Citizen scientists shape 'destiny of humanity'
With the help of citizen scientists, SETI hopes to make the most of the Allen Telescope Array.
March 27th, 2012
02:51 PM ET

Citizen scientists shape 'destiny of humanity'

In 2009, Jill Tarter wanted to trigger the most meaningful search for extraterrestrial intelligence to date by pulling everyone together to look at the sky. The SETI Institute scientist brought her wish to the 2009 TED Conference. The idea of citizen science gave her hope.

The more eyes and ears she could put on the sky and the signals being received by the Allen Telescope Array - a collection of small satellite dishes together that can simultaneously pick up signals for radio astronomy research - the better chance we have at making new discoveries. Tarter wanted people to analyze the signals the array sends back in real time – something machines can’t do.

“We think humans are able to do something that our machines can’t” Tarter said. “We’re hoping that in these regions of the spectrum, where there are so many signals that we use for our own communication purposes, that humans can perhaps be sensitive to signals buried underneath all of this chatter of our own that might be coming from a distant technology.”

Unlike a machine’s capabilities when sorting through the tangled data, the human eye is good at picking out patterns in “the mess,” Tarter said, and identifying that same mess elsewhere in the sky.

And the more people who actively point to one particular spot in the sky as producing the most interesting frequencies, the telescope will point in that direction. They can help SETI by accessing SETI Live, the citizen science platform, on Science Channel's site. The initiative will continue until the end of the month, with results of SETI's findings to follow after it concludes.

“The more viewers are tuning in to scan the sky, they can actively control where the telescope is pointed, so it really is the power of the masses, I think it is a very exciting initiative to get everyone involved in something that can ultimately change the destiny of humanity, and how often do you get to say that in your lifetime?” said Bernadette McDaid, executive producer at Science Channel.

In partnership with the SETI Institute, Science Channel devoted a month’s worth of programming and interactives on their website to promoting citizen science projects, which began on March 6 and concludes tonight with the world premiere of “NASA’s Unexplained Files” at 10 p.m. ET. The initiative is called “Are We Alone?” and covers the search for intelligent life outside of our planet.

“When you think about when you were a kid, science came easy because you would ask questions about the world and you would naturally experiment. Somewhere along the line, I think people lost that childhood curiosity,” said Debbie Myers, general manager for Science Channel. One of her favorite childhood memories is going out in the backyard at night with a telescope and asking her father “a gazillion questions” about the sky, the stars and the vastness of space.

“We forget to look up, and we forget to ask questions. That’s our job, to remind you and bring you back to the awe and that wonder.”

Actor Morgan Freeman, who hosted a special episode of his “Through the Wormhole” series for the initiative called “Will we survive first contact?” sees this as an opportunity for people to explore their deepest curiosity, and how the search for alien life can yield greater returns in other areas.

“I think we’re fascinated by questions that are almost unanswerable,” Freeman said. “Now that we have such extraordinary technology, we can see and extrapolate what we see in the search. We have found a huge number of planets because we have a satellite that looks deep at other stars and measures their light.”

SETI is partnering up with Zooniverse, one of the largest citizen science online platforms, to allow viewers and users access to the SETI Live citizen science platform and help Tarter with her wish. Zooniverse, started as Galaxy Zoo in 2007, is the go-between for people hoping to jump into a project like planet-hunting from the comfort of their own home. They want to take away the intimidation factor and encourage people to let loose the scientist, and nerd, within.

“I think people put scientists on a pedestal, this idea of some lofty height they could never do,” Arfon Smith of Zooniverse said. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that a lot of science is really quite routine. Science is not a sequence of 'Eureka!' moments. Research is a continual ongoing process and all we’re saying is, we already look at galaxies, but we think you could do it, too."

Through previous successful citizen science projects, Zooniverse, like Dr. Tarter, realized that people are good at classifying galaxies and other anomalies by shape, as well as discovering exoplanets – planets outside of our solar system.

Whether they are transcribing data, observing images from deep space or even describing what a signal sounds like, it is complete collaboration between the specific scientific teams that submit projects and the users who follow their passion to Zooniverse. More than 600,000 people take part in the site’s projects.

The benefits are numerous, both for researchers and participants. Having a multitude of people analyzing the same data provides confidence and trust in their findings, and cuts a giant project down to a manageable and more rapid resolution.

“My education research colleagues tell me the most exciting method of learning is when you’re learning through doing,” Smith said. “It is sparking a much more natural interest in the project – ‘Here is a problem you can help us solve.’”

What Myers, McDaid, Tarter and Smith all hope is that promoting citizen science projects will change the landscape of science as a whole for the future.

“In five years’ time, we’ll look back and cite this approach as a different way of doing research,” Smith said. “We’re moving towards open research, and there is something deeply satisfying about that.”

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  1. Jena Clavelle

    The classics, in the Western academic tradition, refer to cultures of classical antiquity, namely the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures. The study of the classics is considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities; however, its popularity declined during the 20th century. Nevertheless, the influence of classical ideas in many humanities disciplines, such as philosophy and literature, remains strong; for example, the Gilgamesh Epic from Mesopotamia, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Vedas and Upanishads in India and various writings attributed to Confucius, Lao-tse and Chuang-tzu in China.`:;.

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    May 19, 2013 at 7:35 am |
  2. Sundance Vacations

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    June 3, 2012 at 6:17 am |
  3. H. B.

    Dohh...

    Humanity is by nature, curious. It WILL look for explanations of things. Religion has succeeded in suppressing that rather well, especially in the "Dark Ages" of roughly 1000 years. But they had to use fear, force, severe oppression and violence to maintain it. It wasn't called the "Dark Ages" for nothing, y'know! And, as we all know, ultimately it FAILED. Miserably.

    And many people saw, for the first time, what religions are REALLY all about: controlling people for political ends. That knowledge cannot be erased. Nor can the knowledge that religions are all inherently bent on oppression; dragons, some asleep and others quite obnoxiously active. They are a threat, but cannot be made illegal, since they'd only get worse. They MUST be tolerated. But by tolerating them, THEY must also tolerate the other religions. Which is not really possible for any of them to do. That's why some are so rabid these days.

    But some fanatics want those "good old days" back. Just because THEY are willing to erase their own curiosity and find contentment in 2000-year-old mummery, doesn't mean the rest of us must.

    Nothing religion has done, nothing religion can EVER do, will remove curiosity from the human species. Live with it.

    We WILL ask questions. We WILL seek answers. We WILL ask for funding without having to promise even one result, and we WILL get it. That's what pure research IS. It is probing into the unknown, without even a small certainty of what they will find – if anything at ALL. And, even without a clue about what they'll find, they have often found a LOT. Without the space-race, we'd have never developed microwaves, microchips, PCs or even Tang. Nobody knew in advance they'd become part of our knowledge. They just searched for ways to miniaturize technology for the tight spaces of a space capsule. And it paid off – big-time. As ALL pure research will do, sooner or later.

    Those inventions took pure research. Yet we do it, don't we? And the only way bible-thumpers, and others of their ilk, can stop us is to start a new Inquisition.

    Which some of our politicians so obviously have in mind.

    I think Americans will revolt before they'll accept a new auto-da-fe and the iron maiden. We haven't – yet – revolted against religions that seek to oppress us, but we will. Oh, we WILL! The envelope has been pushed almost as far as the public will tolerate. Religions don't know when to quit, and it will only end up discrediting them MORE.

    Religion belongs in the heart, the home and the house of worship, and NOWHERE ELSE.

    May 26, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  4. Dilmurod

    16a13b35f7You can certainly see your xtsereipe in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren't afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart. 187

    April 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  5. Goldankauf München

    Ihre Homepage ist ehrlich nur zu nahelegen, ich werde mit absoluter Schutz neuerlich mal sittsam (sich etwas) reinziehen.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:25 am |
  6. Markus

    The only Alien I know is the weird chick I was dating last year.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  7. MrHanson

    SETI should look to the DNA code and realize there it is: information eminating from a non-human, extra-terrestrial intelligence!

    March 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  8. MrHanson

    Exercise. Think of an experiment that would be very expensive, with a very low probability of success that might take decades or centuries, but, if successful, would reveal something interesting. Create a list of selling points on why private foundations or governments should fund your experiment, but be honest: tell them “You can think of lots of ways that this experiment wouldn’t work.” Practice your spiel with all the emotive power you can muster, and see if you can convince a friend.

    SETI advocates are a strange bunch. They advertise themselves as scientists, but after 50 years of searching, have zero observations to support their claims. Aren’t observations critical for qualifying as science? (Ask the astrobiologists that one, too, and the proponents of the multiverse.) Their comeback argument is that they’ve only scratched the surface; so many stars and so many radio frequencies need to be searched before we can answer the question, it’s no wonder we haven’t found the aliens yet. Sounds reasonable, right?

    SETI advocates are a strange crowd for another reason: they are almost to a person Darwin lovers and vocal critics of intelligent design. But they use intelligent design principles in their search; in fact, their whole reason for being is predicated on the validity of segregating intelligently-caused signals from natural ones. SETI provides a classic illustration of Finagle’s Rule #6 for Scientists: “Don’t believe in miracles. Rely on them.”

    March 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      "Intelligent design principles .." you state that as though it has any validity. It is still nothing more than a baseless attempt by religion to "sound" scientific.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Wyatt Derp

      AhhOOOgah! AhhOOOgah! Captain, there's a creationist phuckwit off the port bow! Ready torpedos 1 & 2! DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!

      March 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • MandoZink

      MrHanson – Someone has told you some very strange things about research. It seems to have kept you totally clear of any science classes. I would try to help, but I think your beliefs are going to be a considerable hindrance to learning. Good luck with whatever is that motivates you.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • bpuharic

      Uh no they don't use 'intelligent design'. They know what an artificial signal looks like. There no indication anything in the evolution of life is 'intelligently designed'. We can test evolution in a lab. "Intelligent design" is meaningless, and untestable.

      March 29, 2012 at 7:58 am |
  9. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Our best chance, at this point in time, to prove Alien life is to study history. The history of Gods, their origin and ruins at Tiwanaku, Puma Punku or how the Nasca plateau was sheared off with no trace of rubble. Too many unanswered mysteries pointing to advanced intelligences .. to advanced to have been standard earth based evolution.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • kryptonish

      yeah, good luck, don't count on me though.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
      • Dalsu

        16a1543511cI wish more guys would write posts like this that are actually etretisning to read and not boring like many others. With all the fluff floating around on the web, it is rare to read a blog like yours instead.keep updating your blog. thx! 195

        April 9, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  10. MandoZink

    A related thought: Given that we have only been transmitting radio signals for about 90 years, the sphere of the outbound signals transmitted from earth is currently no more than 180 light years in diameter. Our signals have only traveled 90 light years out. The Milky Way galaxy is over 100,000 light years across. That means all the radio signals we have ever generated have traversed only 0.0009% of the galaxy's width.
    For a civilization to have ever noticed us and responded with a signal in our direction, they would have to exist within 45 light years of our solar system. Unfortunately, at distance of 45 light years, our radio signals would be so diluted as to be utterly imperceptible among the background radiation. So may their signals, unless highly directed.
    Not to be a killjoy, I still suspect there should be WAY more than a billion civilizations out there in the overall universe.

    March 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Miks

      Therefore, you have concluded that billions of $$ spent on NASA is a waste!!

      March 27, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
      • MandoZink

        The amount of money NASA is funded is very miniscule compared to other budgets. The spinoffs of knowledge and technology are enormous. Nobody ever explains that well enough, except for Neil deGrasse Tyson. Of course some may despise him for instigating the demotion of Pluto's status.

        The upcoming James Webb Telescope is going to be a magnitude more enlightening than the Hubble. That project, luckily, has international funding.

        March 27, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
      • the last conclusion has juat be made by the materials of the same order and ty

        they have shared already the materials and then they are ready to see the materials and not going to materials and ye it issssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

        May 7, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      That's why seti is "searching" for signals "from" them .. ones that have been travelling for many 1000's or 1,000,000's of years.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
      • MandoZink

        I would love it if we picked up signals from beyond. Given the exponential dispersion of radiated energy, however, the signals would need to be focused directly at us, not to mention they would need to be VERY strong. I would hope a civilization might have the technology to rapidly and repeatedly re-direct a transmitter to one possible inhabited civilization after another. Unfortunately, any return signal may come thousands of years later. But just receiving that would be enough to begin awakening others in the galactic community consciousness.

        March 27, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
      • Michelle

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        April 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • kryptonish

      I know are billions of civilizations out there, just that first I got problems here on earth with my neighbors.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
      • David

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        April 9, 2012 at 4:10 am |
  11. Jack Be Humble

    [cited for exceeding the speed of light]

    March 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  12. itoldyouso10

    I am very glad that today in 2012, things that are considered "Nerdy" or "Geeky" are finally becoming more part of main stream culture as SciFi becomes more realistic all the time and enterting the mainstream social culture in the first place. And this is why that I, someone in my 20's, am happy I considered myself a "Nerd" or "Geek" all my life as I knew the world was going to do that way eventually in general. The more people become interested in the sciences and we get more citizen scientists like this, the more progress into the future, so to say. And we "Nerds/Geeks" where way ahead of anybody else in that regard. Not that I am saying it is a gigantically popular thing today, but at least this is a step in the direction of popular culture progressing into a more futuristic culture...Glad it finally feels like we are actually living in the "future" and that being a "Geek/Nerd" is finally something that is becoming more mainstream all the time!

    March 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Micks

      What a waste of time and $$.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • H. B.

      I could wish to be your age again! I witnessed the moon landing in '68, when I was near your age, and dreamed of maybe getting into space myself – not as an astronaut, but maybe to enjoy ONE orbit! I, myself, am now 68. Disabled, too. No orbit for this kid.

      The sci-fi you've spoken of HAS encouraged and inspired many young people to take up sciences. There was only one real drawback. Their stories are based on technology, or what is likely to be possible technology in the future, combined with the author's knowledge of human nature. That human element is necessary for good fiction.

      THAT resulted in stories where space colonies developed issues with the "home planet" and started to seek independence. Our governments (all of them) realize that such things are not only possible if we have such colonies, but that they are INEVITABLE!

      So I never got my orbit. And for the same reason, you aren't likely to do so, either, though I hope you do. Governments would only found space colonies if they knew they could have – and always hold onto – total control of them politically. They realize this is not possible.

      Hence, we have no colonies, though we had the technology to build them decades ago. We have space stations, but that is not at all the same. There is so MUCH value to having colonies, it's inexcusable for politics to keep us from having them. Many industries could have instant vacuum available on the moon; a goal that requires very expensive equipment on earth. Many people with arthritis and many other health problems could live out their lives much more comfortably if they weighed only l/5 of what they do on earth. The industrial and health benefits of even a moon colony are incalculable. Yet we have none, and none are planned. This is why: politics.

      The exploration of space, and the establishment of colonies, is going to fall on the private sector entirely. Government will pay for much research, but not colonies. When they DO get built, it will be with heavy obstructionism from whatever government the planners live in. But I'm convinced that, in time, they WILL be built.

      That is truly sad, but it IS realism. I can hope, though, that you might get that one orbit in your lifetime. If so, think of me as sitting on your shoulder and enjoying the ride! I'd consider it an honor and a big favor. My name is Holly. An orbit, even by proxy, and posthumously, is still better than none!

      Remember that the nay-sayers and those who label you as geek or nerd, are people who they can't (or usually, won't) aspire to your capabilities and they'll hate you for it. These attacks make inadequate personalities who have no real knowledge feel better about themselves. Learn to recognize them. Then pity them. They could learn more but don't WANT to. That's their problem, not yours.

      BTW, unless you've already done so, read the books and monographs written by Isaac Asimov, "The Great Explainer." It was his book, "The Universe, from Flat Earth to Quasar" that inspired my interest in astronomy, and enriched my life beyond belief! I actually comprehended very difficult concepts, because he was so good at explaining them at my level. I'll love him forever for that. With my expanded interests, I escorted a private expedition of 70 people in 1979 to see a total eclipse in Canada – and it was a total success! An awesome experience I'll never forget, and one I'd never have HAD without Asimov. If you have the joy of reading his stuff still ahead of you, I envy you. He died in, I think, 1990, and much of his stuff isn't totally up to date. But it doesn't need to be to help you grasp many scientific concepts. The concepts still hold; we merely know more about them now. You can then go on from there to get up to date.

      Enjoy! And good luck in your scientific career, whatever it may be.

      May 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  13. Kenny

    I thought scientist went by the data? So far the data says no to the existence of intelligent life outside of our planet.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • scienceperson

      data from 7 planets, a few planetoids, a smattering of asteriods. Out of literally billions. Not a very good sample size.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
      • Marely

        Treat others how you want to be trteead. It's one of the best ways of showing respect. If you don't treat others how you want to be trteead, then they will treat you the way you don't want to be trteead or just walk away.

        September 13, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      It's about probability & scientific observation says the probability is extremely high.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Eric Blake

      Here is the "data", Kenny...pass it on....brOther: life = love = 1.1 = 101 = AHA = lol pass it on! =)

      March 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Miks

      Therefore, you have concluded that billions of $$$$ spent on NASA is a waste!!

      March 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
      • Eric Blake

        No...Nasa is a good thing...if you use the $$$ we have created to benefit the greater good....but, most people would prefer to travel to outer space only to search for rocks, and the few who have the knowledge within their minds already fail to do ONE basic thing they should have learned as a child: PLAY NICELY, and SHARE YOUR THINGS......LOVE......It isn't fair, nice, or beneficial for anyone to hold information from anyone else...and only share it once a price tag is associated with the knowledge. If people would use their voice and knowledge together and forget about that dead, lifeless, soul-less thing we call "Gold, money"......the world and outer-space is our "Oyster." – If anyone values money, gadgets or someones body, or clothes, OVER the simple things that drive us as a common people....that one person sadly will remain living a life of sadness......I, personally, choose to offer my knowledge free of charge here on CNN......I'm no better than anyone else....but, I do care about life....and how others might comprehend the things I am typing/saying/doing......here is to wishing everyone understands eventually. :-)

        March 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  14. terry

    Why not hop on an astriod ride out into deep space fly off explore then hop back on and get a ride home

    March 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • scienceperson

      Well first you have to find such an asteriod. Then you have to catch up to it. Then you have to land on it.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  15. ronindavid

    If there is one lesson I have learned in my 38yrs of being on this planet is that if there is a civilization out there that is advanced enough to get to us, they are going to take us over. Our only hope is for us to get as technologically advanced as them then we can form treaties; something I don't see happening anytime in the near future. I know sci-fi geeks would argue that these aliens could be advanced enough that they have a higher moral code than us. But I can't know that because nothing I've ever seen in humanity and nature itself demonstrates that something of higher intelligence, technology, etc would ever leave something of lesser intelligence, technology, etc alone. I applaud these scientist endeavors to find proof of alien intelligence because I honestly don't see anything else that's going to give us the kick in the rear we need to get serious about technology and drop all other issues of war with other countries in order to prepare our first meeting.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Perhaps you need to watch less sci fi and play less mass effect.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • kryptonish

      For the time being we still got problems with arabians and koreans and so on....unless we get rid of borders here on earth, and look at each other as equal human beings regardless color and race, the space will never be conquered...don't forget that.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Wyatt Derp

      You make it sound like you have experience with hostile alien takeovers. LOL

      March 27, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  16. jedi_Mind_Trick

    Maybe we should listen to the universe itself? SETI keeps reaching out with still no response. My belief is that the Universe is a living, sentient being. Maybe the celestial body of the divine? I'm not arrogant enough to say it is or is not possible with any absolution though, I'll leave that to the dogma of priest and atheist. So far, all we have done would be the equivalent to a "blood cell" trying to communicate with a "hair follicle". Maybe the universe has been speaking to us all along, only its measure of time is so vast that it takes us eons to comprehend what it is telling us. Anything is possible to an open mind. Maybe the first sound of the voice of creation is the static of the "big bang" you hear when you turn on a disconnected TV? Maybe impossible is I'm possible?

    March 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • ronindavid

      So you're basically applying something like the earth "Gaia" theory to the universe. Interesting. I see no reason to dismiss that idea.

      March 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
      • jedi_Mind_Trick

        I believe that everything is connected. String theory to sacred geometry. Dark Matter exist yet can not be seen or measured. If everything is connected ( and the unified theory (while not complete) suggest as much), then why wouldn't existence in all forms be a living universe? The mystery cults of the ancients had many of the same ideas as quantum physicist do today.

        March 27, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
      • Tiffney

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        April 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  17. hal9thou

    We are not unique. There are perhaps billions of intelligent species in the known Universe. As we once thought our planet was the center of everything, this egocentric phrase of "Are We Alone?" will fade as well.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  18. Zeta Reticulan

    You're getting warmer ...

    March 27, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Eric Blake

      0 1 2 (any scientist, artist, can put that into any equation and figure it out. fOllOw yOur heart. a thing that nO Other being has On this planet...unless they realize they have emOtiOns and a pOwer of chOice.)

      March 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
      • Eric Blake

        I had that a little off.... 1.1 should make you sadder........101 will make you feel a lot better.......... hope everyone has their " AHA " moment.....as globally we lol

        March 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  19. jonathan

    I couldn't imagine believing we are the only sentient species out there. What an awful waste of space. If this is the best "god" has got then I am not impressed.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  20. James

    All the stuff that makes life on our planet can be found just about everywhere in the universe. All life needs is the right conditions. Life can exist almost anywhere on our planet even in the most extreme environments. So even in very hot temperatures and a seemingly toxic atmosphere we may find life, though it might only be microbial.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  21. RMc

    As sure as I am here [pinch] , they are out there. If humanity wishes to conquer the stars... we must get off this rock. There will come a day that we harvest planets like we harvest a crop. It's sad to see us fighting over a spec of sand amongst a cosmic sandbox. Although we are small doesnt mean we have to think small.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • iBod

      Very good thought. I wish to see the day we land on Mars. I am only nineteen, so maybe by then–ten to thirty years down the line–I'll be sipping a Pina Colada on old Luna watching them. LOL! Thinking to that context, you realize, we are only getting started ;)

      March 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
      • Alvaro

        DUMINICK STEPHANE Posted on I apply for master in sccneie.Iam sure that if I will get such opportunity,It will hance my carrier since I have reiceve my B.Sc in wildlife management at Sokoine University of Agriculture in 2009.Ishall submit academic certificates later. thanks

        September 15, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  22. xirume

    Given the trillion upon trillion of planets out there, only an amoeba would think that life only exists on earth. They are out there all right; unfortunately our chances of ever detecting an alien transmission are akin to finding a grain of rice in the sands of the Sahara.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  23. tez07

    Not a scientist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn......just a question, why not use all the Direct TV dishes on houses throughout the world (or country at least) when they are not in service by the customers to create a giant array of small dishes? would that work?

    March 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • James

      Not a bad idea, but cable satellite dishes use a different type of frequency than what's needed by SETI,

      March 27, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
      • tez07

        that is unfortunate, would be cool to think it could help in ways other than turning my brain to mush

        March 27, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Paul

      Using DirecTV dishes would not work – they are aimed at a single location in the sky and changing the orientation is not an easy task, certainly not something most people would do on a daily basis.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
      • tez07

        Agreed, as they function today, they would not work. The idea would be to alter them that when the TV is off (not used by the consumer) they could be oriented by remote by the scientists. When the TV is on, it would go back to its original fixed orientation. At times throughout the day, the scientist(s) would have more or less constantly coming online and hopefully at night most of them coming online. But as James pointed out, it would not work anyway.

        March 28, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  24. donjoy

    If we are the only planet with intelligent life then I dare say(we're in a heap a trouble.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Ellie Dad

      It also would be an awful waste of space ...

      March 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  25. stanton

    there is no life on any other planet EARTH IS IT!!!!!!

    March 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • chibidw

      [Citation Needed]

      March 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Bill

      Billions upon Billions upon Billions of stars. Do you really believe that we are that special, that this could not be repeated?

      March 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Brett

      Luckily for the majority of us, the only type of people that seem to believe that earth is alone in the Universe are those that cling to religion a little too tightly. Why they have such beliefs, I have no idea, considering that even if 'their' god does exist, the entire Universe must have been created by 'god' and therefore could be, and most likely is, littered with life.
      Though I personally tend to believe in science more so than religion.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
      • MrHanson

        Evolutionary thought is religion. It takes faith.

        March 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        No MrHanson .. it takes evidence, of which we have plenty.

        March 27, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
      • MrHanson

        Oh really? Did you witness it happen? Is it a observable and repeatable experiment? Have we had an experiment to watch non-living chemicals come together on their own and form the first cell? After the first cell was formed did we have another experiment that lasted 4.5 billion years and watch life develop complex eyes, nervous systems, muscular systems, complex cellular machinary and information processing, etc...? No? Well like I said, believing a meaningless material process formed complex life takes faith and a strong one at that.

        March 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
      • MrHanson

        Oh by the way, it's obvious you are a Cambrian Explosion denier.

        March 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
      • kryptonish

        in other words, evolution cannot exist without faith, which indeed is profound thoughtfulness.

        March 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        LOL MrHanson .. fossil record for one thing.
        How much verifiable, repeatable or even observable evidence does Intelligent design have?
        Not sure where you're going with the "strawman" Cambrian explosion denier post?

        March 27, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
      • Wyatt Derp

        Somebody get MrHanson one of those "100 science experiments for kids" kits. What a phucktard.

        March 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • kryptonish

      drink your glass of milk and go to bed. santa is going to be back next december.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm |