ICONIC APPROACH TO COMMUNICATING CHEMICAL CONCEPTS TO EXTRATERRESTRIALS
Douglas A. Vakoch
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Psychiatry,
6001 Research Park Blvd.,
Madison, WI 53719
Copyright: Stuart Kingsley
Previous proposals for communicating with extraterrestrials have relied heavily on pictorial messages, regardless of whether communication is via electromagnetic radiation or by spacecraft bearing messages. Pictorial messages can be categorized according to whether the pictures can be shown directly or whether they must first be properly formatted. Advantages of more direct representations are suggested, and the universality of pictorial representation is critiqued. An alternative to pictures based on semiotic distinctions is advanced. With this approach, iconic representations - in which the sign bears a physical similarity to that which it represents - are shown directly, rather than in a format that must be reconstructed. This method of communication is illustrated with quantum-mechanical phenomena. The advantages of using this strategy of having the content of a message reflected in the form of the message is detailed.