SETI: A mini-history lesson

Hat Creek, CA, a decommissioned radio telescope amidst the new Allen Telescope Array telescopes.
Hat Creek, CA, a decommissioned radio telescope amidst the new Allen Telescope Array telescopes.

In September, 1959, two physicists at Cornell University, Philip Morrison and Giuseppe Cocconi, published a paper in the science journal Nature entitled “Searching for Interstellar Communications.”

The Telegraph used the anniversary as an opportunity to post a top ten list of sorts:  “SETI at 50: 10 key moments in the search for extraterrestrial life.” It’s a nice history lesson.

Critics of SETI often cite this 50-year search without a peep from an interstellar neighbor as proof that Earthlings are alone and special. Is scientifically scanning the Universe–which is, you know, big–for half a century  long enough to definitively claim our uniqueness?

What do you think?

3 Replies to “SETI: A mini-history lesson”

  1. Nice op-ed piece by astronomer Giovanni Bignami in the NY Times today.

    “Meanwhile, astronomy from ground and space has found extra-solar planets. The first was discovered in 1995 around a nondescript local star. Nearly 400 more are now catalogued in one of the greatest leaps of astronomical discovery. We have today a good insight into the existence of planets: We know they are the norm, not the exception, around stars.

    With 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, we have ground for optimism about the emergence of life somewhere else.”

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