Dolphin satellite- SETI ~ Edwin C.

Richard Clar’s idea to direct signals via dolphin-induced-wavelengths into space, in hopes that they will be picked up by a (benign) alien intelligence, is plausible science because, according to Clar, dolphin frequencies are ultra-packed with a vast array of data. On the other hand, the structure of a dolphin floating above earth is definitely a fine piece of conceptual art. However, following on a question posed in the class, I am also very intrigued to detect the existence of transmissions from a civilization on a distant planet: receive some sort of “Wow! signal.”

Nonetheless, I learned, and as Clar briefly mentioned, that there are a multitude of other SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) projects including some done by our sister UC Berkeley, that have set up projects to send AND receive alien signaling. Therefore, I can see that further equipping the dolphin-satellite with more technology would be at the expense of much time and money. In other words, there are various tranceivers that are already ready to pick up signals anyway so the floating dolphin concept is fine as it is.

There has been many SETI projects and Richard Clar’s is among the most interesting. Unlike the superb 1974 Arecibo message which sent data of our solar system, the number of nucleotides in DNA, a graphic of the double helix structure of DNA, graphic figure of a man, amongst other things, Clar’s extraterrestrial dolphin project takes into account that dolphin transmissions may increase the probability of its message being discerned since dolphins produce more information in their transmissions than a human or any other animal.

Who knows what their alien ear (or their technology for that manner) is capable of detecting. Human ears detect frequencies ranging between 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz; dogs can detect frequencies as low as 50 Hz and as high as 45,000 Hz, and cats from 45 Hz to 85,000 Hz. Now, bats who must rely on sound for navigation and hunting, can detect frequencies as high as 120,000 Hz; in contrast, dolphins can detect frequencies as high as 200,000 Hz! Not that the possible aliens will use their ‘ears’ but they could decipher more data this way. (

In addition, Clar said dolphins have been around since their emergence from the sea to their evolution on land (evolving legs), and their return to the sea for some unknown reason. They are extremely intelligent, with a highly structured cortex. Off topic but to to illustrate their capabilities, there were (are?) military dolphins that a number of militaries employed for various purposes “from finding mines to rescuing lost or trapped humans” ( So I can see why Clar chose dolphins over dogs, cats, bats, or humans, since they have the rare ability to produce/ detect ultrasound as well as having reverse the adaptation of sea to land and being highly intelligent up to unknown depths, they have even tried saving swimmers from sharks by doing circles around them.

However and on topic, say any of the SETI projects makes contact with some type of aliens, there are three possibilities: 1st: They may be unresponsive or unsophisticated, thus stay ignorant or ‘neutral;’ 2nd. They may be “benign,” “friendly” and “harmless” or unfortunately, 3rd: They may be malicious, destructive, evil clever creatures like in the “Independence Day” movie, not to scare anyone. This concern over SETI was raised by the science journal “Nature,” October 2006, on the meeting of the International Academy of Astronautics SETI study group– the editor said, “It is not obvious that all extraterrestrial civilizations will be benign, or that contact with even a benign one would not have serious repercussions.” (

Lastly, were would have the signal been directed to, or (I doubt) if there would of been some sort of tuning ‘radiator‘ that allowed for the the propagation of the signals into ALL directions around our planet so there would be a greater probability of interaction from all directions. I say this because the aforementioned Arecibo message will take 25,000 years for the message to reach its intended destination of stars (and an additional 25,000 for any reply!) That is why I would of propose the ‘radiator‘ idea since I wouldn’t have like to hear that, like the Arecibo message, it “was more a demonstration of human technological achievement than a real attempt to enter into a conversation with extraterrestrials.” (


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