Yes or No

Ellie Arroway, the SETI scientist who first discovers the alien contact message

Jodie Foster as Dr. Eleanor "Ellie" Ann Arroway

Jodie Foster portrays the film's protagonist, Dr. Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway, a SETI scientist who finds strong evidence of extraterrestrial life and is chosen to make first contact.

Contact is a film adapted from the novel by Carl Sagan. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, it stars Jodie Foster as Dr. Eleanor Ann "Ellie" Arroway, Matthew McConaughey as Palmer Joss, James Woods as National Security Advisor Michael Kitz, and Tom Skerritt as Dr. David Drumlin.Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of intelligent aliens, who send plans for a mysterious machine.

Contact


Cast: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt, David Morse

The opening and closing moments of Robert (Forrest Gump) Zemeckis's Contact astonish viewers with the sort of breathtaking conceptual imagery one hardly ever sees in movies these day--each is an expression of the heroine's lifelong quest (both spiritual and scientific) to explore the meaning of human existence through contact with extraterrestrial life. The movie begins by soaring far out into space, then returns dizzyingly to earth until all the stars in the heavens condense into the sparkle in one little girl's eye. It ends with that same girl as an adult (Jodie Foster)--her search having taken her to places beyond her imagination--turning her gaze inward and seeing the universe in a handful of sand. Contact traces the journey between those two visual epiphanies.

Based on Carl Sagan's novel, Contact is exceptionally thoughtful and provocative for a big-budget Hollywood science fiction picture, with elements that recall everything from 2001 to The Right Stuff. Foster's solid performance (and some really incredible alien hardware) keep viewers interested, even when the story skips and meanders, or when the halo around the golden locks of rising-star-of-a-different-kind Matthew McConaughey (as the pure-Hollywood-hokum love interest) reaches Milky Way-level wattage. Ambitious, ambiguous, pretentious, unpredictable--Contact is all of these things and more. Much of it remains open to speculation and interpretation, but whatever conclusions one eventually draws, Contact deserves recognition as a rare piece of big-budget studio filmmaking on a personal scale. --Jim Emerson




"Where are they?" or "Where is everybody?"


In November 1974, a largely symbolic attempt was made at the Arecibo Observatory to send a message to other worlds. Known as the Arecibo Message, it was sent towards the globular cluster M13, which is 25,000 light-years from Earth.

The Arecibo message of 1974, which contained encoded information about the human race, DNA, atomic numbers, Earth's position and other information, was beamed from the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope towards M13 as an experiment in contacting potential extraterrestrial civilizations in the cluster. While the cluster will move through space during the transit time, the proper motion is small enough that the cluster will only move 24 light years, only a fraction of the diameter of the cluster. Thus, the message will still arrive near the center of the cluster.

Wow! signal, 72 seconds


The Wow! signal was detected by Jerry R. Ehman on August 15, 1977, who was working on a SETI project at the now-defunct Big Ear radio telescope of The Ohio State University. The telescope was then located at Ohio Wesleyan University's Perkins Observatory in Delaware, Ohio, when Ehman spotted a surprising vertical column with the alphanumerical sequence “6EQUJ5,” which had occurred at 10:16 p.m. EST. He took a red marker to write "Wow!" in the margin of the printout and encircled the alphanumeric code "6EQUJ5"

Stephen Hawking announces $100 million hunt for alien life.


"...we’ll find signs of alien life in the next decade"

"There is no bigger question. It's time to commit to finding the answer to the search for life beyond Earth. The Breakthrough Initiative [is] making that commitment," said Hawking, a supporter of the project. "We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know."

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