2016-12-24 at 05:09 PM.
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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    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.
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  17. - Top - End - #17
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    Default 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. - Top - End - #18
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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by John Longarrow View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge View Post
    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

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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge View Post
    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.
    "That's a horrible idea! What time?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    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.
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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by Freed View Post
    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.
    Warning, this poster makes frequent use of jokes, snarks, and puns. He is mostly harmless and intends no offense.

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    Default Re: First contact message

    Quote Originally Posted by eru001 View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: First contact message

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

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