The Hercules Text - Plot Summary - The Extraterrestrial Message

The Extraterrestrial Message

The message is received with a large radio telescope, the fictional Hercules Array, which was built on the far side of the Moon. It is later discovered, that the message was sent with an artificial Pulsar built by the alien race. This pulsar with the name Althea has been known by the scientists for years. It was believed to be a normal pulsar. However, what made it special was its almost perfectly regular interval between the observed pulses.

One day some of the pulses suddenly fail to appear. This incident draws more attention to this particular pulsar, as the newly discovered gaps show a remarkable pattern.

The first gap consists of one missing pulse, the second of two missing pulses and the third gap consists of four missing pulses. The following gaps also consist of numbers representing powers of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, ...). The transmission of these numbers goes on for a couple of days until the pulsar falls completely silent.

The silence lasts for several weeks until it breaks again. This time, not just a simple sequence of numbers is received by the Hercules Array. Now, a very large and complex amount of binary data is sent from somewhere close to Althea. Scientists are able to decipher this data. It consists of several mathematical and physical formulae and simple graphical information. Later, more complex information is found, e.g., parts of the sender's DNA, schematics for very advanced technology, philosophical texts or poems.

Read more about this topic:  The Hercules Text, Plot Summary

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