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7th-May-2007 03:58 pm - Culture in the Cosmos
Beer
By Doug Vakoch
Director of Interstellar Message Composition, SETI Institute

As SETI's scientists plan for their first contact with other worlds, who better to consult with than anthropologists, who specialize in encounters with exotic cultures? And thus, over the past several years the SETI Institute has repeatedly brought together anthropologists and scholars from other disciplines, in an attempt to bridge the gap between humans and extraterrestrials.

The task of these savants, who met most recently in San Jose, California, is twofold: to try to uncover any universals of culture, and then apply these insights to constructing messages that might be intelligible to independently evolved civilizations. "Although it is impossible to predict the nature of extraterrestrial intelligence," admitted NASA's Chief Historian, Steven Dick, "the one certainty is that, if it exists, it will have undergone cultural evolution."

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