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Sunday, December 20, 2009

CHAPTER 4: SEEKING THE LIGHT—SETI (Part 9)

The following continues the serialization of Chapter 4 on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:


Are You Interested in Becoming a SETI Contributor?


There are various websites available for anyone interested in being part of the SETI program, for it has, in a way, sadly, but in other ways, gratifyingly, taken on a warm, fuzzy, peoples’ mission. Brochures can theoretically (my messages never received a response) be obtained by writing to join@setileague.org, and information at info@setileague.org. There is a membership fee of $50/year. Their Project Argus is a real time microwave SETI project linking 5,000 small radio telescopes from around the world to monitor the entire sky. You can participate by building your very own telescope for around a thousand dollars. There are only 121 currently operational.


There are (or were) four more microwave SETI projects: Project Beta (Planetary Society, Paul Horowitz), Project Phoenix (SETI Institute, Seth Shostak, info@SETI.org), SETI@home (UC Berkeley, et al, Dan Wertheimer, www.setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/) and Southern SERENDIP (SETI Australia Centre, et al, Frank Stootman, F.Stootman@uws.edu.au). In particular, SETI@home is reportedly linked to 2 million computers from 225 countries, making it the world’s largest supercomputer. They all predict their chances of success as unknown. Project Phoenix, for example, announced in 2004 that no signals were detected.


There are more than 1500 members from 66 countries involved in SETI. Among some of the user group pages are from:


o SETI.Germany,

o Baha’i SETI,

o Let’s Kick Some Alien Butt Team,

o Yahoo SETI Club,

o AOL Beta Team,

o Team Truth Seeking,

o WeAreNotAlone Team,

o SETI@Taiwan,

o Very Big Ear Team, and

o SETI Turkey Team,


just a few of the hundred odd organizations dedicated to the sport.


Incidentally, if you are able to individually design, build and operate a system that actually receives an ETI signal, you will no doubt win a Nobel Prize. So what do you do if you score a hit? Read what The Planetary Society suggests, then consider the following:


o First, contact the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) operating out of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. CBAT is the clearinghouse for new space discoveries and was created in Germany in the 1880’s, which eventually moved to Cambridge, and is currently directed by Daniel Green. You will be faced with at least a minor problem because no one has yet reported an ETI signal. You will thus need to hurdle some bureaucratic-computer interface hurdles. So, after the necessary interval of frustration, send an e-mail to cbat@cfa.harvard.edu to log your entry with all the relevant details. If you are absolutely sure of your luck, you can cc your local media.

o Then, contact your most trusted observatory to see if they can confirm your finding. However, telescope time is booked months in advance, so don’t hold your breath. At this point, if you truly detected something real and alien, turn on your television, for the world should already be stunned by news from CNN or Fox. But if not, yet, proceed.

o Re-check your information and, if still viable, try the International Telecommunication Union, which reports to the United Nations, and is headquartered in Geneva. The Secretary-General is Hamadoun Toure of Mali. Well, at least Wired magazine suggested this pathway. A phone number is 41 22 730 511, with itumail@itu.int for general inquiries. Lots of luck. Have you ever tried working with the UN on anything which has to be swiftly managed? However, Dr. Toure has a PhD from the University of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics of Moscow.

o Failing all the above, go to your favorite local TV station, or, better yet, talk them into coming over to film your monumental breakthrough, for you simply will have the greatest discovery of this millennium. If you’ve instead detected something not quite so epochal, well, that was in the spirit of this follow-up guide.


As you explore the field, though, as of today, NASA does not do SETI. Only private organizations do. Perhaps your effort should be focused on the Federal government, for, in consideration of the trillions to be spent on Afghanistan/Iraq and billions for farm payments to the dead, a few million, maybe even hundreds of millions, to develop the foundation that could be our lifeline to the future, certainly sounds like a cost-effective way to spend our precious tax dollars. Go lobby the U.S. Congress.


My next posting on SETI concludes this chapter. To follow will be The Golden Evolution on religion.


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Tropical Cyclone Laurence at 95 MPH should just about now be making landfall off the West Kimberley coastline of Australia:

There is also Tropical Cyclone Five in the Indian Ocean, now at 40 MPH, and loitering northeast of Mauritius, which, at this time, is not being threatened.

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