|Benford, a physicist and science fiction author, wrote this piece about a message hidden in the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMB) for the journal Nature's "Futures" column. It cites (fictional) mathematical evidence that the CMB contains some sort of message, and name-drops many mathematical ideas (Lie groups, Fourier series, the Riemann zeta function, etc.) in attempts to figure out what it says. But, in the end, the point is to consider the implications of believing that such a message is there rather than figuring out what the message is.
(I like this story, but can't quite agree with its conclusions. I doubt the consequences would be as described, and would personally be skeptical that the supposed evidence even shows convincingly that a message exists. Perhaps it would be interesting to hear from someone who feels differently. If you liked this story and see something in it that I'm missing, please post your own comments here using the links below!)
Originally published as Nature 440, 126 (2 March 2006) and now available (for a price or to anyone with a subscription to the journal) at Nature.com.