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Close encounters

Send aliens messages about gender equality and diversity, say scientists

By WITW Staff on September 11, 2015

The “Breakthrough Initiative” is organizing a competition to design a message they’d like to send into space to tell any extra-terrestrials who might be listening about humankind. At a conference in Leeds, UK, this week a group of British philosophers and astronomers debated what that message should look like – but there was one thing they all agreed on: unlike previous messages, it should reflect gender equality and the diversity of life on Earth. Jill Stuart, an expert in space policy, for example, pointed to the plaque that was sent with the Pioneer 10 Spacecraft in 1972: “The plaque shows a man raising his hand in a very manly fashion while a woman stands behind him, appearing all meek and submissive,” she said. “We really need to rethink that with any messages we are sending out now. Attitudes have changed so much in just 40 years.” The plaque also clearly portrays the human figures as white. The  $100m project aims to utilize the best radio telescopes to listen for alien transmissions, and is offering a $1m prize for the best idea for a message to broadcast into space.

Read the full story at The Guardian.