Frances Drake begins Project Ozma in 1960

SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence)

What are some mind-blowing facts about SETI?

SETI or Search for extraterrestrial intelligence has captured the publics imagination on the reality that advanced civilizations statisically should exist and that they are already communicating and we are just not listening enough. Here is a little history up to now:

Yes, Nikola Tesla had martian fever. In 1896 he suggested radio waves to contact extraterrestrial life. Repetitive clicking on his receiver was believed to be martian signals. Marconi, Kelvin, and Todd also followed suit.

For a few days in 1924, National Radio Science Day took place. All radios in the US were silent for 5 minutes on the hour every hour. A radio receiver was lifted into the sky and the chief cryptographer of the US Army was assigned to translate any martian signals.

Frances Drake begins Project Ozma in 1960, the first effort to systematically scan the skys.

Before Arecibo was Ohio States Big Ear radioscope and the shelved Project Cyclops in 1971. Now NASA is paying attention.

In 1974, the Arecibo message is sent. 215 bytes fired off at 1000kW in the direction of globular star cluster M13. It encodes our counting system, atomic and rough genetic makeup, and a graphic of a human, our solar system, and the transmitter. Earth is now phoning home:

In 1977, 6EQUJ5, aka the Wow! signal reaches Earth. Duration of 72 seconds and believed to be non-terrestrial and non-solar in origin. Was never found again.

Also in 1977 Voyager 1 is launched carrying the Voyager Golden Record for other advanced civilizations to find, most likely our descendants. At 18 billion kilometers (Sep. 2012) it is almost 17 light hours from the sun, the farthest man-made object. Travelling at 17,000 km/s, it would reach Proxima Centauri (nearest star) around 75800 AD, assuming it were headed in that direction.

In 1991 a faint object designated 1991 VG approaches Earth. Thought by some to be a Bracewell probe. Bracewell probes are hypothetical, self-replicating space probes that scour the universe searching for advanced life. So far 1991 VG is just a small Near-Earth object or has not chosen to communicate with us. A compatible idea is the von Neumann probe.

In 1994 the US Congress cancels NASAs funding for SETI. Apparently government knows best. 1,500 people in 62 countries coordinate a global network of small, amateur-built radio telescopes under SETI League and Project Argus.

in 1999 ches, arguably the best example of distributing public computing power. In 2009 the computing power exceeds 617 teraFLOPS. As of 2010, after 10 years of data collection, listened to that one frequency at every point of over 67 percent of the sky observable from Arecibo with a least 3 scans (out of the goal of 9 scans),西安夜网 which covers about

20 percent of the full celestial sphere

Optical observations certainly have not been ruled out. A Type III civilization on the

would have the technological ability (as we understand) to harness the energy output of an entire galaxy. Surely this could not go unnoticed. Unfortunately or fortunately there are hundreds of billions of galaxies.

states the number of communicating civilizations in our own galaxy is a multiplication of the number of stars formed that have planets which can support life that go on to develop intelligent life who develop technology to send radio waves into space times how long they send radio waves into space. Even the most conservative numbers entered equate to 1000 such civilizations in the galaxy. How long an advanced civilization sends electromagnetic radiation into space is probably much shorter than you think. Humans have been doing this for only 110 years and we are already winding down our radiation contribution as we enter the digital age.

There is a major flaw in the Jodie Foster film Contact; this builds on the previous point. We often imagine our radio sphere to expand out the 100 or so years we have been broadcasting and that it remarkedly resembles a time machine. Unfortunately we often forget the inverse square law where transmitted electromagnetic power loses its energy by 1/4 at twice the distance from the transmitter. A few light years away, our radio signals would be indistinguishable from background noise.

Then why bother with SETI? A civilization that WANTS to be heard will do everything to amplify, focus, and intelligently direct a signal to likely candidates within a few hundred light-years. As we refine our detection skills, we are able to detect atmospheric conditions in exoplanets. Those in the Goldilocks zone that seem a great candidate are the ones we would focus on. Perhaps another civilization is doing the same but we arent listening well enough. The sky is pretty big afterall.


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