Sunday, October 14, 2007

The search for intelligent life

By Libby

Numbers make my eyes glaze over in thirty seconds or less, but I love science and this new gizmo rocks my socks off.
The switch has been thrown on a telescope specifically designed to seek out alien life.

Funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the finished array will have 350 six-metre antennas and will be one of the world's largest.

The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) will be able to sweep more than one million star systems for radio signals generated by intelligent beings. [...]

The finished instrument will be able to study an area of the sky 17 times larger than that possible with the Very Large Array in New Mexico.

How cool is that? I can't wait for interplanetary contact.


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Blogger Swampcracker said...

Before a telescope array goes online, it must first be calibrated so that a baseline can be established. One takes a reading of background noise -- any signals above background noise may be evidence of intelligent life. Since we don't know whether or not intelligence life exists within any sector of sky, one must focus the array on an area of sky where intelligent life is known NOT to exist. There is one place on Earth that meets this criteria: Our nation's capital, Washington DC..

11:31:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

LOL swampcracker.

8:47:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Not much intelligent life, agreed - but a lot of RF.

I have severe doubts as to whether we will ever detect anything - not because there isn't life everywhere, but because you would have to catch a civilization in a certain and probably brief stage in its development where high power broadcasting is going on. That stage would also have to have occurred an awfully long time ago.

I sometimes wonder when I'm on the air (I'm a Ham) if some of my brainless conversations will be decoded on the other side of the galaxy 200,000 years from now. I'm not sure I'm qualified to be the spokesman for mankind.

9:11:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I think you make a fine spokesman for humanity Fogg.

11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

We have a lot of high powered broadcasting going here but, still, no signs of intelligent life.

Spokesperson for humankind? I'm not qualified either. Any volunteers?

8:14:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Don't look at me. I'm a terrible public speaker.

8:36:00 PM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

But Libby, you're a great blogger, and somewhere in the dark matter of the Universe, nibbles and bytes account for something. Aw, you can do it.

9:49:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Thanks for the encouragement swampcracker.

11:43:00 AM  

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