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Scientists reveal how we can learn to talk to aliens

Scientists reveal how we can learn to talk to aliens

A new book dives into xenolinguistics - the study of alien language.

Keen to learn how to speak to aliens?

Well, you're in luck, because experts have put together a comprehensive guide to the 'science of extraterrestrial language'.

The book is called Xenolinguistics and 'brings together biologists, anthropologists, linguists, and other experts specializing in language and communication to explore what non-human, non-Earthbound language might look like'.

The new book dives into xenolinguistics.
David Wall / Getty

Experts have contributed to 18 chapters mapping out the science of speaking to aliens - ranging from what the diversity of animal communication on Earth might be able to tell us about alien language, to the importance of non-verbal communication.

A book about how to speak to aliens might sound like a bit of a joke, but make no mistake - this is rigorous work from leading scientific minds, including a contribution from Noam Chomsky, whose nickname is 'the father of modern linguistics'.

While it's unlikely aliens are going to land on Earth next week (sorry if we were getting your hopes up), it's always good to be prepared.

In fact, many think it's foolish for us to assume we're alone in this vast universe - and a 2020 study in The Astrophysical Journal suggested there could be at least 36 other civilizations in our galaxy we might be able to communicate with. Scientists even stressed this is a 'lower limit', so there could be plenty more out there.

The Times reports the volume's editor, astrobiologist Dr Douglas Vakoch, as saying: "I think it's realistic that we could in our lifetimes get a message through Seti (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) programmes or send out messages that could someday get a reply."

Noam Chomsky is one of the book's contributors.
HEULER ANDREY / Contributor / Getty

According to The Times, experts suggest our best bet for reaching out to alien life is sending out short, simple messages repeatedly to a million star systems. If we receive any reply, experts reportedly want us to bounce back the signal - and from here we can go on to decipher any patterns of communication.

So far, so potentially exciting - but perhaps it's wise to not get too carried away. The universe is almost unfathomably vast, and it takes a lot of time for communication signals to travel anywhere.

According to NASA, it can take between five and 20 minutes for a signal to travel between Earth and Mars - and that's right next door to us in the Solar System.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't still be prepared and keep trying. The Times reports Xenolinguistics as suggesting we could share many different features with extraterrestrial civilizations, including "tool use, symbol use, communication, culture-making and curiosity".

So all is not lost - so long as we "begin with simple messages and work our way up".