MovieChat Forums > Contact (1997) Discussion > 26 light years to Vega, 26 years back, s...

26 light years to Vega, 26 years back, shouldn't it be 1988?


If the 1936 Hitler broadcast took 26 years to get to Vega, and the "Vegan" signal takes 26 years to get back, the the signal should have been received in 1988, yet the movie takes place in the late 1990s (Bill Clinton), unless the Vegans waited 10 years to send the return signal?

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[deleted]

The signal Ellie discovers with the radio telescope doesn't come through a wormhole.

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[deleted]

Says the plot of the movie. The signal is discovered to have been transmitted from Vega.

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There's an interesting event in the book that may have been omitted from the film: The instant that the Machine spins up to full power, reception of the signal stops.

That can't be explained in terms of known science, since the signal takes 26 years to travel from Vega to Earth, and the aliens couldn't have known exactly (to the second) when the Machine would be built and turned on.

Kitz uses that as part of his argument that the Message was fake and was transmitted from the vicinity of Earth. Ellie suggests that if the aliens can do intragalactic travel in hours, they may also be able to do tricks with time travel.

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Choocheechoo choocheechoo choocheechoo ya ya pow!

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Hmm that's something I wasn't clear about in the movie, is the signal being sent continuously, or was it a one time transmission?

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It was being sent continuously. The instructions for building the Machine had some 10000-odd pages; after the last page was sent, the Message began over with the first page.

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Choocheechoo choocheechoo choocheechoo ya ya pow!

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[deleted]

You're assuming an immediate rebroadcast. Time would have passed between the time they received our broadcast, determined whether or not to contact us, prepare a message, and send it back.

4th wall break inside a 4th wall break... that's like 16 walls!

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or maybe it took them 10 years to design the way in which way they would proceed to the first broadcast, machine, and the message they would send to earth, considering they don't send the exact same thing to every civilization that manages to contact them because every world and civilization is different.

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I think you answered your own question OP. The aliens obviously needed time to interpret the data they received before answering. Granted they received the Berlin games broadcast and probably others as the few years went by before they sent the reply, but I don't just think they were sitting there waiting for signals ready to reply that moment

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I don't think it was intended this way by the movie writers, but there is a historical sequence which could explain it:

1936: Olympic broadcast leaves Earth at speed of light. Received by aliens at Vega 26 years later -- 1962.

Aliens see teevee broadcast and think, "hmmmm. These brings have invented teevee. The first broadcast is of a military leader appearing in front of a roaring crowd. Better keep an eye on them."

1945: Three atomic bombs are detonated in a 30 day time span on Earth. The aliens might well have devices capable of detecting atomic blasts at stellar distances. They see the atomic blast evidence in 1971 (1945 plus 26 years),

Aliens say, "uh oh, these guys have invented nuclear weapons. Maybe we better have a little talk with them ASAP."

Aliens broadcast The Message to Earth shortly thereafter. It arrives on Earth in 1997 -- 1971 plus 26 years.

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Makes good sense time wise albeit not about the "let's have a little talk with them ASAP" because that did not happen.

What if they sent someone back with her through the wormhole which connected back in time to Earth 18 hour ago?

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They did. That's why there are a lot of Vegans on Earth these days.

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???

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Take into account time dilation.

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