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Is There Anybody Out There?

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  • Gemini271@optonline.net
    Is There Anybody Out There? [Scotland on Sunday] JILL Tarter has two claims to fame. Not only is she one of America s most respected space scientists, she was
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 7, 2004
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      Is There Anybody Out There?
      [Scotland on Sunday]
      JILL Tarter has two claims to fame. Not only is she one of America's
      most respected space scientists, she was also the model for the
      heroine of a blockbuster Hollywood film. When Jodie Foster graced the
      silver screen in Contact, as the head of a programme trying to locate
      alien signals from the cosmos, it was Tarter's story she was bringing
      to life.
      Despite the Hollywood hype, the scientist nevertheless retains her
      reputation for hard-headed science. Asked recently by a children's
      magazine if a breakthrough was imminent, she took the pragmatic
      view. "Chances are the search will take a long time," she replied. "I
      hope there are readers out there who might want to be my replacement
      someday."

      Last week it emerged that she may no longer have any need for a
      successor. Scientists working for Tarter's US-government funded
      Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence Programme (Seti), announced
      they had tracked an unexplained radio signal that was the best
      candidate yet for "first contact" from an alien civilisation.

      The strange signal had been picked up three times by the giant
      Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico that Seti uses to scour outer
      space. That the signal did not carry the tell-tale signature of any
      known astrological phenomenon, or couldn't be the result of natural
      interference, only added to the global sense of excitement.

      Originating from the region of space between the constellations
      Pisces and Aries, it was also recorded on the frequency that most
      theorists of extra-terrestrial intelligence believe aliens would be
      most likely to transmit on if they were trying to make contact with
      another civilisation.

      Inevitably the finding, despite Tarter and Seti's impeccable
      credentials, drew as much raucous criticism as it did academic
      support. Critics said it came from a region where there were no
      obvious stars or planets for thousands of light years around, and
      that it was very weak.

      But no-one suggested that even if signal SHGb02+14a proves to be a
      dud, the search should not go on. If there is anyone out there then
      we - from scientists to philosophers to Joe Public - want to know
      about it.

      "I think it is psychologically very important that we get out there
      and look for signs that we are not alone. It's is one of the most
      exciting things the human race can do," said Don Kurtz, professor of
      astrophysics at the University of Lancaster. "How we will deal with
      it if we find it throws up a whole different set of questions."

      For John Brown, head of the department of physics and astronomy at
      Glasgow University and Scotland's Astronomer Royal, it was one small
      step towards achieving one of his greatest wishes before he shuffles
      off this Earth.

      "Some years ago colleagues at Jodrell Bank found what they thought
      were pulsars (pulsating stars) and later discovered the signal they
      were getting was a fault with a timing clock. However, not very long
      afterwards they found that pulsars were real," Brown said.

      "Likewise, the Seti signal may turn out to be spurious, but next time
      it might not be. I would love to see some sort of sign of life out
      there in my lifetime. Ideally it would be intelligent, but even if
      its just a tiny microbe then the chances of other people out there go
      up greatly. That's why we have been searching for extra- terrestrial
      life for a long time now. But now we are getting better at it."

      Perhaps surprisingly, the search for extra-terrestrial life starts
      here on Earth. Most scientists agree that if life does exist
      somewhere in space then it is more likely to be in microbial form
      than a green skinned, twin-headed, pointy-eared creation of science
      fiction.

      "This stands to reason as most life on Earth is microbial," Kurtz
      said. "Why should it be different anywhere else?" Hence the
      scientific hunts in some of the world's most inhospitable places,
      exploring the theory that if life can survive extreme heat, cold or
      pressure on Earth, then it might also be thriving on another planet
      in similar conditions. If we know what to look for, the chances of
      finding it are greater.

      Marine biologists from the American Woods Hole Oceanographic
      Institution are still penetrating the mysteries of the huge ocean-
      floor geysers that spew out water heated to 700 degrees Fahrenheit,
      filled with toxic hydrogen sulphide, the gas that smells like rotten
      eggs.

      The geysers, a mile and half down on the floor of the Pacific, were
      discovered in 1977 along with a then unknown but thriving colony of
      small organisms. It's one of the harshest environments on Earth and
      yet life is still abundant. Similarly, there is the boiling, acidic
      hell of the geysers of Yellowstone National Park, which are
      nevertheless brimming with microscopic life.

      Organisms have also been discovered that survive incredible amounts
      of radiation and others that live in extreme cold. Extreme heat is
      the province of the Atacama Desert in Chile, a largely- lifeless
      environment except for legions of Nasa scientists looking for
      previous signs of life before the terrain became too harsh for an
      unknown geological reason.

      The Nasa teams are interested because if they can find out why the
      Atacama died, the lessons can be applied to Mars. The Atacama is the
      nearest we have on earth to the dry, dusty Martian landscape.

      Nasa geologist Chris McKay says: "The more we understand about life
      on Earth - its limits, its capabilities, the record it leaves behind -
      the more we're in a position to do a search somewhere else. Really,
      the proper place to learn about life is Earth. We have no choice and
      that's where we are - and that's the knowledge we need to go search
      on Mars."

      Not that we aren't already there of course. Earlier this year two
      robots, Spirit and Opportunity, followed the ill-fated European
      Beagle mission 37 million miles on to the surface of the legendary
      Red Planet and survived.

      Above all else, they are looking for signs of water. Opportunity has
      already found strong evidence that water once flowed on Mars at a
      time in the past when it was warmer.

      Water is necessary for life and it is what scientists are probing for
      both on Mars and beyond. This means outside our solar system where
      the hunt is already on for Earth-size planets in the right place
      within their own solar systems - in the so-called habitable zone.

      Such a planet has not yet been discovered, but last month another
      giant leap towards finding extra-terrestrial life was made. Nasa
      astronomers said they had found the smallest planets yet orbiting
      stars beyond our Sun.

      They are two to three times the diameter of Earth - the size of
      Neptune. The theory is that there is no reason why planetary systems
      located around other stars should not have the same assortment of
      heavenly bodies as our own.

      "We can't quite see the Earthlike planets yet but we are seeing their
      big brothers," said Paul Butler of Washington's Carnegie Institute.

      Cue Kepler and Eddington. Kepler is a Nasa-bankrolled space telescope
      that will launch from Cape Canaverel in 2007. Basically a complicated
      light meter, it will orbit the Sun on roughly the same trajectory as
      Earth. Its mission is to spend four years staring at the same 100,000
      stars and spot replica Earths.

      It at least will not be alone. Eddington, named after illustrious
      1930s British astronomer Arthur Stanley Eddington, is the European
      Space Agency's GBP 115m equivalent. Due for launch in 2008, it will
      hover beyond the Moon and gaze at the Milky Way with exactly the same
      mission. By measuring tiny changes in the brightness of distant
      stars, Earth clones may be spotted.

      Once that happens, space scientists say, the race will be on to find
      out whether the conditions for life are present.

      By that time, technology may well be providing clues as to what to
      look for from nearer to home. Beneath the thick ice that covers
      Europa, a moon of Jupiter, is believed to lie a deep ocean. It is
      possible that, like in extreme conditions on Earth, life huddles
      there.

      A probe, with a plutonium core, could be sent there to land on and
      melt through thin ice into the depths below. "There could be deep sea
      vents like those on Earth with their own ecosystem," said Kurtz. "The
      probe would be able to take readings and we just have to wait and see
      what pops up."

      Meanwhile, as we look for life out there, Seti will be continuing,
      funds permitting, its lonely vigil waiting for aliens to make contact
      with the human race.

      Whatever else its signals of September 2004 will do, they will give
      encouragement to alien-spotters everywhere.

      Ron Halliday, who has been investigating UFO sightings in Scotland
      for more than 20 years and has written several books on the subject,
      said: "It will provide hope for many people who may be feeling they
      have been whistling in the dark for many years, that respected
      scientists are giving credence to the theory that there is something
      else out there."

      The rest of us, with the lack of firm evidence, can still sit on the
      fence. But psychologists suspect the need to believe in intelligent
      extra-terrestrial life spans back centuries and is deep- rooted in
      almost everyone.

      "People look at their lives and the world and come to the conclusion
      that there has to be more out there than what they can observe
      personally," said Dr Peter Lamont, a research fellow attached to the
      department of psychology at the University of Edinburgh.

      "For some that is expressed in religious belief, but there are others
      who prefer to believe that there is alien life. The interesting thing
      is that scientists are starting to back this up with evidence. How
      you interpret that depends on what you believe."

      You can find this story at
      http://www.rednova.com/news/stories/1/2004/09/07/story103.html

      Susan
      sftt1 Moderator
    • atlong_1999
      This is fascinating stuff that we ve been waiting to hear for ages. As to its unlikely place in the universe, who knows whats out there at that point in the
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 13, 2004
      • 0 Attachment
        This is fascinating stuff that we've been waiting to hear for ages.
        As to its unlikely place in the universe, who knows whats out there
        at that point in the cosmos. It could be a space station, a
        satellite or relay station. It could be an as yet undiscovered
        pulsar or pulsar like phenomina. Who knows. Its simply exciting and
        years from now may mark the beginning of the discovery of other life
        forms [who aren't here already].

        Al

        --- In sftt2@yahoogroups.com, Gemini271@o... wrote:
        > Is There Anybody Out There?
        > [Scotland on Sunday]
        > JILL Tarter has two claims to fame. Not only is she one of
        America's
        > most respected space scientists, she was also the model for the
        > heroine of a blockbuster Hollywood film. When Jodie Foster graced
        the
        > silver screen in Contact, as the head of a programme trying to
        locate
        > alien signals from the cosmos, it was Tarter's story she was
        bringing
        > to life.
        > Despite the Hollywood hype, the scientist nevertheless retains her
        > reputation for hard-headed science. Asked recently by a children's
        > magazine if a breakthrough was imminent, she took the pragmatic
        > view. "Chances are the search will take a long time," she
        replied. "I
        > hope there are readers out there who might want to be my
        replacement
        > someday."
        >
        > Last week it emerged that she may no longer have any need for a
        > successor. Scientists working for Tarter's US-government funded
        > Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence Programme (Seti),
        announced
        > they had tracked an unexplained radio signal that was the best
        > candidate yet for "first contact" from an alien civilisation.
        >
        > The strange signal had been picked up three times by the giant
        > Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico that Seti uses to scour
        outer
        > space. That the signal did not carry the tell-tale signature of any
        > known astrological phenomenon, or couldn't be the result of natural
        > interference, only added to the global sense of excitement.
        >
        > Originating from the region of space between the constellations
        > Pisces and Aries, it was also recorded on the frequency that most
        > theorists of extra-terrestrial intelligence believe aliens would be
        > most likely to transmit on if they were trying to make contact with
        > another civilisation.
        >
        > Inevitably the finding, despite Tarter and Seti's impeccable
        > credentials, drew as much raucous criticism as it did academic
        > support. Critics said it came from a region where there were no
        > obvious stars or planets for thousands of light years around, and
        > that it was very weak.
        >
        > But no-one suggested that even if signal SHGb02+14a proves to be a
        > dud, the search should not go on. If there is anyone out there then
        > we - from scientists to philosophers to Joe Public - want to know
        > about it.
        >
        > "I think it is psychologically very important that we get out there
        > and look for signs that we are not alone. It's is one of the most
        > exciting things the human race can do," said Don Kurtz, professor
        of
        > astrophysics at the University of Lancaster. "How we will deal with
        > it if we find it throws up a whole different set of questions."
        >
        > For John Brown, head of the department of physics and astronomy at
        > Glasgow University and Scotland's Astronomer Royal, it was one
        small
        > step towards achieving one of his greatest wishes before he
        shuffles
        > off this Earth.
        >
        > "Some years ago colleagues at Jodrell Bank found what they thought
        > were pulsars (pulsating stars) and later discovered the signal they
        > were getting was a fault with a timing clock. However, not very
        long
        > afterwards they found that pulsars were real," Brown said.
        >
        > "Likewise, the Seti signal may turn out to be spurious, but next
        time
        > it might not be. I would love to see some sort of sign of life out
        > there in my lifetime. Ideally it would be intelligent, but even if
        > its just a tiny microbe then the chances of other people out there
        go
        > up greatly. That's why we have been searching for extra-
        terrestrial
        > life for a long time now. But now we are getting better at it."
        >
        > Perhaps surprisingly, the search for extra-terrestrial life starts
        > here on Earth. Most scientists agree that if life does exist
        > somewhere in space then it is more likely to be in microbial form
        > than a green skinned, twin-headed, pointy-eared creation of science
        > fiction.
        >
        > "This stands to reason as most life on Earth is microbial," Kurtz
        > said. "Why should it be different anywhere else?" Hence the
        > scientific hunts in some of the world's most inhospitable places,
        > exploring the theory that if life can survive extreme heat, cold or
        > pressure on Earth, then it might also be thriving on another planet
        > in similar conditions. If we know what to look for, the chances of
        > finding it are greater.
        >
        > Marine biologists from the American Woods Hole Oceanographic
        > Institution are still penetrating the mysteries of the huge ocean-
        > floor geysers that spew out water heated to 700 degrees Fahrenheit,
        > filled with toxic hydrogen sulphide, the gas that smells like
        rotten
        > eggs.
        >
        > The geysers, a mile and half down on the floor of the Pacific, were
        > discovered in 1977 along with a then unknown but thriving colony of
        > small organisms. It's one of the harshest environments on Earth and
        > yet life is still abundant. Similarly, there is the boiling, acidic
        > hell of the geysers of Yellowstone National Park, which are
        > nevertheless brimming with microscopic life.
        >
        > Organisms have also been discovered that survive incredible amounts
        > of radiation and others that live in extreme cold. Extreme heat is
        > the province of the Atacama Desert in Chile, a largely- lifeless
        > environment except for legions of Nasa scientists looking for
        > previous signs of life before the terrain became too harsh for an
        > unknown geological reason.
        >
        > The Nasa teams are interested because if they can find out why the
        > Atacama died, the lessons can be applied to Mars. The Atacama is
        the
        > nearest we have on earth to the dry, dusty Martian landscape.
        >
        > Nasa geologist Chris McKay says: "The more we understand about life
        > on Earth - its limits, its capabilities, the record it leaves
        behind -
        > the more we're in a position to do a search somewhere else.
        Really,
        > the proper place to learn about life is Earth. We have no choice
        and
        > that's where we are - and that's the knowledge we need to go search
        > on Mars."
        >
        > Not that we aren't already there of course. Earlier this year two
        > robots, Spirit and Opportunity, followed the ill-fated European
        > Beagle mission 37 million miles on to the surface of the legendary
        > Red Planet and survived.
        >
        > Above all else, they are looking for signs of water. Opportunity
        has
        > already found strong evidence that water once flowed on Mars at a
        > time in the past when it was warmer.
        >
        > Water is necessary for life and it is what scientists are probing
        for
        > both on Mars and beyond. This means outside our solar system where
        > the hunt is already on for Earth-size planets in the right place
        > within their own solar systems - in the so-called habitable zone.
        >
        > Such a planet has not yet been discovered, but last month another
        > giant leap towards finding extra-terrestrial life was made. Nasa
        > astronomers said they had found the smallest planets yet orbiting
        > stars beyond our Sun.
        >
        > They are two to three times the diameter of Earth - the size of
        > Neptune. The theory is that there is no reason why planetary
        systems
        > located around other stars should not have the same assortment of
        > heavenly bodies as our own.
        >
        > "We can't quite see the Earthlike planets yet but we are seeing
        their
        > big brothers," said Paul Butler of Washington's Carnegie Institute.
        >
        > Cue Kepler and Eddington. Kepler is a Nasa-bankrolled space
        telescope
        > that will launch from Cape Canaverel in 2007. Basically a
        complicated
        > light meter, it will orbit the Sun on roughly the same trajectory
        as
        > Earth. Its mission is to spend four years staring at the same
        100,000
        > stars and spot replica Earths.
        >
        > It at least will not be alone. Eddington, named after illustrious
        > 1930s British astronomer Arthur Stanley Eddington, is the European
        > Space Agency's GBP 115m equivalent. Due for launch in 2008, it will
        > hover beyond the Moon and gaze at the Milky Way with exactly the
        same
        > mission. By measuring tiny changes in the brightness of distant
        > stars, Earth clones may be spotted.
        >
        > Once that happens, space scientists say, the race will be on to
        find
        > out whether the conditions for life are present.
        >
        > By that time, technology may well be providing clues as to what to
        > look for from nearer to home. Beneath the thick ice that covers
        > Europa, a moon of Jupiter, is believed to lie a deep ocean. It is
        > possible that, like in extreme conditions on Earth, life huddles
        > there.
        >
        > A probe, with a plutonium core, could be sent there to land on and
        > melt through thin ice into the depths below. "There could be deep
        sea
        > vents like those on Earth with their own ecosystem," said
        Kurtz. "The
        > probe would be able to take readings and we just have to wait and
        see
        > what pops up."
        >
        > Meanwhile, as we look for life out there, Seti will be continuing,
        > funds permitting, its lonely vigil waiting for aliens to make
        contact
        > with the human race.
        >
        > Whatever else its signals of September 2004 will do, they will give
        > encouragement to alien-spotters everywhere.
        >
        > Ron Halliday, who has been investigating UFO sightings in Scotland
        > for more than 20 years and has written several books on the
        subject,
        > said: "It will provide hope for many people who may be feeling they
        > have been whistling in the dark for many years, that respected
        > scientists are giving credence to the theory that there is
        something
        > else out there."
        >
        > The rest of us, with the lack of firm evidence, can still sit on
        the
        > fence. But psychologists suspect the need to believe in intelligent
        > extra-terrestrial life spans back centuries and is deep- rooted in
        > almost everyone.
        >
        > "People look at their lives and the world and come to the
        conclusion
        > that there has to be more out there than what they can observe
        > personally," said Dr Peter Lamont, a research fellow attached to
        the
        > department of psychology at the University of Edinburgh.
        >
        > "For some that is expressed in religious belief, but there are
        others
        > who prefer to believe that there is alien life. The interesting
        thing
        > is that scientists are starting to back this up with evidence. How
        > you interpret that depends on what you believe."
        >
        > You can find this story at
        > http://www.rednova.com/news/stories/1/2004/09/07/story103.html
        >
        > Susan
        > sftt1 Moderator
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