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STAG Research CentreNews

Deciphering alien space codes

Published: 17 July 2014

Hundreds of schoolchildren across the UK and South Africa are getting their brains into gear this week to take part in a pioneering challenge run by the University of Southampton to discover potential alien activity in space.

The SETi Cipher Challenge sets teams of pupils aged 14 to 18 a daily challenge to decipher possible radio signal communications that astronomers believe may be messages from aliens.

The teams can participate in two challenges. The first is a Science Challenge for decoding the message and revealing what it says about the aliens. The second is a Media Report Challenge that asks them to produce a fictional story about the impact of alien signals on people around planet Earth.

Every day mission control in Physics and Astronomy at the University release a cipher and teams are awarded marks for their entries.

At the end of the week-long competition the top scoring teams will be awarded vouchers as their prizes, up to the value of £300.

Project co-ordinator Professor Nick Evans said: “This is the first time we have run this challenge and the response has been overwhelming. The pupils are really rising to the challenge deciphering the daily codes and producing news stories, poems and videos.

“We hope that by organising different challenges such as this, we help forge an interest in physics and astronomy in young pupils and inspire them to become the next generation of scientists.”

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