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Can you decrypt this alien message?

posted Apr 26, 2016, 4:34 PM by Abel Mendez   [ updated May 4, 2016, 3:10 PM ]

This is a call for a fun scientific challenge by Dr. René Heller.

Suppose a telescope on Earth receives a series of pulses from a fixed, unresolved source beyond the solar system. The source is a star about 50 light years from Earth. The pulses are in the form of short/long signals and they are received in a very narrow band around an electromagnetic frequency of 452.12919 MHz. A computer algorithm identifies the artificial nature of the pulses. It turns out the pulses carry a message. The pulses signify binary digits. Suppose further that you were, by whatsoever reason, put in charge of decoding this message.

If you successfully decrypted the message, you should be able to answer the following questions:
  1. What is the typical body height of our interstellar counterparts?
  2. What is their typical lifetime?
  3. What is the scale of the devices they used to submit their message?
  4. Since when have they been communicating interstellar?
  5. What kind of object do they live on?
  6. How old is their stellar system?
These are the rules:
  1. No restrictions on collaborations.
  2. Open discussion (social networks etc.) of possible solutions strongly encouraged.
  3. Three hints to the solutions can be offered as per request.
  4. Send your solutions to Dr. René Heller via e-mail (, twitter (@DrReneHeller) or Facebook (DrReneHeller). Human-readable format and the format of the message are allowed.
  5. On 3 June 2016, a list of the successful SETI crackers (in chronological order) will be released.
The message:

    Here is the text file with the binary encoded message of the #SETIDecryptChallenge.