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A SETI Book for the New Year

We’ve had some lively discussions about SETI in the past year and 2007 should be equally provocative, especially as we keep tackling topics like the Fermi question and METI, the attempt to signal extraterrestrial civilizations from Earth. Most people don’t realize that messages other than the famous 1974 signal from Arecibo have already been sent. But to cite just one example, the so-called ‘Cosmic Call 1′ message targeting four Sun-like stars was transmitted from the Evpatoria Planetary Radar site in the Crimea in 1999, as discussed earlier in these pages. There have been others.

Trying to place passive SETI listening activities and their ‘active’ METI component into perspective demands we be aware of the issues and able to place them into a civilization-wide context. On that score, I’ll be interested to see Michael Michaud’s book Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials (Springer, 2006).

The book, says David Brin in an Amazon review, “…does not leap upon a simple, single ‘explanation’ for the apparent loneliness of humanity, but rather lays out some of the scope and range of this wide-open field, showing some of the disputes that have made this such a colorful field in recent years.” My copy has yet to arrive but we’ll be discussing many of these issues here when it does. I have a lot of respect for this author.

Michaud, who has served as director of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Advanced Technology, is also chairman of working groups at the International Academy of Astronautics that discuss SETI issues, and has published numerous articles and papers on the implications of contact. I’m sure his book will help to focus discussion at a time when various disputes in the SETI community demand original thinking and clarity of thought. We don’t have a SETI signal yet and we may never get one, but we need to firm up our thinking on what to do when and if it happens.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • george scaglione January 2, 2007, 17:02

    that is all very good to know and i am (all of us are) very hopefull for a positive result. we should all pay a great deal of attention also to our main purpose here in 2007,that of interstellar flight.now… i believe stephen hawking has recently said that since warp drive might still be a “little while” off,we should pay more attention to matter anti/matter drives and i quite naturally agree,a very good start.but i believe such a plan would be more for use in our solar system where we would be dealing with billions of miles between planets,not trillions of miles between stars! anybody have any ideas on using matter anti/matter for say an “unmanned” stellar probe? but i think what we as a species really should think more about should indeed be warp drive…and… the possibility of traversable worm holes. i just finished dr hawkings book the universe in a nutshell and as i recall,whereas he does not rule this out yet he seems to feel that it too is not right around the corner.well if nobody seriously tries to think about it,then it will be indeed alot farther away! this is such a good group and this seems to be the perfect place,i am sure we should have a fine discussion on all of this. i am sure i have not yet finished with my own ideas herin either and truly look forward to said discussion.well,i guess that is it for right now,i thank everybody very much.respectfully your friend george

  • Alexander Zaitsev January 3, 2007, 13:34

    >But to cite just one example, the so-called ‘Cosmic Call 1′ message
    > targeting four Sun-like stars was transmitted from the
    >Evpatoria Planetary Radar (EPR) site in the Crimea in 1999,
    >as discussed earlier in these pages.

    I would like to note that four IRMs (Interstellar Radio Messages) were transmitted by now, (one from Arecibo Radar Telescope and three — from EPR) to 14 Sun-like stars and one globular claster:

    1) Arecibo Message 1974,

    2) Cosmic Call 1999,

    3) Teen Age Message 2001

    4) Cosmic Call 2003,

    See also:
    Alexander Zaitsev. Messaging to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence

  • ljk January 3, 2007, 14:08

    Alexander, do you have any idea what happened with Team Encounter?

    Going to their Web site produces this:


    Dare I ask what happened to all that money and DNA people gave
    to TE to be launched on an interstellar sail probe they had planned?

    Has anyone been held accountable for this?

  • Alexander Zaitsev January 4, 2007, 4:18

    ljk, please visit the web site of Space Services Inc


    and try to put that question there.

    Perhaps SSI can help you.

  • ljk January 4, 2007, 8:58

    Dear Alexander,

    I did and the company president says he doesn’t know what
    happened with them.

  • Alexander Zaitsev January 6, 2007, 5:30

    It’s a pity, ljk…

  • ljk June 11, 2007, 14:54

    A review of the book Contact with Alien Civilizations here:

    Beep, beep, bop, be-bop. These could represent a new song or a communication from intelligent species on another world. With discoveries of more and more planets circling far away suns, there seems an increasing possibility that we have fellow, smart occupants sharing this universe.

    Michael Michaud takes this consideration seriously in his book Contact with Alien Civilizations. In a very forwarding looking text, he puts sound reasoning into analyzing the issues about if and when we find we’re not alone.

    Full review here:


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