This event has been arranged as part of a collaboration with the Oxford Literary Festival. See also our other event that is part of the Festival:
Speaker: Dr Jill Tarter, Director, Center for SETI Research, SETI Institute
Title: setiQuest - A Global Community Search for Evidence of Extraterrestrial Technologies: It Could Change The World
Location: MBI Al Jaber Building at Corpus Christi College
The 1959 Nature article by Giuseppe Cocconi and Phil Morrison provided the theoretical underpinnings for SETI, accompanied in 1960 by Project Ozma, the first radio search for signals by Frank Drake at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).
More than 100 search programs have been conducted since that time, primarily at radio and optical wavelengths, (see http://observations.seti.org) without any successful signal detection. Some have suggested that this means humans are alone in the cosmos. But that is far too strong a conclusion to draw from far too small an observational sampling. Instead of concluding that intelligent life on Earth is unique, it is more appropriate to note that in 50 years our ability to search for electromagnetic signals has improved by at least 14 orders of magnitude and that these improvements are still occurring at an exponential rate.
The SETI Institute (Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence) is based at Mountain View, California. It is now in the process of reinventing the way it searches in order to fully utilize these technological enhancements. They are now building the setiQuest community and intend to get the world involved in making searches better. SETI hopes to find ways to harness the intelligence of all Earthlings in order to better seek out extraterrestrial intelligence. If successful, SETI just might succeed, and change how we see ourselves, and make our own world a better place.
Dr. Jill Tarter is Director, Center for SETI Research, SETI Institute. Awarded two public service medals by NASA, Jill Tarter is one of the most celebrated Astronomers globally. In 2004 TIME magazine named her as among the 100 most influential people in the world. Jill Tarter was portrayed by Jodie Foster in the film CONTACT based on Carl Sagan's novel.