(Can you decode messages from an alien world?)

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Enter the SETI-Games Message Board

At 5:31pm on August 1st 1997, a radio message was received at the ERSO Radio Observatory, coming from Arcturus. The signal received appears to be of intelligent origin, rather than a natural phenomenon. The signal is binary in nature, consisting of an amplitude-modulated (AM) carrier wave containing a tone that oscillates between two frequencies. 16129 distinct bits were recorded (tone high = 1, tone low = 0), then there was a pause 68 seconds long before the next "page" began. During this pause, the carrier wave was still present, though the amplitude-modulation ceased (the tone was silent). Several distinct pages were received in this manner, and then the whole process simply repeated, and continues to repeat to this day. (if you are interested in hearing how they sound, you can download a program to play the messages through your internal PC speaker, and it now includes the sourcecode)

Each page has been stored in a simple text file, with each bit represented as an ASCII character ("0" or "1"), in the order they were received, 60 characters per line (arbitrary number chosen, 60 fits in most text viewers).

Your goal is to try to decode these messages. You may use whatever resources you have at your disposal, including but not limited to books on cryptography, physics, astronomy, and radio. Discuss it with your friends, or with your enemies for that matter! You may also find that writing computer programs can be helpful too, parcitularly for formatting the message properly. Do whatever it takes to decode the messages and extract what information you can.

Hint for getting started: A message is much easier to read when you know how to view it correctly first.

Think you have the answer? necrobones at necrobones dot com, and tell me what you've found! Don't ask for hints though, that's what the rest of the world is for... :-)

6/19/98: I have created a new message board for the Arcturus Project, and for any other "SETI-Games", hence the name of the board: The SETI-Games Message Board. I encourage everyone to discuss this project, and create their own SETI-games and discuss them as well. Please don't be discouraged if activity on the message board is slow at first. If everyone participates, we'll all have a lot of fun!

Length of pause between pages:68 seconds
Length of each page in time: 1088 seconds (18.3 minutes)
Length of each page in bits: 16129
Frequency of transmission: 1420 MegaHertz
Signal polarization: Random
Signal flux: 96 Janskies
Signal mode: AM
Tone frequencies (0,1): 240.94, 481.88 hertz
Message began: August 1, 1997 @ 5:31pm ET
Source: Arcturus (class K2, 11 parsecs away)
First detected by: ERSO Station

Enter the SETI-Games Message Board

[Click HERE to download all of the messages]

Message Page #1
Message Page #2
Message Page #3
Message Page #4
Message Page #5
Message Page #6
Message Page #7
Message Page #8

[Click here for all 8 pages preformatted] (spoiler)

This spoiler only spoils the first part of the game, formatting. You still have to decode the meaning, but you don't have to guess at the messages proper format. And for those who have already figured it out, this makes it easier to look at than an ascii based file.

Available utilities for download:
  • SING - Plays the messages through your internal speaker.
  • ARCTURUS.BAS - Displays message pages in graphics mode. Provided by Nick Chatzistelios.
  • VIEW - Also displays the message pages in a graphical manner.


All of the message files are Copyright (C) 1997, Ed T. Toton III, All Rights Reserved.

Permission is hereby granted to distribute these files freely, as long as appropriate credit is given, and they are distributed in the original unmodified form.

Eventually I may make a page with a discussion about, and answers to this game. However, a small quiz will be required to gain entrance to the page, to see if you've successfully decoded at least some of the more important aspects of the messages.

UPDATE- I have created a message board for this purpose. Please see above.

Return to ERSO SETI page
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Return to The NeoScience Institute

Fact or Fiction?

Fiction. This "message from the stars" was created as a "game", the idea is to see just how easily a message can be decoded when it contains symbols and syntax that are unfamiliar, particularly when the message is intended to be easy to decode.

If the aliens start sending new messages, or transmit any revisions, they will be made available under new version numbers.

The Contact Project

= Ed T. Toton III / NecroBones Enterprises / necrobones at necrobones dot com
Having a problem? Write to necrobones at necrobones dot com
(Copyright 1997, All Rights Reserved)