U.N. Weighs How to Answer a Knock on Earth's Door
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
SETI Institute: Allen Telescope Array
Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the Solar System: Resolving the Fermi Paradox
Voyager "The Interstellar Mission [Flash Player]
For years, humans have expressed a keen interest in attempting to communicate with the extraterrestrials that might reside in a nearby or distant galaxy. This desire has motivated speculative works of fiction, like Carl Sagan's book "Contact", and technologically advanced endeavors sponsored by a variety of national space agencies around the world. This search is sometimes known as "SETI", or the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Shortly, another step forward in this quest will be taken with the completion of The Allen Telescope Array in California. The Array consists of a cluster of radio telescopes which will explore far distant star systems throughout the Milky Way. Usually, such SETI endeavors are executed without much attention or controversy, but this project has renewed discussions of what the protocol should be if humans receive a signal from aliens. This matter came to a head at a recent meeting of the Royal Society at Chicheley Hall in Britain, where a number of scientists mentioned that broadcasting signals into space announcing the location of Earth is "tantamount to ringing a dinner gong for any carnivorous, colonizing or anti-social aliens who might be listening." Other commentators have responded to this concern by noting that if aliens exist, they would have already been able to detect the presence of humans via the signals sent by television and radio stations.
The first link will take visitors to a piece from last week's Economist regarding the quest for communicating with extraterrestrial life. The second link leads visitors to a thoughtful piece from last Friday's New York Times about the United Nation's Office for Outer Space Affairs. Moving on, the third link leads to the homepage of the United Nation's Office for Outer Space, which includes information about their work and international cooperation with other space-minded organizations. The fourth link will whisk users away to the SETI website about The Allen Telescope Array. Here visitors can watch videos of the Array, and learn about how it works. The fifth link leads to an important and influential paper on the potential existence of extraterrestrial intelligence by the noted scholar Robert A. Freitas Jr. The last link leads to the homepage of the Voyager 2, which has been out among the stars continuously since August 20, 1977 collecting data about the solar system.