The billions of stars in the night sky can give rise to the question:
“Are We Alone in the Universe?”
Humans have always been curious about the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial life. Although there have been many claims of alien-sightings or UFO spotting over the years- there has never been any real proof for things such as UFOs or aliens.
Most of humanity’s effort in solving questions like ” Do aliens exist?” hasn’t gone beyond just asking the questions. However, there happens to exists an organisation which actively seeks to answer this question.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence or SETI aims to do this by hunting for signs of advanced civilizations in the cosmos. SETI is a non-profit organisation, with the mission of exploring and understanding the nature and origin of life that exists in the universe.
This institute comprises of three main centers: The Carl Sagan Center, Center for Education, and Center for Public Outreach.
The above centers aim to study life in the universe, create information on astronomy, astro-biology and space science, and finally make all this information available to common folk through podcasts and their radio show Big Picture Science.
Amidst other things, SETI hopes to find answers by studying and using the phenomena of Gamma-Ray Bursts.
Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are high-energy bursts of light that last no longer than some seconds or minutes– yet are the brightest events ever observed in the universe. This phenomena is unexplained as of yet, but a lot of people believe that they may be messages that are sent to us from an advanced species. Since light happens to travels faster than any other means of communication, one can argue that it might be the best way of communication for our distant neighbors- if we have any.
In 1996, the Invitation to Extraterrestrial Intelligence ( ETI) was established by Professor Allen Tough. As described on its website, it is ” a communication addressed to any Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (ETI) having the capability to read it.” This experiment is based on the assumption that any sufficiently advanced interstellar probe, that exists in the vicinity of Earth, will have the capacity to monitor our Internet and so this Web-based SETI experiment will act as an invitation for space faring probes to make contact with humanity.
The project’s 100 Signatories include prominent physical, biological, and social scientists, as well as artists, educators, entertainers, philosophers and futurists.
On the other hand, physicists such as Stephen Hawking, believed that “alerting” an extraterrestrial species of our existence is a foolish move. He cited “mankind’s history of treating his fellow man harshly in meetings of civilizations with a significant technology gap.“
Some may say that SETI is doing a significant job while others may argue that it is a waste of time and resources.
Yet the question persists-
“Is there anyone out there?”
This article was contributed by Edudigm’s student Tisyagupta Pyne