October 17, 2007

Should SETI break the Great Silence?

Centauri Dreams has more on the SETI/METI controversy: SETI’s Dilemma: Break the Great Silence? Excerpt:
When Alexander Zaitsev presented his recent paper at the International Astronautical Congress in Hyderabad (India) recently, he spoke from the center of a widening controversy. The question is straightforward: Should we broadcast messages intentionally designed to be received by extraterrestrial civilizations, thereby notifying them of our existence? Zaitzev, chief scientist at the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics, addressed the question by seeing a necessary relationship between SETI (the search for ETI) and METI (messaging to other civilizations).

Indeed, the Russian scientist, working at the Evpatoria Deep Space Center in the Ukraine, has the experience to discuss METI from a practical standpoint. Evpatoria has already transmitted a number of messages, the so-called ‘Cosmic Call’ signal (1999) being made up of various audio, video, image and data files submitted by people around the world. The later ‘Teen-Age Message,’ aimed at six Sun-like stars, was sent in 2001; another ‘Cosmic Call’ followed in 2003.

Zaitzev has in the interim emerged as a leading spokesman for direct messaging to extraterrestrial civilizations, an idea now hotly debated by a relatively small group of researchers concerned about its implications. I note the size of the debate pointedly — it is remarkable to me that an issue that has the potential of involving the entire human species in what could become a first contact scenario is known only to a limited number of professionals, within whose ranks there is by no means agreement.
Entire article.

My thoughts on the issue.

1 comment:

Glendon Mellow said...

This is the sort of thing I find the height of failure in our educations system; why is this not a point hotly debated by high school students, as a way of learning how to formulate arguments and do research?

The issue is not a trivial one, even if there is no one listening. Knowing there is no one in our neighbourhood would be very valuable. Knowing they have big nasty pointy teeth would also be valuable.