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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.

Tristan.