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Nature2 September 2004

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Dear ET...

Nature cover 2 September 2004

It's almost a 'given' that remote civilizations will try to contact us using radio waves. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence was first mooted by Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison 45 years ago ('Searching for interstellar communications' Nature 184, 844–846; 1959). Since then, 2 million years of CPU time has been given to SETI@home in the spirit of that paper: 'The probability of success is difficult to estimate: but if we never search, the chance of success is zero.' Christopher Rose and Gregory Wright propose a new take on extraterrestrial contact. It seems the 'Sounds of Earth' gold disks aboard Voyagers 1 and 2 (see cover) were on the right track. The message-in-a-bottle idea of sending physical objects across space is highly energy efficient, and we should search for artefacts in the Solar System now.

letters to nature
Inscribed matter as an energy-efficient means of communication with an extraterrestrial civilization
Nature 431, 47–49 (2004); doi:10.1038/nature02884
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news and views
Astrobiology: Message in a bottle
Extraterrestrial civilizations may find it more efficient to communicate by sending material objects across interstellar distances rather than beams of electromagnetic radiation.
Nature 431, 27–28 (2004); doi:10.1038/431027a
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2 September 2004 table of contents

2004 Nature Publishing Group