Freitag, 30. Januar 2015

Interstellar Jam Session

Due to the still cold and uncomfortable weather the first planetary walk of this year will take place indoor as a mental journey to space. On February 7, 2015, in the basement rooms of Clemens-Schultz-Straße 90 in Hamburg-St. Pauli, we are going to try to compose a message to extraterrestrial civilizations. The event starts at 21:00 h, doors open at 20:00 h.

The idea is inspired by the discovery of the first pulsar in 1967. When Jocelyn Bell and Antony Hewish first noticed the extremely regular radio signal they considered an artificial origin and designated it as LGM-1, which stands for "Little Green Men". In the upcoming weeks and months they couldn't detect any doppler shift in the signal, though. That proved that the signal was not coming from a planet moving around a star. Subsequently, a natural explanation was found: These signals are transmitted by extremely dense neutron stars which are rotating very fast, thereby covering our planet with a radio beam in regular intervals like a lighthouse.

The signal is repeated every 1,337 seconds and has a duration of 0,04 seconds. On Earth such a precision can only be realized with machinery. So it is not unreasonable to speculate about extraterrestrial civilizations as creators to this signal. But now that we have learned that extreme presicion and regularity are not sufficient proof for intelligence, how about a combination of regularity and irregularity?

The idea of our Galactic Jam Session is to create a signal that can clearly be distinguished from the background noise of the Universe as an artificial one. We do not know anything about the recipients of our message. But if they exist and if they are able to detect our message, then they share the same interstellar environment with us. Like us they perceive moons circling planets, planets circling stars, stars circling black holes in the centers of their galaxies. Everything moves in the Universe. Most of these movements follow regular patterns.

This common environment of rhythmic movements can serve as a starting point for interstellar communication. The "Extraterrestrial Blues Letter" that we propose will transmit some basic information about humanity while at the same time providing opportunities for individual expression. Let's see, if we together can play a blues in 30 verses. A blues itself is a 12-bar scheme, playing 30 verses adds up to 360 bars. These are fundamental numbers for any human culture, indicating orbital and rotational data of Earth and Moon: The Earth rotates around itself around 360 times while circling the Sun, the Moon appears as a Full Moon 12 times per year. The beat of the blues and its rhythmic structure at the same time give some indication to biological rhythms that shape our life.

We don't have booked any transmission time on a radio telescope or powerful laser yet. This is an experiment to compose a message that could be transmitted. But for the time being this message is directed to ourselves. It is an artistic experiment, exploring new ways of communication. Afterwards we'll know better if this is a promising concept that can be pursued further.

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