SETI Shuts Down Search For Aliens

300px-SETI@home_Multi-Beam_screensaver

Screen shot of the screensaver for SETI@home. Source: Namazu-tron (CC)

There was a time when running the SETI@Home screensaver to provide spare computing power to find alien radio transmissions was the coolest thing on the Internet (SETI = Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). That was a long time ago, though, and now the SETI Institute has closed down the Alien Telescope Array, effectively giving up the search, for lack of interest and funding. Lisa Kriegel reports for the Mercury News:

If E.T. phones Earth, he’ll get a “disconnect” signal.

Lacking the money to pay its operating expenses, Mountain View’s SETI Institute has pulled the plug on the renowned Allen Telescope Array, a field of radio dishes that scan the skies for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.

In an April 22 letter to donors, SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson said that last week the array was put into “hibernation,” safe but nonfunctioning, because of inadequate government support.

The timing couldn’t be worse, say SETI scientists. After millenniums of musings, this spring astronomers announced that 1,235 new possible planets had been observed by Kepler, a telescope on a space satellite. They predict that dozens of these planets will be Earth-sized — and some will be in the “habitable zone,” where the temperatures are just right for liquid water, a prerequisite of life as we know it.

“There is a huge irony,” said SETI Director Jill Tarter, “that a time when we discover so many planets to look at, we don’t have the operating funds to listen.”

SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostak compared the project’s suspension to “the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria being put into dry dock. “… This is about exploration, and we want to keep the thing operational. It’s no good to have it sit idle.

“We have the radio antennae up, but we can’t run them without operating funds,” he added…

[continues in the Mercury News]

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15 Responses to SETI Shuts Down Search For Aliens

  1. David Meadows April 27, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    I used to have their BOINC software running on my home computer to help with the search…. It was neat.

  2. David Meadows April 26, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    I used to have their software running on my home computer to help with the search…. It was neat.

  3. Anonymous April 27, 2011 at 4:30 am #

    Or maybe they actually found something and keeping it underwraps: black ops style.

  4. StillAtMyMoms April 27, 2011 at 12:30 am #

    Or maybe they actually found something and keeping it underwraps: black ops style.

  5. Haystack April 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    The aliens would have just come here to enslave us, anyhow.

  6. Haystack April 27, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    The aliens would have just come here to enslave us, anyhow.

    • Subjectivetruth April 27, 2011 at 10:27 am #

      We’re already enslaved, it would have just been a different set of masters.

  7. Subjectivetruth April 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    We’re already enslaved, it would have just been a different set of masters.

  8. Skojar April 27, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    Was there no thought of seeking private funding? I’m not talking a few rich benefactors, but a public plea, fund drive, paypal button could have raised millions. Enough people find this effort valuable that contributing a few dollars a month would be a joy. Their budget is, what? 2-5 million? There are 307 million people just in the US. Who doesn’t think there are 400,000 people willing to give $1 a month? I know I would.

  9. Skojar April 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Was there no thought of seeking private funding? I’m not talking a few rich benefactors, but a public plea, fund drive, paypal button could have raised millions. Enough people find this effort valuable that contributing a few dollars a month would be a joy. Their budget is, what? 2-5 million? There are 307 million people just in the US. Who doesn’t think there are 400,000 people willing to give $1 a month? I know I would.

    • quartz99 April 27, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

      They had partial private funding but it sounds like that dried up as well. Here’s hoping there are enough other private donors to get it going again.

  10. Anonymous April 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    They had partial private funding but it sounds like that dried up as well. Here’s hoping there are enough other private donors to get it going again.

  11. Ricky Jazzercise April 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    About fucking time. When I saw Terrence Mckenna lecture years back he joked that SETI was like scanning the universe for a good Italian restaurant. The assumption that life “as we know it” would be a western style aspiritual materialist culture who also uses radio telescopes (do we even really use those for anything other than SETI?) is a pretty enormous assumption when you think about it. It also pre-supposes that the entire UFO/Alien aduction/Crop Circle/Cattle Mutilation/shamanic contact thing is all just a bunch of meaningless nonsense. Kind of hard to dismiss all of that as meaningless when you look into it a bit, but that’s what most of us do, because we think we’re smart. The message from all of these seemingly disparate phenomenon is the same – we know nothing about the potentiality of our own minds, and instead hyper fixate on more materialistic ideas regarding the universe, which are waaaaaaaay off track. Whenever you bring that up, most people are just like: “well, that’s obviously not it”. The universe will continue to mock these people with rather hilarious trickster phenomenon until they figure it out. If we want to talk to “aliens” maybe using DMT rather than radio telescopes would be the way to do that. No, yeah, you’re right. I should have not read anything about this kind of thing rather than looking into it. You know more by knowing nothing. That’s the way we approach spirituality as a species. Until we get that figured out: “No contact for you!”

  12. Ricky Jazzercise April 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    About fucking time. When I saw Terrence Mckenna lecture years back he joked that SETI was like scanning the universe for a good Italian restaurant. The assumption that life “as we know it” would be a western style aspiritual materialist culture who also uses radio telescopes (do we even really use those for anything other than SETI?) is a pretty enormous assumption when you think about it. It also pre-supposes that the entire UFO/Alien aduction/Crop Circle/Cattle Mutilation/shamanic contact thing is all just a bunch of meaningless nonsense. Kind of hard to dismiss all of that as meaningless when you look into it a bit, but that’s what most of us do, because we think we’re smart. The message from all of these seemingly disparate phenomenon is the same – we know nothing about the potentiality of our own minds, and instead hyper fixate on more materialistic ideas regarding the universe, which are waaaaaaaay off track. Whenever you bring that up, most people are just like: “well, that’s obviously not it”. The universe will continue to mock these people with rather hilarious trickster phenomenon until they figure it out. If we want to talk to “aliens” maybe using DMT rather than radio telescopes would be the way to do that. No, yeah, you’re right. I should have not read anything about this kind of thing rather than looking into it. You know more by knowing nothing. That’s the way we approach spirituality as a species. Until we get that figured out: “No contact for you!”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Cost of Keeping the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Going vs. Other “Human” Affairs | Disinformation - May 7, 2011

    [...] Background info on the shutdown here. [...]

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