Monday, 4 January 2016

04.01.2122 - Hidden Meaning

By Inductiveload [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Distance: 1330 AU from Earth | Content Flag: Public

Well, the team back at mission control beat me to it! They cracked the message we’ve been receiving from Tau Ceti for the past year. I was satisfied to discover that some of the approaches I’d taken were at least in the right direction. That bodes well for any future encounter.

We’ve learned some interesting information about the source, or at least the science that underpins their technology. We need be wary about making assumptions about a species that we know nothing about, but a few facts did allow the researchers back on Earth to make a breakthrough.

I suspected that the message described a situation update of some kind. The repeated components with only marginal differences between each iteration indicated it to be some sort of progression. The team back on Earth eventually determined that the message was a beacon for a component in the Tau Ceti star system.

Unfortunately it’s not a map of the system as far as we can determine, which would have been very useful for refining our approach. The beacon points to an orbit near or around Tau Ceti e. The Tau Ceti system was once considered a likely candidate for extraterrestrial life and the planet Tau Ceti e was the prime location. This cannot be a coincidence.

They are less certain about the other part of the message. I agree with their assessment that it’s a countdown and an approach vector relative to the beacon’s location. We don’t understand the significance of it yet.

That isn’t the whole message, but does account for the changing part of it. Mission control agree with me that the unknown part is factual information, but we’re still trying to decipher its meaning. Despite the unknowns that remain, the parts we have learned reveal some interesting facts.

The first is that their mathematics appears to be built around a base 9 number system. Humans use base 10 as a consequence of having 10 digits, so maybe the aliens constructed their number system for a similar reason.

The other thought-provoking aspect is how they describe position and movement of objects in space. We use a number of different techniques for that same purpose. One method is to give a set of coordinates, but these need a frame of reference for the coordinates to relate to. In the case of the planet, the anchor point is the star and the object relating to the countdown.

An odd aspect here is that it only requires 3 values to describe a position in space, but the message uses 5 values. It’s likely that one of the extra values relates to time, indicating when the position is valid. What the extra value is for, we don’t know yet. I have a theory that the aliens use two vectors for time rather than just the one which explains some of the oddities in the location, although what it actually means I haven’t worked out – yet.

Motion can be described as a collection of positions along a timeline, or through some method of transformation such as an equation or matrix. The message uses a strange combination of those methods. It describes some transformation in location, but also something else. Another mystery to be unravelled.

Mission control have already tried applying what they’ve learned to the original transmissions with little success, there’s just too much noise. I’m signing off now and will see if I can solve more of this mystery.

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