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The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Heats Up

by Dirk Schulze-Makuch                  March 11, 2019                    (airspacemag.com)

• A remarkable meeting occurred over the weekend of March 9-10 in Tutzing, Germany, just outside of Munich. Its theme: Are we alone in the Universe? Eminent German astrobiologists and scientists were invited to give presentations, including Karl Menten, Director of the Max Planck Institute, Gerhard Haerendel, recipient of the Allan D. Emil Memorial Award for pioneering achievements in space sciences, Andreas Losch from the Institute of Systematic Theology at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and the article’s author, Dirk Schulze-Makuch, who spoke on the Cosmic Zoo hypothesis.

• The meeting was hosted by the evangelical academy, underscoring the continuing interest of religious groups in the possibility of extraterrestrial life and what it might mean for faith communities. The Catholic Church appears to me to be the most interested group of all. In 2014 the Vatican Observatory even co-hosted a conference in Arizona on whether we are alone in the Universe.

• Earlier this year, the discovery of a new source of Fast Radio Bursts suggested that they could be messages from advanced technological civilizations. Tabby’s Star, which suddenly dips its light curve, has been linked to alien megastructures.

• Last November, Avi Loeb of Harvard University suggested that ‘Oumuamua’, the first object seen to enter our Solar System from interstellar space, could be a lightsail built by an advanced intelligent civilization. Its motion seems to indicate that something other than simple gravitation might be at work.

• The longest unresolved enigma is the Wow! signal, which has all the hallmarks of an alien transmission but unfortunately was only received once. It may have been a transmission from one starship to another, or perhaps from a ship to its home base, and Earth just happened to be in the way.

• However likely or unlikely these anomalies, it is clear that interest in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence is on the rise again, as shown not only by this latest conference near Munich, but by NASA’s renewed interest in what’s now called “technosignatures” of advanced life. Many people, beyond just scientists, understand what a detection of extraterrestrial intelligent life elsewhere would mean – nothing less than a complete re-assessment of our place in the Universe.

 

A remarkable meeting occurred outside Munich, Germany this past weekend. Its theme: Are we alone in the Universe? The most eminent German-speaking scientists in the field of astrobiology were invited to give keynote presentations, which included talks by Karl Menten, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy, on the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life; by Gerhard Haerendel, recipient of the Allan D. Emil Memorial Award for pioneering achievements in space sciences, on messaging to extraterrestrial civilizations (METI); and by Andreas Losch from the Institute of Systematic Theology at the University of Bern, Switzerland, on the scientific, philosophical and theological consequences of the presence of extraterrestrial civilizations. I also gave a talk, on the possibility of complex life on other planets based on the Cosmic Zoo hypothesis.

The meeting was hosted by the evangelical academy in Tutzing, Germany, underscoring the continuing interest of religious groups in the possibility of extraterrestrial life and what it might mean for faith communities. The Catholic Church appears to me to be the most interested group of all. In recent years I’ve seen many of its representatives at scientific meetings. In 2014 the Vatican Observatory (yes, they have their own observatory) even co-hosted a conference in Arizona on whether we are alone in the Universe.

So, are we?

If you were to ask Avi Loeb of Harvard University, he would likely direct your attention to ‘Oumuamua, the first object seen to enter our Solar System from interstellar space. Last November Loeb pointed to six strange facts about ‘Oumuamua, suggesting that it could be an artificial object, possibly a lightsail built by an advanced intelligent civilization. Most puzzling of all is its shape: long, shiny and unusually thin for a rock. And its motion seems to indicate that something other than simple gravitation might be at work.

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Alien ‘Artifacts’ Made By Civilizations From Mars or Venus Could Be Hidden On Earth, NASA Study Suggests

by Jasper Hamill                     December 26, 2018                     (metro.co.uk)

• Dozens of NASA space scientists teamed up to explore how our species could detect ‘technosignatures’, ie: the name for pieces of evidence which give away the presence of advanced alien civilizations – radio waves are detected coming from a distant star system, or Dyson Sphere ‘megastructure’ power stations surrounding a star in order to harvest its’ energy, for example.

A November 28, 2018 NASA report entitled “NASA and the Search for Technosignatures” suggests that the truth about extraterrestrials could be lurking right under our noses. In a new report, scientists suggest that our own planet may be hiding alien ‘artifacts’, some of which may even have been built by extinct civilizations who lived on Mars, Venus or even Earth.

• ‘Because the geological, paleontological, and archaeological records on Earth are so incomplete, it is even possible that the Earth itself hosts such (extraterrestrial) artifacts, although, again, this idea is often conflated with unscientific popular imaginings and science fiction stories about alien visitation, and so must be approached carefully,’ the NASA researchers wrote.

• The report continues, ‘If technosignatures were discovered in the solar system, it would be worth considering whether their origin might not be interstellar. Specifically, since the Earth is home to the only known species capable of interstellar communication and planetary travel (although both technologies remain in their early development), the Earth remains the only known planet fecund enough to promote technological life, and so it or an early, habitable Mars or Venus could even be the origin of such technology.’

• The NASA report noted that ‘Technosignatures in the solar system might come in the form of free-floating probes or structures—either passing through the solar system or in orbit around the Sun or other body—or in the form of structures or other signs of technologies on planetary surfaces.’

• So far, the only potential alien artifact we’ve seen has been ‘Oumuamua’, the first ‘interstellar visitor’ to be observed in our stellar neighborhood after traveling here in 2017 through deep space. Still, most scientists believe its origins are natural rather than artificial. Oumuamua changed direction as it passed the sun, which may have been caused by a natural process called outgassing – although there is a very slight chance this could have been the result of it being steered somehow.  (see previous ExoNews article on the Oumuamua visitor here)

 

You might think that humanity’s best chance of finding alien life involves peering deep into space and analysing faraway galaxies.

But a Nasa study has suggested the truth about extraterrestrials could be lurking right under our noses.

Dozens of space scientists have teamed up to explore how our species could detect ‘technosignatures’, the name for pieces of evidence which give away the presence of advanced alien civilisations.

Some of these tell-tale signs are obvious. For instance, if loads of radio waves are detected coming from a distant star system, then it could be a clue which shows it’s inhabited by intelligent extraterrestrial organisms.

We could also search for alien societies by looking for ‘megastructures’ called Dyson Spheres, which are theoretical power stations built surrounding a star to harvest its energy.

These would be easy to spot because they are likely to be gigantic and block out starlight whenever they pass in front of their sun.

Other technosignatures are harder to identify, such as evidence that a planet has been polluted by heavy industry.

In the new report, scientists also make the fascinating suggestion that our own planet may be hiding alien ‘artefacts’, some of which may even have been built by extinct civilisations which lived on Mars, Venus or even Earth.

‘Because the geological, paleontological, and archaeological records on Earth are so incomplete, it is even possible that the Earth itself hosts such artefacts, although, again, this idea is often conflated with unscientific popular imaginings and science fiction stories about alien visitation, and so must be approached carefully,’ researchers wrote.

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This is How NASA Should Hunt Space For Aliens and UFOs

by Sebastian Kettley                  October 15, 2018                     (express.co.uk)

• Seventeen scientists representing the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) have released a report urging NASA to focus all future missions on the hunt for astrobiological alien life. The report was mandated by the U.S. Congress.

• The report argues that growing public interest in life outside of Earth will dictate the course of NASA’s research in the “coming decade”. The report reads: “In the three years since publication of NASA’s Astrobiology Strategy 2015, significant scientific, technological and programmatic advances in the quest for life beyond earth have taken place.” “Scientific advances have revolutionised fields of astrobiological study, ranging from results from missions focused on exoplanets, such as Kepler, to continuing discovery from existing planetary missions.”

• NASA’s astrobiologists have primarily looked at candidates for life in the solar system so far, such as Mars and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. In recent years, NASA has found evidence of complex organic molecules in Martian rock, water plumes Saturn’s moon Enceladus and even icy deposits of water on our Moon. But an ever-growing list of exoplanets discovered far out beyond the borders of our corner of space have expanded the potential number of worlds where life could exist.

• Scientists are now hoping to unravel the mysteries of how life begins in the first place and whether these exoplanets have the right conditions for live to thrive. “Evidence from major transitions in environmental conditions from early Earth to today, and an understanding of how they occurred, is critical for the search for life.”

• The new report comes in contrast to NASA’s recent efforts to hunt the universe for signs of alien technosignatures – artificially created evidence of life in space such as radio signals – as opposed to biosignatures.

 

NASA should focus all future missions on the hunt for astrobiological alien life, top scientists have urged in a new report.

Seventeen scientists representing the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) believe the hunt for alien life is paramount.

In a report mandated by the US Congress, the 17 experts claimed astrobiology needs to be at the forefront of NASA’s research in space.

The scientists labelled astrobiology a “field of rapid change” where technological and scientific progress is advancing the quest to discover alien life.

Their report reads: “In the three years since publication of NASA’s Astrobiology Strategy 2015, significant scientific, technological and programmatic advances in the quest for life beyond earth have taken place.

“Scientific advances have revolutionised fields of astrobiological study, ranging from results from missions focused on exoplanets, such as Kepler, to continuing discovery from existing planetary missions.”

The report further argued growing public interest in astrobiology and life outside of Earth will dictate the course of NASA’s research in the “coming decade”.

Astrobiology is the study of the origins, development and spread of life throughout the universe.

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.

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