View Full Version : Thru Wormhole epi "Alien Contact" 45-degree slope; SETI's Doyle

2012-Jun-11, 09:59 PM
If you didn't catch the new Thru Wormhole epi on Alien Contact, a relevant snip and article is here:

So, I just saw the Thru Wormhole episode ... Very interesting stuff about the 45-degree slope. But, I need some clarification....
In the epi's first example of the 45-degree-slope theory, Doyle drew a straight-line slope based on RANDOM words he noted on a printed page. Where (source: novel, story, etc) did those random words come from? I don't think enough context was given.

In the straight-line distrib. example, it seems as if Doyle was reading RANDOMIZED words from a novel or story. But a RANDOMIZED novel/story/article (or any RANDOMIZED chunk of a lang or codification) would reveal an angled slope, be it 45-degree or other. The "language of Life", e.g., is based on carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, etc. and one can draw an ANGLED slope from tthe freq of occurrence of those elements (from all the known elements).
So I'm not sure you can use randomized human lang or dolphin lang as valid example. Random is noise, so CMB or white noise, etc. is legit. But not sure that works well for the pop-sci/general audience crowd.

I agree about 45-degree relationship as an indication of a meaningful communication, lang., or message.

Other Refs:

2012-Jun-11, 10:08 PM
I emailed Dr. Doyle and he replied as below:

Hi -----,
> The horizontal line came from a random word generator. You are
> correct; a book with scrambled words would still produce the 45 degree
> slope (Zipf's Law, it's called).

I'm not sure use of random word generator is valid.
Words are used in context, and evolved out of contextual use (even tho they exits as independent entities). True, we do use single words in some circumstances: STOP, GO, etc. But for most communication, single-codification entities (words) are meant to be used in strings and in certain series (order).

What may work better is code made from something pre-existing in Nature e.g. random noise :
Using the CMB "hiss", and chunking it up and then outputting it in some logical order/pattern, we can construct, say, the familiar Morse Code " SOS" signal:
S: hiss-hiss-hiss
O: hisshiss-hisshiss-hisshiss
S: hiss-hiss-hiss

> It was a tv show and they were trying to get the idea across as
> best they could, but concepts and time were limited. Attached is a paper
> if you are interested in more detail and there are lots of references
> too.

> With best regards, Laurance

> Email had 1 attachment:
> + Doyle et al. (2011).pdf
> 1.8M (application/pdf)