CSI (contacting space intellectuals) investigation

For thousands of years, humankind has gazed up at the eternal expanse that is space and wondered whether or not we are alone in the universe.

Now, when the answer to that question lies at our fingertips, we balk at the expense of the answer.

The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, is the greatest quest for knowledge humanity has ever embarked upon.

It is absurd that we are not willing to fork out the money required to keep it running.

In the early 1990s SETI scientists at Berkeley made a request from Congress for $12 million dollars. That is roughly a nickel for every person living in the United States. The request was rejected.

How much would you pay? A nickel? To help answer the age-old question of whether or not we are alone in the universe?

I certainly would and I hope you would, too.

In the 1960s, a scientist named Frank Drake came up with an equation to determine the possibility of life on other planets.

It is: N=(R)(Fp)(Ne)(Fl)(Fi)(Fc)L.

It takes the rate at which solar-type stars form in the galaxy and multiplies that by the likelihood of many other variables, including the fraction of those stars that have planets, (Fp), the number of planets per solar system that are Earth like (Ne), the fraction of those Earth-like planets on which life actually arises (Fl), the fraction of those life forms that evolve into intelligent species (Fi), the fraction of those that develop adequate technology to send messages and do choose to send radio messages to space (Fc), and the probable lifetime of such a race.

Though the variables are somewhat arbitrary and scientific opinion has varied on the subject, virtually every formulation of the Drake Equation has lead to a number greater than one.

That means it is likely there are alien species in our galaxy that we could come in contact with through radio messages.

My own formulations of the Drake Equation have led to the results of anywhere between 10 and 20 alien species we could contact.

The possibility of success for SETI, if we would fund it adequately, is extremely high.

Some would contend that SETI uses money we could use for more profitable ends, like feeding the hungry.

I would understand that complaint if the SETI Project cost billions of dollars-but Congress rejected a request that would cost only a nickel per person per year to run.

But perhaps I am being too idealistic when I claim anyone would pay a nickel to help discover the answer to one of the greatest questions ever posed by humankind.

Fortunately, there is another way to help. You can download a screensaver, at no cost whatsoever to you, that helps process the incoming data from SETI radio telescopes.

I urge you to go to www.setiathome.berkeley.edu if you want to know if we’re alone in the universe. It’s worth the 30 seconds required to download the screensaver.

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