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Proceedings Paper

SETI turns 50: five decades of progress in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence
Author(s): J. C. Tarter; A. Agrawal; R. Ackermann; P. Backus; S. K. Blair; M. T. Bradford; G. R. Harp; J. Jordan; T. Kilsdonk; K. E. Smolek; J. Richards; J. Ross; G. S. Shostak; D. Vakoch
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Paper Abstract

The 1959 Nature article by Giuseppe Cocconi and Phil Morrison1 provided the theoretical underpinnings for SETI, accompanied in 1960 by Project Ozma2, the first radio search for signals by Frank Drake at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). Well over 100 search programs have been conducted since that time, primarily at radio and optical wavelengths, (see www.seti.org/searcharchives) without any successful signal detection. Some have suggested that this means humans are alone in the cosmos. But that is far too strong a conclusion to draw from far too small an observational sampling. Instead of concluding that intelligent life on Earth is unique, it is more appropriate to note that in 50 years our ability to search for electromagnetic signals has improved by at least 14 orders of magnitude and that these improvements are still occurring at an exponential rate. At the SETI Institute we are in the process of reinventing the way we search in order to fully utilize these technological enhancements. We are now building the setiQuest community and we intend to get the world involved in making our searches better. We need to find ways to harness the intelligence of all Earthlings in order to better seek out extraterrestrial intelligence. If we do it right, we just might succeed, and we might also change how we see ourselves, and make our own world a better place.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 September 2010
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 7819, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XIII, 781902 (7 September 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.863128
Show Author Affiliations
J. C. Tarter, SETI Institute (United States)
A. Agrawal, SETI Institute (United States)
R. Ackermann, SETI Institute (United States)
P. Backus, SETI Institute (United States)
S. K. Blair, SETI Institute (United States)
M. T. Bradford, SETI Institute (United States)
G. R. Harp, SETI Institute (United States)
J. Jordan, SETI Institute (United States)
T. Kilsdonk, SETI Institute (United States)
K. E. Smolek, Maxima Software Inc. (United States)
J. Richards, SETI Institute (United States)
J. Ross, SETI Institute (United States)
G. S. Shostak, SETI Institute (United States)
D. Vakoch, SETI Institute (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7819:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XIII
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov; Paul C. W. Davies, Editor(s)

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