David Kirkpatrick

April 3, 2010

Reaching out to ET …

Filed under: et.al., Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:22 pm

… here’s one idea.

From the link:

Or perhaps people shouldn’t bother composing a message at all. Another scientist, astronomer Seth Shostak, has proposed that we just broadcast everything on the Google servers out to aliens.

“Instead of trying to think of what’s fundamental, just send them a lot of data and let them sort through and find the pattern,” Vakoch said.

Vakoch discussed some of the issues around interstellar message composition in a recent paper in the journal Acta Astronautica.

March 2, 2010

Going beyond radio in the search for ET

I’ve been a longtime supporter of SETI’s efforts, but I also welcome any new ideas in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. These ideas from Paul Davies sound worthwhile.

The release

Widening the search for extraterrestrial intelligence

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has been dominated for its first half century by a hunt for unusual radio signals. But as he prepares for the publication of his new book The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone?, Paul Davies tells Physics World readers why bold new innovations are required if we are ever to hear from our cosmic neighbours.

Writing exclusively in March’s Physics World, Davies, director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University in the US, explains why the search for radio signals is limited and how we might progress.

As Davies writes, “speculation about SETI is bedevilled by the trap of anthropocentrism – a tendency to use 21st-century human civilisation as a model for what an extraterrestrial civilisation would be like… After 50 years of traditional SETI, the time has come to widen the search from radio signals.”

Questioning the idea of an alien civilisation beaming radio signals towards Earth, Davies explains that even if the aliens were, say, 500 light years away (close by SETI standards), the aliens would be communicating with Earth in 1510 – long before we were equipped to pick up radio signals.

While SETI activity has been concentrated in radio astronomy, from Frank Drake’s early telescope to the more recent Allen Telescope Array, astronomers have only ever been met with an (almost) eerie silence.

Davies suggests that there may be more convincing signs of intelligent alien life, either here on Earth in the form of bizarre microorganisms that somehow found their way to Earth, or in space, through spotting the anomalous absence of, for example, energy-generating particles that an alien life form might have harvested.

“Using the full array of scientific methods from genomics to neutrino astrophysics,” Davies writes, “we should begin to scrutinise the solar system and our region of the galaxy for any hint of past or present cosmic company.”

Following the publication of his book, The Eerie Silence, Davies will be giving a Physics World webinar at 4pm (BST) on Wednesday 31 March. You can view the webinar live at http://www.physicsworld.com or download it afterwards.

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Also in the March edition:

  • Getting intimate with Mars – robotic rovers are starting to unravel the secrets of the red planet but, according to one NASA expert, we would discover so much more if we brought samples back to Earth.
  • The Hollywood actor Alan Alda, star of M*A*S*H and The West Wing, who has a deep and passionate interest in science, is now part of an innovative US project to help scientists to communicate.

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February 20, 2010

Frank Drake on revamping the search for ET

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:23 am

Via KurzweilAI.net – Sounds like a decent idea, and when Drake talks about searching for extraterrestrial life people better be listening.

Drake wants off-world listening post for alien messages
New Scientist Space, Feb. 18, 2010

SETI founder Frank Drake wants to take the search for aliens about 82 billion kilometers away from Earth, where electromagnetic signals from planets orbiting distant stars would be focused by the gravitational lensing effect of our sun, making them, in theory, more easily detected.

Gravitational lenses could also be used to increase the range of transmitted signals.
Read Original Article>>

January 26, 2010

SETI eying upgrade

Via KurzweilAI.net — If you’re not familiar with the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Life) program, it’s an effort to do just what its name implies. A major part of the effort is the SETI@home screensaver that uses home computer CPU downtime to crunch numbers from Earth-bound radio telescopes in a distributed computing project. I ran SETI@home on a box several generations ago (computer-wise on my end) and found the data analysis weirdly fascinating to watch.

Putting a radio observatory on the far side of the moon would provide a lot more benefits than seeking alien life forms, but that would be a pretty cool byproduct.

SETI founder Dr Frank Drake outlines ambitious plans
Wired Science, Jan. 25, 2010

A radio observatory on the far side of the moon to eliminate Earth-based radio interference and gravitational microlensing to view alien planets are among the projects for detecting extraterrestrial intelligence proposed bySETI pioneer Dr. Frank Drake.
Read Original Article>>

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