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alien communication [try it]

Vinay

Back in 1974, a message was beamed out from the Arecibo radio telescope towards the globular cluster M13. The hope is that it will be intercepted by some alien civilization that will then study it and learn some basic things about us. The full message, encoded as a string of two distinct patterns, is given below.

00000010101010000000000001010000010100000001001000100010001001011001010101010101010100100100000000000000000000000000000000000001100000000000000000001101000000000000000000011010000000000000000001010100000000000000000011111000000000000000000000000000000001100001110001100001100010000000000000110010000110100011000110000110101111101111101111101111100000000000000000000000000100000000000000000100000000000000000000000000001000000000000000001111110000000000000111110000000000000000000000011000011000011100011000100000001000000000100001101000011000111001101011111011111011111011111000000000000000000000000001000000110000000001000000000001100000000000000010000011000000000011111100000110000001111100000000001100000000000001000000001000000001000001000000110000000100000001100001100000010000000000110001000011000000000000000110011000000000000011000100001100000000011000011000000100000001000000100000000100000100000001100000000100010000000011000000001000100000000010000000100000100000001000000010000000100000000000011000000000110000000011000000000100011101011000000000001000000010000000000000010000011111000000000000100001011101001011011000000100111001001111111011100001110000011011100000000010100000111011001000000101000001111110010000001010000011000000100000110110000000000000000000000000000000000011100000100000000000000111010100010101010101001110000000001010101000000000000000010100000000000000111110000000000000000111111111000000000000111000000011100000000011000000000001100000001101000000000101100000110011000000011001100001000101000001010001000010001001000100100010000000010001010001000000000000100001000010000000000001000000000100000000000000100101000000000001111001111101001111000

What can you figure out from this? Keep in mind that aliens wouldn’t think like us, or know any of our languages, but they can be expected to share some common knowledge, like mathematics and atomic physics, and could be fairly expected to have radio receivers capable of detecting the signal. Naturally, that stream is not really made up of the numbers 0 and 1. We can equally well write it out using dots and dashes (do not assume it is Morse code!),
......-.-.-.-............-.-.....-.-.......-..-...-...-...-..-.--..-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-..-..-.....................................--...................--.-...................--.-..................-.-.-..................-----................................--....---...--....--...-.............--..-....--.-...--...--....--.-.-----.-----.-----.-----..........................-.................-............................-.................------.............-----.......................--....--....---...--...-.......-.........-....--.-....--...---..--.-.-----.-----.-----.-----..........................-......--.........-...........--...............-.....--..........------.....--......-----..........--.............-........-........-.....-......--.......-.......--....--......-..........--...-....--...............--..--.............--...-....--.........--....--......-.......-......-........-.....-.......--........-...-........--........-...-.........-.......-.....-.......-.......-.......-............--.........--........--.........-...---.-.--...........-.......-..............-.....-----............-....-.---.-..-.--.--......-..---..-..-------.---....---.....--.---.........-.-.....---.--..-......-.-.....------..-......-.-.....--......-.....--.--...................................---.....-..............---.-.-...-.-.-.-.-.-..---.........-.-.-.-................-.-..............-----................---------............---.......---.........--...........--.......--.-.........-.--.....--..--.......--..--....-...-.-.....-.-...-....-...-..-...-..-...-........-...-.-...-............-....-....-............-.........-..............-..-.-...........----..-----.-..----...
or even spaces and symbols,
______*_*_*_*____________*_*_____*_*_______*__*___*___*___*__*_**__*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*__*__*_____________________________________**___________________**_*___________________**_*__________________*_*_*__________________*****________________________________**____***___**____**___*_____________**__*____**_*___**___**____**_*_*****_*****_*****_*****__________________________*_________________*____________________________*_________________******_____________*****_______________________**____**____***___**___*_______*_________*____**_*____**___***__**_*_*****_*****_*****_*****__________________________*______**_________*___________**_______________*_____**__________******_____**______*****__________**_____________*________*________*_____*______**_______*_______**____**______*__________**___*____**_______________**__**_____________**___*____**_________**____**______*_______*______*________*_____*_______**________*___*________**________*___*_________*_______*_____*_______*_______*_______*____________**_________**________**_________*___***_*_**___________*_______*______________*_____*****____________*____*_***_*__*_**_**______*__***__*__*******_***____***_____**_***_________*_*_____***_**__*______*_*_____******__*______*_*_____**______*_____**_**___________________________________***_____*______________***_*_*___*_*_*_*_*_*__***_________*_*_*_*________________*_*______________*****________________*********____________***_______***_________**___________**_______**_*_________*_**_____**__**_______**__**____*___*_*_____*_*___*____*___*__*___*__*___*________*___*_*___*____________*____*____*____________*_________*______________*__*_*___________****__*****_*__****___

Start by counting how many characters are in the stream. Is that mathematically interesting in some way that may help to redisplay the message in a form that makes more sense?

If we detected such a stream, would we recognize it as being from an intelligent civilization? Are the interpretations of the encoded information unique? Can you devise a better encoding system, or a better set of data to encode?

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