New NASA book looks beyond astrophysics to figure out how we'll communicate with extraterrestrials
Assuming we one day contact aliens, how will we communicate with them? That's the subject of a new book from NASA called Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication. (Kudos to Jesus Diaz of Gizmodo for uncovering it.) The book steps outside astrophysics and computer science to explore how archeologists and anthropologists have approached cross-cultural communications between human cultures, and what those techniques and analytical frames could contribute to understanding a message from an alien culture.
“It's a serious book—deep and complex, but quite accessible," Diaz writes about the new title, Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication, “...that takes into consideration our knowledge on historical and prehistorical Earth, as well as our understanding of biology, evolution, and physics."
If it did nothing else, space exploration enthusiasts would find the book a good read for its concise histories, institutional and political, of the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program. But the book is also refreshing because the contributors step beyond the usual technological questions, defensive worries, or assumptions about supposed fundamentals of human-alien communication.
"Indeed, much of the literature on contact with extraterrestrial intelligence tacitly assumes that an alien civilization will be culturally unified, unlike our own world," writes John Traphagan in his chapter on "Culture and Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence," which explores definitions of culture, and the limits of "common languages" like mathematics or higher technologies in creating cross-cultural understanding.
For the rest of the story: http://www.popsci.com/article/science/how-well-talk-aliens?dom=PSC&loc=recent&lnk=1&con=how-well-talk-to-aliens