Nikhil Sinha wrote:

>>"JS Bangs" <[log in to unmask]> likis:
>>But Nikhil asked a more interesting question--is it possible to
>>communicate without language?  I think the answer is no. Even mathematics
>>presupposes a sort of metalanguage that we use to learn it, so it's hard
>>to see how any communication could be had with creatures from a different
>>biology. There have been some attempts, though. Read Sagan's _Contact_ for
>>a fairly plausible discussion of aliens contacting *us*, and how we
>>decoded their message.
>I have heard that mathematics could be used as an intergalactic language.
>But, I don't think thisis possible. Even mathematics uses notations like
>+, -, * and /, which aliens might not underrstand.

They won't. There isn't only one maths notation used here (e.g. polish
and reverse polish). If we could establish what numbers meant, we could
do something like
3 * 1 = 3      3 + 1 = 2
3 * 2 = 6      3 + 2 = 5
3 * 3 = 9      3 + 3 = 6
3 * 4 = 12    3 + 4 = 7
and hope they work out what *, + and = mean, but there are more
interesting things to say so beyond numbers, maths would be low on my
list of things to say.

>They may, however, understand numbers.

Only if we somehow predifined them. Which was the point of the numbers
on the top of the Arecibo thing, but I don't think the predefinition is
useful: which way is up? is 0 in there somewhere? It's only a piece of a
complicated and possibly meaningless puzzle, not in any way a key.