The ARECIBO message



was develloped by Frank Drake for SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence)and sent from the Arecibo radio telescope in 1974. The message was transmitted in the direction of M13, the approximately 300,000 stars in the Great Cluster in Hercules.

The message was actually transmitted on November 16th 1974 and consisted of 1679 pulses of binary code (0's and 1's) - which took a little under three minutes to transmit. It will take 22,800 light years to reach to reach M13,

Why 1679 digits? 1679 is the unique product of two prime numbers; 23 and 73. This suggests that the bits might be arranged in rectangular array with those dimensions.

The message contains:

The original message was comprised of several 'sections', each depicting a particular aspect of 'our civilisation'.




The return of the ARECIBO message.

  As we learned, the original message would have travelled 22,800 light years to reach the star cluster M13. An answer to this messge or its return could have reached the earth roughly in 26,000 years, the earliest.

However, on Tuesday 21st August 2001 two crop formations were reported near Chilbolton radio telescope in Hampshire, UK. Both were very impressive looking and consisted of a large number of small 'pixels', which when viewed from the air formed a recognisable shape - unlike many other crop formations.

One represented a 'human face' and the other resembled a radio transmission that SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) sent from the Arecibo radio telescope in 1974.

But there are some differences: Silicon was inserted into the table of atomic numbers. The diagram that depicts our solar system has been replaced with another that still has nine worlds, but planets 3 through 5 are offset, and the last is drawn larger than the others (or perhaps this is a depiction of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter). Finally, the graphic of the human has been modified by a stick figure that, while humanoid, has a far larger head.