First contact: The man who’ll welcome aliens

By | March 8, 2010

Paul DaviesJon Ronson meets Paul Davies, the scientist with an awesome responsibility

If we are ever contacted by aliens, the man I’m having lunch with will be one of the first humans to know. His name is Paul Davies and he’s chair of the Seti (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Post-Detection Task Group. They’re a group of the world’s most eminent scientists and will be, come the big day, the planet’s alien welcome committee. His is an awesome responsibility, and one he doesn’t take lightly.

“Imagine a civilisation that’s way in advance of us wants to communicate with us, and assist us in our development,” Paul says. He pushes his mackerel across his plate. “The information we provide to them must reflect our highest aspirations and ideals, and not just be some crazy person’s bizarre politics or religion.”

This is why, Paul says, he very much hopes that our opening communication with the aliens will be drafted by him. “All the attempts to send messages up so far have been very crass,” he says. “If you’re going to leave it up to the mob to decide what’s important, it’ll be this really cool video game. Or some sporting event. Or some rock group.”

“Do you have any idea of what you might say to the aliens?” I ask.

There is a short silence. “I do,” he says.

“Will you reveal it to me?” I ask.

Paul thinks for a second. And then he clears his throat. …

via First contact: The man who’ll welcome aliens | Jon Ronson | Science | The Guardian.

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