There's life out there - and we need to look for it, SETI research center says
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/23/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Is there life on other planets? Or are we all alone in the universe? Astronomers emphatically say yes - they've taken their case to the U.S. Congress, saying that the search for extraterrestrial life is "plausible and warrants scientific inquiry."
According to Stephen Hawking, us earthlings shouldn't go in search of intelligent life in space - they're more than likely to eat us than come in peace. In related news, the Swiss artist who created the "Alien" monster seen in the successful movie series, H.R. Giger died from his injuries in a fall this month at the age of 72.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Both Dan Werthimer and Seth Shostak of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley presented evidence to the House Committee in order to secure funding to discover alien life.
"In the last fifty years, evidence has steadily mounted that the components and conditions we believe necessary for life are common and perhaps ubiquitous in our galaxy," Werthimer wrote in his testimony.
Starvation never takes a vacation --
"There may even be primitive extraterrestrial life in our own solar system, perhaps on a moon of Jupiter or Saturn. Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, is thought to have a liquid water ocean beneath its icy surface, perhaps a good environment for life as we know it."
Both Werthimer and Shostak both admit that "no evidence exists for the presence of life outside of the Earth", the sheer abundance of planets - "roughly one trillion in our Milky Way galaxy; three times more planets than stars" - suggests that the universe is "teeming with primitive life."
The SETI institute, which is short for "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" does not actively look for primitive life, but instead uses radio and optical telescopes "to search for evidence of advanced civilizations and their technology on distant extrasolar planets."
The Earth has been beaming out radio and television signals into the universe for the last 85 years. This time span is only an instant compared to the four billion year history of life on the planet, Werthimer and Shostak say.
"We are just now developing the tools and technologies that might detect distant civilizations," the pair say. "There could be radio or laser signals from extraterrestrial civilizations reaching our planet right now, but we would most likely not detect these signals with these early SETI projects."
SETI has long organized a number of programs designed to sift through potential emissions from extraterrestrial sources, including the SETI@home program that uses downtime on ordinary peoples' computers to analyze incoming data from the likes of the Arecibo telescope, which is the largest radio telescope in the world.
Werthimer warns that the U.S. risks losing dominance in this field of study. China currently is developing a radio telescope 500 meters in diameter, which along with the internationally-funded Square Kilometer Array, "may soon become the world's preeminent radio SETI observatories."
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