radio dish capable of scanning nearby galaxies at wavelengths of twenty-one, eighteen, and twelve point six centimeters. Drake’s message, in theform of a pictogram using the language of binary arithmetic, firstexplained how to count from one to ten, then went on to give the atomicnumbers for hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and phosphorus, andnext gave the components of DNA, the genetic molecule for life on— The pulses were too regular and too strong to be dismissed.Michael turned up the gain control.The screen came into blinding focus, the blip virtually leaping fromit.And simultaneously, the printer alongside the computer monitor began clattering with a jumble of indecipherable glitches and swirls thatinstantly arranged themselves into what appeared to be Russian and thenChinese characters, and then words unmistakably French, and German,and Spanish and Italian, until finally the single word HELLO aappearedin English.Michael blinked.The blips had vanished from the screen.The printer was clattering again.HELLO, HELLO, HELLO. WE HAVE YOUR MESSAGE. BUTWE DO NOT UNDERSTAND.He stared at the printer. He thought, Lowell, for God’s sake, whereare you when I
you? He thought, Oh my God, this is ...PLEASE RESPOND, YES?He put his hands on the monitor keyboard.Hello, he typed cautiously.The printer began clattering.YES, HELLO, HELLO, BUT WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH ALLTHAT, YES? CENTURIES AGO. WHAT DO YOU WANT?