27 Nov. 2006
SETI League
PriUPS Project

The Gravlens and the Nirbs

I've mentioned SETI—The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—a few times.  I think it would be fair to say that I haven't exhibited many academic writing tendencies here, although the odd title might seem to mock the genre.  However it seems that I have, almost by accident, had an academic paper published.  Contact in Context is an internet journal published by the SETI League, and edited by Drs. Robert Lodder and Allen Tough.  A number of years ago, I wrote a "paper" on the subject of using gravitational lensing as a potential method of discovering alien civilizations.  (Most recently, this phenomenon has been responsible for the unambiguous verification of the existence of dark matter.)  Although my paper wasn't prepared in a serious academic format—I'm not a footnote kind of guy—the editors apparently felt it was worth the effort to scrutinize, have refereed, and to publish. 

While I'm not a footnote kind of guy, you do know that I'm a conservation-of-text kind of guy.  Since the paper is too long for a single blog, you can read it here:

A Third, Complementary, Microwave Search Strategy for SETI

But wait!  There's more!  A recent controversy in the SETI community concerns "active SETI."  Historically, SETI scientists have attempted to receive signals from ET.  At least theoretically, many signals already being transmitted from earth (radar, television, and others,) can be detected at nearby stars.   But no serious attempts have been made to transmit messages to the stars.  Some people are proposing to do just that, and see no harm and possible gain in doing so.  Others, in particular the scientist and writer David Brin, view this with concern for a number of reasons:  What if aliens are predatory or simply see us as a threat or even a nuisance?  Will they hear the signal and come and wipe us out?  Brin is not saying that they will, only that it is at least possible; after all there must be some reason why we haven't heard any signals yet!  When this controversy erupted, I wrote an "editorial" for the SETI League on the subject.  It is probably a bit more entertaining than my academic debut, and it is certainly shorter.  If you're not a Nirb, read it here:

The Great Silence—A Universe of Wimps?

That's enough homework for today.  And enough for me, too.  I have no immediate plan to turn either the paper or the article into an MP3.

© 2006
Richard Factor

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