The sum total of mankind’s achievements as a species will be represented to aliens in the form of a Doritos advertisement. Image by Med
The advertisement will be targeted at part of the Ursa Major constellation, a zone astronomers believe contain the conditions for life. Doritos obviously thinks the predicted inhabitants of Ursa Major are “extreme” enough to handle colored flavor dusted tortilla chips and will not blow us up for bombarding their planets with unwanted advertising for a product that doesn’t exist there.
This isn’t the first time advertisements have been broadcast into the cosmos; TV broadcast signals have been slipping into the cosmos since I Love Lucy. It is, however, the first time a company has actually tried to broadcast their commercials directly into space.
The publicity stunt is one more way for Doritos to hype their product and one more humiliation for astronomers, many of whom are desperately searching for funding as observatories face closure in the face of government budget cuts.
The advertisement will be broadcast from the EISCAT Space Centre in Svalbard, Norway, near the site of the “doomsday” Global Seed Vault. Using a 500MHz Ultra High Frequency Radar, the space centre will send a 30 second ad, chosen during a contest, 42 light years away to the zone known as Ursa Major, or The Great Bear of Plough. There is a star there called 47 UMa that has orbiting planets which could possibly harbor life.
Much like the uproar following NASA’s decision to broadcast a Beatles’ song at the North Star, some scientists started freaking out about aliens getting annoyed and attacking us. Most scientists, however, believe aliens either don’t exist,won’t receive the advertisement, or really like Doritos.
Prof Tony van Eyken is the director of EISCAT. He says: “Broadcasting an advert extra terrestrially is a big and exciting step for everyone on Earth as up until now we have only tended to listening for incoming transmissions.”
“In this case we are giving somebody the opportunity to create this message as a way to say hello on behalf of mankind,” he added.
I’m not so much sold on the idea of broadcasting advertisements to aliens as an “exciting step”. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer that aliens’ first “hello from mankind” be something slightly classier than an advertisement for flavored tortilla chips.