From as early as 1960 to the present, various scientists have been searching for signs of extraterrestrial civilizations in outer space. The acronym SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) is now used to describe the efforts of these scientists.
Is this whole SETI thing a good idea?
How have people been searching? By pointing various kinds of telescopes at various locations. Some researchers, like SETI pioneer Frank Drake, pointed radio telescopes at nearby, sun-like stars. Russian researchers performed sweeps of wider portions of the sky.
Is this whole SETI thing a good idea? What frequencies are they tuning into? Scientists have searched on many different frequencies. The band of frequencies between 1,420 Megahertz and 1,666 Megahertz have captured the imagination of astronomers as a band of frequencies a civilization would use if it wanted to be heard.
Is this whole SETI thing a good idea? Have they found anything? The closest that anyone has come to finding anything, as far as I can tell, is an event in 1977 called “The Wow! signal.” On the other hand, there is no record of a repeat of that event, and no other events from the general direction of that signal (the constellation Sagittarius) have been recorded.
Is this whole SETI thing a good idea? What are they going to do now? The vast majority of the SETI research up to now is what is now being called passive SETI, looking and listening for evidence of alien civilizations. Some people who are involved in SETI plan to continue this strategy of looking and listening. Who knows, maybe our technology just isn’t good enough yet. But some scientists (most notably astronomer Seth Shostak) are contemplating the possibility of active SETI (or METI “messaging extraterrestrial intelligence”). Active SETI involves sending messages into space advertising our presence. Some scientists have suggested that this is a bad idea, as we don’t know what kind of response our messages would produce.
Is this whole SETI thing a good idea? It seems to me that the researchers are operating under a certain set of assumptions. They assume that advanced civilizations wish to make their existence and affairs a public fact. No commerce could be conducted on the internet without a way of keeping the details of the transaction hidden from third parties. Nations on earth make efforts to keep certain information secret from other nations. Why wouldn’t advanced civilizations make efforts to keep certain information secret from other worlds such as our own?
Is this whole SETI thing a good idea? There is a belief in the world that more technically advanced races are somehow more spiritually advanced as well. But is this necessarily so? Were the Conquistadores more spiritually advanced than the Aztecs? Were the European colonists of North America more spiritually advanced than the tribes they encountered? Were the British more spiritually advanced than the Chinese, when the British introduced opium into China?
Is this whole SETI thing a good idea? The New Message from God has an answer to this question, and I wish to share that answer with you. However, it’s part of a larger conversation, and I believe it would be more profitable at this point to set the table, as it were, for that larger conversation.
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