Nearly 40 years ago, the two Voyager spacecraft left Earth. Aboard each was a time capsule of humanity for extraterrestrials: a golden record containing sounds and images portraying the diversity of life and culture on Earth, including a diagram of DNA, greetings in 55 languages, a map of our solar system's position relative to stellar landmarks, the sound of a kiss, Louis Armstrong's "Melancholy Blues" and "Dark Was the Night -- Cold Was The Ground" by Blind Willie Johnson. Since culture and technology don’t stand still, Science Friday asks: "If humanity were to send another Golden Record to the stars, what would it contain?" An expert panel will review submissions from the public, and a new Golden Record will be unveiled on October 7. [more inside]
"No one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilization, but it is certainly worth further study. Working out the strength of the signal, the researchers say that if it came from an isotropic beacon, it would be of a power possible only for a Kardashev Type II civilization. If it were a narrow beam signal focused on our Solar System, it would be of a power available to a Kardashev Type I civilization. The possibility of noise of one form or another cannot be ruled out, and researchers in Paris led by Jean Schneider are considering the possible microlensing of a background source by HD164595. But the signal is provocative enough that the RATAN-600 researchers are calling for permanent monitoring of this target." [more inside]
The Planet Hunters citizen science project has flagged a star 1400 light years away in the constellation Lyra that exhibits irregular, asymmetrical changes in brightness which have been difficult (but not impossible) to explain via natural phenomena. Mainstream media coverage is rushing to ask whether the behavior might indicate alien intelligence at work. But Reddit (and Betteridge) are skeptical.
“In 1999, two Canadian astrophysicists, Stéphane Dumas and Yvan Dutil, composed and sent a message into space. The message was composed of twenty-three pages of bitmapped data, and was sent from the RT-70 radio telescope in Yevpatoria, Ukraine, as part of a set of messages called Cosmic Call.” [more inside]
Seth Shostak, director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute, suggests in a NYT Op-Ed that we should "offer the aliens Big Data."
Such a large corpus — with its text, pictures, videos and sounds — would allow clever extraterrestrials to decipher much about our society, and even formulate questions that could be answered with the material in hand.Previously, Stephen Hawking has disagreed.
Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something. Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?” It turns out that when it comes to the fate of humankind, this question is very important. Depending on where The Great Filter occurs, we’re left with three possible realities: We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re fucked.
Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication is a free book (PDF) from NASA. The premise is that communication with alien lifeforms will have some (cautious) analogues to interpreting past cultures, and to the work that anthropologists and linguists do cross-culturally. Among the 16 chapters are: Beyond Linear B - The Metasemiotic Challenge of Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence; Learning To Read - Interstellar Message Decipherment from Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives; and, Mirrors of Our Assumptions: Lessons from an Arthritic Neanderthal.
SETI chief astronomer Seth Shostak on how soon we might find evidence for extraterrestrial life (SLYT)
The Fermi Paradox poses the question, if intelligent ETs exist why haven't they shown up yet. Now a new mathematical study shows that self-replicating probes using sling-shot maneuvers (paper) could explore the entire galaxy in just 10 million years. Perhaps they're already here, hiding, waiting for our technology to reach a level that can de-cloak them.
The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
NASA has announced that the latest Kepler data dump contains 1,091 extrasolar planet candidates, with 196 Earth-sized planets among them. The data shows "a clear trend toward smaller planets at longer orbital periods is evident with each new catalog release. This suggests that Earth-size planets in the habitable zone are forthcoming if, indeed, such planets are abundant." Total Kepler candidates as of February 27, 2012: 2,321. [more inside]
SETI Institute to shut down alien-seeking radio dishes. Lacking the money to pay its operating expenses, Mountain View's SETI Institute has pulled the plug on the renowned Allen Telescope Array, a field of radio dishes that scan the skies for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. The timing couldn't be worse, say SETI scientists. After millenniums of musings, this spring astronomers announced that 1,235 new possible planets had been observed by Kepler, a telescope on a space satellite.
Larry King questions Stephen Hawking's recent argument - that we should not try to talk to aliens - and other matters extraterrestrial with the physicist Michio Kaku, Seth Shostak of SETI, the science fiction writer and astronomer David Brin and the actor Dan Aykroyd (1, 2, 3) (Previous, previous)
"If we are ever contacted by aliens, the man I'm having lunch with will be one of the first humans to know." Jon Ronson meets Paul Davies, the Chair of the Seti (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Post-Detection Task Group.
It's been 35 years this month since the Arecibo message was sent from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, when the 1,679 digit message was sent once, towards Messier 13. More messages have been sent sky-wards since, in attempts for communication with extra terrestrial intelligence (CETI), with the (ill-fated) Team Encounter was instrumental in Cosmic Call 1999 and 2003 (more details: 58 page PDF). The more complex three-section Teen-Age Message was sent out in 2001, including a musical piece entitled 1st Theremin Concert for Aliens. In 2008 NASA sent the Beatles into space, transmitting "Across the Universe" for the 40th anniversary of the song's recording, the 45th anniversary of the Deep Space Network (DSN), and the 50th anniversary of NASA (prev). If you felt left out of the sending of signals, Talk To Aliens offered a "deep space e-mail service" and a certificate of interstellar broadcast (prev), but no more. Now Sent Forever offers a long-lasting alternative to traditional greeting cards, or simply the worst tie-in for Apollo 11. [more inside]
The "Great Filter" is a hypothetical barrier to explain why civilisations are so unlikely to progress to the point of inter-stellar colonisation that we have not encountered any in 40 years of looking. Maybe humanity has already negotiated the filter - as some massive evolutionary improbability - or perhaps it lies in our future as an almost-certain threat to our existence? We should hold our breath as we look for evidence of life on Mars.
Fears that malevolent aliens will tune into this week's broadcast of The Beatles' song "Across the Universe" have been voiced by scientists.
The first was found just fifteen years ago, after centuries of speculation. As of today, we're up to 227 and counting. Most are just wobbles in data, but we have pictures and exotica too. And we are looking for more (although some think we shouldn't look very hard and others are drawing some surprising conclusions). The science and technology of finding the most fascinating and elusive types demands some of the cleverest engineering, yet you can even have a go for yourself. Previously on Metafilter
September 30th, 2002, scientists intercepted a 10 minute radio burst from the galactic center, 26,000 Light Years away. 77 minutes passed, and it repeated. And again. The signal repeated 5 times that evening.
Some think those signals are weird mysterious. Others think they are interesting mysterious.
Some think those signals are weird mysterious. Others think they are interesting mysterious.
The number of communicating alien civilizations = R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L. The formula is the Drake Equation, and modern estimates range from several thousand to none but us. You can solve it yourself. What is your estimate of the number of alien civilizations out there?
'Alien' art Artist Jonathon Keats has made abstract paintings from SHGb02+14a, a radio signal discovered by SETI@home in 2003, then dubbed their best candidate yet for an attempt at contact by intelligent aliens. Keats is also returning the favour, broadcasting his work into space from the Judah L. Magnes Museum using CB radio.
Aliens and Children. This website features a series of drawings made by children who were abducted by aliens for the purpose of creating a new race of alien/human hybrids. They successfully resisted the aliens by using a thought screen helmet which blocks the telepathic control aliens have over humans.
Why SETI's search for intelligent extraterrestrial life is different from the work of proponents of Intelligent Design. An interesting bit of argumentation regarding the distinction between the simple signals searched for by SETI and the complex signals used in arguments for ID.
Call the aliens using first intentional intergalactic communication system. Just $3.99 a minute, though prospective callers should know that they aren't really breaking new ground. Do you need inspiration about what historic message to send? The first commercial telegraph message was the poetic "What hath God wrought?" The first telephone call was the famous "Come here Watson, I want to see you." The first email, rather boringly, announced the availability of email. Stuck on the first word? Follow the path of Edison, who coined the word "hello" as a telephone greeting over Alexander Graham Bell's "Ahoy Ahoy." (Audio version) Just hope that you don't receive a collect call in return.
[x] ok to transmit this posting into outer space (via space.craigslist.org)
Fight AIDS @home is a valuable resource for your "wasted" computer cycles. Instead of search the universe for extraterrestrial life, shouldn't we be searching our world for cures to our own diseases?
ET Could Hack SETI. SETI, which uses down time on the computers of thousands of volunteers to search for intelligent signals from space, has a potential problem—besides information, a broadcast to us from an alien intelligence could also carry a computer virus. Leonard David writes in the main link's space.com article that physicist Richard Carrigan (who works here) takes it seriously. He thinks SETI should figure out how to decontaminate any signals it receives.
Nearly 4 years ago, Seti@Home project started.Today, thanks to millions of CPU and loyal users, after picking 200 interesting signals out of a few billions, they have started rescanning the most interesting ones at Araceibo. One step closer to ET.
Oxford University is looking to take advantage of distributed computing to find a cure for smallpox. Much like SETI@Home, the Smallpox Protection Project and Oxford's effort to cure cancer rely on individual computer users to download and run screensaver software to crunch numbers in an effort to speed up processing of large amounts of data. How will this kind of initiative impact science in the future? Can we, by volunteering our processors, be part of the quest for a cure?
Have aliens answered our message? In 1974, as part of the SETI project, an encoded message was sent from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. On the 20th August, near the Chilbolton radio telescope in Hampshire, England, an amazing crop circle was discovered that appeared to answer the message....
Fiber cut silences SETI@Home. In case you were wondering why you can't upload a data unit. It's supposed to be fixed today.
Science on the cheap! Now this is cool. (more inside)
Popular Power has released version 0.1.1 of its Worker software. It works kind of like SETI@home, except that the computing power can be organized to work on things like Influenza vaccine research, and they plan to compensate you for the cycles they use.