The Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy
A Free Public Lecture
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Chairman Emeritus, SETI Institute (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Seminar Hall, Room 1315 Chemistry
Are we alone? Radio astronomers have been listening for signs of extra terrestrial intelligence for more than 40 years. Nevertheless, the search for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe has only begun looking at potential sources and most of the universe remains unexplored. The SETI Institute was founded in 1984 as a non-profit organization to conduct scientific research and educational projects relevant to the origin, nature, prevalence and distribution of life in the universe. SETI scientists are optimistic that a more systematic search using more sensitive equipment will bring results. SETI now uses time on the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico and in 2005 will start using the new Allen Telescope Array, the world’s first professional-class radio telescope devoted to the search for extra terrestrial intelligence. Several scientists from SETI are also involved in the search for life on Mars as members of the NASA Mars exploration team.
|Professor Frank Drake performed the first systematic radio-telescope search for extra terrestrial intelligence, Project Ozma, in 1960. He presented in 1961 an equation that identifies specific factors thought to play a role in the development of extra terrestrial civilizations, and the equation is now called the Drake Equation. He serves as director of the SETI Institute’s Center for the Study of Life in the Universe and is a member of the Institute’s Board of Trustees. His book Is Anyone Out There, co-authored with noted science writer Dava Sobel, remains the definitive popular work on the search for extra terrestrial intelligence. Dr. Drake is Emeritus Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California at Santa Cruz where he also served as Dean of Natural Sciences. Dr. Drake served as Director of the Arecibo Observatory, and as Founding Director of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center at Cornell University. He is a member of many professional societies and organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, where he chaired the Board of Physics and Astronomy of the National Research Council. In his spare time, Dr. Drake enjoys cutting gemstones and growing orchids.|