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A Sign in Space Message Decoded
by Daniela DePaulis

Finally, after more than one year since launching the project, on 7 June 2024 at 21:50 CEST the message we designed for A Sign in Space has been successfully decoded by John and Sarah (names have been changed for privacy), a father and daughter team, who wish to remain anonymous for now.

John submitted the solution with these words: “My decoded message is a simple image with 5 amino acids displayed in a universal (hopefully) organic molecular diagram notation and a few single pixel points that appear between the clusters and molecular diagrams. I used a Margolus reversible 2x2 block cellular automata (BCA) with the simplest reversible rule, which is called 'single point (CCW) rotation' , acting only on 2x2 cells that contain only a single point or pixel per the header instructions, conserving pixel or point count, 625 pixels in and 625 out. The starmap image appears to have the molecular forms encoded in a 3D local degree of freedom set of basis vectors (also shown in the header). The CA effectively transforms and projects this 3D info onto a 2D plane. I can run my Unity game engine based simulator forwards (CCW rotation) and backwards (CW rotation) in time and transform the starmap representation to the amino acid diagrams in 6625 generations and reverse the rotation process to transform the amino acid diagrams back to the starmap image in 6625 generations. I say starmap but I really read from the binary message file each run. The decoded image is only visible for 1 frame lasting about 1/10th of a second, but I can pause and manually step as well as reverse my CA engine...Here is a screen capture of my decoded image."

Sign in Space image

"The 'blocks' have 1, 6, 7 or 8 'pixels' representing the atomic number of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. Single and double bonds are designated as single and double lines. C-H bond angle is indicated with a caret ^ sign. These signs were produced by the CA. I have not edited the image in any way. It’s absolutely obvious to me what this is, as well as to my chemist friend I ran this by. It is amazing to watch all of the CA gliders or spaceships carry the binary bits of the message all over the “galaxy” and then suddenly come together in coherence and meaning...”

Now that John and Sarah have successfully decoded the message, we invite the community to contribute. Here are some ways to engage:
Utilise the description and solution provided above to conduct your own analysis and post the results in the ⁠solution channel. Be sure to describe the method you used; replication is fundamental in scientific exploration.

We have the message, but what does it signify? The exploration continues.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in editorials are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of The SETI League, Inc., its Trustees, officers, Advisory Board, members, donors, or commercial sponsors.

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