One day, a new island appears in the middle of Earth's ocean, inhabited with humans who have lived there all their lives (but in another dimension). The island is not visible to anyone outside a 25 mile radius, so the rest of the world has no idea the island is even there.

Apart from the existence of the island, we can assume the rest of the world is just like the modern day.

The islanders know about Earth's laws and policies - let's say an encyclopedia washed up on their shores. They want to make first contact with the rest of the world, but without violating international law.

They face a few challenges:

  • All boats in international waters need an MMSI code to be able to make radio contact with another ship. The MMSI number is derived from a MID, which is issued by the ITU. However since the ITU is not aware of the new island, it hasn't assigned them any MID.
  • Similarly with phone networks - they can neither call nor be called because they don't have an international country code, because one has not been assigned by the ITU. Neither do they have any means of connecting with phone networks, for similar reasons.
  • Their currency has basically no value, because it cannot be converted into other ("hard") currencies. Even if they could make contact with a foreign exchange, no one would want to buy their currency because they wouldn't be able to sell it again and no one would be able to spend it (this could be alleviated over time with tourism and exports, but foreign relations must be established first)
  • Because their currency has no value and they have no access to hard currencies, they are not able to do things like sign up for a satellite Internet account

How do they legally make contact with the outside world and start to establish foreign relations?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Message in a bottle. $\endgroup$ Dec 19, 2015 at 6:10
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Number one is absolutely 100% unjustified assumption. You need MSSI due to legal requirements and in practice if you want to do digital selective calling. Ships and coastal radio stations still have to monitor guard channels. In addition to the DSC channel for which you'd need MSSI, all ships with VHF need to monitor channel 16 and ships with multiple radios and larger ships need to monitor channel 13 as well. Assuming any ships get close enough to see the island and the islanders have compatible technology, island could talk to them without DSC. $\endgroup$
    – AndrejaKo
    Dec 19, 2015 at 21:47

2 Answers 2


Shortwave radio.

You can easily reach out further than 25 miles with shortwave; it's well known that you can bounce signals off the Earth's ionosphere and communicate across the globe.

They won't have any amateur radio operator licenses, but such regulations vary internationally, and in any case, aren't strictly enforced.

It would take some doing to convince other amateur radio operators to pay attention to their story, but hopefully some updated satellite map imaging would convince them.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If it's only visible within 25 miles then satellite imagery is out of the question. Low earth orbit is considerably farther than that. $\endgroup$ Dec 19, 2015 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Vakus Drake: Ah, good catch! Maybe they could do something with radio triangulation? $\endgroup$
    – Wingman4l7
    Dec 19, 2015 at 17:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If visible light can't escape farther than 25 miles it's questionable whether radio could either, not to mention how is radio triangulation supposed to prove that there's a massive landmass there. It seems the only real way to get taken seriously is to actually have people visit the new landmass. $\endgroup$ Dec 19, 2015 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @VakusDrake: Good point re: wavelengths of emissions. Triangulation wouldn't prove there was a landmass, but it would prove that there was a radio source in the middle of the ocean, and other records could show that there were no registered ships operating in that area. $\endgroup$
    – Wingman4l7
    Dec 19, 2015 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure that HF radio won't be very helpful for establishing contact by talking to other people while staying "legal". To put it simply, the amount of pirate transmissions is just way to high for someone to believe the story. If you haven't already, do listen to some of the websdr receivers. As Vakus already mentioned, there's no way anyone would believe the story just by hearing it over the radio.On the other hand, if they have a strong enough transmitter, they might jam other users enough to attract sufficient level of attention for them to be investigated. $\endgroup$
    – AndrejaKo
    Dec 19, 2015 at 21:56

Trigger a volcanic eruption.

The feasibility would be dependent on their island's geologic makeup and their level of technology, and depending on the size of the island, it might err on suicidal. However, it would ideally produce a massive ash cloud, the unusually invisible/unexpected source of which would be subsequently investigated by scientists, governments, and the media. This would solve the issue of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum being blocked by their "indivisibility" field -- it'd be, in essence, the world's biggest smoke signal.

However, dumping large quantities of ash into the atmosphere, possibly disrupting flight corridors and maybe even causing crop shortages due to global cooling would, admittedly, be a rather rude way of making first contact.

  • $\begingroup$ You didn't explain even if this was a volcanic island with the right type of dormant volcano, how you would deliberately cause a volcanic eruption. $\endgroup$ Dec 20, 2015 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ @VakusDrake: Yes, I glossed over that in the first sentence, as such specifics weren't covered in the question. It would be indeed quite challenging if the island didn't have an existing, at least somewhat active volcano. However, if it did, they could drop explosives down into it and that might do the trick. $\endgroup$
    – Wingman4l7
    Dec 20, 2015 at 21:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There's also the matter that if you're on a island you don't want to set off a volcano, on the island that you are on $\endgroup$ Dec 21, 2015 at 3:46
  • $\begingroup$ @VakusDrake: Hence the "might err on suicidal". :P If their needs were desperate enough, it might be worth it; maybe they want to alert us of an incoming killer asteroid or alien attack? Also, as I said, the island's size matters -- Australia is an island, after all. $\endgroup$
    – Wingman4l7
    Dec 21, 2015 at 3:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Might be better off using radio 26 miles off the coast than setting off a volcano... $\endgroup$ Dec 21, 2015 at 14:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .