What is SETI?
• Acronym for Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
• Began in 1960 at Cornell University (Frank Drake)
• Many organized efforts to detect any possible message from extraterrestrials
• Radio telescopes all around the Earth listening for signals
• Monitored by scientists and non-scientists a like
– UC Berkley SETI program
– Listening search program
– Analyzes other astronomers radio telescope data, no specific observational data of their own
– Listening for neutral Hydrogen transitions
-Allen Telescope Array
-Effort to create a large radio interferometer in California
• In 1977, the most famous of the SETI findings occurred
• The Big Ear Radio telescope at Ohio State University detected the strongest interstellar signal (aka ‘The Wow! Signal’)
• Lasted 72 seconds, no convincing re-occurences of the signal have been found.
- In Feb. 2003, SETI@Home users discovered several strange signals
- Scientists not sure about the origin, possible astronomical anomalies?
• Are SETI efforts worth the cost?– Some criticize that values
given by the Drake equation are too optimistic
– Not many intriguing findings (no conclusive ones)
– SETI asked for $32 million over 5 years to support just the Allen Telescope project
– What do you think?
Is the signal real?• It will be hard to convince scientific communities about
the validity of signals
– We aren’t sure exactly what we are looking for
– Could easily be a new kind of astronomical anomaly
– The Drake equation is un-testable, and is the basis of many SETI efforts; creates lots of criticism
– Do you think SETI is a pseudo-science?
What might the signal mean?
• If a signal is detected– How can we
interpret it?– Language or
– How can we prove it is a real signal?
• Decide for yourself
– SETI@Home allows any computer user to help survey the skies
– Over 5 million computer users in more than 200 countries have signed up for SETI@home
– 19 Billion hours of computer processing time
– The complete network operates as the second fastest supercomputer in the world
– All data compiled and relayed to SETI efforts at UC Berkley
• The SETI efforts are intriguing, but too optimistic
• We do not believe that the SETI program is worth the effort or the money.
• There have been no conclusive results, and even if there were we would not be able to do anything with them.