UK Researchers to Write Message for Aliens

November 9, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. draft / dræft / (v.) – to plan something out through writing
Example:  She plans to draft a research paper about aliens.

2. extraterrestrial / ˌɛk strə təˈrɛs tri əl / (adj.) – referring to living beings that are not from earth (e.g. aliens)
Example: He has dedicated his life to finding a way to communicate with extraterrestrial beings.

3. transmit / trænsˈmɪt / (v.) – to deliver information through electronic signals
Example:  They are trying to transmit a message to Mars.

4. wary / ˈwɛər i / (adj.) – being suspicious of something
Example: Ben was wary of his friend’s story about seeing an alien.

5. detect / dɪˈtɛkt / (v.) – to identify or notice something
Example:  Maria thought she detected a sound in the attic.


Read the text below.
A team of researchers from the United Kingdom will draft a letter to aliens in the hopes of winning $1 million.

The team is composed of members from the UK SETI Research Network (UKSRN), an organization that aims to encourage research on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). If they win, they will use the money to fund their research community. To prepare for the contest, some of the members are working on the basics of what their letter would contain.

The contest, Breakthrough Message, is funded by tech billionaire Yuri Milner. Whatever the outcome of the contest may be, the organizers said that they have made a commitment not to transmit the winning message until the pros and cons have been thoroughly discussed.

Researchers have had contrasting opinions on whether or not people should even try communicating with extraterrestrials in the first place. Those who are in favor say that humans can learn a lot from them. However, those who oppose are wary due to the uncertainty of what an advanced civilization might do to a less advanced civilization.

While the contest aims to find the best way to communicate with extraterrestrials, Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, says that they may already be trying to communicate with us, but we cannot detect them since we have a limited understanding of their technology. A similar point was raised by Dr. Nathalie Cabrol of SETI Institute. She said that our basis in looking for extraterrestrials, such as optical or audio signals, may not be advanced enough.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think a contest like this is worth one’s time and money? Why or why not?
·         Is there a need to communicate with extraterrestrials? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         If you had the chance to send a message to extraterrestrials, what would you say and why?
·         What would you expect extraterrestrials to be like?

November 9, 2015