Category: NASA

Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication 2: Relevant Photography and Images

Here we see some photographs and images relevant to our translation of Richard Saint-Gelais' brilliant article,Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication 2  research... and some not so relevant! First off, we have here a chart illustrating thee extreme geometric simplicity or more to the point, the Geometric Economy of Mycenaean Greek, which may indeed make it susceptible or even suitable to extraterrestrial communication with other intelligent beings, if we accept the “fact” that we ourselves are “intelligent”... a point which is open to serious debate!

The Geometric Economy of Mycenaean Linear B:

Geometric enonomy of Linear B

Moreover, Linear B's closest cousin, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, which followed closely on the heels of Linear B, once it fell out of use with the fall of Mycenae ca. 1200 BCE, and which lasted continually from ca. 1100-400 BCE (!), is just as remarkable for its Geometric Economy as Linear B, and could equally serve the same capacity as a vehicle for extraterrestrial communication.

The Geometric Economy of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C:


On the other hand, nothing could be more ridiculous than the Voyager 1 satellite, launched on Sept. 5 1977, and now hurtling God knows where just outside the confines of our Solar System. Apart from the fact that a mechanical contraption such as this would (and will!) take hundreds of thousands of years to get anywhere at all, what is the point? Moreover, the premises upon which its means of communication with so-called extraterrestrials are based are so absurdly unsound as to beg credence. For instance, what extraterrestrial beings in their right minds (assuming they have minds like us) could conceivably recognize those ridiculous images of a naked man and woman?... unless they were even remotely similar to us physiologically... a likelihood that is about as realistic as winning a lottery of a trillion dollars. And that is just scratching the surface, as we shall discover to our great amusement when I eventually publish my article on Prof. Saint-Gelais' own research. There follow here a few images relative to the Voyager 1 probe which are liable to make you LOL.


pioneer_plaque_ for _real

The Implications of the Geometric Economy of Linear C versus that of Linear B

I have compiled here a geometric analysis of the Geometric Economy of the Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Syllabary: Click to ENLARGE

Linear C geometric
If you are already familiar with Mycenaean Linear B, you will quickly realize that the Linear C syllabary is even more streamlined for its geometric economy than is Linear B. The Linear C syllabary consists of only 5 geometric shapes: the dot, the straight line, the circle, the tear & the oval, even fewer than we find in Linear B.

The implications of this further streamlining are clear enough, even superficially. Since the Linear C syllabary simply abandoned all logograms, homophones and ideograms once and for all, it is in fact a much more elegant syllabary than its forebear, with only 56 syllabograms versus the 61 we find in Linear B (leaving aside the 100+ homophones, logograms & ideograms cluttering up the latter). Mycenaean Linear B in turn has considerably fewer syllabograms, logograms and ideograms than Minoan Linear A. With only 56 characters, the Linear C syllabary is the simplest syllabary, ancient or modern. Compare this count with the number of letters in the Cyrillic alphabet, as in Russian = 32, and we can readily see that Linear C has taken the practical application of a syllabary about as far as it can be.

We shall be returning to a more in-depth cross-correlation of the Linear B & Linear C Syllabaries early in 2015, when we shall be discussing their potential application to extraterrestrial communication, reflecting our own developing perspectives on an article on this very topic recently written for NASA by Prof. Richard Saint-Gelais. To read that post, please click on this BANNER:



MEDIA Post: New MENU Category, MEDIA for images, videos & films on our blog...  

Linear B Knossos & Mycenae MENUS 01122014
We have just added a new MENU Category, MEDIA, where you will find all archived posts which are primarily in media format: images, videos & films. Images and videos dealing specifically with Knossos & Mycenae are usually not in this MENU, but in their own, also illustrated here:

Thank you


NASA, New MENU added to Reflect our Research into the Application of Linear B & Syllabic Scripts to Interstellar Communication: Click on this BANNER to see all these posts now.


We have added our innovative, cutting edge NASA MENU (Category), which appears on the third line at the top of the first page of our blog. If you are at all interested in our research into the possible (or even probable) implications of any seriously competent scientific research into the Theoretical and Practical Applications of Linear B & Syllabic Scripts to Interstellar Communication, research such as we see conducted by NASA, ESA, the KEPLER missions, SETI or by any other official international space agencies or university-level research projects and the like, then this is the place you’ll definitely want to be. Ours is the one and only Linear B blog on the entire Internet, dedicated to Mycenaean Linear B, as well as to Minoan Linear A & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, where such matters are taken seriously, but only at the academic, research level. We do not and shall never associate ourselves with crack-pot blogs and sites all in a kerfuffle about so-called UFOS, alien intelligences (usually deemed hostile) and other such riff-raff on the Net: Click to ENLARGE, at your own risk!

UFOers and silly ideas about extraterrestrial intelligence
These deserve no valid place whatsoever into the search for communication(s) with extraterrestrial intelligences, if any such exist at all, or if we go on the assumption, fragile as it is, that they might or may exist, that they would even bother to communicate with the likes of us at all. These and several other specific considerations, which can in some real way be scientifically investigated or adduced, will be addressed under the Category MENU NASA, as the need arises.

We shall of course keep you apprized.

Stay posted.



When SETI showed us this amazing photo from space, I could not resist defining it in ancient Greek & Linear B + this fractal, also in French!

Image shown to us by SETI on Twitter:


What it means in ancient Greek and in Mycenaean Linear B:

What can you see (or not) in the image they posted?

Oh and what about this? What is it a fractal of?

string theory
If you can read Greek, Mycenaean Linear B or French, you will know; otherwise you will have to guess.

Let me know what you think it means & I will tell you if you are right. 


NASA: Linear B and Extraterrestrial Communication: article in French by Prof. Richard Saint-Gelais of Laval University, Quebec

Linear B and Extraterrestrial Communication: E-mail in English I sent to Prof. Richard Saint-Gelais (Laval University) informing him that I will eventually translate his article into English: Archéologie, anthropologie et communication interstellaire 2 : Au-delà de Linéaire B - Le défi de la communication métasémiotique avec une intelligence Extraterrestre

Richard Saint-Gelais, I congratulate you on your extraordinary perspective in French on the possibility of the application, however provisional, of the Mycenaean Linear B syllabary to extraterrestrial communication.

Click on this banner to read the full research article in French by Prof. Richard Saint-Gelais:


When I came upon the English translation of your translation of your article, somewhat abridged, in PDF format, I read it with great interest (See below).
As far as I can tell, your perspective is clearly unique and, in my opinion, quite the mind-boggling revelation on the prospects for the practical application of human scripts by nature essentially geometric to extraterrestrial communication. In fact, your research study, which takes an approach heretofore unheard of to this topic, fascinates me to no end, especially in light of my own in-depth research into any and all aspects of these syllabaries: Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. If you care to visit my blog, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae, one of the key sites Linear B on the Internet, you can see for yourself that, taken in their own proper context, our theories, hypotheses and the practical applications of them play a key role in our numerous scrupulous translations of Linear B tablets, each and every one of which in turn significantly contributes to the timely dissemination of the most up-to-date academic research of the highest order into Linear B above all else, but also into the other two scripts referenced above. In addition, I just now sent you an e-mail of paramount importance, whereby I have let you in on my own primary concerns dealing with this very subject, revolutionary as it is likely to prove. It is my sincere hope that you will quite soon be open to further, more in-depth, discussion with me, with our mutual research interests in mind. Meanwhile, I must truly congratulate you. Yours, Richard Vallance Janke, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 
Or if you are allophone English, you can read the shorter, less detailed and less informative version of the original French article from NASA in PDF format here:


ORIGINAL E-MAIL in French / premier courriel en français :   
Je vous félicite, Richard Saint-Gelais, pour votre excellente perspective sur les possibilités d’application provisoire du syllabaire Linéaire B du Grec mycénéain à la communication exraterrestre, dont j’ai lu le texte intégral raccourci en anglais en format PDF ici:

Cette perspective est évidemment unique et, à mon avis, tout à fait époustouflante quant à la mise en pratique potentielle des écritures humaines de nature géometrique à la communication extraterrestre. En effet, votre étude de recherche sur une telle approche jusqu’ici inouïe me fascine énormément, surtout à la lumière de mes propres recherches approfondies sur tous les aspects des syllabaires, le Linéaire A minoen, le Linéaire B mycénéain et le Linéaire C arcade-chypriote.  Si vous consultez mon blog, Linear B, Knossos and Mycenae, l’un des sites les plus importants en ligne sur le Linéaire B, vous verrez que le contexte de nos théories, de nos hypothèses, de la mise en oeuvre pratique de celles-là, ainsi que nos traductions considérables servent toutes et chacune à la dissémination la plus actualisée de la recherche dans le domaine des études académiques de première ordre sur le Linéaire B avant tout, mais également sur les  deux autres écritures mentionnées ci-dessus.  De plus, je viens de vous envoyer un courriel important qui vous communique mes propre préoccupations les plus significatives portant sur ce sujet révolutionnaire, tout en espérant que vous et moi, nous serons prêts à communiquer réciproquement à base plus profonde dans le prochain avenir. Entretemps, je vous salue sincèrement. Bien à vous. Richard Vallance Janke, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.   

1. Since this original article in French is significantly more comprehensive than the English article authored by Richard Saint-Gelais at NASA (see above), I shall eventually be translating the full text of this seminal article on the feasibility of syllabaries such as Linear B for extraterrestrial communication. This translation is bound to prove difficult, even for someone such as myself who, as a Canadian, is fluently bilingual English-French. So do not expect my translation online anytime soon. It is most likely to appear sometime in the winter of 2015.
2. For our francophone and bilingual English-French readers. You can read the full text of Richard Saint-Gelais’ original research article in French, which preceded his PDF study at NASA (link above) here:
Archéologie, Anthropologie et Communication Interstellaire 2 :
Voici quelques illustrations tirées de son article (A Few Illustrations from his article): Cliquer pour élargir : Click to ENLARGE
illustrations Richard Saint-Gelais extraterrestrial communication
Excerpts in French from his article: Au-delà de Linéaire B - Le défi de la communication métasémiotique avec une intelligence Extraterrestre Par Richard Saint-Gelais - Chapitre 5 Perspectives sémiotiques sur SETI
La Communication, comme nous le savons tous, est une entreprise délicate entre les êtres humains. Donc, il y a des raisons de douter que ce serait une chose facile à travers l'univers. Dans cet essai, je vais essayer de décrire un ensemble de problèmes théoriques qui pourraient affecter la communication avec des intelligences extraterrestres... passim ...  Je dois dire d'emblée que ma position est similaire au scepticisme épistémique que je viens de mentionner. Mais mon point de vue sera légèrement différent de ça, mais pas incompatible avec la perspective épistémique. Je vais appliquer les théories et les méthodes d'analyses sémiotiques au problème de la communication interstellaire, en mettant l'accent sur les signes, le langage, le sens et l'interprétation... passim...

Les conséquences que ces considérations ont pour la communication interstellaire sont tout à fait évidentes. Cette communication, si elle est couronnée de succès, doit surmonter les difficultés inhérentes à un échange où l'expéditeur et le destinataire ne partagent pas un langage commun; ce dernier ne peut se prévaloir d'une compétence linguistique déjà établies avec laquelle travailler sur le sens du message, mais doit plutôt commencer avec le message lui-même et essayer d'en déduire, par conjecture, les règles lexicales et syntaxiques qui lui confèrent une signification. Du point de vue de l'expéditeur, le défi est de concevoir un message qui comprendra, en quelque sorte, le contexte d'interprétation nécessaires pour lui donner un sens. En d'autres termes, l'expéditeur doit, apparemment, produire ce paradoxe sémiotique: un message d'auto-interprétation... passim ...

Décrypter d'Ancient Scripts La question, bien sûr, est : dans quelle mesure est-ce possible ? Une comparaison avec l'inverse, une situation de non coopération - le déchiffrement de messages codés ou d'inscriptions écrites en langues éteintes - peuvent apporter un regard neuf sur les problèmes invoqués.
.. passim ...

Sur le plan sémiotique, la similitude entre les trois types de situations est évidente. Décrypter des inscriptions dans des langues inconnues ou des messages en codes secrets implique à faire face à des chaînes de signes, sans avoir aucune connaissance préalable des règles de codage, de sorte que la reconnaissance de ces règles devient l'une des finalités (à la place des moyens, comme c'est généralement le cas) du processus de l'interprétation. Le déchiffreur des langues inconnues tente d'établir la valeur phonétique et / ou sémantique des symboles. Le décrypteur de messages secrets cherche à identifier le principe régissant le remplacement et / ou la permutation de lettres. Donc, les deux activités peuvent être comparées à la réception d'un message interstellaire et pour tenter d'interpréter sans avoir une idée préalable des règles de codage, le cas échéant, concernant la production des signaux... passim ...

Prenons, par exemple, les types de systèmes d'écriture que les cultures humaines ont développé. Il est possible de déterminer, à partir du nombre de caractères différents que possède une langue, le type de système d'écriture qu'il soutient. S'il n'y a que entre 20 et 40 caractères, c'est un système alphabétique; si il y a environ 100 caractères, nous avons un système syllabique dans lequel chaque symbole traduit une syllabe (par exemple, ta, te, ti, à). l'appareil phonologique des êtres extraterrestres peut être tout à fait différent du nôtre; leurs langues peuvent avoir des unités plus ou moins phonétiques par rapport aux nôtres ou peuvent reposer sur une base physiologique sans rapport avec son articulation... passim ...

Le plus célèbre d'entre eux est le cas du linéaire B, un système d'écriture trouvé sur des tablettes d'argile sur l'île de Crète, déchiffré par Michael Ventris dans les années 1950, sur la base d'un important travail visionnaire que Alice Kober avait fait avant lui. Ventris a utilisé une méthode purement formelle, regroupant ensemble les mots ayant le même début et puis d'en déduire, ou plutôt enlever, à quelles variations grammaticales les différentes terminaisons correspondaient (par exemple, le sexe, le chiffre, etc.). Finalement, il a produit une grille sur laquelle la valeur phonétique de chaque signe a été enregistré. Cette grille a conduit à la découverte inattendue de Ventris, que les symboles linéaire B traduisaient une forme très ancienne de Grec. Cette conclusion de l'histoire sape un promettant abord sur une comparaison entre les écritures anciennes et une communication extraterrestre. Ventris ne savait pas à l'avance quelle langue était «derrière» le linéaire B, mais bien sûr, il ne pouvait le reconnaître, car il était différent du grec classique, quand il le "perçu", il l'a dit lorsque suffisamment de preuves ont été accumulées pour révéler le lien. Nous ne pouvons pas, bien sûr, s'attendre à une telle reconnaissance à travers des distances inter-stellaires... passim ...

Cette discussion sur les symboles, les icônes et les indices ne conduit pas inévitablement à la conclusion que les messages interstellaires doivent inclure uniquement des types de signes plus faciles à interpréter. Nous devons nous rappeler que le message ne se compose pas d'un signe isolé, mais de (parfois complexes) combinaisons de signes, qui peuvent contribuer à leur élucidation réciproque... passim...  Ce qui peut aider de façon décisive ce destinataire final est l'interprétation mutuelle que des parties du message proviennent d'un autre (mais une interprétation qui doit encore être sous-entendue, c'est-à-dire interprétée comme telle) et le jeu systématique de la répétition et de la variation entre les images, qui donnera aux destinataires la possibilité de faire des conjectures et enlèvements, que les images suivantes peuvent confirmer ou infirmer, dans ce dernier cas en appuyant pour que les bénéficiaires lecteurs révisent leurs hypothèses précédentes... passim ...

Linéaire B et autres Dans son livre sur les langues éteintes, Johannes Friedrich souligne que la direction dans laquelle un script doit être lu peut parfois être déduite de l'espace vide à la fin de la dernière ligne d'une inscription. Ici nous avons un indice, un signe causé par son objet : la direction de la rédaction est concrètement responsable de quel côté la dernière ligne est vide. Mais ce n'est pas un signe très remarquable qu'il ne nécessite pas un raisonnement abductif (d'enlèvement). Aussi étrange que cela puisse paraître, je vois dans ce petit exemple des raisons d'espérer en ce qui concerne la communication interstellaire. Nous avons tendance à conceptualiser la communication avec des intelligences extraterrestres en termes de transmission réussie dans le sens voulu. Mais la production et la réception de signes ne peuvent pas être limités à un plan intentionnel. Une caractéristique importante de la plupart des indices est leur nature involontaire. Cela s'applique non seulement en des signes naturels, tels que la fumée, mais aussi dans les productions conscientes des signes, qui comprennent toujours un aspect indiciel provenant d'ailleurs de ce que l'expéditeur a voulu dire. Le touriste est confronté à une anomalie, comme nous l'avons vu, qui peut le mener à conclure à tort que c'est une erreur; mais cette hypothèse devient de moins en moins plausible lorsqu'il ou elle rencontre plus d'anomalies.

Pour moi, la répétition devient un indice de la nature régulière de ce signe, même si cette indication n'a jamais traversé l'esprit des auteurs des textes. Cet exemple montre une fois de plus le rôle central de l'interprétation. L'insistance de Peirce sur le rôle de l'interprétant implique qu'un signe, dès qu'il est reconnu comme tel (ce qui est déjà le résultat d'une interprétation), est soumis à un processus d'interprétations sans fin et souvent inattendues. Ce sera certainement le cas si, par hasard, nos signaux sont reçus par des êtres intelligents, quelles que soient leur physiologie ou leur culture. Nous pouvons compter, jusqu'à un certain point, sur l'ingéniosité des bénéficiaires. Bien qu'ils ne peuvent pas comprendre les choses particulières que nous voulons communiquer, ils peuvent au moins reconnaître et interpréter, peut-être même de manière fructueuse, certains indices laissés tout à fait involontairement. Le scribe sumérien qui a laissé une partie de la ligne vide ne pouvait pas imaginer qu'il quittait un signe qui serait lu et utilisé plusieurs siècles plus tard par un archéologue. La situation de SETI n'est pas vraiment très différente. De l'expérience des décrypteurs de langues éteintes, il semble que l'envoi du plus grand nombre et de différents messages que possible est la meilleure stratégie, celle qui offre le plus de chance au destinataire. Le contenu de nos messages peut être beaucoup moins important que le nombre et la variété des messages que nous envoyons, mais seulement parce qu'ils donneront aux bénéficiaires plus de possibilités de comparer et tester leurs enlèvements sur les messages passés contre de nouveaux exemples. En l'absence de commentaires, c'est peut-être le meilleur plan d'action pour une élaboration de nos "messages dans une bouteille interstellaire."

par Richard Saint-Gelais,Université Laval, Québec, Québec

The Implications of the Linear B Geometric Syllabary for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Part 1 — The Biggest Bang you will ever have seen from this blog!... so far... stay tuned!

Before I go any further, allow me to state categorically that this message the Voyager Space Capsules launched in 1977 with one of their missions being to search out suppositional extraterrestrials, is primitive at best, and ludicrous at its worst.  Click to ENLARGE:

Voyager 1 & 2 golden record
As far as I can figure it out (which isn’t very much at all - not that it matters), the message on this disc is difficult even for most humans to interpret, unless they happen to be astrophysicists, mathematicians or some sort of scientific geek. Unless the reader is human, it is probably impossible to make to make head or tails of it.  And I for one, even though I am human and hopefully intelligent, cannot even begin to imagine how any target extraterrestrial civilization could even begin to out how to play the damn thing, unless they had a record player (ahem, as if!), a device already obsolete even to us! One of the fundamentally flawed assumptions of this analog device is that you have to play it on a device the human race alone has invented. The very concept of playing an analog recorded medium could very well be completely impenetrable to even the most advanced extraterrestrial civilizations, who might find the whole thing so laughable they would toss it out “the window”, assuming they even had windows, which is a helluva stretch in and of itself.   
In the Wikipedia article on this mission, we read this:

Voyager 1 and 2 both carry with them a golden record that contains pictures and sounds of Earth, along with symbolic directions for playing the record and data detailing the location of Earth.

This patently assumes that whoever or whatever intelligence eventually (!) receives this message will look a great deal like us (i.e. be anthropomorphic) and will think almost exactly as we do, and so will understand human music, and will be able to interpret the capsule’s human historical, photographic archives & over a thousand human languages... probably so much gibberish to our poor benighted recipients some countless millennia hence, assuming it arrives in one piece, if at all. So as far as I am concerned, this mission is paramount to a futile exercise in pipe-dreaming. Even in 1977, when I was only 32 years old, I considered the whole thing a complete waste of time, money and human resources. If anything is a near-perfect example of “thinking inside the box, with the lid closed and sealed”, that project had to be it. This will all become all too painfully obvious as we proceed through our discussion of the truly formidable, quite possibly even insurmountable challenges of interstellar communication. Of course, since then, in the past 37 years, humankind has apparently begun to grow up from mid- to late-adolescence, to burst the chains of the outer limits of human consciousness as it then manifested itself, and quite literally gone cosmic. We appear to be on the cusp of our next leap in human consciousness, and if it is indeed transpiring at this very moment in our history, we are in for one helluva roller-coaster ride, the likes of which humankind has never come close to imagining in the past, right up to and including the twentieth century.

Richard Saint-Gelais’ Survey of the Potential Implications of the Application of the Linear B Syllabary as a Cipher for Extraterrestrial Communication: 

In the first of our two previous posts we introduced the proposals that Richard Saint-Gelais of NASA set forth in the potentially theoretical, if not quite yet practical, application of the Mycenaean Greek Linear B Geometric Syllabary to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. In the second of these posts, I myself posited some of the assumptions, principles and hypotheses underpinning a search of such tremendous magnitude that it stretches the powers of human reasoning practically beyond its outer limits.

Still, history has repeatedly demonstrated that our intellect and powers of reasoning can be, and at certain junctures in the timeline of human evolution, are stretched another notch up the ladder beyond the presumptive limits of our previously adduced levels of abstractive powers, finally allowing us today, for the first time in human history, to think more and more, and more and more swiftly “outside the box” than ever before prior to the twenty-first century.

The Ancient Greeks Take the First Great Leap of the Human Intellect onto the Higher Plane of Abstract Reasoning:

The first great leap onto the purely abstract plane of reasoning was taken by the ancient Greeks, in two discreet stages:

(A) the complete overhaul of the Minoan Linear A syllabary into the Mycenaean Greek Linear B syllabary, which swiftly and unceremoniously tossed overboard the most complicated and abstruse Linear B syllabograms, homophones & ideograms (some 1/4 of some 300), in less than 50 years, an incredibly rapid turnover in terms of socio-linguistic change, which otherwise nearly always occurred at a snail’s pace in the ancient world.

But there is even more to this picture than we can possibly have imagined before the 1990s at the very earliest. Despite the proliferation of puissant supercomputers and the quasi-instantaneous communication afforded by the World Wide Web, a much better semiotic signifier for what it actually is than the word, “Internet”, which is significantly lamer, I say again, in spite of all these extremely recent massive technological advances at our disposal, the Minoan Linear A syllabary, which for a human language was already a quasi-geometric script complete with the base set of 5 vowels for the first time in history, has utterly defied any and all attempts whatsoever at decipherment since Sir Arthur Evans first excavated the ruins of Knossos in the spring of 1900. It just won’t budge a single centimetre. Now, if we are utterly incapable of deciphering a human language, Minoan in Linear A, even with all of our technological gadgets and goodies at our instant command, including The University of California Berkeley Campus’ newly conceived automated “time machine” to reconstruct ancient languages, Click to visit the site:

Automated Time Machine to Reconstruct Ancient Languages
imagine how much more alarmingly daunting must be the gargantuan task of beginning to scratch even the surface of communicating anything sensible to any extraterrestrial civilization whatsoever. But is the task really all that hopeless?  

Although the Linear B syllabary was used by the scribes at Knossos, Pylos, Mycenae, Phaistos, Thebes (in Greece) and in several other Mycenaean locales, almost solely for accounting and inventories, which function primarily on a concrete and semi-abstract level, the script itself, being fundamentally and almost exclusively geometric in nature, was by far the most abstract script ever developed in the ancient world until that time (ca. 1450 BCE). Geometric abstraction is also one of the outstanding characteristics of Minoan & Mycenaean architecture, as illustrated in these two examples:

Knossos: Click to ENLARGE

Here we can instantly isolate the perfectly Circular Frieze Motif shown here on one of the two buildings at Knossos, a motif which appears over and over on several Minoan and Mycenaean structures. Notice also that the other edifice is perfectly straight in every plane, including the then revolutionary liberal use of skylights for interior illumination. You can readily see that the building reminds us of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), the first true pioneer in the advent of modern architecture. This is no accident.  Lloyd Wright took much of his inspiration for the foundation of his architectural constructs from Japanese and, yes, Minoan architecture. Once again, this should not come as any surprise to anyone familiar with the amazing achievements of one of the most brilliant architects in the history of humankind, an architect whose applied principles fundamentally relied on the application of geometry to his buildings and structures.

Frank Lloyd Wright 1867-1957 & Minoan like home

Even more astounding are the near perfect geometric proportions of the Mycenaean Tesoro Atreoyo (Treasury of Atreus), which the Mycenaeans constructed with astonishing mathematical accuracy hundreds of years before the great Greek mathematicians finally came round to working out the complex geometric and algebraic theorems underlying the elegant geometric proportions of this magnificent structure: Click to ENLARGE

Geometry of the Treasury of Atreus Mycenae

SOURCE: Metron Ariston (Greek for “The Ideal Mean” (from: Liddell & Scott, 1986, pg. 442)


What can I say? The Mycenaeans were Greeks down to their very marrow.

As anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the Linear B syllabary can attest, its geometric elegance and economy is second-to-none.

Are Ancient Scripts Primitive?

When modern writers and the occasional deluded linguist refer to ancient scripts as “primitive”, as compared with so-called “modern” alphabets, which for Occidental languages (Greek & Latin) are ancient anyway, they do a great disservice to the former, propagating totally false misconceptions on that account alone. In point of fact, there is no such thing as a “primitive” script, which leads me almost inexorably to my next observation: if there are no primitive scripts, there are no modern, all scripts (ideographies, syllabaries & alphabets) ancient or modern being as sound as any other. It follows logically then that any and all future scripts as yet uninvented will also serve as well as, but no better than, the thousands of scripts humankind has dabbled in over the past 10 millennia at least, including any which we may devise for extraterrestrial communication. The implications of this factor alone are profound. They inform us that any language whatsoever we use for communication, terrestrial or otherwise is, and can only be, human, whoever tautological this may sound... or so it may appear.

Now, the implications of this scenario for the potential transmission of some sort of set of signals susceptible to possible decipherment by extraterrestrial intelligences are profound. My point is simply this: if the historical timeline in the (apparent) “evolution” of human scripts is not sufficiently impressive even for us to make a big deal out of it, and if the transmission of any one or more of humankind’s most mathematically elegant scripts, past or present – and eventually future – are deemed by some to be just the right recipe, then why not try them?  What have we got to lose? Nothing... to gain? - cosmic communication = cosmic consciousness. Now there’s something to put in your pipe & smoke.     

(B) Then the very same people, the Greeks, went plunging ahead, completely abandoning the Mycenaean Linear B syllabary for the even more elegant Greek alphabet, but significantly not casting aside the Arcado-Cypriot Linear C syllabary (even more geometrically economic than Linear B), which held its own right down to 400 BCE! No use re-inventing the wheel, or so the Arcadians and Cypriots believed. But, and here is the wringer. Now get this! The Linear C syllabary was no longer used merely for record keeping and inventory purposes, in fact, far from it. Its primary use was for publication of much more abstract legal and constitutional documents. Abstract geometric syllabary, abstract thought. That’s the next big leap forward. And the next: abstract geometric syllabary --> abstract communication --> abstract extraterrestrial communication.

What about the Greek Alphabet, and its Widespread Use for Algebraic Notation?  

Now, of course, the Greek alphabet itself is not characteristically geometric, so we can pretty much eliminate it, and for that matter any other Occidental alphabet (Latin or Cyrillic) as suitable for interstellar communication. This includes our Arabic numerals, which you can be pretty much sure no extraterrestrial civilization would be able to distinguish from letters in an alpha-numeric system, since all characters in such a system would look the same to them, and almost certainly far too complex for them to take seriously.

We can also be pretty well assured that no extraterrestrial civilization, even if they too used alphabets, would have the faintest idea what human alphabets were supposed to be signifiers of. But does that really matter? My short answer is simply, not at all. If we were to transmit from the source (ourselves) for instance just these rectilinear & circular 10 Linear B symbols &/or 10 Linear C symbols – for a potential total of 20 — as simple signals and nothing more (10 supposedly being a universally recognizable number), all kinds of wacky scenarios are likely to transpire at the target (them, whoever or whatever they are).

Linear B & Linear C Extraterrestrial Communication
Now, of course, since our target extraterrestrial civilization will not have the faintest idea what these symbols mean to us, as humansif they see them as symbols as such at all – or whether or not they simply see them as geometric signals, the latter will do the trick just fine, thank you very much. So in this case, it does not matter a hill of beans which syllabograms from which syllabary we as the source civilization transmit to them, the target civilization, since they are going to interpret these 20 signals – if we decide to send that many – whatever damn well way suits them just fine, regardless of who we are, since they could care less anyway. All that would matter to them is that someone or some entity or entities from somewhere in our (meaning, their) galactic neighbourhood sent them a signal that meant something significant to themselves (the targets), though God only knows what. And why should we care any more than they do anyway? Come to think of it, they do not even have to live on a planet such as we construe it. If they do not, they might just as easily assume that whoever or whatever sent the signal would not live on a “planet” either. Any scenario is possible. So for this reason alone, if it were up to me to send the signal, I would simply mix-and-match Linear B & Linear C geometric signifiers any old way I felt like, and be damned the consequences... well, that might be a bit of an overstatement in case they turn out to be hostiles, we piss them rightly off and they invade us! But the chances of that ever happening are so extremely remote as to approach quantum zero.        

Still, we have to admit that the Linear B & Linear C syllabaries have a helluva lot going for them. If anything, both are eminently suited for extraterrestrial communication, for the following reasons (as I see it):

1. What is the “Message” in the Extraterrestrial Communication Medium? What does it signify? Does it matter to “them”? Should it matter to us? Whose “Message” is it anyway? Woah! 

As Richard Saint-Gelais correctly points out, any attempt on our part to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligences cannot, and must not, be based on what we as humans understand as being signifier(s) and signified, but rather on (hopefully) recognizable patterned sequences, by which I mean either digital (0 1), decimal or geometric, but not algebraic (see above). In fact, I posit that it does not matter a hill of beans whether signals of these three mathematical orders mean anything at all like what they clearly signify to us, but not clearly at all to our extraterrestrial compeers, other than what they signify to them, and in that light, applying reverse logic, almost certainly not to us. All that matters is that they, our extraterrestrial buddies, understand that the constructs mean whatever the hell they mean to them. If they do meaning anything, anything at all, then we will have established communication.

Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Extraterrestrial Conference:

Let us imagine a few ludicrous sounding examples. Say, for instance, we transmit a circle in the source signal, and our extraterrestrial friends at the target “read it”. Well, what if the circle we send is not abstract at all to them, but concrete only? What if they cannot even think on the abstract, connotative plane? Don’t laugh. Maybe to them the circle is just one of a thousand polka dots on one of their pet five-legged orgathonics with two heads and four arms, but no legs, just flippers instead. Again, take the straight line. Same scenario. If the language of that particular extraterrestrial civilization is concrete and denotative only, it would not matter how many straight lines we transmitted to them. They simply would not recognize them as such. But they would recognize them as something concrete, such as, for instance, a pole sticking in the ground.

2. The exact reverse scenario may just as easily obtain, namely that a particular extraterrestrial intelligence we sloppily target and by sheer accident hit (there is after all no other way we would hit them, if we ever could... imagine trying to hit the Earth with a pin-pong ball from 1,000 light years away!) uses a language or languages which are absolutely abstract and connotative, and not concrete and denotative at all. I hear someone shouting, “Eureka! We’re in luck!”  Not so fast.  To such a civilization a circle may be far more than just a circle or a straight line as we envision them. To them, a circle might automatically mean a sphere, if even their language is entirely three-dimensional on the abstract plane. Woops!  As for a straight line, God forbid!  It would at the very least probably be that naughty old straight line drawn out to infinity, and looping back in a circle to the point where it started to bite them in the conjectural ass. Then they would really get confused!

To them, a circle and a straight line might even be paramount to one & the same phenomenon, so I can hear them asking themselves, “Why would anyone or any entity such as ourselves bother sending the same exact symbol as two discrete symbols – unless of course they were stupid?” If that were the case, I suspect that they would not even bother communicating with us, targeting us with their far more intelligent signals, because they would (rightly) see us as utterly incapable of interpreting them, not having even the minimal intellectual resources to tackle their “message”, or rather I should say, the signals in their “medium”, whatever that happens to be. Your guess is as good as mine. 

So we end up with at least two scenarios, and plenty more besides, I strongly suspect. Either our abstract geometric symbols are interpreted as signals of concrete objects alone or they are considered to be far too primitive for our hyper-intelligence recipients, who would probably just laugh them off as some sort of hopelessly dumb joke from the equivalent of what we would generously refer to as apes!

The Enigma Code:

3. There is yet another highly fruitful source for food for thought in the massively daunting challenge facing us in the apparently Quixotic search for potential solutions to the problem of extraterrestrial communication. This is, leaving aside the absolutely monumental achievement of the decipherment of Linear B by Michael Ventris, the astonishing work of another genius of decipherment in the mid-twentieth century. I speak of course of Alan Turing (1912-1954), who not only was the first person in history to actually correctly conceptualize the theoretical base of the digital computer, based on the 0-1 binary construct, but who successfully cracked both versions of the German Enigma Code in World War II (the earlier easier & later more difficult one). Click on his photo for his biography:

Alan Turing 1912-1954

Now there is a term I can latch onto, Enigma Code. In fact, I fairly burst to leap on it, because I can think of no other term that more aptly exemplifies the fundamental precepts and hypotheses underlying the search for some way, any way, to communicate with any kind of extraterrestrial intelligence. It is no longer a question of us, or to put it bluntly, of the nature of our own human intelligence.

Speaking frankly, I for one do not believe it matters one jot what kind of intelligence is at the source and the target of extraterrestrial communication, provided that there is at least some common universal signal substrate which may (or may not) be susceptible to an interpretation, any interpretation of the source message by the target recipient, even if their understanding of what the “message” actually says (to them) differs drastically from what it means to us.

The only thing that matters at all is that the extraterrestrial target recipients of the signals we transmit are able to recognize a clearly repetitive pattern of sufficient variations on a “theme” to the point that it is intelligible to them (not us), in the fundamental framework of their own intelligence (not ours), however much it differs from our own human paradigm(s) for what we ourselves call “intelligence”. That is what I mean by a potentially universal signal, an Enigma Code which, although it remains an Enigma Code to our target recipients, is at least an enigma with a clearly recognizable pattern.

They certainly do not need to decipher it as we understand the principle of “decipherment” in human terms, any more than we need to actually decipher the Minoan language in Linear A to recognize highly repetitive morphemic and semiotic patterns and even oblique declensions, which we in fact do recognize as essential markers of human languages. But even a partial decipherment can serve well enough to convince us that we are on the right track. We know this because signifiers-signified are universal in human languages. Moreover, the entire Linear A numeric system has been successfully deciphered, and a great many toponyms we know in Linear B have (nearly) exact counterparts in Linear A.

Yet even if the fundamental construct of the intelligence of our extraterrestrial buddies contains neither the signifier “language” nor “decipherment”, their intelligence, if at least as advanced as ours (and that is not very advanced) will be able to derive some sort of “sense” from our “signal”, because for them, just as for us, the medium would be the message. The clue would be McLuhanesque, even if they could never have a clue what a McLuhan is. So the situation is far from hopeless. 

The Enigma Machine:

Enigma Machine

At the crux of the problem, however, there is this: what is universal to human language constructs is almost certainly bound to be far from being universal even for any single target extraterrestrial “language”, let alone any number of them, whatever their intrinsic nature, it being almost certainly equally enigmatic to us. Ah the old double-blind scenario.

The Germans knew what their Enigma Codes meant, because they could decipher them by reverse extrapolation at the source. But until Bletchley Park and its brightest star, Alan Turing, could get a grip on it – and it took years of the most backbreaking analysis – it remained just what it was to the Allies, an Enigma Code. Still, they knew perfectly well that the code itself, however massively complex it was (and it was!) overlay relatively simple original military messages in perfectly intelligible German. They new it was an artificial human means of communication. And that was all they needed to know. Let us never forget that those clever bastards at Bletchley Park cracked the Enigma Code without the benefit of computers, which says far more for them than it does for us today!

A Universal Enigma Code for Extraterrestrial Communication?Are you completely bonkers?” I hear you protest. Not so fast. Yes, the irksome question still remains, and refuses to just go away in a puff of smoke: would any extraterrestrial communication system or “language”, if we must insist on calling it that, even be able to begin to crack a human Extraterrestrial Enigma Code we so blithely sent buzzing off into interstellar space at the speed of light, unless their communication system were in fact a “language” something along the lines of what we understand a language to be? Conceivably they might, but their “language” would have to be a language fairly approximating the universal construct of what we call human language for them to be able to do so. Otherwise... fill in the blanks. Rather, do not fill in the blanks. Firing off blanks does not kill anyone. Firing off blank “blank” messages does not “mean” anything to any higher intelligence which has no need of language as we understand it. In fact, they might even toss our medium, forget the “message” into the “garbage”, considering it as nothing more significant than  “dog poop” or whatever they call “it”.

One thing is pretty obvious to me at least: sending a code which would be interpreted as an Enigma Code by some extraterrestrial civilization would probably be more like child’s play to them than vainly struggling trying to decipher what the silly messages on the Voyager spacecraft mean, simply because the latter are plainly and solely human, nothing more or less & next nothing else at all. But as I have said over and over, the “message” or more properly the signals we transmit cannot & must not be simply human in nature, they must at least make a stab at being cosmically universal, at least to one extraterrestrial civilization whose communication system bears attributes roughly equivalent to what we deem to call language – excuse me, human language. Oh and by the way, good luck finding it, because the odds are almost certainly stacked trillions to one against us. 
4. The problem gets far more complex, if we just pause for even a moment and allow the scary realization to sink in that any signals we send at the source, particularly geometric, even if they are entirely abstract to us, may run the full gamut from concrete to semi-abstract to abstract and, yes, even beyond abstract and consequently beyond our ken. Just stop and consider for a second what would happen if we sent our silly geometric symbols to a four-dimensional extraterrestrial civilization? I cringe to think of it. And let’s not forget what I just said above: what if another three-dimensional extraterrestrial civilization interpreted absolutely all of our signals, even the two-dimensional, as three-dimensional only? Then there are nuances within nuances within nuances of every shade between these extremes. Beyond these scenarios I have just outlined, my mind simply explodes.

So I will end it there before it does.

However, stay tuned. There’s more, a lot more.  I have scarcely begun. Stay tuned for more on extraterrestrial communication. And stay tuned for a possible breakthrough on an entirely new approach to the first baby steps in deciphering Linear A.  We’re taking the ball where it wants to take us. 


Astounding Discovery! NASA: Interstellar Communication & Linear B Part 2: The Geometric Economy of Linear B. This is a Mind-Blower!

For the original article by Richard Saint-Gelais, click here:

Before I even begin to address the possibilities of interstellar communication based on the fundamental properties of the Linear B script, I would like to refer you to a sequential series of very early posts on our Blog, in which I formulated the basic thesis that, in fact, the Linear B script for Mycenaean Greek is based on the fundamental principle of Geometric Economy, a highly unusual, if not outright exceptional characteristic of the Linear B central construct of a syllabary+logography+ideography:

linearbgeometriceconomy 2014

And moving onto Numerics:

1-10-100-113 2014
Extended Set: Linear & Circular:

allgeometricbasic 2014
Application of the Extended Set to Linear B Syllabograms and Supersyllabograms: Click to ENLARGE

Rectangular Syllabograms in Linear B

Note that, even though Michael Ventris and Prof. John Chadwick, his intimate colleague & mentor, successfully deciphered some 90% of the Mycenaean Linear B syllabary, neither was aware of the existence of Supersyllabograms, of which there at least 30, all of them a subset of the basic set of Linear B syllabograms. Moreover, even though I myself hit upon the hypothesis and the principle that Supersyllabograms do indeed exist, some of them still defy decipherment, even at a human level, let alone extraterrestrial, which only adds further fuel to the raging fire that awaits us when we take even our first baby steps into the putatively impossible task of interstellar communications reliant on syllabaries similar to Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. For my initial post announcing the existence of Supersyllabograms in Linear B and their profound ramifications in the further simplification of the syllabary, click here:

Linear B Previous Post   

At the time I first posted these Paradigmatic Tables of the Geometric Economy of Linear B, I already suspected I was onto something really big, and even that the very hypothesis of the Geometric Economy of Linear B might and indeed could have potentially colossal ramifications for any operative semiotic base for devising altogether new scripts, scripts that have never been used either historically or in the present, but which could be successfully applied to dynamically artificial intelligence communications systems. However inchoate my musings were at that time that Linear B, being as geometrically economic as it obviously was, at least to my mind, might and could also apply to extra-human communication systems, i.e. communication with extraterrestrials, the thought did pass through my mind, in spite of its apparent absurdity. That is how my mind works. I have repeatedly asserted in this blog that I am forever “the doubting Thomas”, extremely prone not to believe anything that passes before the videographic panorama of my highly associative intellect. Put another way, I recall a fellow researcher of mine, Peter Fletcher, informing me that I had a “lateral mindset”. I had never considered it from that angle before, but even with this truly insightful observation, Peter had not quite hit the mark. Not only does my reasoning process tend to be highly associative and lateral, but also circular, with all of the tautological implications that carries with it.

I devised this paradigm chart of (approximately) rectangular syllabograms and supersyllabograms in Linear B to illustrate how such symbols could conceivably be transmitted to interstellar civilizations in the implausible hope that we might, just might, be able to transmit something vaguely intellgible, however miniscule, to such imagined aliens. But as you might easily imagine, even from a chart of only a small subset of the 61 syllabograms alone in Linear B (another herculean task not yet completed), the dilemma is fraught with almost insurmountable difficulties, even at the theoretical, conjectural level.

In fact, I am a firm believer in the precept that all human rational thought-process are in fact just that, tautological, which is the fundamental reason why it is so utterly perplexing for us as mere humans to even begin to imagine anything at all otherwise, i.e. to think outside the box. But we can if we must. Otherwise, any attempt to communicate on a semiotic basis with extraterrestrial intelligence(s) is simply doomed to failure. The reason is obvious: the semiotic ground and its spinoff framework of signifiers and signified of every single extraterrestrial intelligence (if indeed any such beast exists... see doubting Thomas above) is almost certainly and (inevitably) bound to be completely unlike, or to put it even more accurately, completely alien to any other. And this is precisely where we are on extremely slippery grounds. We may be skating on the surface of the ice, but the ice is thin and is bound almost certainly to crack, before any given extraterrestrial intelligence can even begin to decipher the semiotic framework of our own unique structure of signals, as Richard Saint-Gelais nicely points out in Chapter 5 of his study of the principles underlying the possible communication, however remote, with any single given extraterrestrial intelligence. I cannot stress this enough. The snares and traps we can so easily slip into far outweigh any practical framework even remotely potentially applicable to the (far-fetched) possibility of extraterrestrial communication. But this does not necessarily imply that such communication is impossible. Extremely improbable, yes, but impossible, no. See Infinite Improbability Drive in the Spaceship, Heart of Gold, Wikipedia:

Infinite Improbability Drive

If you have not yet read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, I urge you to do so, at least if you have a sense of humour as nutty as mine. I swear to God it will leave you laughing out loud.

But I have not yet done with the possibility, however, remote, of extraterrestrial communication. There is another ancient syllabary, the younger cousin of Mycenaean Linear B, namely, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, of which the Geometric Economy is even more streamlined and considerably less complex than that of Linear B. I have neither the energy nor the time to even begin approaching that huge undertaking, but you can be sure that I shall eventually take a firm aim at the possibilities for extraterrestrial communication inherent in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, probably sometime in the winter of 2015. Meanwhile, I would like you all to seriously entertain this notion, which has fascinated me to no end for years and years, namely, that the Greeks, brilliant as they were, were far beyond their contemporaries, including the Romans, by inventing the Linear B & Linear C syllabaries, and consequently the ancient Greek alphabet, all of which sported at the very least the five basic vowels. The whole point is that no other Occidental or Centum ancient writing system prior to ancient Greek, had even dreamt of the concept of vowels – although of course, Oriental Sanskrit, the Satem Indo-European cousin of Greek, had done precisely the same thing! No huge surprise there either, given that the Sanskrit scribes and philosophers were as intellectually refined as the Greeks.

For my previous discussion of The Present and Imperfect Tenses of Reduplicating – MI – Verbs in Linear B & the Centum (Greek) – Satem (Sanskrit) branches of ancient Indo-European languages, click on this banner:
Linear B Previous Post

Now let’s take my assumption one step further. What I am saying, to put it as plainly as the nose on my face, is that the invention of the ancient Greek & Sanskrit writing systems was as enormous a leap in the intellectual progress of humankind as were the equally astounding invention of printing by the Germans & Italians in the early Renaissance, and of computers & the spectacular explosion of the space race in the latter part of the twentieth century, to say nothing of the swift global propagation of the World Wide Web from ca. 1990 to the present. Each of these intellectual leaps have been absolutely pivotal in the advancement of human thinking from concrete to abstract to, we might as well say it out loud, to cosmic, which we are already the cusp of. Three greatest historical revolutions in the expansion of human consciousness, without which we would never have even been capable to rising to the cosmic consciousness which is dawning on humanity at this very moment in our historical timeline.

But, here lies the real crux: without the first great leap the Greeks took in their astonishing invention of Linear B, Linear C & the Greek alphabet, neither of the next two revolutions in human thought could possibly have manifested themselves. But of course, all three did, because all three were inevitable, given the not-so-manifest, but intrinsic destiny humankind has always had access to to, however little we may have been conscious of it “at the time”. But what is time in the whirlpool of infinity? Apparently, not nothing. Far from it. Time is a construct of infinity itself. Einstein is the password. Given this scenario, cosmic consciousness is bound to toss us unceremoniously even out of the box. What a mind-boggling prospect! But someday, possibly even in the not too distance future, we will probably be up to it. We can only hope and pray that we will. It is after all the only way out of the ridiculously paradoxical conundrums which presently face us in the herculean task of communicating at all with alien intelligences. 

Richard Vallance Janke, November 2014

Astounding Discovery! Look What I Found from NASA on Linear B! You’ll be amazed! PART 1

Click this banner to read the entire Chapter:


Once you open the NASA PDF file, just scroll down the Table of Contents to Chapter 5: Beyond Linear B. You will then need to continue scrolling until you reach page 79. You can then scroll page by page through the whole of Chapter 5. I am willing to bet this is going to be as mind-blowing a read for you as it was for me. Here are just a few tantalizing excerpts from Chapter 5:

Excerpts from Chapter 5, by Richard Saint-Gelais

pg. 81:
... the deciphering of coded messages or inscriptions written in extinct languages — may provide a fresh look at the problems involved.

pg. 82:
At first glance, the difficulties involved in the decipherment of coded messages or ancient scripts suggest a rather pessimistic view of the interstellar communication challenge, for if it took specialists many years to solve the enigma of writing systems devised by human beings... passim ... it seems unrealistic to imagine that our messages could be easily understood by beings whose culture, history, and even biology will differ vastly from ours. How can we be sure that some well-meaning interpreter will not misread our intended message?

On a semiotic level, the similarity between the three kinds of situations is readily apparent. Deciphering inscriptions in unknown languages or messages in secret codes implies coping with strings of signs without having any prior knowledge of the encoding rules, so recognizing these rules become one of the ends (instead of the means, as is usually the case) of the interpretive process. The decipherer of unknown languages tries to establish the phonetic and/or semantic value of symbols... passim ... 

I use the word signal instead of sign because at the early stage of interpretation, decipherers must still identify the relevant semiotic units. They are confronted with signals — i.e., material manifestations of some kind (strokes on clay tablets, microwaves of a certain frequency) — that may be signs. A sign is more abstract in nature: it is a semiotic configuration that is relatively independent of the concrete signals that embody it because it is defined by a limited number of relevant features,... 

pg. 89:
The second way is to think up self-contextualizing messages — or, in other words, self-interpreting signs. A self-interpreting sign is easier conceptualized than created. Let’s consider, for instance, the pictograms imagined by H. W. Nieman and C. Wells Nieman, which would be sent as sequences of pulses that correspond to the dots into which an image has been decomposed. In order to reconstruct the correct image, the recipients would need first to convert the linear signal into a bi-dimensional structure and then to interpret that structure to determine what it might signify or represent... passim ... Frank Drake imagined an easy and ingenious way to point to this, by making the total number of dots equal the product of two prime numbers, say 17 and 23, so that the transmitted message can be construed only as a 17-by-23-cell grid. Such a signal is as close as we may come to a message embodying an interpretive instruction. It assumes only a basic knowledge of prime numbers, which is not asking too much. So this instruction looks promising, but only insofar as the recipient deduces that the signal corresponds to a rectangular grid (See next post for more).

pg. 91:
We must remember that a message is composed not of one isolated sign but of (sometimes complex) combinations of signs, which may contribute to their mutual elucidation. This is precisely the idea behind Vakoch’s proposal of a sequence of frames, each of which would contain six distinct areas: one for the picture; four for different parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs); and one for the interrelationship between two successive frames (a meta-sign, then). Here we have a combination of icons (the shape of a human body, or of parts of it) and symbols: nouns for what is shown in the picture, adjectives for properties of that object (e.g., high, low, etc.), verbs for actions performed by the character between two successive frames, and adverbs for characteristics of that action (fast, slow). At first it may seem dubious that a recipient could establish a correlation between a given symbol and what it is intended to designate, or even that this recipient could identify it as a symbol and not as part of the picture. What may decisively help this eventual recipient is the mutual interpretation that parts of the message provide for one another ... passim... and the systematic interplay of repetition and variation between frames, which will give recipients the opportunity to make conjectures — abductions — that the subsequent frames may either confirm or inform... passim...

What we know of interpretation shows that this inability to control reception is always the case anyway, and that it is not necessarily a bad thing. A widespread conception of communication rests on the premise that successful reception of a message is one that recovers the meaning its sender meant to convey through it. But the history of the decipherment of unknown languages shows that things are never so simple, and that oblique ways of reading sometimes lead to unexpected breakthroughs. In his book on extinct languages, Johannes Friedrich points out that the direction in which a script should be read can sometimes be deduced from the pp. 92-93 (ff.) empty space at the end of an inscription’s last line. Here we have an index, a sign caused by its object: the direction of writing is concretely responsible for which side of the last line is left blank. But this is not so conspicuous a sign that it does not require a piece of abductive reasoning. Strange as it may seem, I see in this small example some grounds for hope regarding interstellar communication. We tend to conceptualize communication with extraterrestrial intelligences in terms of the successful transmission of intended meanings. But the production and reception of signs cannot be restricted to an intentional plane. An important feature of most indices is their unintentional nature.

Richard Saint-Gelais

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