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ET’s Phone to Home Has Been Disconnected

ET’s Phone to Home Has Been Disconnected

The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute has had to disconnect it’s Allen Telescope Array due to deep federal and State of California budget cuts, and will put a hold on listening for signs of life in space.  The institute, which is currently co-operated with the University of California Berkeley, has been researching extraterrestrial life in the universe since 1984.

According to the Associated Press, the shutdown of the SETI’s largest, most powerful telescopes comes at a very critical time in the institute’s work:

“There’s plenty of cosmic real estate that looks promising,” Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the institute, said Tuesday. “We’ve lost the instrument that’s best for zeroing in on these better targets.”

The shutdown came just as researchers were preparing to point the radio dishes at a batch of new planets. About 50 or 60 of those planets appear to be about the right distance from stars to have temperatures that could make them habitable, Shostak said.

In an open letter to its supporters (PDF), astronomers of the SETI outline the impact the forced-hibernation could have on not only the development of radio astronomy, but advancements in the tracking and moniotoring of space debris and the detection of new planets. The letter also makes a plea for solutions to the $1.5 million funding crisis:

“We must strive to find other sources of funding to supplement operations costs, and, very importantly, to support SETI science operations.”


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Photo credit: dreamstime


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9:36AM PDT on May 4, 2011

thanks for this post.

2:22PM PDT on May 1, 2011

Hat in hand to the private sector, then. But the whole enterprise is based on powerful assumptions and a lot of enthusiastic interpretation. There's no guarantee that any of the exoplanets have any habitation whatever -- the majority of them are unable to support carbon-based life at all, and it's hypothetical as to whether any remainders could harbor an intelligent, communicative and technical life form. The next assumptions hold that their development is the same as ours -- that they would transmit signals that could reach us before absorption by cosmic background radiation, instead of proceeding directly to cable-casting or narrowcasts that zip by us undetected.

SETI's assumptions were derived from the "Principle of Mediocrity," which asserted that Earth was nothing special or unique in the universe, and that there must be many worlds like ours. The Principle of Mediocrity is fading as more extra-solar world discoveries establish that Earth is an exception to the planets routinely detected: too large, orbiting too close to stars that are the wrong type for the stability that life needs.

It's true that refinements to the detection process are discovering smaller, closer-to-Earth-sized worlds, but so far, none has been emitting signals we could interpret as a '50s-era sitcom or a streaming broadcast featuring heads of state. The fact is, what they're looking for might not be there.

12:38PM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

Guess we'll just be surprised when another civilization shows up in the skies.....but at the rate we are ruining this planet we won't have anything they need!

9:15AM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

Very sad. I agree with Marie W. The more advanced we seem to get, the more barbaric we actually turn out being.

10:32PM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

This is one area where funding cuts are justified.

10:18PM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Tamara H. - Art is easily defined. But you would have to be familiar with the study of esthetics to know that.

The question you are really asking is what is "good" art? That decision sometimes takes decades to ascertain, but a decision can nevertheless be attained through consensus. The problem is, if artists can't make any money, most artists will turn to something else, and the art just won't get produced at all. So imagine a world without Bach, or Mozart, or the National Gallery of Art, or Mount Rushmore, or the Great Pyramids of Giza, or Michelangelo, or Herman Melville, all of which relied for support on some governmental entity that collected taxes at some point in their existence, and some for their ENTIRE existence.

If the richest country that has ever existed in the history of the known universe can't afford art (or a measly two million dollars for a SETI program), then America's greatness now lies far behind her.

Money will not rejuvenate the soul. Art will. So would an amazing event like contacting another intelligent, extra-terrestrial species of life - it would profoundly change human civilization, just like great art always has.

That's called penny wise and dollar foolish.

6:41PM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Our priorities are screwed up- one day of war could pay for SETI for decades.

2:40PM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

They shut down because they have known for ages that ET's are out there and more and more people want answers and the free energy these ET's have had for thousands of years and the illuminati and its clan don't want us to know all this because then they can't make millons anymore. There will come a day very soon that everybody can see the ET's. Here in Mexico they are very often seen.....

2:08PM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Robert H, Tamara H isn't all that radical. Many would conclude that she is spot-on with her views, particularly the arts comment as viewed by the ReThugLyingtwofacedsackofsh*tKochRoachicans.

12:51PM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Another first that will probably go to the Chinese along with men on Mars.

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