This is a project that sets off a thousand dreams among the stars.
Fifty years ago, NASA published a 253-page book called Project Cyclops. He summarized the results of a NASA workshop on the discovery of alien civilizations. A team of astronomers, engineers and biologists concluded that Cyclops is an extensive radio telescope array with up to 1,000 antennas 100 meters in diameter. At the time, the project cost $10 billion. Astronomers say it can detect strange signals 1,000 light-years away.
The report begins with a quote from astronomer Frank Drake, now a professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz:
At this moment, it is almost certain that radio waves from other intelligent civilizations are landing on Earth. A telescope could be built that could be pointed at the right place and tuned to the right frequency to detect these waves. Someday, from somewhere among the stars, many of the oldest, most important and most exciting questions posed by mankind will be answered.
The Cyclops report, long out of print but available online, will become the bible for a generation of astronomers dreaming that science can answer existential questions.
Jill Tarter, who read the report as a graduate student and devoted his life to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, “for the first time have technology that allows us to conduct experiments instead of asking priests and philosophers,” he said. In An interview ten years ago.
Cyclops and the work that inspired me this week reminded me of when Word shines on the world, Chinese astronomers discovered a radio signal that had the characteristics of coming from an alien civilization—that is, it had an extremely narrow bandwidth. 140.604 MHz, a precise nature that it usually cannot achieve on its own.
They made the discovery with a giant new telescope called the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST). The telescope pointed at an exoplanet called Kepler 438 b, a rocky planet about 1.5 times the size of Earth orbiting the so-called habitable zone Kepler 438, a A red dwarf star hundreds of light-years away in the constellation Lyra. Its surface temperature is estimated at 37 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a candidate for nurturing life.
Soon, an article about the discovery in the official Science and Technology Daily disappeared. Chinese astronomers poured cold water on this result.
ET Chief Scientist Zhang Tongjie.Chinese Civilization Research Group, quoted by this newspaper Andre Jones, reporter People who follow China’s space and astronomy development said: “The possibility that the suspicious signal is a form of radio interference is also high and needs to be further confirmed or ruled out. This may be a long process.”
“These signals are radio interference; they are due to radio pollution by Earthlings, not aliens,” he wrote in an email.
It became a familiar story. For half a century, the search for SETI, or extraterrestrial intelligence, has been a mole, finding promising signals before tracking them down to orbiting satellites, microwave ovens and other terrestrial sources. Drake himself pointed a radio telescope at a pair of stars in 1960 and quickly thought he had found gold, only to find that the signal was missing from the radar.
Recently, a signal that appears to be coming from the direction of the nearest stellar explosion, Proxima Centauri, was tracked to radio interference in Australia.
As NASA announced last week, it will make modest investments in UFO scientific research, with the aim of achieving the precision and practicality that many criticize as security ideas, like the agency’s Cyclops at Stanford University. The seminar lasted three months as in 1971. The meeting was organized by astrobiologist John Bellingham and Hewlett-Packard’s head of research, Bernard Oliver. These people also edited the meeting report.
In the preface, Dr. Oliver wrote that if anything happened to Cyclops, this year would be considered the most important year of his life.
Paul Horowitz, professor emeritus of physics at Harvard, said he went on to design and launch his own hearing campaign, called Project META, funded by The Planetary Society. Film director Steven Spielberg (“Alien” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”) attends the official opening of the Harvard-Smithsonian Institution Station in Harvard, Massachusetts, in 1985.
“SETI is real!” Dr. Horowitz added.
But what Dr. Oliver’s initial win was nothing more than a “Golden Fleece” award from Wisconsin Democratic Senator William Proxmill, who opposed what he saw as a waste of government.
“In my opinion, this project should be delayed by a few million light-years,” he said.
On Columbus Day 1992, NASA really began its limited search. A year later, Congress repealed it at the request of Nevada Democratic Senator Richard Bryan. SETI projects funded by the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., have slowed down since rejecting federal support. Recently, Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner donated $100 million to create a new project called Hacking Listen. PhD. Horowitz and others have expanded their research to include what they call “optical SETI,” where they monitor the sky for laser flashes from distant civilizations.
PhD. Horowitz said the Cyclops was never built, and so was the case, “because it would have been a huge and expensive animal by today’s standards.” Radio receivers have changed the game.
China’s new large and fast telescope, also known as the “Tianyan”, was built in part with SETI in mind. Its antenna is located in a volcanic crater in Guizhou, southwest China. The antenna size dwarfs that of Puerto Rico’s famous Arecibo radio telescope, which shamefully collapsed in December 2020.
Now FAST and its observers have experienced their own false positive test. SETI astronomers say there will be more.
Those who persevere pray that the so-called great silence will not discourage them. They say they always take the long view.
“The big silence is to be expected,” Horowitz said, especially since only a fraction of the Milky Way’s 200 million stars have been surveyed. No one ever said it would be easy to detect this burst of space radio signals.
“It probably won’t happen in my life, but it will happen,” Wertimer said.
“All the signals SETI researchers have found so far have been sent by our own civilization, not another civilization,” Wertheimer said in a series of emails and phone conversations. He said Earthlings may have to build a telescope on the moon to avoid increasing radioactive contamination on Earth and interference from orbiting satellite constellations.
The current time may be a unique window for tracking Earth’s SETI, he said.
“A hundred years ago,” he said, “the sky was clear, but we didn’t know what to do.” “A hundred years from now, there will be no heaven.”
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