Tag: Jill Tarter

How Paul Allen Saved the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

by Daniel Oberhaus                   October 16, 2018                (motherboard.vice.com)

• On October 15th, Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen (pictured above) died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 65. In addition to owning the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers, Allen founded a brain science institute, an AI institute, and Stratolaunch Systems, which was exploring private spaceflight. In addition, Allen almost single-handedly rescued American SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) by donating over $30 million to scientists scanning the cosmos for intelligent radio signals.

• During the 1980’s, SETI was generally funded through participating university programs and endowments. In the 1990’s as university funding diminished, NASA began helping to fund SETI. But that only lasted a year before some in Congress complained that we were wasting money on a “great Martian chase.” SETI realized that the only hope for the future was private funding.

• Barney Oliver, the founder of Hewlett Packard laboratories and SETI supporter, contacted his billionaire buddies Bill Hewlett and David Packard, Intel founder Gordon Moore, and Paul Allen to successfully raise $20 million to keep SETI’s research moving forward.

• SETI was leasing global telescopes for its projects. But ultimately, SETI wanted its own dedicated array of radio telescopes to target hundreds of stars at a time. SETI’s founder, Jill Tarter, put together an array of 350 20-foot radio telescopes, but needed $25 million to purchase it. Paul Allen stepped up and footed the bill to create the first American SETI telescope array located in northern California. “There’s no doubt that Paul saved American SETI,” said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute.

• By 2007, the SETI array consisted of 42 telescopes. At the dedication ceremony, Paul Allen pushed the button to turn the system on. Over the past ten years, the SETI array has analyzed 200 million signals from thousands of stars, studied unusual high-energy radio emissions, and even scanned the “spliff-shaped” Oumuamua asteroid for signs of intelligent life. Paul Allen had turned his attention to other projects, and the array was shut down for a year in 2011 due to lack of continued funding, however. But Allen remained a public supporter. Said Allen, “I think everybody would admit [the prospect of communicating with extraterrestrials] is a long shot, but if that long shot comes in…”

 

On Monday evening, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 65. At the time of his death, Allen was the 47th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $26 billion. For the last few decades of his life, Allen used his wealth for a staggering variety of business and philanthropic interests. In addition to owning the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers, Allen founded a brain science institute, an AI institute, and Stratolaunch Systems, which was exploring private spaceflight.

Yet one of the research areas where Allen made the biggest impact was also the one he spoke about the least: the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Indeed, Allen almost single-handedly rescued American SETI by donating over $30 million to scientists scanning the cosmos for intelligent radio signals.

SETI’s early years in the United States was mostly defined by intermittent searches bankrolled with public funds, such as the National Science Foundation-funded program at Ohio State University which discovered the Wow! signal, or university endowments, such as Harvard’s Project Sentinel. By the early 90s, however, many of the early SETI programs had ended. The best hope for detecting extraterrestrial intelligence seemed to be NASA’s first foray into SETI, the Microwave Observing Program, which began observations in 1992.

             SETI founder, Jill Tarter

Less than a year after the start of NASA’s SETI program, it was killed by members of Congress who didn’t want to waste money on the “great Martian chase.” The SETI Institute, a nonprofit founded in 1984 by the radio astronomer Jill Tarter, wasn’t going to let SETI die at the hands of a few cynical congressmen, but it also realized that the only hope for the future was privately funded searches.

Fortunately, one of the earliest SETI Institute supporters was Barney Oliver, who founded and directed Hewlett Packard laboratories. So in 1993 Oliver called Bill Hewlett and David Packard of Hewlett Packard, Intel founder Gordon Moore, and Paul Allen to ask for their support.

“It probably only took Barney a few hours on the phone to get each of them to commit $1 million every year for the next five years,” Seth Shostak, the senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, told me on the phone. “I’m not sure any of them were particularly interested in SETI, but they were interested in whatever Barney thought was a good idea.”

This $20 million commitment bankrolled Project Phoenix, a SETI program that ran from 1995 to 1998. Over the course of three years, Project Phoenix rented time on the Parkes radio telescope in Australia and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to scan for signals from 800 stars within 200-light years of Earth.

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If Universe is Ocean, Humans Have Searched For Aliens in Swimming Pool, Claims New Study

by Nirmal Narayanan                  October 10, 2018                   (ibtimes.sg)

• The Italian/American physicist, Enrico Fermi, famously asked, if there are millions of galaxies and stars out there in the deep space, why humans have not met any advanced intelligent alien forms until now?

• ‘It is idiotic to conclude intelligent aliens do not exist nearby just because humans haven’t found them,’ said SETI astronomer Jill Tarter.

• Scientists haven’t found any intelligent extraterrestrials yet just because we have not started looking for them vigorously. A new study conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University has revealed that humans have searched just 0.00000000000000058% of the universe to find potential alien signals. In other words, if the universe was an ocean, humans have searched for aliens in barely a swimming pool’s worth of water.

• For its part, NASA recently revealed that it is working to locate alien civilizations by examining “Technosignatures” of life, including laser emissions, Dyson spheres and heat signatures in deep space.

 

A new study conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University has revealed that humans have searched just 0.00000000000000058% of the universe to find potential alien signals. In layman’s language, if the universe is an ocean, humans have searched for aliens in barely a swimming pool’s worth of water.

        Enrico Fermi

The study, published in the journal arXiv, could have also found the solution to the billion dollar Fermi paradox, which states if there are millions of galaxies and stars out there in the deep space, why humans have not met any advanced intelligent alien forms until now.

The study reveals that scientists haven’t found any intelligent extraterrestrials yet just because we have not started looking for them vigorously. Researchers who took part in the study believe that aliens, somewhere in that ocean of space might be signaling their existence, but until now, we have not looked into that deep corner.

               Jill Tarter

“Suppose I tell you there’s a cool thing happening in Houston right now. I do not tell you where it is. I do not tell you when it is happening. I do not tell you what it is. Is it in a bookstore? Is it a music concert? I give you absolutely no priors. It would be a difficult thing to try and find it. Houston, we have a problem. We do not know what we’re looking for … and we don’t know where to start,” said Shubham Kanodia, a graduate student in astronomy who co-wrote the study at a NASA workshop on Technosignatures.

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Astronomer Portrayed by Jodie Foster in ‘Contact’: Man Will Discover Alien Life by 2100

by Rick Neale            March 24, 2018            (floridatoday.com)

• Jill Tarter (pictured above) is a former project scientist and current research chair for the NASA-funded SETI program (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Tarter was the astronomer portrayed by Jodie Foster in the 1997 movie “Contact”, and in 2004 she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

• Speaking at the Florida Institute of Technology’s Cross Cultural Management Summit in Orlando, Tarter told the audience, “I think that in this century we are going to be finding life beyond Earth.”

• The problem thus far is that the galaxy is just so big. “We’re out in the boondocks. And our star, the sun, is only one of 400 billion other stars in the Milky Way galaxy.” So it is like searching for fish in the ocean by using a water glass, says Tarter.

• Tarter’s conference discussion, entitled “A Cosmic Perspective: Searching for Aliens, Finding Ourselves”, was one of about 75 talks she plans to deliver this year to fundraise for Allen Telescope Array upgrades. In recent years, scientists have focused the ATA on roughly 20,000 nearby stars – mostly small, dim red dwarf stars. Tarter also expressed hope for a new “Laser SETI” initiative. She said the first prototype will be installed within a month and a half at the Lick Observatory, near San Jose, California.

[Editor’s Note] How can such a brilliant scientist be so oblivious to the ET presence, beings that have studied and manipulated humans on Earth for thousands of years, up to and including the present day? Note that her paycheck comes from SETI, funded by NASA.

 

ORLANDO — Though scientists have scanned the cosmos for signals from alien civilizations for a half-century, Jill Tarter likens mankind’s micro-scale campaign to searching for fish in the world’s oceans — by withdrawing a 12-ounce glass of water.

“We’re out in the boondocks. And our star, the sun, is only one of 400 billion other stars in the Milky Way galaxy,” Tarter told a conference-room crowd Saturday afternoon.

“And our Milky Way galaxy is only one of about 200 billion other galaxies in the observable universe,” she said.
Tarter — whose astronomical career was portrayed by Jodie Foster in the 1997 movie “Contact” — served as closing speaker during the Florida Institute of Technology’s third Cross Cultural Management Summit at Caribe Royale in Orlando.

The former project scientist for NASA’s SETI program, Tarter is research chair at the nonprofit SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, She has received two NASA Public Service Medals, and in 2004 she was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world.

SETI stands for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The SETI Institute owns the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, and Tarter helped develop the facility’s Allen Telescope Array in the Cascade Mountains about 290 miles north of San Francisco.

       Jodie Foster in “Contact”

 “I think that in this century we are going to be finding life beyond Earth,” Tarter told the audience.
“We can discover it: We can find biomarkers on planets or moons of our solar system. We can find artifacts in the solar system as we explore. We can look for remote biosignatures in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets,” Tarter said.

“Or, perhaps we can detect the work product of technological civilizations: technosignatures,” she said.

Tarter displayed PowerPoint photos of telescopes, stars and galaxies to the audience. Included were “selfies” of distant Earth, as photographed by Cassini from Saturn’s orbit (2013) and Voyager 1 as the spacecraft was passing Neptune (1990).

“We’re really working on an ancient human question. And that’s very, very rewarding. We might, within the 21st century, have the answer to whether there is life beyond Earth. And we’ve been asking that question for a very, very long time,” she said.

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