Lone Signal

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Lone Signal
IndustrySearch for extraterrestrial intelligence
FoundedNew York, United States (June 18, 2013 (2013-06-18))
FounderPierre Fabre, President
Key people
Jamie King, CEO
Narayana Ackley, CTO
Eric Eim, COO
Jacob Haqq-Misra, CSO
Ernesto Qualizza, CMO
ServicesMessages to extraterrestrial intelligence
Number of employees
Websitewww.lonesignal.com (Currently unavailable)
Footnotes / references

Lone Signal was a crowdfunded active SETI project designed to send interstellar messages from Earth to a possible extraterrestrial civilization. Founded by businessman Pierre Fabre and supported by several entrepreneurs, Lone Signal was based at the Jamesburg Earth Station in Carmel, California.[3]

The project's beacon, which commenced continuous operations on June 17, 2013, transmitted short, 144-character messages by citizens of Earth to the red dwarf star Gliese 526, located 17.6 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Boötes.[4] The Lone Signal team hoped to earn US$100 million to construct a network of satellite dishes across the Earth's surface, which could beam messages to many regions of the Milky Way galaxy.[3] The project ceased transmission shortly after it began, due to lack of funding.

Message components[edit]

Lone Signal's message consists of two key components, a background hailing component and a more complex message component. The hailing component, designed by planetary scientist Michael W. Busch, uses a universal binary encoding system, which goes through an octal intermediary, representing numbers, mathematical operators, or other symbols.[5] Each value corresponds to a single unique frequency. The offsets between those frequencies are set to be much larger than the bit rate (i.e. if transmitting at 100 Hz, the offsets between adjacent frequencies will be ~300 Hz).[5] Using these code blocks, coherent mathematical statements about the laws of physics and Earth's location in the galaxy are produced. The hailing message repeats on average three times in order to allow the recipient to decode it at any time when observation begins, with some parts repeating more often than others. The hailing component was designed to be easily decoded by an extraterrestrial civilization, which was confirmed by a double-blind experiment.[6]

The hailing component is not an end in itself, but is designed to be a "Rosetta Stone" toward understanding the more complex message component, consisting of brief, 144-character statements by the general public.[7] These messages, with widely varying languages and contents, were posted from the Lone Signal website.[3] Individuals who have signed up to send messages with Lone Signal, collectively known as the "beaming community", were permitted to send one message for free, and thereafter required to purchase "message credits" of $0.25 per message sent in order to fund the operation of the project.[8] The content of messages sent via Lone Signal could be syndicated to the Twitter and Facebook accounts of beaming community members as desired.[9] It was in this beaming community user space that an attempt was being made to extend the syntax used in the hailing message to communicate in a way that, while neither mathematical nor strictly logical, was nonetheless designed to be understandable given the prior definition of terms and concepts in the hailing message.[10]

Potential dangers and detectability[edit]

Various commentators have identified several dangers with messaging extraterrestrial intelligence, which chief scientific officer Jacob Haqq-Misra covered in a 2013 paper before joining Lone Signal. In his paper, Haqq-Misra stated that while ordinary communication which might involve inadvertent leakage into space would not pose a threat, the dangers of actively beaming messages to extraterrestrial intelligences, and hence a determination of whether or not such beaming activities should be carried out, are uncertain.[11]

Upon becoming an executive of Lone Signal, Haqq-Misra stated his belief that extraterrestrial civilizations probably already know of humanity's existence, and reaffirmed his position that the cultural impact of extraterrestrial contact is unknowable. He based this belief on the fact that various other radio sources have been broadcasting into space for decades, and would be detectable to any civilization with sufficiently large radio telescopes.[9] For example, the hailing message sent by Lone Signal would be detectable with an array area of 50 square metres (540 sq ft), and the message portion would be detectable by a telescope with 10 square kilometres (3.9 sq mi) of collecting area; by contrast, humanity's most powerful signals, from military radars and the Arecibo Observatory, could be detected with a small, 1 square metre (11 sq ft) antenna.[citation needed] At the same time, though, the previous messages from the most powerful beaming sources were intermittent, while Lone Signal aimed to establish the first continuous beam to space.[12]


  1. ^ "Executives". Lone Signal. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  2. ^ "Science & Tech". Lone Signal. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Gohring, Nancy (June 17, 2013). "Lone Signal aims to send "hello!" tweets to extraterrestrials". CNNMoney. CNN. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013.
  4. ^ "GJ 526". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Lone Signal & Jamesburg Earth Station Technologies - Technical Setup" (PDF). Lone Signal. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 9, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Message Encoding – But, Can They Read It?". Lone Signal. Retrieved June 21, 2013.[dead link]
  8. ^ Gohring, Nancy (June 17, 2013). "Lone Signal aims to send "hello!" tweets to extraterrestrials". cnn.com. CNN Money. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Kramer, Miriam (April 17, 2013). "New Project Begins Beaming Your Messages Into Deep Space". SPACE.com. Archived from the original on June 30, 2013.
  10. ^ Chapman, Charles R. "Extending the syntax used by the Lone Signal Active SETI project". Archived from the original on August 13, 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Haqq-Misra, J.; Busch, M. W.; Som, S. M.; Baum, S. D. (2013). "The benefits and harm of transmitting into space". Space Policy. 29 (1): 40–48. arXiv:1207.5540. Bibcode:2013SpPol..29...40H. doi:10.1016/j.spacepol.2012.11.006. S2CID 7070311.
  12. ^ "Lone Signal: First Continous [sic] Message Beacon to Find and Say Hello to an Extraterrestrial Civilization". Universe Today. June 12, 2013. Retrieved June 22, 2013.

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