Category Archives: SETI

Videos: SETI Institute crowd-funding + Panel: “When will we find life beyond earth?”

The SETI Institute has a fund-raising campaign underway this month with the goal of reaching $50k: Donations will go to support the Institute’s research, outreach and education.

One of the events to highlight the campaign was a panel discussion on the question, When Will We Find Life Beyond Earth? 

The SETI Institute panelists included:

  • Nathalie Cabrol, Director of the Carl Sagan Center
  • Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer
  • Mark Showalter, Senior Research Scientist
  • Fergal Mullaly, Senior Research Scientist

From the caption:

Is this the generation that will discover extraterrestrial life? Some scientists have opined that we’ll find other living beings – whether they be microbes on other planets or intelligent beings in another star system – within two decades. An energetic panel of SETI Institute astrobiologists will discuss why both science and technology give support to the idea that we may soon prove that Earth is not the only world where life has arisen. Audience Q&A follows [the] panelists.

Video: Stephen Wolfram talks about “SETI and the Computational Universe”

Here is a video of Stephen Wolfram’s recent SETI Institute seminar: SETI and the Computational Universe – SETI Institute

Dr Stephen Wolfram, founder & CEO of Wolfram Research, and creator of Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha and the Wolfram Language will come to the SETI Institute to discuss his latest thinking about the relation between searching for complex behavior in the computational universe of simple programs, using this in creating AI, and searching for intelligence elsewhere in our physical universe.

Video: Review of SETI projects and the $100M Breakthrough Listen Initiative

In this SETI Institute seminar, Dr. Andrew Siemion, Director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center (BSRC) at the University of California, Berkeley, gives an excellent review of SETI projects past, present, and future and includes an

overview of the Breakthrough Listen Initiative, 100-million-dollar, 10-year search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Dr. Siemion will also discuss other SETI efforts ongoing at the BSRC, including the successful citizen science project SETI@Home, as well as a concerted effort to undertake panchromatic observations of the mysterious Kepler star KIC 8462852

Video: “Life in the Universe – The Breakthrough Initiatives” – Pete Worden

Last summer billionaire Yuri Milner announced he would fund a $100M initiative for the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life. The organization formed to implement the program is called Breakthrough Initiatives and its chairman is Pete Worden, former director of NASA Ames Research Center. Below is a video of an interesting and entertaining SETI Institute talk given by Worden in which he discusses the history of SETI, exoplanets, the possibility of earth-like planets around nearby star systems, the feasibility of interstellar travel, and other topics.

On July 20, 2015, the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation announced in London, UK a new initiative to study life in the universe. The announcement was made by Silicon Valley billionaire Yuri Milner and physicist Steven Hawking. The Breakthrough Initiatives currently consist of two primary elements, Breakthrough Listen which is a $100M renewed search for intelligent extraterrestrial signals, and Breakthrough Message, a global competition with a $1M prize to create, but not send a message representing humanity. S. Pete Worden, the former Center Director of the NASA Ames Research Center, is the Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. He will talk about these initiatives in the broader context of our search for life in the universe.


Videos: The Search for Another Earth + If ET Builds it, will be notice? + Imaging a habitable planet at Alpha Centauri

* The Search for Another Earth – a new video from NASA JPL :

Twenty years ago, the first exoplanet discovered around a sun-like star, 51 Pegasi b, made us question what we knew about our universe and launched the search for new worlds. This is the story of the pioneers in planet-hunting and how those who have followed are closer to answering one of humanity’s most ancient questions: Is there life elsewhere in the universe?

* If ET Builds It, Will We Notice? – The SETI Institute posted this brief video about whether there might be way to detect a distant super high tech civilization could be detected via the light of its star:

Could an alien civilization build unusual super-structures to attract the attention other worlds? Could we detect such an anomaly using the Kepler telescope?

This excerpt is from a 2013 SETI talk by Jason Wright of Penn. State suggests an alternate way for ET to “send a signal.”

Wright’s complete seminar video is available here.

* Imaging a habitable planet at Alpha Centauri – Ruslan Belikov & Eduardo Bendek (SETI Talks)

From the caption:

In 1990, at the request of Carl Sagan, Voyager 1 turned and took a picture of Earth from a distance of 6 billion kilometers. This produced the famous “pale blue dot” image of our planet. Several mission concepts are being studied to obtain similar images of Earth-like exoplanets (exo-Earths) around other stars. It is commonly thought that directly imaging a potentially habitable exoplanet requires telescopes with apertures of at least 1 meter, costing at least $1B, and launching no earlier than the 2020s. A notable exception to this is Alpha Centauri (A and B), which is unusually close for a Sun-like star. A ~30-45cm visible light space telescope equipped with a modern high performance coronagraph is sufficient to resolve the habitable zone at high contrast and directly image any potentially habitable planet that may exist in the system.

Dr. Belikov will describe the challenges involved with direct imaging of Alpha Centauri planetary systems with a small telescope and how new technologies currently being developed can solve them. He will also show examples of small coronagraphic mission concepts currently being developed to take advantage of this opportunity, and in particular a mission concept called “ACESat: Alpha Centauri Exoplanet Sattellite” submitted to NASA’s small Explorer (SMEX) program in December of 2014.