Universal Translator Might be Needed to Understand ET

Universal Translator Might be Needed to Understand ET

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Douglas Vakoch, Director of Interstellar Message Composition

Will we ever find a primer for decoding messages from extraterrestrials? Last month, anthropologists who gathered for a major conference in Atlanta, Georgia heard some news that will be sobering for SETI enthusiasts: it may be much more difficult to understand extraterrestrials than many scientists have thought before.

Among the sessions held during December’s annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association was one called “Anthropology, Archaeology, and Interstellar Communication: Science and the Knowledge of Distant Worlds.” The session included papers by scholars from such diverse fields as astronomy, archaeology, anthropology, and psychology. Is there a Cosmic Rosetta Stone, they asked, drawing parallels to Earth’s own Rosetta Stone, which provided the key to decoding Egyptian hieroglyphics? Will we ever find a comparable primer for decrypting any messages we might receive some day from extraterrestrials?

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