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    SETI Shut Down - Aliens Who Sent Radio Signals 400 Years Before Radio Was Invented Will Be Disappointed
    By Hank Campbell | April 27th 2011 10:59 PM | 26 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0® and co-author of "Science Left Behind".

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone...

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    Citing a lack of revenue, the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California has shut down the Allen Telescope Array of radio dishes that have been scanning the skies for signals from extraterrestrial life for decades.

    And that's the problem, isn't it?   As optimistic as it sounds to laypeople, the success metric was that a civilization more than 400 years away - because we know there are none closer - would have to have sent low-tech radio signals to a planet that lacked the technology to receive radio signals when they sent them.   The aliens basically would have needed to know the future, which means they didn't need radio waves.

    SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson cited 'inadequate government support' as the reason the system was put into hibernation.   I know, I know, if it's a great idea yet has no profit motive, no one except the government will fund it.  In one sense that is true, government funds a lot of stupid things because it isn't their money, but in another sense if the idea is good and you do the work, private donors will fund it, provided it is a good idea and the books show the money is used responsibly.  

    It's easy, really.  The number one job - the only job - of a non-profit CEO is to be out there pressing the flesh to make sure you have enough money.  That's it.   SETI insists that the timing is awful because over 1,200 possible new planets have been detected even farther away, meaning alien civilizations would have had to have sent radio signals thousands of years before they even knew we would invent radio.   And only if they invented radio.

    SETI had its day but the notion that all projects need to be perpetual is a silly one.   Hey, even the ESP lab at Princeton had to shut down after 28 years, and a lot more people believe in that than aliens sending us FM signals.

    But still going strong, incontrovertible proof that my non-participatory stance is working, is the WETI program.   Success rate so far: 100%

    Comments

    As both an astronomer and a science fiction author, I've had my differences with the folks at the SETI Institute, both over their search logic and some ways they ran their programs. Nevertheless, I have to say this article takes smug silliness to whole new levels. Did the author even bother studying up on this complex topic, before leaping "Eureka" over a sophomoric sophistry?

    In fact, SETI boils down to doing what we apes have done for millions of years, peering a little farther and listening a little harder - a program that served us well in the trees and that helped propel the West's rapid rise and the great benefits of science. If the Allen Array were set to work simply surveying the sky to characterize interesting objects and emissions in the microwave band, it would be uncontroversial... and would cost a thousandth what it has for NASA and ESA to do similar surveys of sky sources in the gamma ray, x-ray, UV and infrared ranges. Reductio ad absurdem applies in BOTH directions here. Toward SETI for the blunder of letting just one kind of purported microwave-emitting object (alien broadcasters) dominate their justification meme...

    ...and this blogger, for leaping for a "gotcha" instead of pausing to ask -- "what is the BASIC thing going on here?"

    But indeed, aliens are interesting to talk about. I happen to be among the critics who think the Allen Array has been used all wrong. Nevertheless, there are many possible scenarios under which ET civilizations might be detectible in radio without "knowing 400 years in advance" that we would be here. Note just one. Earth's oxygen atmosphere is detectible at some hundreds of light years. It would cost an advanced civilization little to "ping" such sites once per year... or per decade or century... basically asking "anybody there yet?" If done cheap & automatic, why not? Then there is eavesdropping on INTRA-alien radio traffic and so on.

    It's a fascinating topic. In many ways, the SETI folk have brought this on themselves through a kind of narrowminded monomania. But they do not deserve to be ridiculed by people who don't bother to think broadly... and then are smug about it.

    With cordial regards,

    David Brin
    http://www.davidbrin.com
    blog: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/
    twitter: http://twitter.com/DavidBrin1

    Gerhard Adam
    It would cost an advanced civilization little to "ping" such sites once per year... or per decade or century... basically asking "anybody there yet?" If done cheap&automatic, why not?
    Well, perhaps its the 400 year turn around?  The point remains the same, since no matter when such a civilization sent a "ping", it would still be 800 years before a response returned.  So by even the most optimistic evaluation, any signal that would've been detected would've had to originate 400 years in the past with the additional qualification that any response we sent wouldn't arrive until 400 years into the future.

    I'm not sure what the point is, beyond satisfying the idle curiosity that we detected a signal.  It certainly wouldn't be of much practical value and could possibly be the worst thing we ever engaged in.
    ...we apes have done for millions of years, peering a little farther and listening a little harder - a program that served us well in the trees...
    Actually what served us well was not announcing ourselves without knowing where our enemies were or what risks we faced.   The "rule" that enabled us to survive for millions of years was to be quiet ... .not loud.

    I'm sorry, but the entire SETI program was ill-conceived by presuming that any "advanced civilization" would be comparable to our own and benevolent.  Judging from our own historical evidence of advanced civilizations coming into contact with more primitive civilizations, it was perhaps the most foolish thing we could've done.

    There is no broad thinking involved here ... only naivete.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    I think some ideas outlive their usefulness.  At the time when you and I were younger, 'signal' was never going to be limited to radio waves and the anthropomoprhic belief that alien civilizations would be like us in communication didn't persist like it does in that community now - it was not accepted in cognitive science of the 1950s much less today.  SETI was a starting point to most proponents.  Now, no one there seems to get that communication might not involve a shockingly narrow range literally 50 years out of date, their work is instead an exercise in self-preservation.  The lack of any theoretical work means not only have they not been scientifically relevant, they may be devolving into pseudoscience.

    Was I doing an examination of SETI?   No, too many people have done a much better job.     I can accept you might not like the tone but I can't accept your assertion that they are still "peering a little farther and listening a little harder" for the advancement of science or society.   Doing something a long time is not necessarily doing it well, much less thoroughly enough to merit continued existence.  

    Your point about low cost may be solid - but that means people have to be talking about them and I am pointing out what many don't know, namely that they are essentially defunct.   I don't know how many people will read this article but plenty will disagree with me and maybe they will go to SETI and donate money.

    If you have a science article on a better approach to receiving, much less understanding a signal, that is what we should be talking about.    I know the audience here would love a guest post on something less 'old news' than SETI, who clearly have not listened to any new ideas for decades.   
    Sorry, you have not improved matters an iota. You make a broad assertion "it's been long enough" without discussing a scintilla of context, offering any insight into the vast "space" of band/volume/time and other factors that need to be explored, in order to settle down some of the numbers that so fascinate and mystify... nor do you cite a single reference or past discussion to indicate that you have even a clue what you are talking about.

    I'll offer one example of something a real science journalist would know, if he were going to cast grand aspersions on a topic area that both fascinates millions and might have epochal effects upon our descendants: the recent "Benford-cubed" paper demonstrated that the "pinging" approach (that I mentioned earlier) would be many thousands of times more efficient than that blaring "tutorial beacons" that the SETI Program early -on, over-optimistically pictured they would find.

    Hence, a very different array, proposed by the SETI LEAGUE - not the SETI Institute - would enlist a thousand amateurs to set up cheap, internet-lonked backyard dishes that would be far better suited than the Allen Array to detect such transient phenomena... covering the whole sky, all the time, in effect... at very low cost. And by the way, enabling the detection and study of non-alien sky phenomena like Quasars and black hole accretions at fantastic efficiency.

    You can see that I am a critic of the SETI Institute's narrowminded approach, as are you.

    Ah, but with this difference -- I bother to actually learn something about a topic before I shout unscientific, ill-informed blather that can only help stoke the malignity called Culture War. You, instead, seem actually to be proud to dismiss the entire notion of a universe in which civilizations other than our own might exhibit detectable traces -- intrinsically one of the most fascinating possibilities in our cosmos.

    Frankly, in this context, I find the phenomenon of YOU far more interesting than the temporary demise of the Allen Array. I had not thought to find the War on Science manifested in this place, and in this way.
    With cordial regards,

    David Brin
    http://www.davidbrin.com
    blog: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/
    twitter: http://twitter.com/DavidBrin1

    I'll now supply some links for those who actually have the courage and curiosity to explore a bit, before shooting their mouths off. Starting with the most technical --

    The Benford-cubed paper:
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1102.1938

    My "Great Silence" paper about the mysterious Fermi Paradox, the strange lack of signs, in the heavens, of extraterrestrial intelligent life. Quarterly Journal of Royal Astronomical Society, fall1983, v.24, pp283-309 (Downloadable at http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1983QJRAS..24..283B

    A big article in SEED Magazine about the METI imbroglio... or whether we shout shout into the cosmos...
    http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/who_speaks_for_earth/

    Or try the SETI Institute's own vast array of papers, e.g. on the "cosmic haystack"... the multivariable search space that they claim to have only begun exploring http://www.seti.org/page.aspx?pid=565

    And indeed, by the parameters they set up, it has definitely NOT been "long enough" - especially at such low cost for a scientific enterprise - to have explored the search space hard enough to eliminate anything other than "tutorial beacons"... certainly not eavesdropping on a Kardashev Type II civilization doing astro-engineering projects that OUR descendants may do someday. Projects that do not involved telepathically knowing that we're here, but that might spill detectable radiation we might pick up.

    If there are no signs of major projects being engaged in, even though top physicists deem them plausible someday for us to do... then it raises interesting questions for those with curiosity.

    I have mentioned 1% of the possibilities and things to be curious about, or potential phenomena to watch for. Nor have I mentioned more than a couple of the ways I criticize SETI. But one thing is certain. I have better things to do than waste more time here. I may be smug. But I'm smug and curious. Enjoy your narrow view.

    With cordial regards,

    David Brin
    http://www.davidbrin.com
    author of the Postman, EARTH, and
    The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?

    vongehr
    David, you missed an important link about advanced civilizations that waste time pinging to what is relative to them a bunch of apes.
    I go with Hank here, and that is not often. Astronomy will see how much biology is out there via spectroscopy all over the spectrum, that is science, not some Sci-Fi fans' silly fantasies.
    Hank
    I go with Hank here, and that is not often. 
    What's next, dogs and cats living together???  

    I am certainly not against the search but I am against continuing a method we sort of knew would be a failure and now will more obviously be a failure.  Nothing needs to be funded indefinitely just because Carl Sagan liked it decades ago.
    Wow, two comments from David Brin!

    Hank, when a Famous Writer gets riled enough to give you a shellacking, you know you have arrived :)

    Gerhard's argumentum ad metum does not persuade me. A space-faring civilization is not going to wait for radio signals to come and grab our planet for themselves. They will be using something like the James Webb telescope, only much more sensitive, to look for habitable planets. Having perfected cryogenic conservation (or maybe even a robot ship that assembles embryos upon arrival), they will launch a spaceship to every candidate. The risk of encountering an armed and dangerous civilization there is almost nil. Earth has been habitable for many hundreds of millions of years, humankind is a very late addition to the biosphere (and may not be around for long).

    Hank
    Hank, when a Famous Writer gets riled enough to give you a shellacking, you know you have arrived :)
    I suppose if we all agreed on everything, there would be no need for more than one of us.   If he has ideas on a good method to search for alien life, we'll happily introduce his work to an audience that may not have discovered him yet.   But objecting to style over substance - he knows full well the historical SETI method was a waste of time - isn't really helping us get to where we should be going, which a way to find (and interpret) a signal.

    Later today, I get to interview one of the lead engineers in part of the Mercury program, for its 50th anniversary coming up.   My favorite movie is "The Right Stuff" so let's hope he does not clobber me also.  :)
    Gerhard Adam
    A space-faring civilization is not going to wait for radio signals to come and grab our planet for themselves.
    You miss the point.  We've destroyed other societies that we were trying to help just as thoroughly as those we invaded.
    The risk of encountering an armed and dangerous civilization there is almost nil.
    Actually every civilization you encounter is likely to be "armed and dangerous" with the only positive aspect being the likelihood of them actually being able to travel to your planet being equally nil. 

    If there is no possibility of physical contact, then the point is moot and the entire process is little more than being cosmic pen pals.  However, physical contact is not only a point of great concern, but it should be the ultimate consideration in any such search.

    It seems to be perpetually overlooked that the mere act of landing on another planet and opening a hatch creates a possibility of compromising life on that planet.  It doesn't require an sinister motives nor warring, aggressive civilizations.  It can be as incidental as the introduction of a microbe that is unexpected.

    So while my argumentum ad metum may not seem persuasive ... it had better be something that everything takes extremely seriously if the idea of physical contact is even a remote consideration.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    While current science seems confident we'll never have extra-solar visitors, IMO we still have lots to learn that might ultimately change that.

    To me, Active-SETI is a lot like chumming for sharks........
    Never is a long time.
    I must have been unclear... my point is, *if* there are space-faring civilizations out there then any radio signals will hardly factor into the rationale for colonizing a planet. It isn't *us* they're interested in... it's a blue planet, a "goldilocks" habitat... the most precious resource in the galaxy. If they exist and if they are close enough to have detected Earth, then you can be sure their colonizing spaceship got under way many millenniae ago... in any case as soon as they're capable. It's the cheapest way for them to ensure perpetuation of their species... even if it's a one-way trip and if the first batch of hatchlings will be brought up by cybernetic nannies. A lot cheaper, in any case, than "terraforming" some airless, barren planet nearer to them. They'll be sending ships to dozens of habitable-planet candidates. The risk *to them* of encountering an armed and dangerous civilization at their destination that happens to be there just at the moment of their arrival is infinitesimally low, because the odds are so low.

    They'll be taking some weaponry along just in case, but in the extremely unlikely case they encounter a superior civilzation already ensconced at the destination they accept that this particular expedition fails. A lot of other things can go wrong for them... mechanical failure, crashing into a thumbnail-sized chunk of matter at 0.2 c... but like Columbus, they know and accept the risks.

    (I am assuming subluminal velocity but it seems a safe assumption given what we know of physics already. Other assumptions are that technological civilizations are rare and usually not long-lived, hence interstellar travelers even rarer and that we happen to be living during a period in the life of the Milky Way when none of them has yet spread across the galaxy.)

    If anything, radio signals may hold them back from targeting that planet, if they are hyper risk-avoidant types. Doubtful, though. It would be like deciding not to visit Yellowstone National Park because the caldera might break out right at that very moment :)

    Gerhard Adam
    Your reasoning is extremely biased and misses the point.  It is NOT easier to go to a planet like Earth than to "terraform" an airless, barren planet precisely because a planet within the "goldilocks" zone is likely to be inhabited.

    I realize there's a lot of assumptions being made here, but it would be much more difficult to deal with an existing set of lifeforms and the attendant risk they create for infection, disease, etc.  than to deal with something that has no life on it at all.

    You're naming of Columbus, shows just how quaint that attitude is, despite the reality that even that trip across the ocean introduced all kinds of diseases and problems despite the fact that we all live on the same planet and belong to the same species.

    What you're failing to appreciate it is that a trip to any habitable planet would require behaving no differently than the current standards for biosafety level 4.  It would be prohibitively expensive and restrictive, while the risks would be well out of proportion to any conceivable benefit.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You raise interesting points and they would make for another interesting discussion -- but they are unrelated to the risk that sending out a strong radio signal possibly, maybe carries.

    It's the weekend and I have a little more time.

    "Your reasoning is extremely biased and misses the point."

    No, YOUR momma!

    "You're naming of Columbus, shows just how quaint that attitude is, despite the reality that even that trip across the ocean introduced all kinds of diseases and problems despite the fact that we all live on the same planet and belong to the same species."

    Ah, but problems for whom? Germs introduced by the Spaniards wiped out most of the Native American population. By comparison the European colonizers suffered little from indigenous infectious disease. The hypothetical alien colonizers will know much more about their own immune systems than we do about ours.

    Sure, the danger when you visit a planet with a thriving biosphere is that some of the living things there want to eat you. But the obverse of the coin is that you can eat them first :)

    And if they're not tasty, grow your own food from the seed packets and sperm banks that you brought along.

    Easy pickings, man! Especially when compared to the staggering expenditure of time and money to turn a Mars-like planet into a self-sustaining biosphere where we can step out in shirtsleeves (if it can be done at all).

    The reason you cling to your argument is that you're pining for the 50s-era B movies like The Day The Earth Stood Still and the frisson of fear and excitement they gave you.

    The Fermi paradox tells us there are almost 100% certainly no space-faring civilizations in the Milky Way contemporaneous to us. I would say 99.999%, just to pull a figure out of a hat. I've explained how powerful, in the extremely unlikely event that there are any, the urge for them (and us, should we get to that point!) to colonize a habitable planet will be. Receipt of a radio message from a target planet might give them an added incentive (because it proves suitability for life) or it might induce them skip that planet (if they follow some sort of Prime Directive). When it comes to estimating the impact of sending out a "hello world!" into space, the difference either way is many digits to the right of the decimal point.

    Bottom line, if the aliens can come here they will. If they can't, a radio signal won't make any difference.

    Fear-mongering about radio signals bringing bug-eyed monsters (or a planet-busting missile!) here is just silly. Sending radio messages into space is silly but it is harmless. Unless, of course, taxpayer money is being wasted, in which case I'm against it.

    Gerhard Adam
    The hypothetical alien colonizers will know much more about their own immune systems than we do about ours.
    No good, since it isn't knowledge of the immune system that is required.  If you don't know the lifeforms you're dealing with, then you run the risk (and it goes it both directions).
    Sure, the danger when you visit a planet with a thriving biosphere is that some of the living things there want to eat you. But the obverse of the coin is that you can eat them first :)
    Once again that makes a huge assumption about the compatibility of life between different planets.  What makes you think that anything found on Earth would be "food" for aliens?  It could all prove to be toxic.

    It well be that there's a much simpler explanation for the Fermi Paradox, in that any space-faring civilizations that did go exploring invariably destroyed themselves because of a failure to take into account the biological components.  More importantly, other than the basic question of curiosity, I don't see any benefit at all to alien contact.  Perhaps this is a conclusion that a sufficiently advanced civilization also reached.  After all, if you know there's life on another planet, what possible benefit can accrue from contact?


    Mundus vult decipi
    Look guys, I am a contrarian. My liberal friends hear libertarianism from me and my libertarian friends think I am a raving liberal. So sure, I like to poke. But in this case, I believe this missive of Hanks was way below his normal standards (I liked the Feyerabend piece!) and showed a dismal lack of curiosity about the vast dimensionality of what should be a core topic of mind-interest. Are we alone? If so why?

    In that QJRAS paper I cited, I go into EIGHTY explanations and theories that have been offered, many of them delving into the roots of matters like planetary formation, the emergence of life, panspemia, the odds of developing intelligence & tool use and so on, all the way to the calculations of possible galactic waves of colonization, either by organic beings or Von Neuman self-replicating probes. A truly curious mind would find all this -- engaging 90% of cosmic time and millions of galaxies... just a tad interesting....

    ... but what I have lately found even more fascinating how DULL and predictable is the usual response, by most bright guys. From Hawking to Michio Kaku to Paul Davies etc. The response is nearly always "I KNOW the answer! And the rest of you are fooooools!" One arm-waved bit of illogic (e.g. "they would have needed esp to know to send a beam 400 years ago!") ... and Aha! Genius! ;-(

    I am no pal of the SETI Institute folk, who kicked me off their committees when I expressed doubts at THEIR smug assumption sets. Indeed, I am very harsh toward the side movement called "METI"... aiming to start blaring "yoohoo!" messages outward from Earth, in an attempt to poke at the experiment, when we should be quietly listening and learning. See:
    http://lifeboat.com/ex/shouting.at.the.cosmos

    But seriously, I feel like the adult in a kindergarten or Lord of the Flies. This topic both fascinates millions... billions... and brings out the laziest, smuggest impulses in people. If you can't bother to read up in a topic, especially one that is THE meta-topic, because it incorporates every field from physics and geology to biology, anthropology and so on... please don't advertise your ignorance to all the world.

    Hank
    I don't mind some criticism, it helps me hone my thoughts if I feel correct or change my mind if I am wrong - if the SETI folks had listened to criticism, any criticism, instead of just dismissing the Fermi paradox or anything else that came their way, they wouldn't be in this position.

    It is a fascinating topic that is ingrained in our culture, that is why I wrote about it.   But, again, SETI is not listening to me any more than they listened to you or anyone else.   A CEO that wants his baby to stay relevant needs to be keeping it relevant, not talking about how mean old government won't fund him, so their downfall is not because society doesn't think we should continue to seek the mysteries of the universe, it's because they have not kept up with the science as it has changed.    Your Lifeboat piece talks about how they became increasingly more insular and have squandered the goodwill of the SETI name.  Perhaps the only way for progress to be made is for SETI to fail completely.
    vongehr
    by most bright guys. From Hawking to Michio Kaku to Paul Davies etc.
    3 guys, one who claimed for ages that information must vanishes in black holes and one that is obviously going completely nuts. Are you sure who the bright guys are? Tell you a little secret: they mostly do not have names that are in everybody’s mouth.
    If you can't bother to read up in a topic, especially one that is THE meta-topic, because it incorporates every field from physics and geology to biology, anthropology and so on... please don't advertise your ignorance to all the world.
    You are so confident that you are the one having read up sufficiently on all relevant topics that you go ahead and announce your ignorance to the world just like the ones you look down upon. Guess what, the topic most relevant to the issue is, surprise surprise, in the blind spot of those most interested in it. You know what blind spot means in terms of selective perception theoretically, but can you really conceive of that your blind spot stays the same while you proudly add more and more topics through your filters? From what I see you write here (the pride and over confidence that you got it right and others are so “DULL”), you do not.
    As far as I understand the issue, it is in your blind spot that you share with all those who are obsessed with survival. You can go on and look at 'HUNDRED' more scenarios like that, it won't add nothing to the "EIGHTY" at all.
    Utterly bizarre person. Instead of engaging in the issues, or demonstrating that you have read up on any of them... any of them at all... you simply make a blanket assertion that after 30 years studying this topic, I can't know anything about it.

    You are offended by my assertion that I know something about a field? Then prove me wrong. Read the 80+ scenarios and tell us what's missing. Seriously, if you do I will be happy. I love fresh takes and ideas.

    But I expect none from you.

    You were supposed to ask Sascha about the "blind spot", the topic that is "most relevant" to the issue. Then, perhaps he will finally unveil to the world his "Suicidal Philosophy", which appears to be the notion that any technological civilization will progress to a hyper-accelerated point in time called "Singularity" and that the super-intelligence then emerging will rationally conclude that the only option is suicide.

    He hasn't supplied the argument for his assertion yet, we're all hoping he will soon.

    Hank, I do not disagree with your comment above. The increasingly cult-like atmosphere in the core SETI community - particularly the SETI Institute and its colleagues in Russia and elsewhere who are beaming capricious "messages" without discussing it with wiser heads... I am public in my tiff with all of that.

    But you don't get out of it so easily. Your posting dismissed SETI as a general human endeavor. Or at minimum ridiculed turning the Allen Array back on and letting the Institute get back to doing the part that I have always supported...

    ...actually performing a series of targeted scientific surveys in the microwave, sifting the sky for interesting anomalies... one of which, someday, might prove to be a sign of the most fascinating thing we might ever discover.

    That part... where the SETI Institute guys shut the heck up about the guru-stuff and do their #$%#! science, is an incredibly cheap investment that - even if it never finds a single sign of aliens - is a proud example of the human -ape spirit. If we weren't doing that (albeit cheaply) I'd be ashamed to be human.

    And btw... it really is the uber-topic, encompassing nearly all others. Try actually studying it, some time. I have given you some links. Cripes, it is a mind blow if we meet em and a mind-blow if we're alone.

    With cordial regards,

    David Brin
    http://www.davidbrin.com
    blog: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/
    twitter: http://twitter.com/DavidBrin1

    Hank
    But you don't get out of it so easily. Your posting dismissed SETI as a general human endeavor. Or at minimum ridiculed turning the Allen Array back on and letting the Institute get back to doing the part that I have always supported...
    I don't say how anyone can not dismiss SETI as a general human endeavor but you are taking my specific criticism of their methodology and then saying I don't think it is worthwhile to search for a signal.   I think hoping for radio waves is a waste of time and so do you, as your sentence right after that says.    SETI cannot be fixed, if they get money they will continue to do what they have been doing.  As I noted, there isn't a single piece of modern theoretical progress that has come out of there.  They captivated the imagination of the public with @home and also squandered it.

    I think you are getting hung up on my use of SETI specifically (and also you made it clear my tone was not appreciated) while you seem to be interchanging SETI and 'searching for things'.  SETI is a brand name at this point, not a concept.  To do what you suggest means using a different brand because if these guys had any interest in changing, they would have done it before they ran out of money.   I agree a different project would be worthwhile.  And cheap.  I can raise $4 million a year for a well-known brand like SETI in my sleep and that's all they burn.   But that guy ain't stepping down as CEO.



    Sorry, doesn't wash. I despise the whole METI "messaging" thing on many levels http://lifeboat.com/ex/shouting.at.the.cosmos
    above all because it is unscientific and rude to risk our descendants based upon an unexamined set of assumptions.

    SETI is another matter. The current management of the SETI Institute has behaved badly in many ways. And their narrow assumption set has meant that the instrument they built can only search a limited fraction of possibility space. An interesting subset, but not even the most likely one.

    Nevertheless, the core scientific research program of the Allen Array covers a remarkably large number od inquiry areas for the very very low cost. -- a hundredth that of a typical NASA mission to explore similar scales of bandwidth in the infrared, UV, X-Ray and gamma parts of the spectrum. I consider the array to be far more likely to find interesting astronomical objects than aliens - and it has. And this should have occurred to you... simply by asking "what am I looking at?" when I see these 42 radio telescopes in a field?

    But even in the context of searching for aliens, your original posting was snidely dismissive and off base. There are dozens of potential alien-generated phenomena that might create detectable presence, even without a beam being aimed at us (because of esp.) Fascinating possibilities, only some of which I've mentioned here. But you don't even respond to THOSE!

    Moreover where did you get your dismissal of the zone inside 400 light years? I haven't a clue where you got that.

    Sure, the SETI League's notion of 1,000 backyard scopes would catch a pinging event and many other transient phenomena better than the Allen ARRAY... but that is ALSO SETI!

    As for the "brand" it is promoted by Jill Tarter who was played by Jodie Foster. I couldn't be that kind of salesman. They are in trouble because the University of California can't hold up their side of the bargain at present.

    Hank, do homework. Better yet, be curious. I've given you the links. (Dang, why is EVERYBODY so damned sure of themselves in this "topic without any subject matter"?)
    db

    Are all of these childish, passive-aggressive, glib remarks from grown adults really needed? No.

    Do they help your cause to viewers like me? ..."Negative, Ghost Rider!"

    I realize this "article" is around a year old, but man, really, on every single little new/old "article", people here just twist and manipulate words of what other people say and continuously try to degrade each other's intelligence. It's just sad. I was looking for a decent website to be able to see professional information, journalism, and the occasional debate through accredited scientists and scientific journalists, but that's obviously not here, so before I depart from this site, I must throw in my input, since everyone else tends to.

    Brought to you in context regarding responses to Barratt, but not limited to by any means at all:

    Newsflash: Mr. Campbell, this main post you wrote wasn't exactly an, "article" by a longshot. It's a blog. A scientific, non-biased account of the details involving a true first-person perspective of an unidentified flying object that was seen, on Earth, could easily be on this site, so don't act like this is some, "purely science, no assumption" site. There are tons of speculation, bias, and personal opinions from the majority of bloggers here, or, excuse me, "journalists?". At least hers would be grounded to the scope of what happened, not unlike your main blog.

    Hank Campbell, you're supposed to be a leader here. Act like one, instead of portraying yourself as a spoiled, snobby jerk. That remark/insinuating insult you wrote right before Barratt's post at 0045 hrs (30-4-11) just set me off.

    A little more empathy and leadership through superior example and explanation, a lot less hypocrisy behind the veil of, "I'm open and willing to listen to what people have to say".

    Deconstructively Constructive Criticism,

    Cpl. Legind, USMC
    "Acta, non verba"

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but "a true first-person perspective of an unidentified flying object that was seen, on Earth" is boring and occurs hundreds of times a day.  So what?

    However, if your point is to presume that such unidentified objects are alien spacecraft, then again I have to correct you and point out that there are NO "true first-person" accounts.

    People are free to speculate within the realm of what they can demonstrate, or they are free to express their opinions in whatever direction they choose.  However, the latter is NOT entitled to any special scientific consideration and if I think you're an idiot, then I'm just as free to express that.

    If someone wants to speculate about science, then it is only reasonable that we make an attempt at plausibility and try to make a logical argument as to why a particular speculation might be worth considering.  No one is submitting a peer reviewed paper, but I also am not interested in reading some anonymous source absolutely swearing that they have just been turned into a vampire by an alien crew from some planet 30+ light years away. 
    Mundus vult decipi