Google Doodle celebrates humanity's first message into space

Christopher Davidson
November 18, 2018

On November 16, 1974, a group of scientists from the Arecibo Observatory located in the tropical forests of Puerto sent mankind first interstellar message.

The quest of humankind to find company in the vast universe went one step further when a group of scientists sent a "message" to a faraway cluster of stars, hoping that any aliens living there would receive it and reciprocate.

Engineers translated it into sound in order that those gathered could perceive it during transmission. The image-which will appear to Google search users around the world-consisted of images depicting "the Arecibo telescope, our solar system, DNA, a stick figure of a human, and some of the biochemicals of earthly life".

Arecibo Message: Google doodle celebrates Arecibo Message, a historic interstellar transmission 44 years ago.

This rendering of the Arecibo message includes color to highlight its separate parts.

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#A graphic of the Arecibo radio telescope and the physical diameter of the transmitting antenna dish.

The message was sent via radio waves to a cluster of stars known as M13 about 25,000 light years away.

"It was strictly a symbolic event, to show that we could do it", Donald Campbell, a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, said in a statement in 1999. Frank Drake, an astrophysicist, and astronomer who was responsible for the "Drake Equation" that was used to estimate the number of planets that were capable of hosting extraterrestrial life in the Milky Way galaxy. They probably needn't have anxious, as it's a long shot that the message might ever be read by extraterrestrial intelligence. Traveling at the speed of light, the message will take 25,000 years to reach its intended destination - and another 25,000 years for us to hear back.

Since it will take almost 25,000 years for the message to reach its destination - and an additional 25,000 years for a reply, if any, the Arecibo message is viewed as the first demonstration of human technological achievement.

In the 44 years since it was first transmitted, the message has travelled 259 trillion miles, only a tiny fraction of the 146,965,638,531,210,240 or so miles to its final destination, according to a Google blog post.

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