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ICCUB researchers in Sonar 2018

Source: UB
Published on 14.05.2018

The second Sonar transmission to be sent into Luyten Star b will take place on May 14, 15 and 16. This potentially inhabitable exoplanet is at a 12,4 light years (about 120 billion kilometres) distance from the Earth. This action is part of the project Sonar Calling, which counts on the participation of researchers from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC). Among these are Jordi Portell, researcher at the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the UB (ICCUB-IEEC), who was in charge of the message design, coding and coordination of the consignment.

Sonar Calling is the first series of radio transmissions sent to a near potentially inhabitable exoplanet. A total of 38 ten-second musical pieces by artists related to the festival have been sent, summarizing the exploring essence of Sonar over its twenty-five years of existence. The response could arrive in about twenty-five years, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Sonar. Luyten Star b was chosen as the target because it is the closest potentially inhabitable star which is known and visible from the northern hemisphere. All transmissions are being sent from the European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association antenna (EISCAT), in Tromsø (Norway). This transmission has been carried out in collaboration with the Canadian astrophysicist Yvan Dutil.

How can we communicate with potential extra-terrestrials?

The transmissions include a series of tutorials for the potential extra-terrestrials which intend to explain things about humans without having to understand a whole new language. These tutorials are based on self-decodable messages, which display a progressive introduction of concepts and information on mathematics, physics, humanity and cosmos. In 1999, Professor Dutil, together with Stéphane Dumas (1970-2016), created a small dictionary of symbols and concepts, each described with an image of a few pixels. The tutorial section in the sent message in Sonar Calling shows the different concepts little by little, as if we were teaching a baby how to speak. The last part of the tutorials, in which Jordi Portell participated, is necessary to understand the digital music created by our artists, and includes an illustration and a practical demonstration on the concepts of digital music and simple sounds.

In order to discover the artistic and scientific aspects of this initiative, Sonar 2018 will be included in the “Sonar Calling GJ273b Control Room by Absolut”, which will be available in the space Sonar by Day. Also, framed within the international conference Sonar+D, there will be a conference given by the researchers who took part in the project, and ICCUB researcher Xavier Luri will carry out a workshop on the analysis of astronomical data for creative applications.