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%
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