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SETI: Search for Educational Targets Inc.

SETI may be the laughingstock of Congress, refused funding since William Proxmire gave it his Golden Fleece Award in the 1980s, but privately it is moving apace.  The Science Channel gave it prominence in its weekly report Friday, visiting with pioneering signaler and listener Frank Drake.  It surveyed everything from the first humble attempts to […]

Extraterrestrials Likely to Be Unicellular

An AP story printed at HeraldNet jokes that extraterrestrial life probably won’t look like “the negligee-clad Number 6 from [Battlestar] Galactica, the television series that features a genocidal war between humans and their robot creations.”  Instead, according to the authors of a new book about extraterrestrial life, you would need a microscope to see it.  […]

Is Archaeology Like SETI, or is SETI Like Religion?

Archaeologists have their Rosetta Stone, but so far, SETI investigators have no artifacts.  Still, Douglas Vakoch wrote for Space.com, archaeologists and anthropologists can teach SETI researchers how to prepare for encountering “exotic cultures with strange languages.”     Vakoch recounted the interest in this angle at an anthropology conference last year: One of the best-attended […]

Can Atheism Breathe in an Anthropic Universe?

Astronomers Martin Rees and Mario Livio considered “Anthropic Reasoning” in a Science perspectives article.1  The question bears not only on SETI, and whether intelligent life exists elsewhere, but why it exists here.  They state the issue: We can imagine universes where the constants of physics and cosmology have different values.  Many such “counterfactual” universes would […]

SETI Researchers Affirm Planetary Privilege Criteria

In the weekly SETI Thursday column on Space.com, Douglas Vakoch corroborated two claims made about the habitability of planets in the film The Privileged Planet (shown at the Smithsonian last night – see 06/09/2005 story): namely, (1) smaller stars have smaller habitable zones or “Goldilocks” zones where life can exist, and (2) planets within the […]

SETI Researcher Joins NG Imagination Fest

Space.Com writer Tariq Malik reviewed the National Geographic TV series Extraterrestrial that envisions flying whales, giraffe-like predators and flesh-eating tadpoles on a mythical world undergoing its own evolution.  “Using computer models and armed with basic evolutionary theory, the scientists imagined not only what conditions might exist on their theoretical planets,” writes Malik, “but also how […]

Astrobiology: Much Ado About Nothing So Far

The mood at a NASA Astrobiology Institute conference is very upbeat, according to Leonard David at Space.com, reporting from the meetings in Boulder, Colorado.  The participants have set their goals high: Consider it nothing short of the cosmic quest for all time: Understanding the origin, evolution, distribution, and fate of life on Earth and in […]

Home to E.T.: You Have Mail

According to MSNBC News, 138,179 people responded to an offer to beam a message into space.  “Yet another outfit, TalktoAliens.com,” the report continues, “is offering to broadcast your 900-prefix telephone call into space for $3.99 a minute.” Let’s hope E.T. has his spam filter on.  Hey, Nigeria!  Hey, Star Registry!  Look at all these suckers […]

SETI Outreach Director: “Teach Evolution”

Evolution is the foundation of biology, geology, and astronomy, claims Edna Devore, Director of Education and Public Education for the SETI Institute.  Writing in Space.Com, she finds it hard to believe evolution is controversial (see 12/14/2004 and 11/30/2004 entries).  Why, just look out the airplane window; it’s obvious.  “Evolution is fundamental to modern biology, geology […]

Bart Simpson Moons Saturn

There was a little-known story about the Huygens landing on Saturn’s moon Titan last Friday (see 01/15/2005 entry).  The human race sent a gift to the Titanians.  Four songs recorded by two European rock musicians before launch were included along with the spacecraft.  The website Music2Titan.com explains the purpose of the project: October 1997: to […]

SETI Has News

…no, not a discovery of an alien civilization, just better hardware.  Seth Shostak listed for Space.com some of the improvements in technology and search strategies that should speed up and narrow down the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence by orders of magnitude.  “Of course, it would be nice to say, ‘well, we detected three Type II […]

SETI Researcher Thinks Big: Send Internet Smut to the Aliens

Seth Shostak (SETI Institute), in an article on Space.Com, answers the question, “What do you say to an extraterrestrial?”  He said we no longer need to limit ourselves to short messages like “What hath God wrought?”,* the phrase Samuel F. B. Morse sent with the first telegraph.  The bandwidth we have available now is huge, […]

SETI Needs to Read, Not Listen

What technology would an extra-terrestrial intelligence use to communicate with us?  For fifty years, the search has presumed that an ET would use radio waves to announce “we’re here.”  Not a good idea, says a professor of computer and electrical engineering at Rutgers.  He thinks investors on distant planets would put their money not on […]

SETI Ponders the Silence

Since no clear signals from space aliens have yet arrived in 40 years of looking, SETI thinkers are asking why.  They’re coming up with a variety of explanations.  Here are three possibilities from recent articles. Too Soon to Tell.  Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute, writing in the September cover story of Astronomy Magazine, isn’t […]

ID Book Survives Nature Relatively Unscathed

Considering the intemperate disdain intelligent design books usually receive from the major journals – when they are even noticed (see, for example, Nature’s review of a book by William Dembski in the 07/11/2002 headline) – a new ID book fared surprisingly well this week.  In Nature1 June 24, Douglas A. Vakoch (SETI Institute) reviewed the […]
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