I assume two to three antagonists (on the planet) of approximately equal military potential, located on separate landmasses, in possesion of nuclear weaponry assuring the certain destruction of all in the case of heated escalation.

A. Radio Broadcast Message

The antagonists are jamming all radio-wavelengths and filling the channels of communication with white noise.

Broadcasting on all radio-bands, even to the point of increasing the power of the signal to the level that it would damage the receiving equipment, was tried, but the antagonists on the planet did not answer.

The increase of emission of several large broadcasting stations, whose broadcasting now resembled more chaos or a special code resembling chaos, was observed when the aliens set on to the journey from home planet to the planet of the antagonists.

B. Reason for Journey

The Journey was undertaken as an expedition from the planet of the aliens. THe planet travelled to showed civilizational activity due to its output in the electromagnetic spectrum, position to its Star and so forth. Hence it was determined that in the time needed to reach the other planet, the civilization would still be there to contact.

The actual travel was accomplished due to time dilation utilizing a massive black hole, but that will be another question.

Unfortunately, the resource consumption for the journey was prohibitive, so turning back is considered, but ruled out repeatedly by the crew and finally the captain of the expedition.

C. Reason nut Nuked each other yet

On the planet there are several underground rocket silos, highly camouflaged and hidden in mountain valleys and underwater ridges.

The communication between the headquarters and the weapons over close ranges is possible by cable, however atmospheric transmission of signals is highly disturbed by the antagonists broadcasting stations.

While the antagonists could launch (maybe not all but at least some) of their rockets, they instead only keep jamming the antagonists broadcastings from ground stations and satellites.

Z. Assumptions

Assume that our (the aliens) sending of probes, the signal emission—the delivery of the mail has successfully occured. The antagonists have received the codes transmitted and have mastered them.

Now assume we can send both sides the identical request for contact, either with a guarantee of neutrality which is genuine, or with a guarantee of exclusive support which is false.

That means we tell each side that we are addressing the other at the same time, or else assure it that we are approaching only it for contact.

We are not allowed to unnecessarily risk our own lives by falling into a trap, nor are we to provoke the two blocks into an all-out war that would wipe them out.

Which type of message send to both antagonists would have a a higher probability of (successful) contact?

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    $\begingroup$ i don't think it is predictable; you may well take a nuclear warhead in response to both two messsages. $\endgroup$
    – guido
    Nov 28, 2014 at 10:41
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    $\begingroup$ I think every incoming probe would be destroyed by a anti-missle system or something. The antagonists will assume that the probe is some kind of warhead. A better Way would be using an sattelite to transmit messages via radio. This would also make the message more genuine, due every side could possibly intercept the message. $\endgroup$
    – jawo
    Nov 28, 2014 at 10:51
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    $\begingroup$ May be worth reading: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiasco_%28novel%29 $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Nov 28, 2014 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ "Jamming on all frequencies" is a gargantuan task, requiring monumental amounts of energy expenditure. This suggests that the aliens are tremendously powerful. Also, you cannot actually jam all frequencies perfectly. Take a look at Shannon's Law for lossy channels. This leaves chinks in the armor of their jamming system with which to send messages. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Nov 28, 2014 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ Lying would be a terrible idea as once the lie is detected they are guaranteed to turn on you. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Dec 1, 2014 at 13:06

6 Answers 6


Paint message on the moon. Simple and to the point.

  • $\begingroup$ Yeah thats very nice :D Because I was always thinking that doing something nice to the moon would make everyone see it. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2014 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ But actually there was a base on the moon once, and the landers with the paint robots might well be attacked from whatever is down there? $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2014 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ Burn it to the surface by a laser from orbit, or by explosives, or meteor shower. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2014 at 16:45

"Guarantee of neutrality" and "tell each side that we are addressing the other at the same time".

There is no real point in opening communications with something you know will be revealed as a lie in the near future unless you actually have some urgent short term goal benefiting from the deception. No such goal was included in or implied by the question. So although the probability of success in opening communications is basically the same regardless of your choices, "unknown", telling the truth reduces your chances of getting caught lying from 100% to zero, which generally makes future communications easier.

I should add that the "unknown" chance of success above would actually be high enough to make worrying about being able to open communications pointless. No strategist, no matter how alien, will decide not to communicate with aliens with obviously superior technology unless they are CERTAIN their enemies will do likewise. In war, no such certainty is possible, and all the warring sides will open communications. Probably cautiously and in secret, but anyway.

The chance of triggering nuclear war should be ignored as a factor. If they haven't killed themselves yet, they are sane enough not to pull the trigger unless they know defeat is inevitable. They do not know enough of the aliens wishing to communicate with them to justify that decision unless the aliens get directly involved in the war somehow and become a known quantity. What the aliens SAY won't make any difference.

  • $\begingroup$ defeat is inevitable, but only for the side that doesnt ally with us. If both parties would know about their communications well enough to block them, they would be able to decipher them. The chance of nuclear war, and hence the end of their own existence, is increasing when the third party of the visitors is introduced. The aliens might even offer a consolitary message, with news of neutrality, and in secret lay a trap, alone or in a temporary alliance. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2014 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertBoettcher That presumes we want to ally with one side, which would be suicidal, precisely because it would make defeat inevitable for the other side... BOOM! Unless we ally with one side or otherwise get directly involved, there should be slight reduction in likelihood of nuclear war. This is because "a third party" makes plans that defeat the enemy while significantly weakening yourself, which is most nuclear options, less palatable. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2014 at 17:04

I will have to make an assumption that both sides are behaving more or less similarly to people on earth.

In such case both types of message will almost guarantee you to get a response from both sides. When 2 powers (tribes, countries, ...) are equally matched and struggling to overcome each other, then any new, previously unknown factor, has to be used (it becomes more of a calculation, and less a choice).

Now, the 'fall into a trap scenario' is harder one to answer. If your technology is sufficiently advanced to ensure that both sides won't know about your offer to the other, and you can provide strong enough lies about why you are contacting only them, then it is better to send exclusive support messages. In other case your lies would be exposed, and probability of both sides collaborating to prepare countermeasures against you would rise.

Of course this answer assumes that all you want to do is to establish contact (this was your question after all...). I am not considering any of your probable long term goals.

  • $\begingroup$ Lying to them would require a knowledge of things of which we know to be completely ignorant. By accepting our offer for contact, one side might risk antagonizing the other and thereby intendedly unleash repercussions from the opposite side. Whether the contacted antagonists asks or receives technology transfer for example matters not, as the sheer possibility of upsetting the strategic balance like that might cause the uncontacted antagonist to pre-emptively strike to keep initiative in the shakeup of forces. $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2014 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ How would you (aliens) know that advarsaries have nuclear warheads without observing them first? Contacting alien civilizations wihout any prior knowledge about them (apart from the fact that they are agresive) would be a tremondeous risk by itself. If it is a response you are after then contact them in any way. If you don't want unnecessary risks, then study them first. $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2014 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ They know about the nuclear warheads because they have spied on the planet, which could not be concealed. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2014 at 16:19

Contact only by radio. Conference call only. Guarantee neutrality. Any type of one on one with either camp might provoke the other (you don't want to add more paranoia)

There is a reason why they haven't nuked each other yet (you did not specify why).

If you are contacting them make sure it's on a frequency that both can monitor.

Do "first contact" slow (months years is highly recommended if possible) the more time passes, the more assured they will be that no alien tech is being given to the other side which reinforces your sincerity. And of course only by radio.

If they posses some primitive space technology - Dont park your ship in orbit. You don't want some form of space race.

Any face to face meeting must only be done after they settle their differences.

  • $\begingroup$ Noone is answering a call, neither radio nor conference. Broadcast were tried on all wavelengths. I added the 'explanation' of them not nuking themselves yet. The expedition is scheduled to spent some time at the planet, however intialization of contact after years is not an option as the window to return to their homeplanet is closing after that. The aliens technology is not displayed, as it surpasses nuclear weapons in its destructive release of energy by the order of magnitude three. $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2014 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ cant you transmit on public broadcast channels? TV? A channel accessible to both parties. $\endgroup$
    – tls
    Nov 28, 2014 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ also when you say resource consumption was prohibitive. Do you mean they have no more food and they have to replenish by sending landing parties to the planet? Or no more "fuel" to get back home? $\endgroup$
    – tls
    Nov 28, 2014 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ You can transmit on public channels. The frequencies one would associate with TV reception on Earth are also emitted in. Matter of fact the Aliens send on all channels, the antagonists jam on all wavelengths. So you are free to broadcast your signal, but as of now have not received a response. $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2014 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ The expedition is independent in what it needs to sustain itself. The issue is the constellation of celestial objects, which will move out of the configuration necessary when travelling home after the time window. Other than that the expedition is as independent as can be. $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2014 at 15:15

Lying to them and making each side think they have this 'advantage' would quite likely embolden at least one of the participants into doing something very rash, with the thought that the new ally would be able to help protect them and let them win. At least if they had similar psychology to humans.

The power output to block radio transmissions to white noise would be cost prohibitive as well as possibly dangerous. Part of the problem is the transmitter generally needs to be 'close' to the transmitter or receiver it is trying to block. It would be terribly difficult for the Russians to white noise say all of Nebraska to the point that radio communications are impossible without say, a satellite in orbit, which of course would need to generate huge amounts of energy maybe a large space station.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes but if the one side is openly allying with the newcomer, it might well provoke a preventive strike from the opposite side. Since no side wants to be the first to unleash nuclear winter they stay in silence and dont answer. The satellites have been developed when the arms race moved into space and consumed more and more of the resources of the civilizations. The power of emission is quite substantial, Gigawatts of white noise come to mind. They moved onto the moon but had to abandon this base due to lack of resources. Still there is some antispy defense there. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2014 at 16:35

Visible Light

If the fools on the surface are effectively blocking all radio communication, fall back to visible light. Set up several satellites in orbit and transmit your message:

"Hey belligerent insignificant people on the surface We understand your fight is probably important to you but we came a long distance at great expense and would like to communicate with your race as a whole. Stop jamming frequency X and respond by Date Y or we will have to conclude you are too short sighted to be worth including in the galactic community, and will return home."


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