Largest-Ever Survey on Public Reaction to Alien Contact Conducted by UK Scientists
Members of the UK Seti Research Network (UKSRN), a group of UK academics active in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, are planning to launch what it believes is the largest ever survey on the public’s reaction to hypothetical alien contact.
The survey will be conducted at the Royal Society’s summer science exhibition Monday. According to its website, the society’s purpose is to “recognize, promote and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.” According to UKSRN, the results from the survey will help them form ground rules on alien detection that could potentially be used by international organizations.
“There is absolutely no procedure enshrined in international law on how to respond to a signal from an alien civilization,” Martin Dominik, an astronomer at the University of St. Andrews, told the Guardian. “We want to hear people’s views. The consequences affect more people than just scientists.”
“It makes sense to create a legally binding framework that is properly rooted in international law,” Dominik said. “I’m completely comfortable with taking the whole thing above the level of scientists. If there are public consequences of replying and sending out messages, that is a political decision and not one to be taken by scientists.”
Scientists often search for alien life by listening to radio signals from outer space using advanced telescopes.
According to Dr. John Elliott, a reader in intelligence engineering at Leeds Beckett University, it could take weeks or months to determine whether an intercepted signal was broadcast by alien life.
“We can’t rely on there being a Rosetta Stone [an ancient Egyptian stone tablet that was vital to understanding hieroglyphs], or some great decipherment crib, in the signal. It could be an image or simply junk,” Elliott said. “It will take time to understand, and if that work starts to drag out and there is nothing new we can say, the information vacuum will be filled with speculation … Conjecture and rumor will take over.”
Last week, NASA announced that Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has been selected as the destination for the agency’s next exploratory mission within the solar system. NASA will send a drone to the body, which could reveal the secrets of early or even current alien life forms due to its liquid methane seas, lakes and rivers, Sputnik reported.
“Titan has a nitrogen-based atmosphere like Earth. Unlike Earth, Titan has clouds and rain of methane,” NASA’s Thursday press release on the mission explained. “The moon’s weather and surface processes have combined complex organics, energy, and water similar to those that may have sparked life on our planet.”