Bored Aliens.

New Scientist reports on a problem facing the researchers with the SETI project. It’s not a technological issue, really. Intelligent alien civilizations are probably already picking up our radio and television transmissions, beaming out across the vastness of space. It’s just that we’re not terribly interesting:

Humans have so far sent four messages into space intended for alien listeners. But they have largely been made up of mathematically coded descriptions of some physics and chemistry, with some basic biology and descriptions of humans thrown in.

Those topics will not prove gripping reading to other civilisations, says Canadian astrophysicist Yvan Dutil. If a civilisation is advanced enough to understand the message, they will already know most of its contents, he says: “After reading it, they will be none the wiser about us humans and our achievements. In some ways, we may have been wasting our telescope time.”