Aliens: an informative response


Background: The SETI endeavour is based upon the assumption that outer space is pervaded by life forms of one kind or another; and that included among these must be some that possess an intelligence equal or superior to our own. It is further held that one or more of these alien civilisations, even now, are actively engaged in advertising their presence and capabilities by broadcasting carefully designed electromagnetic signals to all corners of the cosmos. We here assume that such a signal has been received (typically, a long repeated sequence of large prime numbers), and consider how we might formulate a positive response that would contribute to the longer term objectives.

Consider the following:

{6, 21, 666, 3081, 123256, 584821, 23829156, 113273826}

[Observe that the standard set of denary digits, 0-9, is here augmented by the upper case alphabetics, A-Z]

While there are a number of patterns of visual interest here (eg the complementary reflection in the 8 digits of the binary representation, and the palindromic '22122' associated with radix 4), the one which is most likely to catch the attention of our intelligent alien is '666' because the eye-catching digit repetition involves the first perfect number, and provides further examples of triangularity - as revealed in Figure 3. In addition, 10 (the corresponding radix) is itself triangular.

But there are further reasons for our alien interpreter to seize upon the information that earthlings are essentially denary beings - basing their representation of numbers and physical measurements on ten as collective unit. For example, the sum of the absolute features of Figure 2 is 144 - a perfect square; the sum of the radix-dependent features of Figure 3 is precisely half that, viz 72; and the total of all these triangular features of 666 is 216, or 6x6x6!

Observe then that the unique cube (surface area numerically equal to volume) appears as a result of this analysis.

To summarise our proposed response:

Clearly, the above would represent just one segment of an informative response - but, I suggest, an important one: the fact that 666 would be recognised as the first triangular multiple of the uniquely symmetrical number 37 should provide a solid basis for the transmission of digitised images.

Vernon Jenkins MSc