June 25, 2010

First Contact

Stories of first encounters with unknown and distant beings: Girls, foreigners and perhaps even aliens. Including a story by comedian Mike Birbiglia about his first kiss.


Ira speaks with Scott Krepel—via his interpreter Marc Holmes—about what happened when Scott got cochlear implants as a kid and could suddenly hear for the first time. (Download the transcript of this story here.) (9 minutes)

Act Two

Brothers from Another Planet

Sara Blaisdell tells the story of a group of Iraqi brothers whom her husband Sam befriended over the internet, and has been speaking with weekly for almost seven years. Their surprisingly intimate relationship has pulled Sam into a world that few Americans can access. (23 minutes)
Act Three

Intergalactic Cold Call

Ira Glass speaks with Paul Davies, chair of the Post-Detection Task Force of SETI. That stands for the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, and Paul’s task is to figure out what to say to space aliens if we find them. Paul suggests starting simple, with binary code. But other people have some very different ideas, solicited by the social networking site Bebo. We heard about Paul Davies from an article that Jon Ronson wrote in the Guardian. (7 minutes)

In 2008, 501 images were beamed from a radio telescope in Eupatoria, Ukraine, towards Gliese 581 c, a planet 118 trillion miles away. People around the world submitted ideas to a social networking site called Bebo, and then users voted on the ones they thought should actually be sent, with the thought that extraterrestrials might one day receive them. The radio signal will take about 20 years to reach its destination. Here are a few of the images, courtesy of RDF Contact: