Any Questions #377: "The Arecibo Message"

Nov 16, 2018

WAMC's Ian Pickus receives a message from resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel.

Last week's challenge
Start with the name NANCY PELOSI. Rearrange the letters and you can spell a current country name and a former country name. What are they?

On-air questions: On November 16, 1974, an interstellar radio message called the Arecibo message was sent towards a star cluster in hopes that extraterrestrial life would receive it. Named for the radio telescope in Puerto Rico that transmitted it, the Arecibo message contains coded information about numbers, chemical elements, DNA, human beings, the Solar System, and the Arecibo telescope itself. Since the message will take approximately 25,000 years to reach its intended target, it is considered more of an example of technological capabilities than an actual communication attempt. To commemorate the Arecibo message, this week our questions are about subjects in the Arecibo message.

1. A depiction of the Arecibo Observatory is included at the bottom of the Arecibo message. The observatory has featured in popular culture a number of times, including "Little Green Men", a television episode that features Fox Mulder visiting the observatory to continue his search for extraterrestrial life. "Little Green Men" was the premiere of the second season of what series?
2. Next to a depiction of a human being, the Arecibo message contains an illustration that can be translated in to the average height of a human man, and another that can be translated into the value 4,292,853,750, which was, at the time of the message's transmission, what?
3. The graphic in the Arecibo message depicting the solar system shows the sun and the (at the time) nine planets, with Earth shifted up slightly to indicate the source of the message. In August of 2006, Pluto was reclassified by the International Astronomical Union as a type of object known by what two-word designation?
4. The numbers one to ten are encoded in the Arecibo message in binary format, which uses ones and zeros to express a numerical value. Each place in a binary number represents a power of two, similar to how each place in a base-ten number represents a power of ten. What number would be written in binary notation as 111?
5. The five elements that are the components of DNA are represented in the Arecibo message by their atomic numbers. All five of those elements have single-letter symbols on the periodic table: H, C, N, O, and P. What are those five elements?

Extra credit
1. In September of 2017, what event caused damage to around 30 of the 38,000 aluminum panels that comprise the main dish of the Arecibo telescope?
2. Also depicted in the Arecibo message are illustrations representing the four bases contained in the nucleotides of DNA. These bases are commonly represented by what four letters?

This week's challenge
Start with the word ARECIBO. Change one letter to a D and you can rearrange the result to spell the two-word name (two letters, five letters) of a thing you can use to transmit a message. What is the thing?

On-air questions

1. The X-Files
2. Human population
3. Dwarf planet
4. 7
5. Hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus    

Extra credit
1. Hurricane Maria
2. A, C, G, and T