In A Big Bang in a Little Room, Zeeya Merali describes the consensus among science’s biggest brains: “The notion that a god made our universe is several rungs on the wackiness ladder above the idea that it was made by aliens.” Nevertheless, Merali describes herself as a believer in God. She’s also the holder of an Ivy League PhD in theoretical physics. So she asks a good question: If God desired to send us a message, how would He do it?
Published in 1985, Carl Sagan’s novel Contact included speculation about finding a code in the digits of pi, which starts out 3.14159 and keeps going forever — but no one’s found it. Others said God might encode a message within the human genome — but that would be useful only for creatures on this planet. Merali suggests a message embedded in background radiation, so any sufficiently advanced creatures anywhere in the universe could perceive it. (Astronomers learn about distant galaxies and galaxy clusters by mapping tiny radiation wrinkles.)
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