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I would like to begin by saying welcome to Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute. We are here at Fora TV studios, my name is Blaise Zerega, I am the president and CEO of Fora TV, hello Seth. Hi! Great to be here Blaise. You are the author of a newly published book called Confessions of an Alien Hunter, published appropriately on St. PatrickÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Day. So may the luck of the Irish be with you on this book, we see there is a little green hand here. I think that is the reason with St. PatrickÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Day, but that is pure speculation. So the book begins with a close encounter in June 1997, where there wasÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ you heard a radio signal and you were not sure what it was, could you tell us what happened on that momentous day. Yeah, indeed, well that is a dozen years ago now, but people will frequently frequently ask, do you ever pick up any signals? Of course you pick up signals all the time, but usually within a few minutes we know it is not ET, it is just AT&T or something like that, just interference. But that signal in June 1997 looked real for the better part of the day, so that was really quite interesting because it showed what would happen if we got a real signal ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ it turned out it was not a real signal. How long were you confused or perhaps mistaken before you are sure what it really was, how long did the process take? Well I was confused for 16 hours, which is about as long as anyone was confused, I think I maintained the highest confusion [overlap]ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Okay, walk history a little bit here, watchingÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ it is not like Jodie Foster with headphones on, or was it then? Are you looking at computer screen, did someone heard a noise and said, "Hey Seth come here," "Watson?" "Come quick." No it was not like that, that would work in the movies, to begin with, we are not listening with earphones, that really looks great, but our receivers are monitoring in that case 56 million channels simultaneously. We are on the dial you should be listening, see we listen to as much of the dial as we can. Well 56 million channels that is 28 million pairs of earphones, and I can assure you ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ that would be very uncomfortable. So we do not do that, the computers do all the listening. I was actually InternsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ you guys have heard of college interns? Yes, we thought of that, we hired a whole bunch of trained squirrels or something and you get a lot of nuts for them. They could all listen, but who is to say they would raise their paws if they heard something? So the computers do it, the computers do not ask for afternoon breaks or cups of coffee or anything like that. I was at home actually, it was early evening and I got a phone call from the boss, who said, you know they are picking up a signal at the radio observatory in West Virginia, maybe you ought to come in, and I went in and everybody was sitting there, looking at the monitors. That is when the drama began, it started right there, we are just watching the signal come across the screens. For the next 16 hours, do you sleep on cots did you sleep at all, what did you do? I did not sleep at all, in fact, I looked around and there were like a dozen of us sitting there, at the basement of the SETI institute where the monitors were set up. I was in California, where this people, the observatory of course is in West Virginia at that time, and there were several of our people including Gil Tarter the lead of our research project. She was there, in fact, she was there with the TV crew, they come in to do some shoot, and of course they got very excited because they come in just when there is this signal, and think that this is the big one. Anyhow, we are sitting there, very quickly it is 3:30 in the morning, we are still sitting there, and I look around nobody is going home, nobody is wracked out on the floor, nobody goes to in and out burger to get some nourishment. We are just there, and I stayed there until the whole drama was over, 12 hours later. So that was a long night. What was the signal, what did it turned out to be? Well, it turned out to be what is called the SOHO ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ solar research satellite, this is a European satellite that happens to be in orbit, about a million miles behind the earth studying the sun. Of course it has some transmitters on board to relayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ to send the information back that it collects, scientific data. That signal by chance was just bouncing around the steel work of the antenna we were using to look for ET in just the right way to mimic the sort of signal we were looking. So, fooled us for a while. Okay, have it been intelligent life, have it been an alien or an ET, what would have happen, what is the protocol, what steps do you take, does the military show up and lock the doors andÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ That would have been exciting Blaise, I was kind of hoping that somebody would show up actually. You are sitting there 3:30 in the morning, and everybody is sending emails to their friends, "Gosh, George do not say anything but we are finding this signal here," there is no policy of secrecy, nobody told us, if we find a signal, keep it under your hat, nobody ever says that. So everybody of course, "Hey mom, guess what?" "I am so proud of you." That is right, the word is out and you would think since the word is out that maybe indeedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ I was expecting at least the [indiscernible 5:00] from Mountain View where this all takes place to show up. Let alone somebody from inside the beltway or Will Smith or somebody. It did not happen, nobody, nobody called until 9:30 in the morningÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Twelve hours later. Oh, yes, and I was in a way, I figured it would be that way, but I was a little disappointed that no federal agents showed up to try and shut us down, it did not happen. What is the protocol, do you have measures in place and you notify, "Hello, President Obama." Well, there is a protocol. Can you share it with us? Of course, in fact it is on the web, yes, sure, can I share it with you, and its by the way its sort of motherhood and apple pie kind of protocol. All it says, if you find a signal, first thing you do is check it out, make sure it is real, so you do not say, "Hey, we found ET," and it turns out well it was not ET. Because that impugns the credibility of the project, so obviously you want to be sure about it, and then after that, you just notify, first the scientific community, so that astronomers around the world can check that signal too. Then you want to notify the government and you want to notify the public, but there is no implicit order in all that. Now, in fact, I am part of an international group that is trying to change these protocols, because that idea, it is noble and all, but it does not work, because it takes you days to verify signal, and in all that time the word is out there. This idea of first we will do this, and then we will do that, and then we will do thisÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ it does not workÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ So you are advocating then, first sort of a period of quiet before you can confirm release orÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ We are trying to be completely open about this, because a lot of people do believe that we would keep this quite, and I find that unfortunate, because indeed we do not and would not, and when it is out, there is going to be a lot of messy reporting by people who do not know too much about it. But they say, these guys have found a signal, meanwhile we are trying to track it down, so there will be a lot of false alarms, but better that than some sort of policy of secrecy. That is my opinion. So here is the question I have to ask, what do you think alien life form look like? Is it a little green man, is it a microorganism, if someone said, Seth fill in the blank, how would you answer that question? Well, I suspect the overwhelming majority of aliens are going to be microscopic, you are going to need a microscope to see them, they will just be little microbes, and there may be that kind of alien really nearby, on Mars, or some of the moons of the outer solar system, Jupiter, Saturn, they both have moons that might have some liquid water. NASA will go look for those things. But that is not the kind of life you are talking about, you are talking about the kind of aliens that would challenge you to a good game of scrabble or something like that. You mean chessÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Yes, the big Kasparov in Chess that would be disillusion, but they might. Those aliens of course are going to be on planets around other stars, the rest of our solar system probably does not have that kind of life. What would they be like? Would they be those little gray guys with the big eyeballs and all that? Well, those guys look an awful like us, and so I think that is wrong, I mean that is just very anthropocentric, we think that the aliens would be like us, just imagine if the dinosaurs have done a SETI experiment, well I figure the aliens would look like little gray stegosauriÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ that is probably wrong. But it just reflects their own thinking. I personally think that if we find any aliens there would be machine-likeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ they would be artificial intelligence because that seems to be the direction we are going. I do not want to be too involved with the singularity or anything, I just want to stay with this for a moment, so then people who claim to have been abducted or worrying about aliens coming to visit us. You are very skeptical of that, I would like to read a little passage, just a sentence, it says, "If you still believe that aliens would travel hundreds of lightyears to carve temporary graffiti in our wheat, then your imagination is one of the seven wonders of the world, and should be bronzed." I think you are not just a skeptic you are outright saying, no chance, no chance of aliens coming to visit. WellÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ nahÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ yesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ that is pretty extreme Blaise, but you are right, I am skeptical particularly in this case crop circlesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦they usually appear overnight, at the ends of weekends, if you think the aliens have strange union rules. They only carve graffiti in our wheat on their weekendsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ And on holidays when the college is going on break. By the way, in two counties in Britain too, we are not going talkÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ They are English-speaking aliens, right? Apparently, well they make this nice patterns, they would be good as maybe tile designers for your bathroom or something, but they are not conveying any information though. My question really is, okay, how do you reconcile this notion that there is intelligent life out there, but that it isÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ perhaps intelligence far exceeds our own capabilities, but that these aliens are not visiting us. Well, several things, it is not impossible that they could be visiting, a third of the public believes that aliens are visiting earth. That is not a small minority of the population, one out of every three, some polls one out of every two. Half the people in any room will think, yes, yes, the aliens are visiting and the government knows, and it is covering up, by the way. People love to think our government covers stuff oftenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ for its part, the government occasionally does cover stuff out there, keep the game interesting. But my objection there is two-fold, one ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ why are they here now? That to me is an important point, because the earth has been around for 4-1/2 billion years, and they just happen to arrive now. We start seeing things in the sky in the very decades when we finally have the technology to put a lot of our own things in the sky, that is a little bit suspect I think. Why now? They do not know about us, I think it is to say no aliens know about us because our TV signals, our radar, has not gone very far out the space, and probably nobody is watching I Love Lucy yet, not yet. So they do not know we are here, so if they are here now, wow, that is an amazing coincidence. So that is point one, you are just on theoretical grounds if you will. It does not seem to make a lot of sense. But the real objection is something else, and that isÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ thousands of reports are made every year of things in the sky that people think are alien craft, it would only take one good report that you could stack up in the museums or farm out to academia, and everybody would believe this is true, and yet all of these thousands of reports there is not one good one. To me that is significant. This is a question you must get asked quite often, how did you become an alien hunter, what is it, was it about your upbringing, your education, your special training, how does one become an alien hunter? Yes, it wasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t that I went to some party and some guy said aliens like plastics, right? This is the future, look I was interested in aliens when I was a kid, I thinkÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Specifically how? Do you have comic books, did youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Buck Rogers. Well, I am interested in astronomy, now that helped, astronomy is one of the sciences that does interest kids, the other big biology. A lot of kids are interested in that, I built a telescope at age 10 or 11, nothing particularly unusual about that. I have relatives in New York, and during the vacations my parents would put me on the train to New York and I would go there. Where part of the country did you grow up? Northern Virginia, really Washington DC and I would go to the planetarium, the old Hayden planetarium there, I was pretty nifty, so I got interested in astronomy. Nothing very unusual there, but this was at the time when flying saucers were making their first appearance, at least the first appearance that was making the newspapers, and I thought, gee that is neat too, and I was looking at these books by George Adamski and others and they have photos of these flying saucers and I looked at these, and I was like 11 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ 12 years old, and I thought ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ it looks like a hub cap. I could probably make a better photo than that actually, and I have subsequentlyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ so I think that was the original interest. Remind you it wasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t that I followed the career path to becoming an alien hunter. I went down really different path, but I did come back to this. You described yourself as a boy making a telescope and certainly as long asÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ since time began, people looked at the heavens and sort of wondered, are we alone, what is out there? What are some of the tools that you could quickly summarize from GalileoÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s telescope or your telescope that you built as an 8-year-old or 10-year-old to where we are today. How do we get from very primitive if you will, telescope, to radio astronomy today? Well, you have to keep in mindÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦what are the big breakthroughsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦of course in GalileoÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s time, the cosmos, the universe was mostly the solar system, and we have all the stars in the sky, but before the telescope they were just little points of light, it did not look very interesting. Every night there were more or less in the same position, you come back 3 years later, they are still in the same position. But the planets and that included in those days the sun and the moon, they were considered planets, they wandered around, so that was interesting. They already figured out that we have some relationship to them, in the old day, it was thought they all revolve around the earth, because after all we are pretty darn important. Well, okay, the first thing that Galileo did wasÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ he investigated the solar system, he looks at Jupiter and he sees 4 moons going around Jupiter, now that has some bearing on this whole business of looking for aliens, to begin with, it turns out that some of those moons, probably have oceans but Galileo did not know that. But the very fact, 4 moons, the idea was, we have a moon, the earth has its big moon and these are the things you do notÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ that is because we are here, we are important and God has decided we deserve a moon, right, so we can write all those bad song lyrics or whatever. But Galileo looks up in the sky and he said, wait a minute, this other planet has 4 moons. They must be more important in GodÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s eye than we are, the inhabitants of Jupiter. So things began to change, and people began to hypothesize, well, there are other world out there, the planets. So for a long time, the idea was that there might be some life on the moon or on Mars, and even in the 19th century, which is not so long ago, I remember most of it, right. There were plans of trying to contact our buddies on the moon and Mars by flashing lights at that. Or just planting trees and patterns, stuff like that. So that idea goes back a long way, the idea that you might get in touch with modern technology. That is a little more recent, about a half a century ago, people realized that radio would be a great way to get in touch. You are getting now, we are sort of in the 1950s and this is the origins of SETI in 1959, and in the past 50 years, what has been the largest technological leap that has come to advance the search for extraterrestrial life? Well indeed, the first experiment was done in 1960, in 1959 a couple of physicists wrote a nature article, saying, this makes sense they just did a very simple calculations said, it is easy to send radio waves from one start system to another, if we can do it a hundred years after MarconiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ then they are probably already doing it, why do not we look? That began and you can say, well, okay, you have been sitting there with the earphones metaphorically, for 50 years still have not heard anythingÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ has there been any progress? And the answer is yes, because the technology keeps getting better, and it is actually getting better exponentially, an overworked word, it seems every third sentence on TV these days is ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ this is getting exponentially better, and people do not know what an exponent is, but okay, they say that. Actually this really is exponential, that is to say, the speed of these searches doubles every year and a half, on average. And you are talking about MooreÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Law. We are talking about MooreÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s law, yes. That is the economic law of the Silicon Valley, and it affects us. And so that is why in a way you keep doing this, because whatever experiments you do in this year, probably beat out, the data collected by all the previous years put together. So then in the book you devote several pages to the Allen Telescope Array up on the gentle slopes of Mount Lassen. YesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ 20 miles out. But it has big slopes. What are some of the capabilities that this new telescope will have that you did not have as recently as 1997? Well, to begin with, this is maybe the biggest deal, because our telescope in the sense that we are doing this project together with the University of California Berkeley, the radio astronomy lab. But we will have 100% access to the machine, that is to say in principle, we are going to be observing, searching for signals 24/7. In the past, we have to use other peopleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s telescope, we have to borrow telescope time, so that isÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ imagine Galileo had to borrow a telescope every time he want to look at Jupiter. Well he had to get someoneÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s permission to climb the Pisa Tower. Yes right, look we will give you this thing 3 nights next year, is that good enough for you? Sorry, if it is cloudy. So indeed that is the big win, that you get access to it all the time. Not only to get more observing time, but you can set up the equipment so it actually works. Because you are not forever setting it up taking it apart, setting it up, taking it apart. You can set it up and then debug it, use your technical things. But the other thing is, that it turns out that this array allows you to search more than one spot on the sky at a time. So, you are not going through the skies one at a time. You can look at 3 star systems at a time, or 5 or 10 or 50. Obviously, speeds up the search, the bottom line for the Allen Telescope Array is in fact, aside from its photogenic character is that it is faster, it is just faster. I am trying to get a sense of how much faster, so back when say 1959, maybe I am wrong on this on that date, but Francis Drake, his equation predicted that perhaps that there is 10,000 other earth-like planets out there and then later Carl Sagan said, no there is a million earth-like planets out there. So, some of the press around the Allen Telescope Array. Am I Saying that correctly? Yes, you are saying it correctly. ATA, has been that, wow it is so fast that in this generation by 2030, we will have scanned 1 million star systems and will find, whether Drake was right or Sagan was right, or whomever is right with this capacity we will know, how do you answer that? Well, that sounds good to me, and indeed that is the point. Look, we do not know how many societies are out there in the galaxy, they are producing radio waves that are going through our bodies as we sit here, right? And indeed Carl Sagan was very optimistic, he figured a couple of million, that would be good. Frank Drake is much more conservative, he figures 10,000. Nobody knows of course, but if you just take that conservative number, conservative numbers supposed 10,000, while you know how many stars are in the galaxy, you know how many of those stars you can throw out right away as being unsuitable for life. So that means, if there are 10,000 societies in our galaxy, you have to sort through about a million of them before you have a decent chance of finding one, that has something on their broadcasting radio waves, in other words. You are looking for ET, well you better check out on the order of a few million star systems if you want to succeed. Now, how many have we checked out so far? Since Frank Drakes' original experiment half a century ago? Fewer than a thousand, it is like 750ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ 750 is a lot smaller number than a few million, okay? And that is the whole point of the Allen Telescope Array, to get those big samples and within 2 dozen years, you are right. I bet everybody a cup of Starbucks that we will find ET by 2025. 2025ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ They are going to be selling a lot of Starbucks orÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Drinks on the house. What about other detection methods, you sort of talked a little bit about photons, or lasers, neutrinos, what do you make of other methodsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ out there to listen in or receive other signals? I do get emails virtually every week, people who are either chiding us for using the wrong technique or even mad about it, said, you guys are wasting your time looking for radio waves, because the aliens have moved beyond that, and sometimes they tell me what they have moved on to, often the do not, which is not too helpful I would say. They are doing hyper-dimensional physics, doggonit, send me your paper and then I will consider that. But they do suggest gravity waves, and neutrinos, all sorts of other signaling schemes, now we do follow up on some of those, flashing lights in the sky. We have an experiment at the Lick Observatory here in San Jose, and we are looking for flashing lights in the sky. Harvard University does that as well, that makes sense, we worked out the numbers and it makes sense. When you say gravity waves, well gravity waves to me do not make sense, because gravity waves are really hard to make. I am not sure what a gravity wave isÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ This is just general relativity, I am sure you do general relativity in your commute, but general relativity says, anytime you take something that got mass, like a bowling ball you just shake it and you move it, then it produces gravity waves, the earth is producing gravity waves as it circles the sun, in fact, that is going to eventually cause it to spiral in to the sun, if you waited long enough, but it is a very long time. But if you want to make powerful gravity waves, then you got to shake a star or something. Wobble itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Yes, you got to really, and if you want information on that, and then you got some sort of Morse code, (shake-shake-shake-shake-shake) that is hard. I mean, it is clearly hard. You were breaking out in the song there. Yes. Yet, if you say, look we will go the radio route, well with the radio transmitter that would fit in this space here, you can build a transmitter powerful enough to reach the stars. So that seems so incredibly easier. And I think part of the problem here is that a lot of people think that gravity travels at infinite speed. With radio waves we just go at the speed of light, but if gravity would go a infinite speed, then you can signal without waiting this long time for the signals to get there. But as far as we know, gravity does not go at infinite speed, gravity goes in to speed of light too. That is what Einstein said, and he has not been proven wrong yet, not yet. SETI is about receiving and in 2007 in the Ukraine, there was a broadcast of 501 messages beamed in to outer space, it seemed to me very reasonable, and even if you have to wait, until 2049 in theory to get a reply back, if someone out there is going toÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ at Gliese 581C, who is going to receive those radio messages to reply, 2049 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ I hope I am still alive, I do not know. I can wrap my head around that, you must get emails and suggestions all the time, why arenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t you guys broadcasting as well. Yes, indeed. Give and receive. Yes, I hope the Gliesians do not reply with, your message was garbled send it again, butÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ look, to begin with, you have already pointed out, you got to have a lot of patience if you are going to broadcast, that is one reason why we do not broadcast, another reason very practical isÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ it takes as much money to set up a broadcast in your experiment as a receiving experiment, so there is a money problem. The third thing is, you can say well Gliese 581C, that is a planet we know about around another star that looks somewhat like the earth, the best we can tell, but that does not mean that it has intelligent beings, right? You could have looked at the earth, 500 million years ago, and you would have seen oxygen in the atmosphere which would tell you, well there is some photosynthesis there, there is life, and you could have send all the radio messages you wanted to earth, and I can assure you that the trilobites would not have responded. So having one world out thereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ They would have gone like thisÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦trilobites, they were very asocial. Let me go down to the library and look at the trilobite literature, they hardly wrote anything and most of it is bad. Just because you have one world that might be somewhat like earth, and even if you detect that it has life, it does not mean it has intelligent life. You really need a long list. I am not against broadcasting, some people are, they are afraid of it, they say, "look, we broadcast, you do not know what is out there, they might just send their rockets and destroy the planet, and you will get the blame," that kind of thing. I do get that. That seems to me a little paranoid, but if you worried about that, then you should shut down the NBC, the BBC studio, we are broadcasting. In your book, when you discuss the notion of broadcasting, you have sort of a very interesting proposition, and that is, to make sure that we are not sending the wrong message out there. Let just send them the world wide web, let us take Google servers and broadcast the world wide web in to outer space. Yes, that is right. Have you talked to Google about this? Yes, I think I gave a talk once to Google where I mentioned that, and they looked at me with those Garfield eyesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Furred browsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ I think it is still a good idea, you think about our ability to decode if it were messages from other civilizations here on earth, we figure it out, for example the hieroglyphics, have not been so successful at decoding some of the written material from central America, which is actually quite a bit more recent than the hieroglyphics. What are are the differences? There was the Rosetta stone and all that, but the hieroglyphics isÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ one big advantage of the hieroglyphics isÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ there are a lot of them, you just walk around the deserts of Egypt and every building has got this hieroglyphics stuff on it. And so if you have a lot of material, it becomes easier to figure out the code. In the case of the Central American codex, they did not have so much material. So that was one reason for sending the world wide web, yeah, sure there is a lot of porno and all that, I know what what theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll think of it, maybe theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll ask for more, but there is just a lot of material. Is this an improvement then on those gold plated plaques that were adorned on the outside of Pioneer and Voyager, the Da Vinci ManÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ You betÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ I mean, of course, if you were getting a message from some other society would you rather get the hallmark card or the library of congressÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ that you want. I thought it very useful in to understanding SETI, you described your missions as very much looking for those bottles washing up on the beach, and spotting those bottles less so about understanding the message inside. But come on, when you get that bottle, you got to want to know what the message is. You are right Blaise, after all, if you were to pick up the papers tomorrow, but assuming there were any papers. You pick up the papers and it said, scientist finds signal coming from another world, your first question would be, what do they say? And of course you want to know that, I am not sure you are able to figure that, you have to build new equipment that is for sure. This is all a technical matter, but the kind of equipment that we use to try and find the signal, is not actually adequate to get the message, unless the message is really very slow and very simple, but you would build that and then you will get all these bits and maybe you would figure them out actually, maybe you would. And I am not sure what they would send, maybe they would just send, used car ads, I mean I do not know, it might actuallyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ It is another world wide webÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Yes, it could be their web. I hope it would be actually. Thinking about SETI, it is 25 years old this year. The SETI Institute. originally it was part of NASA and the funding was cut in 1993, since then how is the organization being funded? Well, I would say, inadequately, because it I always a struggle, to get money, to do the SETI experiments. Now, keep in mind the SETI institute actually does a very wide range of research. In fact, the majority of the scientist are doing what is called astrobiology, they are interested in life in space, but not necessarily of the intelligent variety. So they worried about, could we find life on Mars, or Europa, or Ganymede or Callisto, three moons of Jupiter that might have life. The two moons of Saturn, Titan and Enceladus that might conceivably have life. People even said yes, there might be life in the atmosphere of Venus, well who knows. That is a half a dozen world, so most of the research is looking for that kind of evidence. Evidence near by, probably microbial life. The SETI project however, is the only one that is totally funded by private donations. And of course, where do we get that money, well private donations, and that has included Bill Hewlett and David Packard have given money in the past, Gordon Moore, Paul Allen, these are the big donors but there is lots and lots of smaller donors. So we encourage people to consider that this is an interesting thing to do. As far as feeling getting involved, some 8 million people have downloaded the SETI software to sort of use the idle processing time on their PCs. They have, that is not our projectÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ That is not part of theÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ No, it is not the SETI Institute, that is the University of California Berkeley SETI project, very successful. Enormously successful, but they do not actually raise money that way. They have a lot of users who donate their computer time. So, it is useful in terms of doing the research. What other SETI projects are there, other countries, certainly the United States in not alone in looking at the heavens But it is almost alone, actually. And this is to me a bit of a puzzle. The only other country that I can think of now, that is actually doing a SETI experiment is Italy, and theirs is suffering for the lack of money as well. It is being done at the University of Bologna. The Australians have done some SETI in the past, they would probably do it in the future again. There was a small experiment in Argentina, that exhaust the list. But there is sort ofÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ maybe open source is the wrong way to think about this, but you are using, you mentioned Australia, you used that telescope for the Phoenix project and West Virginia, there is a network of potential telescopes around the world. Well, , there are lot of countries that could do this, that could set up a SETI program, I used to live in Europe, I lived for 13 years in Holland and I gave a talk there just a couple of years ago, I went back to the university where I was working, and we had a little colloquium about SETI. It was a chock of block with all these Dutch guys standing around, and my first question was, alright how many of you think that there are aliens out there to be found? How many has buy in to the premise that ET exists. All the hands went up, my next question was, how many of your are willing to spend one gilder a year, which I can tell you buys you a bad cup of coffee at the university there, one gilder a year to look, and all the hands went down. Now, it isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t because the Dutch do not have the equipment, it isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t because they do not have the expertise, it isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t because they do not have the money. They have all of that, but there is something in the psychology of the project, that did not appeal to them, and that is what is so interesting to me, that this have been largely an American initiative. Do you foresee any overtures or outreach from the Obama administration? Well, I do not know that the Obama administration isÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ They got their hands fullÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ Yes, I do not think we are on their radar screen, so to speak. I really do notÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ but they might, science and NASA might get more funding and that would be good, if not directly, then indirectly, I mean a lot of our scientist areÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ the astrobiologist are funded by NASA, so I think that that would be an excellent thing to do. And I honestly think that SETI should be reconsidered as a NASA project, after all it fits in to their mandate, among other things to look for life beyond earth, why not. Here we are, it has been full on 50 years since Morrison and Cocconi drafted their paper and 50 years of concentrated searching, and there has been no evidence yet. I got to ask you about any of the Fermi Paradox, Enrico Fermi famously said, if there so much intelligent life out there, where is the evidence? Yes exactly, he pointed out thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ look, if there is really an advance society out there, they have plenty of time to colonize the entire galaxy, they should be everywhere, riding and clicking in San FranciscoÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ now keep in mind, a third of the population thinks that they are here, so maybe the solved the Fermi Paradox, I do not know. But I do not put too much credit in to the Fermi Paradox, it is true that if you just say everybody, if somebody wants to colonize the galaxy, they have enough time to do that, but on the other hand there are a lot of impediments to colonizing the galaxy, because it would take you tens of millions of years, and it is sort of hard to keep the government program for tens of thousands of years. And not everybody [overlap] Or keep a government going for tens of thousands of years. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦the Romans are pretty good at colonizing, they invented the word, but they did not colonize the entire the planet, they colonized the shores of the Mediterranean, so you always run in to problems with colonization efforts. So, I think that the bottom line isÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ that the Fermi Paradox is a great topic for your next cocktail party, but it is a very big extrapolation from a local observation, which is to say, you look around you do not see any obvious signs of aliens, consequently there couldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t be any aliens in the galaxy, that might be the wrong conclusion. So in your book though, I think you described a 9-year study that began as the Phoenix Project as look in to heavens and scanning the equivalent of a pencil dot on a dinner plate, and I thought to myself, man you must be really starving, you will be going, hungry, if that is all you got to eat, this little pencil dotÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ so I got to ask you, what keeps you going? Well, my mom asked me that, I will tell youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ obviously, it isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t the pay, I like the SETI Institute, I really enjoyed working with the people there, I mean, the work environment and so forth, but that isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t it either, really what it is that this is A ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ it is a big picture question. Like most people, I am going to go in and repair some transmissions today, or whatever, that is a very useful thing to do, but I have the, if you will the good fortune to work on a really big picture question, something that everybody would like to know the answer to, and that includes all our predecessors too, right? So there is that and there is this improvement in technology that is happening all the time. So, the odds keep getting better, it isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t just that there is as really nifty-looking carrot hanging in front of my nose, but it seems that we are getting closer to the carrot because of the march of technology, I think that is what keeps me going. So, your book offers a conclusion worthy of Fitzgerald I just want to read So, thisÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ and I think that this pretty much sums up what you just described: "And so I continue to do SETI, it is an exceptional task driven by deep conviction, that in the brittle vast compass of the universe, there are others who know the secrets of nature. Others who might be making their presence known, if we only have the wits and the stamina to look." Very beautiful, so I want to say from all of us at Fora.tv, thank you and good luck with the search. Thank you.