Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence

As a child growing up in Milwaukee during the 1960's, I distinctly remember the public fascination with unidentified flying objects (UFO's). I read books, magazines, and newspaper accounts of the occasional potential alien visitor. Stories of close encounters and abductions flooded the supermarket tabloids and made for some enjoyable bathroom reading. I purchased books about UFO's and even read parts of "Project Bluebook," the US Government's official report on its study of aliens. While the subject of aliens, UFO's, and the Roswell incident are covered in another page of this course, this page deals with an endeavor to search the stars with radio telescopes for a signal from space that heralds the presence of intelligence on worlds other than ours. That search, first funded by the US Government and now privately supported, is called Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). While SETI has turned up nothing thus far, it continues from some of the world's more well known sites like Aricebo, Puerto Rico and the Very Large Array in New Mexico, as well as from personal computers in homes.

Three significant websites that deal specifically with SETI are found below:

Seti at Home, that is your opportunity to configure your computer to listen for signals at night while you sleep. You sleep, but your computer listens ... along with a lot of other personal computers scattered around the country.

Seti League, that is a connection to professional and amateurs working together to continue the search.

Seti Institute, the home of the privately-funded program to systematically search the night sky for signs of life elsewhere.

While I may hold the opinion that we are alone in the Universe, from a mathematical probability standpoint I cannot rule out the possibility that life exists elsewhere, if not in our own Galaxy, then perhaps among the 100 billion other galaxies that comprise the Universe. I invite you to look at the three websites above, search their contents, and enjoy what you might find there.

Please move ahead to Roadblocks to Intelligent Life, or else return to the SETI introduction or the Syllabus.

 


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