26May2014

Tweeting From Outer Space

 
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie might be passengers aboard Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic ship, which is scheduled for blastoff later this year.

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie might be passengers aboard Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceship, which is scheduled for blastoff later this year.

Why spend $200,000 going to space when you can tweet at aliens from the comforts of your own planet? Curious earthlings can now make their presence known to the outside Universe in a unique way.

They can make use of a massive antenna to transmit short, Twitter-like messages 17.6 light years away to a distant solar system that could boast life-sustaining planets. “Do you have answers? All we’ve got are questions,” writes one user of the new service, dubbed Lone Signal. “Yo dudes come over and party. Bring beer,” writes another.

Lone Signal co-founder and SoHo fashion photographer Pierre Fabre leased California’s Jamesburg Earth Station — which beamed in images from the first moon landing in 1969 — to send brief dispatches toward the star Gliese 526.

It’s a geeky project with a trendy following: Scenester actress Paz de la Huerta even appears in a slickly produced promotional video talking about being “in love with this one alien I keep talking to.” Fabre is proud to put what could be man’s first encounter with extraterrestrials in the hands of the hashtag set.

English: Katy Perry at the 2011 Logie Awards

English: Katy Perry at the 2011 Logie Awards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Hipsters are generally underestimated,” says Fabre. By logging onto LoneSignal.com, anyone can write a message of up to 144 characters send it into space. The first message is free. Additional messages are 25 cents each, less if purchased in bulk.

There is no censorship of any kind, so users are free to insult, or seduce, a potentially dangerous alien race. “When they hit transmit, they are in control of that dish,” says Fabre. “If we’re talking to a race of lobsters, I don’t think there’s any point in censoring nudity or pornography.”

Lone Signal is not without critics, and some have said it’s foolhardy to broadcast our exact location to an unknown intelligence. While such calling cards have been sent into space before, Lone Signal is the first time a beam is being continuously targeted at a single star.

Proponents say the risks are greatly exaggerated. “Any intelligent beings out there could pick us up just by the lights of our big cities,” says in Lone Signal’s chief marketing officer, Ernesto Qualizza. “Arguments about inviting an alien invasion are based on man’s hubris.”

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