Aliens will be invited to play chess by boffins, as it’ll strike up conversation

Scientists have come up with the perfect way to make contact with aliens – by inviting them for a game of chess.

Boffins believe playing an extrater-chess-trial intergalactic game could help us strike up a conversation with little green men.

They have designed an updated message to beam across space, and think that if they receive a reply then the logical next step would be sending the rules and starting a game.

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But any human opponents should have time to plan their moves because communicating in the game would take tens or hundreds of thousands of years due to the vast distances involved.

There are many active projects searching for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), but there have also been some attempts to message one, even leading to the creation of a non-profit organisation called Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

Jonathan Jiang, of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who has co-authored the new Beacon In The Galaxy message, said there was nothing wrong with previous attempts, but said they now have the technology to provide more detail.

He said: “In recent years, we have found thousands of exoplanets, compared with 1974 when we did not know if there were planets outside our solar system.

“We now know that most stars host planets, and that planets that could host technological life should be reasonably common such that there should be many potential ‘home’ planets in our galaxy.”

Philip Rosen, a retired engineer from the energy industry and co-author of the paper, said proposing a chess game could “provide insights into thought processes of logic, strategy and planning” of the civilisation.

He added: “Establishing such a common ground of understanding would facilitate more detailed communications.”

Scientists said previous attempts to message alien civilisations are “few and far between” due to the “giggle factor” in their circles.

Anders Sandberg, at the University of Oxford, said there were also technical challenges in sending a strong enough signal as well as “vigorous debate” about whether it’s wise to do so.

He said there were concerns we could merely be giving an alien life “an address” of where to send “a war fleet”.

Anders said: “Quite often people bring up this idea about what happened when various advanced cultures met less advanced cultures.

“Some people think that it’s really risky to say where we are because that gives an address to where to send the war fleet.”

While he believes the risk is negligible, he does say it would be wise for humanity to “become better at making joint decisions as an entire species” before attempting galactic communication.

Douglas Vakoch at METI believes the message has merit, but that a variety of transmissions using different concepts should be sent, because some approaches may prove impenetrable for an alien species.

He said: “When we see a picture of the surface of the Earth, the one that’s included in this message is a two dimensional projection of a three dimensional surface.

“So I think we need to be aware that even the things that seem to us clearly universal are maybe not. We really need to get over this idea that we can send a foolproof message.”

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