Contact (novel) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway is the director of “Project Argus,” in which scores of radio telescopes in New Mexico have been dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

Before long, the project does, indeed, discover the first confirmed communication from extraterrestrial beings, a repeating series of the first 261 prime numbers (a sequence of prime numbers is a commonly predicted first message from alien intelligence, since mathematics is considered a “universal language,” and it is conjectured that algorithms that produce successive prime numbers are sufficiently complicated so as to require intelligence to implement them). Further analysis reveals that a second message is contained in polarization modulation of the signal. The second message is a retransmission of Earth’s first television signal broadcast powerfully enough to escape the ionosphere and be received in interstellar space; in this case, Adolf Hitler‘s opening speech at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.[1] A third message is discovered containing over 30,000 pages describing plans for a machine that appears to be a kind of highly advanced vehicle, with seats for five human beings. But they cannot understand the third message until they find the fourth message, a primer hidden in phase modulation.[2] The primer allows them to translate the alien language to human language.

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