As the recipient of the 2009 TED prize, Jill Tarter hopes to empower a new generation of SETI enthusiasts. She discusses her plans to assemble a group of engineers to advise, create and facilitate a system of mass collaboration over the web and incorporate innovative data processing methods.
Through this system, Tarter predicts that we will be able to globalize the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.
Astronomer Jill Tarter is Director of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute's Center for SETI Research, and also holder of the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI. She has devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient beings elsewhere, and almost all aspects of this field have been affected by her work.
Tarter led for Project Phoenix, a decade-long SETI scrutiny of about 750 nearby star systems, using telescopes in Australia, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. While no clearly extraterrestrial signal was found, this project was the most comprehensive targeted search for artificially generated cosmic signals ever undertaken. Tarter currently serves on the management board for the Allen Telescope Array, a massive new instrument that will eventually comprise 350 antennas, each 6 meters in diameter. This telescope will be able to enormously increase the speed, and the spectral range, of the hunt for signals from other distant technologies by orders of magnitude.