Tag: Yuri Milner

Efforts To Search For, Send Messages To Extraterrestrial Life Advance In Digital Age

by Molly McCrea and Juliette Goodrich                 April 25, 2019                   (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)

• In 1977, NASA scientists installed a golden record on two space probes that were part of the Voyager Mission. On each copy were dozens of images, sounds from nature, and multiple greetings in 55 different languages. The record also contained music from around the world, and included classical as well as a recording of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode.” “This was a way of telling another civilization about us,” explained the legendary astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake.

• Drake and fellow astrophysicist, the late Carl Sagan, also wrote what’s known as the Arecibo Message in 1974, the first interstellar radio message sent from earth to a globular star cluster known as M13 in hopes that extraterrestrial intelligence could receive and decipher it.

• Drake and Sagan also designed what is known as the Pioneer plaques. These plaques were another kind of message from earth that scientists hoped would be intercepted by extraterrestrial beings from the 1972 Pioneer 10 and the 1973 Pioneer 11 spacecraft missions.

• In 2015, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner unveiled a project called the “Breakthrough Initiatives” to search for extraterrestrial intelligence over the span of at least 10 years. Part of the Initiatives program includes a $1M Breakthrough Message competition, where the task is to design a digital message to send to advanced civilizations. But no message has yet been sent. And some, such as Doug Vakoch who heads up: Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI), want to send the messages now and hear back from other civilizations. He explained that the messages would be sent by radio or in the near future, by lasers using very brief laser pulses.

• Not everyone agrees we should be rapidly concocting and sending messages. Stargazer Alicia Adams says, “I’ve seen Mars Attacks and that ended horribly!” Retired Professor of Astronomy Andrew Fraknoi says it’s a question over which space scientists are now grappling. “If we’re going to be deciding to advertise our presence to the universe, we should have a discussion with the rest of the world,” said Fraknoi. “Are we ready to signal out there that we on earth exist? We are barely getting along with each other. Are we ready to get along with aliens?”

• Drake thinks intelligent beings already know we’re here due to television and radio signals traveling in space. “It’s too late, folks. We’ve made our presence known big-time,” said Drake.

• A recent survey by Glocalities involving 24 countries found nearly half of all humans believe in extraterrestrials.

 

An ambitious new effort is underway to make direct contact with intelligent life beyond earth, improving upon 70s-era space missions which included attempts to bring messages from Earth to extraterrestrials.

For centuries, we’ve gazed up at the stars, and wondered are we alone? Some say it is time to move more aggressively and find out.

In early April, NASA’s newest planet hunter called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) discovered its first Earth-sized alien planet. A recent survey by Glocalities involving 24 countries found nearly half of all humans believe in extraterrestrials.

                Frank Drake

ETs are on our mind. At the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, an entire evening’s event was all about extraterrestrials. A special dance troupe performed to an eclectic mix of sounds. The sounds were excerpts taken from a famous golden record, intended for intelligent life in the universe. The 12-inch copper gold plated disk is known as the Pioneer Golden Record.

Artist Katerina Wong choreographed the performance and was thrilled to know its history.

“They were hoping if there was an opportunity to meet an ET, that they would get a little bit of understanding about what life on earth was like.” remarked Wong.

In 1977, NASA scientists installed a golden record on two space probes that were part of the Voyager Mission.

On each copy were dozens of images, sounds from nature, and multiple greetings in 55 different languages. The record also contained music from around the world, and included classical as well as a recording of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode.”

According to NASA, the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before. Their primary mission was the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn in our own solar system but now, both probes are billions of miles away from earth – carrying a message from earth on these golden records. The hope was that somewhere beyond our solar system, intelligent life or advanced civilizations will find them and be able to decipher their contents.
“This was a way of telling another civilization about us,” explained the legendary astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake.

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The Order of the Dolphin: SETI’s Secret Origin Story

by John Wenz                October 10, 2018                     (discovermagazine.com)

• In 1960, Harvard PhD Frank Drake and his colleagues decided that rather than using the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia to determine the surface temperature of Venus or the radiation belts of Jupiter, they’d train it on two nearby stars to listen for signs of life from intelligent extraterrestrials. This was the beginning of the modern Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI.

• In the meantime, physician/philosopher John Lilly was trying to communicate with earth-bound intelligences. From apes to elephants to pig to octopus, these creatures seem to possess intelligent self-awareness. He found that the most intelligent were the dolphins and whales. Lilly also saw the experiments as a way to help efforts to contact extraterrestrial aliens. If we can crack the code of dolphin language, we might have a shot at decoding other alien communication.

• In 1961, a group of scientists met at green Bank to discuss the search for alien intelligence. They included Drake and Lilly, radio expert Dana Atchley, biochemist Melvin Calvin, optical astronomer Su-Shu Huang, computing pioneer Barney Oliver, Russian radio astronomer Otto Struve, and a young Carl Sagan. To begin with they wanted to get an idea of how many ET’s were possibly out there. They came up with what is no referred to as ‘The Drake Equation’.

• Lilly used this meeting to tell his colleagues about his dolphin research, pointing out that the dolphin’s brain was actually larger and more complex than the human brain. The dolphin was clearly an intelligent being. Lilly even heard signs of language and empathy in recordings of the dolphins.

• But after this 1961 meeting, Lilly began introducing substances such as ketamine and LSD in his research to assist in communicating with dolphins. Drake and some other scientists began to distance themselves from Lilly’s dolphin research, calling it “poor science” and “unreliable”. As a result, Lilly’s work has tainted subsequent attempts to understand the intelligence of dolphins.

• Still, this episode in the history scientific research spawned the SETI research of today. More resources than ever are pouring into SETI efforts, thanks in part to a $100 million project from Russian billionaire Yuri Milner called Breakthrough Listen. As we search for intelligent aliens in ‘habitable zones’, we also may discover life that existed in Mars’s past, or currently on the moons Enceladus, Europa, Titan or Triton.

[Editor’s Note]   The advances in our knowledge of intelligent extraterrestrial life that we will see in the near future, and indeed, the existence of extraterrestrials on and around our own planet, will make these initial scientific explorations trivial, if not irrelevant. We are on the brink of an entirely new and exciting exo-scientific age.

 

In 1961, when UFOs were all the rage, a group of top scientific minds met in secret at a rural observatory in West Virginia. At the time, the Green Bank Observatory was the biggest, baddest telescope in the burgeoning practice of radio astronomy. While the list of meeting attendees now reads like a who’s who of the era’s luminaries, the reason they gathered covertly was because of the taboo nature of their topic of discussion. These scientists wanted to find, and talk to, aliens. They didn’t know it, but they were about to launch the modern Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI.

SETI First Steps

Let’s back up a moment. In 1958, a newly minted Harvard PhD named Frank Drake came to Green Bank. Usually he sought out typical radio astronomy targets — the Van Allen Belts around Earth, say, or the surface temperature of Venus, or the radiation belts of Jupiter.

But one day in 1960, Drake and his colleagues instead tuned into two nearby stars, Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. Their goal was simple: they were alien hunting, hoping to hear radio communications originating from intelligent extraterrestrials.

UFOs were popular then, but Drake’s research was legitimate, one of the first dedicated scientific searches for aliens. Drake had been spurred on by Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison, who the previous year had co-authored a Nature paper with the provocative title “Searching for Interstellar Communications.” It remains a foundational SETI text.

Much to Drake’s surprise, his team actually heard something in those first few experiments. Unfortunately, it ended up being just a high altitude plane. Project Ozma, as the research was called (after L Frank Baum’s fictional monarch of Oz), was both the first SETI experiment and the first SETI false alarm.

“We had failed to detect a genuine alien signal, it was true, but we had succeeded in demonstrating that searching was a feasible, and even reasonable, thing to do,” Drake wrote in his book Is Anyone Out There?, co-written with science writer Dava Sobel.

Talking to Dolphins

While Drake was launching some of the first SETI programs, John Lilly — a physician, philosopher, writer and inventor — was attempting to communicate with his own alien intelligence. He just wasn’t looking quite as far.

Humans are, in fact, surrounded by intelligence. Our fellow great apes understand the rudiments of language, and seem to possess highly organized social structures, tool-making skills and self-awareness. Creatures literally great and small — elephants and crows — have many of these qualities as well. (Alas, the pig is also remarkably intelligent; your bacon was likely self aware.)

Intelligent life isn’t isolated to land, either. The octopus brain is one of the most remarkable on Earth, and its close cousin, the cuttlefish, is no slouch either. But the superstars of the sea, to most humans, are marine mammals, especially dolphins and whales.

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Has An Alien Probe Entered Our Solar System?

by Harry Pettit        December 12, 2017        (dailymail.co.uk)

• Astronomers are set to scan an ‘alien’ comet for signs of extraterrestrial signals.

• The cigar-shaped object, named ‘Oumuamua, sailed past Earth last month.

• The mysterious comet is the first interstellar object seen in the solar system.

• Now a team of alien-hunting scientists led by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner is scanning the object for radio signals.

 

Astronomers are set to scan an ‘alien’ comet for signs of extraterrestrial technology.
The cigar-shaped asteroid, named ‘Oumuamua by its discoverers, sailed past Earth last month and is the first interstellar object seen in the solar system.

A team of alien-hunting scientists, led by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, will scan the comet this week before it sails beyond the reach of Earth’s telescopes.

They say they are looking for radio signals, claiming the mysterious visitor could be an alien spaceship.

The alien-hunting project will use the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia for its investigation, with the campaign set to begin at 3:00pm ET (8:00pm GMT) on Wednesday.

The telescopes sensitive equipment would would take less than a minute to pick up something as faint as the radio waves from a smartphone, according to the Atlantic.

Milner, the business mogul behind Breakthrough Listen, a $100 million (£75m) search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, received an email about the object last week from one of his chief scientists.

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