If you checked out the nasty world clock yesterday, you may be feeling down. After all, the population is rising exponentially, the earth is sizzling, our ‘leaders’ far from intelligent and our waistlines adding inches. We need help! (cue Beatles Help)
Apparently, NASA thinks so too. Today, they unveiled their first step using radio telescopes to widen their search for intelligent life in the universe (because we can’t find it at home). Thank you, NASA.
From the New York Times article:
Call it a small step for E.T., a leap for radio astronomy.
Astronomers in Hat Creek, Calif., are planning today to switch on the first elements of a giant new array of radio telescopes that they say will greatly extend the investigation of natural and unnatural phenomena in the universe.
When the Allen Telescope Array, as it is known, is complete, it will consist of 350 antennas, each 20 feet in diameter. Using the separate antennas as if they were one giant dish, radio astronomers will be able to map vast swaths of the sky cheaply and efficiently.
There are some 200 billion stars in the galaxy, and a significant fraction of them have planets. Estimates of the number of intelligent civilizations in the galaxy have ranged from one (or none, if you are particularly discouraged about human affairs) into the millions.