SETI    updated March 8, 2010  D. Carrigan carrigan@fnal.gov (subject line must be sensible)

(My SETI interest is not funded by Fermilab or the U. S. Department of Energy. This portion of the site is needed to illustrate other interconnections related to Fermilab.)
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SETI and the search for life beyond the earth mirror long-standing questions. New facilities have quickened the search . By now many of the sun-like stars out to several hundred light years heve been scanned for signals. In the last decade more than 400 extrasolar planets have been discovered. Radio SETI is on the verge of  a breakthrough with the operation of the Allen Telescope.  Optical SETI is underway at Harvard and Princeton and UC-Berkeley. Investigations of the possible origins of life have quickened. Exploration of potential sites beyond earth is underway on Mars, Titan, and Europa. Incredibly, atmospheres have already been observed around exoplanets. The hunt for signs of life beyond earth has been propelled forward in part by the potential importance to evolution of endosymbiosis as championed by Lynn Margulis and the rising appreciation of habitats like deep ocean thermal vents as homes to extremophile life forms.  This optimistic picture is challenged by critics. "Rare Earth" posits that simple life may be common in the Universe but that higher life is not.  The anthropic conjecture, often referred to as the Anthropic Principle, reasons that our Universe is just right for us . With all these cheerleaders and critics SETI and the origin of life have become extremely interesting subjects.

Types of SETI

Radio SETI

Optical SETI

Other SETI

Interstellar archaeology

A philosophy for SETI

Cocconi and Morrison close their famous 1959 SETI article in Nature with the comment “The reader may seek to consign these speculations wholly to the domain of science-fiction. We submit rather, that… the presence of interstellar signals are entirely consistent with all we now know… a discriminating search for signals deserves a considerable effort. The probability of success is difficult to estimate; but if we never search  the chance of success is zero.

The Eagle's Child

The poem by Nancy Carrigan

On seeing Internet pictures taken by the Hubble telescope
        of the birth of a star in the Eagle Nebula

"I saw, with my astonished eyes-- a story told in ancient light--
celestial birth in distant skies--as our Sun-star once took flight.--
This nameless star, egg-like it grew..."

SETI messages

SETI Hacker

Fermilab SETI@home

SETI history