Monday, December 4th, 2017
Tuesday, July 18th, 2017
In July we started receiving audio signals from outside the solar system, and we’ve been studying them since.
Tweets contain sound samples on Soundcloud, data visualisations, and notes about life at the observatory …all generated by code.
ARP is a fictional radio telescope observatory, it’s a Twitter & SoundCloud bot which procedurally generates audio, data-visualisations, and the tweets (and occasionally long-exposure photography) of an astronomer/research scientist who works at ARP, who is obsessive over the audio messages, and who runs the observatory’s Twitter account.
Saturday, March 11th, 2017
We examine the possibility that Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) originate from the activity of extragalactic civilizations. Our analysis shows that beams used for powering large light sails could yield parameters that are consistent with FRBs.
I’m guessing Paul Gilster may have thoughts on this.
Thursday, February 16th, 2017
Churchill, as it turns out, had some pretty solid ideas on SETI.
Churchill was a science enthusiast and advocate, but he also contemplated important scientific questions in the context of human values. Particularly given today’s political landscape, elected leaders should heed Churchill’s example: appoint permanent science advisers and make good use of them.
Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
I left the office one evening a few weeks back, and while I was walking up the street, James Box cycled past, waving a hearty good evening to me. I didn’t see him at first. I was in a state of maximum distraction. For one thing, there was someone walking down the street with a magnificent Irish wolfhound. If that weren’t enough to dominate my brain, I also had headphones in my ears through which I was listening to an audio version of a TED talk by Donald Hoffman called Do we really see reality as it is?
It’s fascinating—if mind-bending—stuff. It sounds like the kind of thing that’s used to justify Deepak Chopra style adventures in la-la land, but Hoffman is deliberately taking a rigorous approach. He knows his claims are outrageous, but he welcomes all attempts to falsify his hypotheses.
I’m not noticing this just from a short TED talk. It’s been one of those strange examples of synchronicity where his work has been popping up on my radar multiple times. There’s an article in Quanta magazine that was also republished in The Atlantic. And there’s a really good interview on the You Are Not So Smart podcast that I huffduffed a while back.
But the most unexpected place that Hoffman popped up was when I was diving down a SETI (or METI) rabbit hole. There I was reading about the Cosmic Call project and Lincos when I came across this article: Why ‘Arrival’ Is Wrong About the Possibility of Talking with Space Aliens, with its subtitle “Human efforts to communicate with extraterrestrials are doomed to failure, expert says.” The expert in question pulling apart the numbers in the Drake equation turned out to be none other than Donald Hoffmann.
A few years ago, at a SETI Institute conference on interstellar communication, Hoffman appeared on the bill after a presentation by radio astronomer Frank Drake, who pioneered the search for alien civilizations in 1960. Drake showed the audience dozens of images that had been launched into space aboard NASA’s Voyager probes in the 1970s. Each picture was carefully chosen to be clearly and easily understood by other intelligent beings, he told the crowd.
After Drake spoke, Hoffman took the stage and “politely explained how every one of the images would be infinitely ambiguous to extraterrestrials,” he recalls.
I’m sure he’s quite right. But let’s face it, the Voyager golden record was never really about communicating with an alien intelligence …it was about how we present ourself.
Monday, December 26th, 2016
One might think sending messages to other stars would be a massive, expensive job. No. It isn’t. The Cosmic Call was essentially a crowdfunded hobby project.
Saturday, October 29th, 2016
We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis.
Saturday, November 7th, 2015
We have made a radio reconnaissance of the star KIC 8462852 whose unusual light curves might possibly be due to planet-scale technology of an extraterrestrial civilization.
Nothing to report yet.
Monday, October 19th, 2015
A fascinating guest post by Brian McConnell on Centauri Dreams: what if there’s a galactic equivalent to the internet, allowing civilisations to communicate with a system analogous to packet switching.
Unfortunately this kind of focussed signalling would be hard to detect. But on the other hand, it could explain the Fermi paradox.
Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
The most interesting anomaly uncovered by a Zooniverse project since Hanny’s Voorwerp.
Saturday, April 25th, 2015
A beautiful bit of design fiction.
Saturday, May 24th, 2014
A free PDF download from NASA on all things SETI, specifically the challenges of interspecies interstellar communication.
Sunday, January 20th, 2013
From the cave paintings at Lascaux to the Pioneer plaques and Voyager golden records to Trevor Paglen’s “The Last Pictures” project, Paul Glister examines the passage and preservation of art and information through time. Fascinating.
Or perhaps, as Paglen envisions, those who find a Pioneer Plaque, a Voyager Record, or one of our electromagnetic transmissions will be interested enough to search us out, coming upon a future Earth where all that is left of humanity are our terrestrial ruins and that artificial ring of geosynchronous satellites, with one of them having a particular golden artifact bolted to its pitted hull. In that scenario, about all that would be left for the visiting ETI to do in terms of learning about us would be grand-scale dumpster diving.
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
This is not only the single most important human endeavour that you can participate in, it is also ridiculously gorgeous.
Sunday, January 1st, 2012
Re-examining Von Neumann probes, reconciling their apparent scarcity with the Fermi paradox.
Saturday, July 9th, 2011
A classic (very) short science fiction story that posits an interesting solution to the Fermi paradox.
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Would you like SETI to resume sweeping the skies in search of extraterrestrial life? Now you can put your money behind re-kickstarting that noble mission.
Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
A nine-point document that constitutes a "Declaration of Principles Concerning Activities Following the Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence."
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
The search for Dyson spheres.
Saturday, February 16th, 2008
The title of "most bizarre IE quirk" is hotly contested, given just how many of them there are. But John has found a real humdinger here.