Alien life search
METI planning to contact alien life in 2018 -- Representational Image REUTERS/NASA/Handout via

A group of alien searchers is gearing up to send out cosmic messages in 2018 in order to look for the existence of extraterrestrial life, according to a report in CNET.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), which brought a number of alien hunters together, led to the scanning of cosmos with massive radio telescopes, but despite 50-odd years of efforts, we're still looking out for the solid signs of alien life. With the efforts of astronomer Frank Drake, the SETI began in 1960.

Now, a specific group of astronomers within the SETI community has grown tired of waiting and is prepping to send out messages to the unknown, if they exist somewhere in the cosmos. The research group, which calls itself Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligences (METI) International, is working on cosmic messages, hoping to send them out sometime in 2018.

However, the question that arises here is that they will send the messages to where. The cosmos is practically endless and the number of planets in the habitable zone (at the right distance from its host star) is increasing continuously.

Douglas Vakoch, the president of the group, addressed this concern by telling CNET that they will go for nearby stars, specifically those with planets in the habitable zones.

It's also worth noting that they'll have to devise a message which extraterrestrial species could understand easily. There have been some ways in the past – mathematical languages, rudimentary chatbots, music, or pictograms – but METI will specifically focus on maths and physics.

"Some of the most prominent messages of the past have tried to cover everything," Vakoch said. "We're taking the opposite approach. Rather than trying to communicate everything [about math, science, and life on Earth], we are focusing on saying a few things very clearly. For our first messages, we are emphasizing the essentials of math and physics."

The idea of proactively reaching out to the extraterrestrials seems fair, but not many are in favour of the prospect. Why? Because aliens could ATTACK! Many prominent scientists, including Stephen Hawking, believe contacting the unknown could not only lead them to us but also increases the chances of a potential attack if they're hostile.

Still, METI is moving ahead with their plan, looking forward to finding alien life. "One of the reasons people are so afraid of METI is that it seems riskier to do something than to do nothing," Vakoch said. "When we try to evaluate the risks and benefits of an unknown situation where we have little or no actual data, we fall back on the most vivid images that come to mind. But just because the first images of alien contact that come to mind are horrific, that doesn't mean they're realistic."