Blog

Sep 17 2019 - 5:31pm

On the Meaning of the Fermi Paradox

Carl L. DeVito

The many extra-solar planets the astronomers have found lends greater poignancy to Enrico Fermi’s famous question: “Where is everyone?”

My paper dealing with this question appeared in a special issue of Futures.

The paper begins with a thought experiment. Suppose that the universe had been scanned continuously, and at many frequencies, for intelligent signals. Suppose the scan had been programed to note any signal detected but then to simply continue the search. We would expect the rate at which societies would be found to depend, in some unknown way, on the number of societies and the rate at which such societies arise. Had this scan begun when the first society arose and continued to the present the number of societies detected would be expressible as a definite integral.

Aug 28 2019 - 7:07pm

Serpil Oppermann

What we currently know about a very elusive phenomenon known as intelligent ETs from other planets and interstellar communication through radio signals, is in the context of our still limited understanding of expressive life forms on Earth. The linguistic ability of an intelligent extraterrestrial being is imagined to be more or less similar to human linguistic systems, or to nonhuman earthly agencies, including plant and animal communications. Biosemiotics has taught us that “human language is the most recent evolutionary part of a vast global web of semiosis encompassing all living things”

Aug 3 2019 - 5:49pm

Russian astrophysicist and SETI pioneer Nikolai Kardashev passed away on August 3, 2019. Known for the Kardashev scale of extraterrestrial civilizations, in 1963 he conducted the first Soviet search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) by examining the quasar CTA-102 for signs of a technological civilization. In the following year, Kardashev organized the first Soviet conference on communication with extraterrestrial intelligence (CETI) at Byurakan Observatory in Armenia. Also in 1964, Kardashev proposed a scale that now bears his name, which is used for classifying extraterrestrial civilizations in terms of their energy use. Civilizations ranked on the Kardashev Scale range from Type I civilizations capable of using the energy resources of a single planet, to Type II civilizations that use the full energy of a star, to Type III civilizations that have access to the energy of an entire galaxy.

Jul 17 2019 - 9:57pm

By Morris Jones

2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the mission of Apollo 11, when humans walked on another world for the first time. While the flight was a tremendous achievement for science, technology and exploration, there's one aspect that's rarely discussed. In some ways, Apollo 11 was a proto-project for METI.

Jun 5 2019 - 12:12pm

By Morris Jones

In these high-tech times, most communications on Earth move very quickly, sometimes at the speed of light. Telecommunications and information technology have made it practical to quickly send messages around the world, and to practically any place in the world. We still have traditional postal systems, but their speed of delivery is modest compared to electronic systems. Thus, physical mail is sometimes dubbed "Snail Mail" for its slow pace.

Dec 11 2018 - 2:29pm

By Morris Jones

"Warning: The following broadcast contains the voices of deceased persons." That's unlikely to shock most readers of this blog. But for some Indigenous Australians, it's enough to make them switch off.

Messages like this sometimes appear in Australian media broadcasts. They reference cultural taboos amongst some (but not all) Indigenous Australians, but are only included when the voices of deceased people of Indigenous background are used.

Oct 10 2018 - 11:07pm

Seeing a SpaceX Launch

by James Benford, President of Microwave Sciences

On Sunday night, October 7, SpaceX launched a satellite into a polar orbit for Argentina from the Vandenberg, California launch site. The Falcon rocket flew north along California and came in sight where I was in Lafayette, 375 miles north of Vandenberg. I happened to be looking southward when the rocket came into view and I took the attached photos. The first photo shows the rocket with its exhaust streaming just before the first stage dropped away.

Oct 3 2018 - 1:15pm

by Derek Malone-France, Trustee, METI International

This Saturday, October 6, the "METI Debates" will be organized by the Universidad de los Andes at the Uniandino Debate Tournament (TDU).  METI is a co-sponsor of the event, along with the Center for Citizen Inclusion and Rights (INCIDE), and the Universidad del Rosario.

May 8 2018 - 3:55pm

 

It is with sadness that we report the passing of Patricia Margaret Sterns, a longtime leader in space law.

Apr 11 2018 - 10:06pm

John W. Traphagan

Katie Blaire

In my class on SETI at the University of Texas at Austin, my students’ first exam asks them to respond to the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man”.  The episode raises questions about the dangers of potential contact with extraterrestrials and our capacity to understand their motivations.  The phrase “To Serve Man” can be read two ways: 1) to provide service to humanity, or 2) to provide humanity as a dinner entrée.    I ask students to think about whether or not the scenario in the Twilight Zone episode makes sense and, consequently, whether or not contact with aliens might be dangerous.