The Nation: Hello Out There!

Beamed into deep space from the troubled third planet of the solar system, the radio message constituted a small act of faith on behalf of all humankind. It expressed the conviction that we are not alone, that the joy and anguish of intelligent life are not an isolated accident on earth but have occurred often in the sweep of the universe. It also embodied the faith that humanity will survive, since it will be at least 48,000 years before our descendants can expect any answer.

The message itself was succinct: a three-minute transmission in...

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