The search for signs of extraterrestrial life gets fewer giggles when mentioned today in mixed company. Kathleen Toerpe , deputy CEO for Programs and Special Projects at the Astrosociology Research Institute and editor of The Journal of Astrosociology, writes about the growing acceptance of the search for extraterrestrial life as a serious and worthwhile pursuit : Putting the ‘Giggle Factor’ to Rest – Centauri Dreams.
Once exiled to the fringes of legitimate scientific inquiry by the Giggle Factor, the search for extraterrestrial life has gained new momentum, focus, and funding as the search broadens to encompass the search for microbial, in addition to intelligent, life. In the end, it may be the children who lead the way into a new future for SETI. In his opening statement, Committee Chair Smith reminded the high school students in attendance at the hearing that day that one of the hearing’s purposes is “to inspire students today to be the scientists of tomorrow.” And the noticeable lack of giggling in the room was magic to my ears.