SETI Turns 50 Years Old

The systematic program for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) can be dated to fifty years ago this past week. It began with astronomer Frank Drake, who turned a 85-foot radio telescope to the sky in search for a signal:

The astronomer's solitary vigil lasted for a few weeks; he ran out of telescope time with little to report. Nevertheless, his pioneering effort sparked the genesis of a 50-year project known as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, now an international research program with a multimillion-dollar budget. It has included renting time on some of the biggest radio telescopes in the world—such as the 1,000-foot dish at Arecibo in Puerto Rico, featured in the James Bond movie "GoldenEye." [...]

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence, once considered a quixotic enterprise at best, has now become part of mainstream science. In the past decade or so, over 400 planets have been found orbiting nearby stars, and astronomers estimate there could be billions of Earth-like planets in the Milky Way alone. Biologists have discovered microbes living in extreme environments on Earth not unlike conditions on Mars, and have detected the molecular building blocks of life in deep space as well as in meteorites. Many scientists now maintain that the universe is teeming with life, and that some planets could harbor intelligent organisms.

via Glenn Reynolds | Photo: NASA

Previously on Neatorama:
Earth is Becoming Less Detectable to Extraterrestrials
Searching for Aliens to Cost School System $1 Million

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maybe I should of used the word ontological instead of existential. Because sometimes I believe that it's like 'The Missing Piece" and that search for inteligent life is as if holding up a mirror to ourselves.
I did think nonchalantly beyond the graves of all the yesteryears and those ahead. And I did think a bit of what you have well said , but what I gather is that if a discovery occurred within our lifetimes (now)--as in earth looking out into space, then Google takes a portion of the moon or whatever and begins an express route towards an evolutionary chain reaction. If we become disconnected from ourselves biologically to the point in which our extinction is a byproduct for connecting universal intelligence, then doesn't that possibility open an emptiness within us along the way? This thought comes from the idea that we ourselves will most likely not make contact, or our ancestors, but we may through technological means. So the profound affect on our cultural development is a real big question mark to me. You are right, but I just see it as a phantom pain, albeit, a bionic man prosthetic replacement.

It's easy to get complicated and convoluted here. I love it.
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@pignose baby:

I think the key phrase missing from your comment is "in our lifetime."

Astronomers are used to thinking on a longer scale than most of us. Say we discover life 20 light years away, and it takes us a thousand years to develop the technology to get there. Who cares how long it takes? It took 300 yearsto send craft to look at the moons Galileo saw, and 100,000 years to set foot on the moon our ancestors had been gazing at. Just knowing there's something else out there could have a profound affect on our technological and cultural development.

Enlarging our perspective on the universe is rarely a bad thing. It would force us to re-examine some age-old questions from a new vantage point.
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A nice ending to an interesting article, but I disagree. Wouldn't it make us more alone as a wider stretch of void opens existentially by the discovery of whatever intelligent life is beyond our capabilities of reaching?
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