Welcome, aliens

This welcome mat for aliens is meant to convey a warm reception to all sentient life in the universe.
This welcome mat for aliens is meant to convey a warm reception to all sentient life in the universe.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ADELAIDE • Maybe the folks on Earth have not put out the welcome mat for aliens. Enter the Cosmic Welcome Mat. It may look like an ordinary door mat, but its creators insist the conceptual art piece could encourage alien life to visit Earth.

The mat features swirls of red, sky blue and violet against a black border and is meant to convey a warm reception to all sentient life in the universe.

Experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats, who created the rug with space archaeologist Alice Gorman of Flinders University in Australia, aims to have similar mats placed all over the world.

He hopes eventually there will be a replica rug on "everybody's doorstep", adding that he is in early talks with American space entity National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) to have one placed at the International Space Station. He added that he has also been talking to the United Nations about a mat being placed at its headquarters in New York.

Ms Gorman said another benefit to the project would be that some of the dust the mats accumulate would be from outer space.

"Because there's about 36,300 tonnes of extraterrestrial material that fall to the surface of the Earth every year, we know there'll be a cosmic component to the dust," she said.

Mr Keats said red in the rug represents alien life, the black evokes outer space, the sky blue is a reference to Earth while the violet is meant to signify artificial indoor light.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Nasa's first Voyager mission, where twin unmanned spaceships sent to explore other planets each carried a golden record and a record player.

The tracks hold sounds from Earth - such as greetings in 55 languages, a Pygmy girls' initiation song and the Chuck Berry song Johnny B. Goode - and images, in case the spacecraft encountered aliens.

Two years ago, British physicist Stephen Hawking launched Breakthrough Listen, the biggest-ever search for intelligent extraterrestrial life using some of Earth's biggest telescopes. In August, the quest picked up 15 radio bursts from an unknown source, prompting debate over whether it could be extraterrestrial technology.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2017, with the headline 'Welcome, aliens'. Print Edition | Subscribe