NASA joins the hunt for aliens

In the last decade, we have devised amazing instruments to glare unflinchingly at the stars and discovered that other planets are common around them. These exoplanet discoveries have thrown gasoline on the fire of the astrobiology field, where scientists seek to explore whether life might exist beyond Earth. But they have also fueled SETI, or the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. If life does evolve on other worlds, then we may very well find more than just biosignatures like oxygen.

We might find technosignatures, too. These are things like radio signals, or even megastructures; that is, artificial objects on a gigantic scale such as hypothesized star-sized supercomputers. Now, Supercluster reported in an article this week, NASA has quietly begun to fund the search for such alien megastructures for the first time in the agency’s history…

The best news [to me] is that we’re moving well beyond the typical American cultural response to a new critical investigation of unusual phenomena. Breaking out of the historic mold of latching onto singular means of investigation – in expectation of an equally singular answer to the question, “What’s out there?”

RTFA for early days projections, the first rounds of investigative style.

20 thoughts on “NASA joins the hunt for aliens

  1. It's a cookbook says:

    Vladimir Ilych Lenin, in a conversation with H. G. Wells (1920): “…You are right. I understood this myself when I read your novel The Time Machine. All human conceptions are on the scale of our planet. They are based on the pretension that the technical potential, though it will develop, will never exceed the terrestrial limit. If we succeed in establishing interplanetary communications, all our philosophies, moral and social views, will have to be revised. In this case the technical potential, become limitless, will impose the end of the role of violence as a means and method of progress.” http://www.autodidactproject.org/quote/wells_lenin_scifi.html

  2. WCPGW? says:

    Meet the Scientist Who Is Preparing for Humanity’s First Contact with Aliens
    Mike Garrett, director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, talks about the effort to prepare for contact with alien life in Motherboard’s “Space Show.” https://www.vice.com/en/article/g5gdpb/meet-the-scientist-who-is-preparing-for-humanitys-first-contact-with-aliens
    Garrett, who is also vice-chair of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) SETI Permanent Committee, has worked with his colleagues to establish a thorough vetting process for signals from space with a potentially artificial origin and talked to Motherboard about the best practices for first contact. https://www.seti.org/protocols-eti-signal-detection

  3. Far out says:

    “Starlight Could Really Be a Vast Alien Quantum Internet, Physicist Proposes : What if the universe is a giant alien chatroom, and we just can’t understand it?” https://www.vice.com/en/article/5db4ma/starlight-could-really-be-a-vast-alien-quantum-internet-physicist-proposes
    “…according to a new hypothesis proposed by Terry Rudolph, a professor of quantum physics at Imperial College London, alien communications might’ve been hidden right under our noses the whole time in the starlight.
    “What I show is that alien civilizations can, in principle, run their own quantum internet in such a way that to the creatures excluded from the conversation (us!) we will only ever see thermal electromagnetic radiation,” Rudolph says in an email. “All we would see, if they did use the effect I propose, is some very random looking thermal light.”
    In other words, Rudolph is suggesting that interstellar light could actually be harnessed by space faring aliens to form an encrypted quantum internet.
    This may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but Rudolph says it was actually a natural extension of what he does as co-founder of PsiQuantum, a Silicon Valley-based company on a mission to build a scalable photonic quantum computer. He laid out his idea in a paper recently published on the arXiv preprint server.”
    Terry Rudolph: “Perhaps they are everywhere? Undetectable distributed quantum computation and communication for alien civilizations can be established using thermal light from stars” https://arxiv.org/pdf/2107.13023.pdf

  4. dolphinwrite says:

    An alien, landing in his/her (pc) spaceship, walked down the plank and said “Hi” to the first person standing there, looking back. The alien, using a universal translater, said to the man, “We understand you’ve been looking for intelligent life out there.” The man replied, We haven’t found it here, yet.

    • eideard says:

      I think there’s an enormous sign – invisible to earthlings – at the furthest boundary of our galaxy. “Zoo ahead. Do not attempt to pet or feed the animals!”

    • dolphinwrite says:

      There is scientific reasoning that explains why life may not have occurred on other planets. One is cells never spontaneously form, not on their own, nor with scientists assisting in labs.

  5. Tabloider says:

    “NASA is looking to the heavens for help with assessing how humans will react if alien life is found on other planets and how the discovery could impact our ideas of gods and creation.
    The agency is hiring 24 theologians to take part in its program at the Center for Theological Inquiry (CTI) at Princeton University in New Jersey, which NASA gave a $1.1 million grant to in 2014.” https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-10343387/NASA-enlists-24-theologians-assess-world-react-discovery-alien-life.html

  6. The game's afoot says:

    “The World’s Biggest Optical Telescope Will Search for Alien Life” https://www.vice.com/en/article/g5qwa7/the-worlds-biggest-optical-telescope-will-search-for-alien-life
    “We are not alone in the universe. A few years ago, this notion seemed farfetched; today, the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence is taken for granted by most scientists. Even the staid National Academy of Sciences has gone on record that contact with other civilizations “is no longer something beyond our dreams but a natural event in the history of mankind that will perhaps occur in the lifetime of many of us.” Lambros D. Callimahos, “Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence”, National Security Agency//CSS, NSA Technical Journal Vol. XI, No. 1, 1966 https://www.nsa.gov/portals/75/documents/news-features/declassified-documents/cryptologic-spectrum/communications_with_extraterrestrial.pdf
    (Popular Mechanics 2016): The NSA has a document on its site that seems to confirm that, in 1969, an extraterrestrial transmission came in. The document, labelled “Key to The Extraterrestrial Messages,” is a follow-on to two 1966 documents called “Extraterrestrial Intelligence” and “Communications with Extraterrestrial Intelligence.” [dead links]
    “Key to The Extraterrestrial Messages” National Security Agency//CSS, NSA Technical Journal, Vol. XIV, No. 1, Winter 1969 Howard H. Campaigne https://www.nsa.gov/portals/75/documents/news-features/declassified-documents/tech-journals/extraterrestrial-messages.pdf
    See also https://www.tarrdaniel.com/documents/Ufology/alien_message.html
    “Search for Technosignatures toward the Galactic Centre at 150 MHz” (Astronomical Society of Australia Feb 7, 2022) https://arxiv.org/pdf/2202.03324.pdf

  7. Puzzling Evidence says:

    Activist Publishes Redacted Version of Classified Military UFO Report : The classified version of the much-hyped UFO report describes the “shapes” of UFOs, is far more interesting than the one released to the public. https://www.vice.com/en/article/v7dnex/activist-publishes-redacted-version-of-classified-military-ufo-report
    June 2021 Classified UAP / UFO Report Given to Congress Partially Released https://www.theblackvault.com/documentarchive/june-2021-classified-uap-ufo-report-given-to-congress-partially-released/

  8. Swamp Gas says:

    Scientists blast out Earth’s location with the hope of reaching aliens : “These efforts are like building a big bonfire in the woods and hoping someone finds you.” https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/05/scientists-blast-out-earths-location-with-the-hope-of-reaching-aliens/
    The Pentagon researched the best way to contact aliens and communicate with a possible 4,590 extraterrestrial civilizations, according to secret US files.
    The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document, which was obtained by The Sun as part of a massive Freedom of Information request, is a scientific study into SETI – an acronym for search for extraterrestrial intelligence. https://www.the-sun.com/news/5062151/us-government-talk-aliens-first-contact-4590-space-civilizations/

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