Local Newspaper Report

written by Mike Lewis

General Information

These reports appear in the last Thursday of the month (before our monthly meeting held on the first Thursday of the month) editions of the 'Clacton and Frinton Gazette' and the 'Harwich and Manningtree Standard' in their 'Neighbourhood News' sections

The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence

by Special Guest Speaker Dr Mike Leggett

6th April 2017

The search is based largely on what we know about the Earth and its conditions for life.

SETI have used many different terms for the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence over the years depending who is looking and what the search criteria are. What had become apparent from some of the early searches is, if they exist, then where are they.

One of the earliest pioneering attempts was project Ozma started by Frank Drake which looked at two Stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani tuning to 21cm for the search. The search continues today with many other organisations around hundred plus projects, some short lived and some long lived. Frank Drake developed an equation to give an estimate of the number of extra terrestrial civilisation which might exist is known as the Drake Equation.

With recent developments in astronomy we now know of many planets outside the Solar System some of which may be Earth like. With current Earth technologies it is possible to send a radio signal out as far as 250 light years using the largest radio telescopes on Earth.

The possibility of other civilisations is considered to range from one (the Earth) to millions in our Galaxy. Detection of the nearest extra-terrestrial civilisation would be around 100 light years if there are millions in our Galaxy and if the number is much less this distance would increase greatly. Messages have already been sent from the Earth on the Voyager space probe in the form of a gold disc and a special radio message was sent in 1974 from the Arecibo radio telescope.

A series of protocols have been considered on what to do if contact was established although many of these ideas have been explored in Sci-fi of what might happen and what we might do.