Research can take many directions, but a group named METI chooses to focus on creating and transmitting interstellar messages to intelligent extraterrestrial life.
As you can imagine, some pretty strange ideas are shared at the events organized by these researchers. But one particular notion seemed to stand out among several others.
Apparently, we could all be in a galactic zoo. The alien life is watching us, not the other way around.
The truth is out there
Jean-Pierre Rospars, a research director, offered to shed some light on the matter during an interview with Forbes.
He claims that extraterrestrials have put us all under a "galactic quarantine" to not learn about them. That, apparently, would disrupt our culture.
The research explained that there is absolutely no reason to believe that intelligence's ultimate form exists on earth. As he explained, the conditions that resulted in both random and systematic intelligence here on earth could have existed elsewhere, leading to forms of intelligence that might very well exceed our own.
The president of METI, Douglas Vokach, echoed these claims. He suggested that it's possible extraterrestrials were watching humans on earth just as humans watch animals in zoos.
The great silence
Even stranger, he suggests we can challenge the extraterrestrials to respond and reveal their presence by transmitting powerful and intentional signals to nearby stars. He argued that if a zebra in a zoo pounded its hoof in a series of prime numbers, we would be curious and forced to respond. So, this is the very same thing they are doing by sending messages into space.
But not everyone agrees. Critics suggest that scientists are just finding theories to explain their failure to find extraterrestrial life after all those years of searching, a problem researchers have actually named "The Great Silence."
We are yet to get in touch with alien life. And the idea that we could be in a zoo is not exactly new. We heard about this first in the 70s and is called the Zoo Hypothesis.
The Zoo Hypothesis
An argument somewhat explained why extraterrestrials might not want to get in touch. Apparently, based on experience, the meeting of two civilizations ended up with catastrophic effects.
So, advanced species might understand these risks and seek to avoid contact altogether. Their concerns might range from technological differences to the risk of transmission of diseases.
Currently, METI focuses on nearby stars, and it sends messages that are of a scientific or mathematical nature. Sending messages is part of METI's broader objective to search for extraterrestrial life.
NASA withdrew its funding for this project several years ago.