Greetings all—and a warm welcome back for another episode! Today’s show is a conversation with Daniel Oberhaus. Daniel is a staff writer for Wired magazine and the author of the book Extraterrestrial Languages, published by MIT Press in 2019. The book charts the history of humanity’s efforts at “interstellar communication”—our attempts to send messages to the stars in the hopes that alien life forms might receive them. Daniel and I talk about what these messages have contained, what forms they’ve taken, and the thinking and theories behind them.
As you might guess, the history of interstellar communication is packed full of colorful episodes, charismatic characters, and quirky passion projects. But it’s also full of deep questions—questions about the very nature of communication, about the essence of human language, about why minds think in the ways they do, about the origins of mathematics, about what can and should be said on behalf of our species—or our planet. Apologies for the long list, but there really is a lot in play here—we touch on a bunch of it but for the fuller story, I definitely recommend you check out Daniel’s book.
Thank you so much for joining us, as always. Enjoy and take care!