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Instead of just listening for alien messages, METI wants to be the first to say 'hello'by Mike Denison

Scientists have been looking for messages from alien civilizations for decades. But METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) wants to turn that on its head, and reach out to E.T.

The San Francisco-based group wants to send messages to other planets, starting with "hello," The Mercury News reports. It's seeking $1 million per year to set up the messages. 

It would be the first attempt to send repeated, intentional messages into space and target a particular planet or star. 

"If we want to start an exchange over the course of many generations, we want to learn and share information."

Douglas Vakoch, president of METI

One of the primary goals is figuring out how to say "hello" to aliens that, if they exist, definitely do not speak any human language.  The first star system on the list is Proxima Centauri, the nearest star that isn't our own sun.

"Listening and learning is how children become adults, and why not try that for a while?"

Andrew Fraknoi, Foothill College

But other experts have already started asking whether we should try to communicate until we've at least learned the ropes of intergalactic communication -- assuming, of course, that there's anything out there to get our message. 

And there's the constant risk that aliens could be dangerous. 

In defense of the cosmic greeting

The project has drawn experts from all walks of life. Former ballerina Dalia Rawson is now the group's treasurer.

"By looking at our bodies, our movements and our dance through the eyes of an alien, we gain a renewed appreciation of what it means to be uniquely human," Rawson said. 

And Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak said theres' "something to be learned, nothing to be feared."

Humanity has tried to message aliens before. Pioneer 10 carried a plaque with this etching, designed by Carl Sagan. The Voyager 1 and 2 probes  carried a phonograph record, plus a cartridge and needle needed to play it.

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