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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 […]

SETI Researcher Analyzes Language Mathematically

Space.com had a story April 22 about Dr. Laurance Doyle, who studies non-human communication with information theory.  The article is mostly about his study of whale and dolphin signaling, but mentions how information theory is related to the intelligence of the communicating entities: Doyle’s team uses statistical tools from a field known as “information theory” […]

Arecibo SETI Project Draws a Blank

Project Phoenix, a 10-year project searching for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, found nothing, reports the BBC News.  The project used the world’s most powerful radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, to scan 800 nearby stars for signals.  Project manager Peter Backus claims the team has learned a lot about searching for ETI, but concludes we […]

Much Ado About Nothing

How much can you say about nothing?  Some people can say quite a lot.  One astrobiologist just wrote a large book about it: Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life by David Grinspoon (Harper Collins, 2003).     Larry R. Nittler reviewed this new book in the March 12 issue of Science.1  Nittler describes […]

The Evolution of Omnipotence

With a headline like “New Theory: Universe Created by Intelligent Being,” one might think that National Geographic News has gone creationist and rediscovered Genesis 1.  The opposite would be true.  The article by John Roach explores the radical thinking of a lawyer/scientist named James Gardner, who has just published a book, Biocosm: The New Scientific […]

Questioning Earth’s Privileges

51; Two articles this week downplayed considerations that would make the Earth seem like a special place in the universe.  Both have ties to NASA.     Are life-friendly stars limited to a narrow band in the galaxy called the Galactic Habitable Zone (GHZ)?  NASA-supported Astrobiology Magazine cast doubt on the idea.  Citing a study […]

SETI at 50: Onward with Style

51; It’s been fifty years since the first scientific paper suggested listening in on the stellar radio dial for signs of intelligence.1  Nature celebrated the occasion with two articles and an Editorial that said,2 “Despite the long odds against success, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has come a long way.”     SETI sure has […]

Define Pseudoscience

A couple of articles lately have lumped creationism in with astrology, ESP, space aliens and lucky numbers.  How valid is this grouping?     Randolph E. Schmid (Associated Press; see Live Science) conveyed statistics presented by Jon Miller (Michigan State U) and a panel of researchers at an AAAS meeting in San Francisco this past […]

SETI Sans ETI So Far

There’s “no din of alien chatter in our neighborhood,” writes Richard Kerr in the Feb. 20 issue of Science.1  “Early-generation searches for extraterrestrial intelligence are coming up empty-handed, but the SETI community is carrying on,” he writes.  Search pioneer Frank Drake admits “We found nothing” in the latest Project Phoenix, a survey of 700 nearby […]
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