Spinning restlessly in the starry loneliness of space, the Earth seems a blue refuge in an uninhabited void. The urge to reach outside this void and find life beyond Earth has spurred the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, or SETI. Some SETI projects point large radio telescopes up to the heavens to scan inter-stellar radio waves for signs of intelligence. Some scientists have gone further, Seed magazine reports, actively courting the attention of alien life by broadcasting messages into the stars.
Scientists call it “Active SETI,” and a controversy surrounding the practice has broken out in the upper echelons of the SETI community. The debate mulls over some important ethical questions: Who can speaks for Earth on an intergalactic scale? What should Earth say to the heavens? And, possibly the most worrisome of all, should we be courting the attention of aliens at all?