If music is the universal language, electronic dance music is the sweet nothings whispered into the cosmos.
It’s official: Electronic dance music artists are Earth’s ambassadors to the universe. Throughout the month of May 2018, 35 EDM songs were launched into outer space in the hopes of contacting alien life. It’s a project being led by the Sónar Music Festival, the Catalonia Institute of Space Studies, and METI International. Their goal is to have the songs received by intelligent beings (relatively) close by.
Though, it’s not as simple as just launching an mp3 player into space. The songs have to be sent entirely in binary to then be decoded by the aliens. Hopefully, they’re ready for some puzzles, because they’re getting a few dozen of them. Each transmission includes a few things in addition to the song. There’s a brief “Hello!” from Earth and a few pieces of encyclopedic information about our planet and the human race, such as math, our history — you know, all the fun stuff you bring up on a first date.
The songs are being sent to GJ 273, otherwise known as Luyten’s Star. Luyten’s star is a red dwarf about 14 light-years from Earth. More specifically, the songs are being sent to a planet that orbits Luyten’s Star, known as Luyten’s Star b. This planet was chosen specifically because it is within the habitable zone, which is a fancy term for being the right distance from the sun to be able to sustain life. Luyten’s Star b is actually the closest planet to Earth that falls into this category. It’s not too hot, not too cold; it’s a perfect alien vacation planet. Basically, if we have alien neighbors, there’s a decent chance they’re chilling out there.
Daedelus, one of the musicians whose song was launched into the cosmos, told Inverse last month, “I really nerded out trying to sum up all of humanity and keep it really specifically voiced. Not trying to encode human DNA in soundwaves. Not try to solve humanity’s issues. Just speak to my own truth and my own insecurity. That’s what I tap into with these songs.”
Sending music into space isn’t necessarily a new idea. In 1977, two golden records were launched into space aboard the Voyager spacecraft. If any intelligent beings were to receive them on their journey, they would get a very cool, albeit dated, playlist. They contain some Bach, some Stravinsky, some Chuck Berry — the classics.
What makes this project different, though, is that the songs are being sent directly toward a specific location. They aren’t just being sent into space like a bottle out to sea; they are being sent to a planet that scientists truly believe could contain extraterrestrial life.
The songs should reach the planet around 2030, which means the earliest we would hear back is 2042. So, if you’re looking to find out if the universe agrees with your opinion on EDM, you’ll have to wait a while. In the meantime, buy a ticket to the Sónar Music Festival and see the songs live. Or don’t. It’s your life. The universe is infinite.