Blog

Aug 30 2016 - 4:52pm

Social media and news outlets the past few days have been abuzz with the prospects of a strong signal apparently coming from the star unromantically known at HD 164595, which is about 94 light years from Earth. Reading news reports, one would think that the signal was intercepted last week, but actually it was picked up over a year ago in May of 2015.

Jun 25 2016 - 4:53am

By John Traphagan, Trustee, METI International

I’ve often thought it interesting that when SETI scientists imagine extraterrestrial civilizations, they usually think in terms of unified worlds that have one civilization. The image is very much unlike our world, in which we have multiple civilizations that are fractured and in conflict with other societies. The Brexit event of the past couple of days is a good example of just how fractured our world is as well as representing some solid data not in support of the idea that humans are becoming increasingly unified.

May 18 2016 - 5:30am

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – In an effort to provide new guidance to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), biologists and linguists gathered in Puerto Rico to explore the nature of intelligence in the universe. “SETI has traditionally focused on the instrumentation needed to contact other civilizations. In reality, SETI has been the Search for Extraterrestrial Technology. In this new approach, we’re putting the intelligence back into SETI,” said Douglas Vakoch, President of METI International. “By studying the variety of intelligence found on Earth, we can gain new insights into sending messages to life on other planets.”

May 1 2016 - 12:24pm

By Marlin (Ben) Schuetz, Director, Boquete Optical SETI Observatory

With clear skies and only little wind during March and the first half of April the weather was excellent for SETI searches. The 2.5 to 3 hour observing sessions logged an average of 20 stars a night.   Added to that, the instruments all performed well and the recent photometer improvements have exceeded expectations.  My month’s successes were even topped off with fixing a nagging problem with the car.  What’s not to like?

Apr 7 2016 - 8:40pm

By John W. Traphagan, Trustee, METI International

In general, when we think about scientific inquiry, much of its power rests in the idea that everything is open to question.  Turning a scientific gaze upon the world enlightens us and opens our potential to understand more deeply, while often challenging us to reconsider previously held beliefs and ideas.  But science is not an unambiguously moral good. 

Einstein questioned the ethics of building the atomic bomb.  We know that research like the Tuskegee study of syphilis in African Americans has deep moral problems related to racism and informed consent.  More recently, Stephen Hawking and others have raised ethical questions about whether or not we should engage in sending messages to the stars—the risks of letting ET know we’re here may outweigh the benefits of making contact if ET happens to be in a particularly foul mood when they answer our interstellar phone call. 

Apr 3 2016 - 11:24pm

Are you a student looking for a summer internship in cutting-edge research in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)? Applications are now being accepted for this summer’s program at the Boquete Optical SETI Observatory in Panama, in cooperation with METI International, a nonprofit research and educational organization devoted to the search for life beyond Earth. Enhanced training in science communication will be provided in partnership with the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science’s Young Scientist Program.

Apr 3 2016 - 8:20pm

By Morris Jones, METI International Advisory Council

“Archaeology is Rubbish.” Such is the title of a book connected to a well-known television series on the subject. Digging out the buried remains of civilizations past is a wonderful way to learn about them. We can understand their level of technology, their social structure, their potential trade links with other civilizations, their language and their culture. Archaeology has been used to discover and document civilizations that have otherwise left no lasting evidence of their time upon the Earth. Ironically, most of the material that is recovered by these digs is not as elaborate as golden sarcophagi. It’s truly rubbish, at least by the standards of the civilization that produced (and discarded) the material. Yet the knowledge it yields is sometimes priceless.

Feb 18 2016 - 3:44am

By Morris Jones, METI International Advisory Council

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence is challenging to the scientific and wider scholarly communities. Much of the difficulties encountered in academic work on SETI stem from the sheer lack of concrete information concerning real extraterrestrial civilizations. A subsector of the SETI community is actually focused on the possibility that extraterrestrial civilizations do not even exist, and the lack of any evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence (so far) is consistent with this theory.

Jan 29 2016 - 4:08pm

By Morris Jones, METI International Advisory Council

Science fiction has been ahead of reality for decades. In the future, humanity will build smart machines. These machines could eventually become smarter than us. They could eventually decide that they do not need the species that created them. Then the human race will be exterminated.

Dec 10 2015 - 6:55pm

By John W. Traphagan, Trustee, METI International

Although the speculation that the odd star KIC 8462852 might have something very unnatural orbiting it--a Dyson swarm or some other megastructure--seems to have been unfounded, it's worth contemplating what it might mean for humanity should the speculation prove to be accurate.  From the start, SETI scientists assumed the odds were very much against our neighbor 1,400 light years away having anything other than some natural phenomenon that we simply didn't know about before orbiting it.  And observations both by the SETI Institute using the Allen Telescope Array and optical SETI observations in Panama by METI International have shown no evidence of ET.  But even with a lack of empirical data, there is a chance, slight as it may be, that we've finally hit the jackpot and found evidence that humans have or had neighbors in the universe.