Skip to main content

Are transmissions to space dangerous?

  • Seth Shostak (a1)

We consider the suggestion that, as a matter of caution, the deliberate broadcast of signals to the cosmos should be proscribed. We explore the likely capabilities of extraterrestrial societies that might conceivably pose a threat to our species and show that this suggestion is without merit because even if followed, it would fail to keep our existence secret. In addition, trying to limit signalling activities would be a burden on our descendants, crippling their own activities for the indefinite future. A corollary to these considerations affects the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI): namely, it seems inarguable that technologically advanced beings will assume that other societies are capable of detecting their leakage. Consequently, the premise that SETI should expect to find deliberate beacons from other worlds may be mistaken.

Hide All
Brin, D. (2006). Shouting at the Cosmos,
Dick, S.J. (1996). The Biological Universe. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Drake, F. (1987). Stars as gravitational lenses. In Bioastronomy – The Next Steps, ed. Marx, G., p. 391. Kluwer, Dordrecht.
Drake, F.D. (1961). Project ozma. Phys. Today 14, 40.
Dutil, Y. & Dumas, S. (1998). Active SETI: targets selection and message conception. Presented at American Astronomical Society Meeting 93, No. 97.10.
Ekers, R.D., Cullers, D.K., Billingham, J. & Scheffer, L.K. (eds) (2002). SETI 2020: A Roadmap for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. SETI Press, Mountain View.
Eshleman, V.R. (1979). Science, 205, 1133.
Eshleman, V.R. (1984). Sky & Telescope, 67, p. 493.
Jonathan, E. (1977). The world on a record. Sci. News 112, 124.
Michael, S. (2010). Stephen hawking on ‘Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking’: contact with aliens could get us killed. New York Daily News, April 25, 2010.
National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (1975). The arecibo message of November 1974. Icarus 26, 462.
Sagan, C., Salzman, S.L. & Drake, F. (1972). A message from earth. Science 175, 881.
Zaitsev, A.L. & Ignatov, S.P. (1999). Broadcast for extraterrestrial intelligence from Evpatoria Deep Space Center.∼mike/2001.html.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Journal of Astrobiology
  • ISSN: 1473-5504
  • EISSN: 1475-3006
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-astrobiology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 26 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 383 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.