On the afternoon of November 16, 1974 a message was sent from a small island on a small rocky planet orbiting a middle aged yellow dwarf star. This was Puerto Rico, Earth - the Arecibo Observatory - the largest radio telescope in the world.

Much of this was symbolism saying "Yes! We humans have reached the level where we can shout out our name to the cosmos!"

The message was transmitted at the frequency of 2380 MHz and consisted of 1,679 bits. The number itself has importance - it is the multiple of two primes. Because of this, the only way to arrange this message is as below (or a reflection or rotation of it - but the shapes will still be there). If a non-prime number was used (say 6x8) it would be possible to arrange it in a multitude of other ways (6x8, 4x12, 3x16, 2x24).

For the three minutes that this message was transmitted, the earth shone 10 million times the intensity of the sun on that particular frequency.

The beam was directed at M13 - a globular cluster 25,000 light years away. Amusingly, in 25,000 years, M13 will no longer be at the location the message was sent.

      # # # #          |
  # #     # #       #  | A
#   #   #   #  # ##  # |
# # # # # # # #  #  #  |

            ##         |
          ## #         |
          ## #         | B
         # # #         |
         #####         |

##    ###   ##    ##   |
#             ##  #    |
## #   ##   ##    ## # |
##### ##### ##### #####|
                       |
   #                 # |
                       | C1
    #                 #|
#####             #####|
                       |
##    ##    ###   ##   |
#       #         #    |
## #    ##   ###  ## # |
##### ##### ##### #####|
                       |
   #      ##         # |
          ##           |
    #     ##          #|
#####     ##      #####|
          ##           |
  #        #        #  |
   #      ##       #   |
    ##    ##      #    |
      ##   #    ##     |
          ##  ##       | C2
      ##   #    ##     |
    ##    ##      #    |
   #      #        #   |
  #       ##        #  |
 #        ##        #  |
 #         #       #   |
  #       #       #    |
   #            ##     |
    ##        ##       |
  #   ### # ##
  #       #            |
  #     #####          |
  #    # ### #  # ## ##|
      #  ###  #  ######|
# ###    ###     ## ###| D
         # #     ### ##|
  #      # #     ######|
  #      # #     ##    |
  #     ## ##          |

  ###     #            |
  ### # #   # # # # # #| E
  ###         # # # #  |
              # #
              # #
        #####          |
      #########        |
    ###       ###      |
   ##           ##     |
  ## #         # ##    | F
 ##  ##       ##  ##   |
 #   # #     # #   #   |
 #   #  #   #  #   #   |
     #   # #   #       |
     #    #    #       |
     #         #       |
       #  # #          |
 ####  ##### #  ####   |

  1. From left to right, the numbers 1 to 10
          # # # #
      # #     # #       #
    #   #   #   #  # ##  #
    # # # # # # # #  #  #
    
    This is binary-coded decimal (BCD). Each number may take 2 columns, and the lowest '#' is just the left most column.

  2. The atoms of life.
       ##
     ## #
     ## #
    # # #
    #####
    
    Using the numbering above there are 5 numbers here (yep, they got another row here). Hydrogen (1), Carbon (6), Nitrogen (7), Oxygen (8), and Phosphorus (15). The order is important for the next section - HCNOP.

  3. DNA
    1. The chemical formula
      ##    ###   ##    ##
      #             ##  #
      ## #   ##   ##    ## #
      ##### ##### ##### #####
      
         #                 #
      
          #                 #
      #####             #####
      
      ##    ##    ###   ##
      #       #         #
      ## #    ##   ###  ## #
      ##### ##### ##### #####
      
         #                 #
      
          #                 #
      #####             #####
      
      With the above ordering HCNOP, we have a description of DNA.
    2. The double helix and human genome
                ##
                ##
                ##
                ##
                ##
        #        #        #
         #      ##       #
          ##    ##      #
            ##   #    ##
                ##  ##
            ##   #    ##
          ##    ##      #
         #      #        #
        #       ##        #
       #        ##        #
       #         #       #
        #       #       #
         #            ##
          ##        ##
            ###   ##
      
      One of the difficulties above is that although the chemical formula is there, the structure is not. This makes it difficult for an individual to piece together what it actually means. This is an attempt to try to show the structure.

      There is the double helix here demonstrating the structure of the DNA molecule itself. Down the middle runs a 32 bit number with the approximate number of nucleotides - 0xfff7fb5e which is 4,294,441,822.

    3. Humans
        #       #
        #       #
        #     #####
        #    # ### #  # ## ##
            #  ###  #  ######
      # ###    ###     ## ###
               # #     ### ##
        #      # #     ######
        #      # #     ##
        #     ## ##
      
      From left to right, we have the height of a human. In the middle of this, there is the number (at 90 degrees from what we are used to above) 1110(binary) which is 14. The units of height are wavelength of the message: 12.6 cm for a height of 176 cm.

      In the middle is a rough representation of the human form.

      On the right is another 32 bit number - the approximate human population 4,292,853,750.

    4. The solar system
        ###     #
        ### # #   # # # # # #
        ###         # # # #
                    # #
      
      With the Sun at the left, Earth is set aside. Jupiter and Saturn are the largest planets, with Uranus and Neptune next.

    5. Arecibo antenna
              #####
            #########
          ###       ###
         ##           ##
        ## #         # ##
       ##  ##       ##  ##
       #   # #     # #   #
       #   #  #   #  #   #
           #   # #   #
           #    #    #
           #         #
             #  # #
       ####  ##### #  ####
      
      This is a picture of the dish itself. The bottom two rows show the diameter, and this time with the least significant bit on the bottom right, we get the binary 100101111110 which is 2430. Again the units are 12.6 cm, and the total size of 30,618 cm (306 meters)

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