Paul Davies: “By general agreement, mathematics is the common language of the universe. “Eleven is a prime number” is just as true for the proverbial little green men as it is for humans. The laws of physics are universal, and any alien able to communicate by radio, for example, would be conversant with those laws. The laws are mathematical relationships. Therefore, by using pure numbers characteristic of nature (such as the so-called “fine-structure constant of quantum electrodynamics”), we could signal unambiguously to the aliens our level of scientific development, at least in one field.”

Even seasoned cosmologists and exobiologists have difficulty shedding their anthropocentric imagination about extra-terrestrials. The assumption in the statement above is that those superior intelligences would have developed physically and mentally Homo sapience-wise, with the decimal system of numeration, knowledge of the fine-structure constant, ocular and auditory systems à la bipedal earthlings, and all, though one sees whales, elephants, and dolphins with extraordinary intelligence with no knowledge of Newton’s laws or Maxwell’s equations, let alone STR or QED.

As God is said to have created Man in His image, Man is now creating (in his imagination) ETIs (Extra-Terrestrial-Intelligences) in his own image. One reported thesis may be as valid as the other.

Perhaps one should try to communicate with higher mammals in right earnest, with number theory and Feynman diagrams, and when we succeed in making the beasts understand, if not appreciate all this, we may send Mersenne prime sequences and Fibonacci series engraved on gold plaques to distant planetary systems for initiating information exchanges with awakened aliens.

May 10, 2010

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