Andrew Masterson reports. Advanced ET will prevent disaster by pushing stars around The Future. Explore ET extraterrestrial life. Andrew Masterson is editor of Cosmos.
SETI: An Alternate Strategy
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Richard Bryan, D-Nev. Not a single Martian has said take me to your leader, and not a single flying saucer has applied for FAA approval. The targeted search focused on about 1, stars thought most likely to harbor alien civilizations and was conducted at various radio astronomy observatories around the world. Hundreds, then thousands, and ultimately millions of computer users around the world got in on the search for E.
Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence : SETI Past, Present, and Future
The program enlists personal computers to sort through the mountains of SETI data, one chunk at a time, collected by the Arecibo radio telescope. The combined power of all the computers running the program essentially acts like a super duper supercomputer, but at a fraction of the cost. For most of the past 50 years, SETI projects have required astronomers to wait in line for time on giant radio telescopes around the world.
That changed in with the opening of the Allen Telescope Array, a constellation of 42 radio telescopes with foot-wide dishes in the scrublands about miles northeast of San Francisco. The array, privately financed by software billionaire Paul Allen and others, puts the search for E. In the coming decades the array may grow to antennas, making it one of the most powerful radio telescopes in the world. As of this writing, extraterrestrials remain elusive, assuming that they exist at all.
Given that the search is only 50 years old, many astronomers see little reason to despair - things are just getting going. NASA recently lent a new hand to the search with its Kepler mission, a space telescope that is looking for Earthlike, habitable planets around thousands of stars in our Milky Way galaxy. Detection of these planets will help SETI scientists focus their efforts.
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Other ideas include a push to expand the search beyond just radio signals. Meanwhile, the first exoplanet was found in , and hundreds have been spotted since.
Are we now in an era not of space-age optimism, but of realism? But if they find none, they will not be disillusioned. It would be just as interesting, they say, to find that habitable-looking environments do not all sprout life, and that Earth is unique in being so full of it.
SETI: Past, present and future — finding aliens and finding ourselves | Alumni
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