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Space The Almighty Buck Science

SETI Running Out of Money 312

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-worries-we-still-have-sigourney-weaver dept.
New submitter opusman writes "According to an Australian space analyst, SETI is running out of money. Despite needing only $2 million a year, a relatively small amount in space industry terms, they are facing a financial crisis. From the article: 'Getting on board a spacecraft is tricky. There are few places for professional astronauts. Even when Richard Branson and a group of other visionaries makes space tourism more affordable, it will still cost huge sums to fly. But getting a foothold in the greatest quest of all can be done for just a few tens of donated dollars. Which is why it beggars belief that the SETI quest is on its knees.'"
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SETI Running Out of Money

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  • That's sad. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by multicoregeneral (2618207) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:20PM (#40535551) Homepage
    Sounds like they need a Kickstart project.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by josephtd (817237)
      Or more of the slashdot readers that claim to support their efforts to pony up.
    • Considering the crazy things that get funded through CrowdFunding (not just at KickStarter, and in fact I don't think KickStarter wouldn't allow them, but at e.g. IndieGoGo, RocketHub (who testified before Congress on the JOBS Act, pretty interesting stuff in the video of that), etc.), that could - possibly - be an avenue.

      But I think SETI lacks something.. SETI simply isn't sexy. Its greatest benefactor in popular media was probably the movie Contact - but even in that the message from the skeptics rang mo

    • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @09:06PM (#40536619)
      No need for that. All they need to do is update the SETI@Home [berkeley.edu] client (BOINC) to also mine for Bitcoins. [wikipedia.org]
  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:20PM (#40535553)

    Like Fox Mulder I became cynical. He and I no longer believe in alien visitors. So no more donations.
    Deceive
    Inveigle
    Obfuscate
    BELIEVE THE LIE

    • My thought is that the only reason they're not finding anything is because the aliens are using gigahertz and terahertz frequencies to communicate on. And it's only now that we have some inkling that it's even possible. Or maybe they're not using radio at all. I mean, it's kind of an inefficient slow form of communication over long distances, if you think about it.
      • by smpoole7 (1467717) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:53PM (#40535927) Homepage

        > gigahertz and terahertz frequencies

        Or something else entirely. Look at our own communications, which are rapidly switching to all-digital. Unless you know how the digital is encoded/modulated/carried, all you're going to hear is random noise. And who says aliens use anything like we do?

        I postulate that a technical civilization would only stick with radio for approximately 100-200 years before moving to something better -- and something that we probably don't even know how to listen to. When measured against just the age of our local group, that's very narrow odds.

        Be better to spend the money actually GOING to the stars than just listening to them, in my opinion. :)

        • by f3rret (1776822)

          > gigahertz and terahertz frequencies

          Or something else entirely. Look at our own communications, which are rapidly switching to all-digital. Unless you know how the digital is encoded/modulated/carried, all you're going to hear is random noise. And who says aliens use anything like we do?

          I postulate that a technical civilization would only stick with radio for approximately 100-200 years before moving to something better -- and something that we probably don't even know how to listen to. When measured against just the age of our local group, that's very narrow odds.

          Be better to spend the money actually GOING to the stars than just listening to them, in my opinion. :)

          As I understand it one of the big markers that they look for is repetition, so ideally you want a signal of some kind that sends out the same stream of date repeatedly. I can't think of an earthly analogue right off the top of my head, perhaps like an alien commercial or something.

          • by smpoole7 (1467717)

            > As I understand it one of the big markers that they look for is repetition

            But it would (at best) be a "complex" repetition. If you're handy with files, use a hex editor to look at a .WAV of some audio, then look at the equivalent in an .MP3. The latter looks like pure random gibberish (even though it's not). In a sense, the repetitions have been *removed* to achieve compression.

            Our own HD Radio carriers are similar. They're highly compressed and sound like hissy white noise on an analog radio -- regard

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Unless you know how the digital is encoded/modulated/carried, all you're going to hear is random noise.

          Is that really true? Maybe if it's all encrypted with no headers.

        • by Internetuser1248 (1787630) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @08:22PM (#40536223)
          The question is not will all alien species use radio, neither is it a question about the relative benefits of going to the stars vs listening to them, the cost of going to the stars is currently around infinity, which means if we could afford to go to the stars we could afford to finance the seti project and still have enough money go to the stars.

          The question is this: is it worthwhile spending 2 million per year listening for radio signals from other stars. I think it is, as 2 million is such an insignificant amount of money in terms of humanity's resources. We probably spend that each day on cocktail umbrellas.
          • by snarkh (118018)

            Well said. Even if the probability of detection is low $2mln/year is next to nothing for what could be a huge payoff.

        • by fgodfrey (116175)

          > Unless you know how the digital is encoded/modulated/carried, all you're going to hear is random noise.

          Only if you look at it from the perspective of digital 1's and 0's. If you look at it from the perspective of analog signals, you'll see square waves or sine waves on a frequency. That doesn't really occur in nature (except from pulsars). So maybe we'd never figure out what the aliens are *saying*, but we would be clear that a signal existed on a given frequency. That said, I don't really believe

          • by rasmusbr (2186518)

            You're assuming a relatively trivial form of analog encoding. That's probably not the way that an advanced civilization would communicate unless they wanted to be found out. It's likely that they would channel hop according to an extremely long randomly generated pattern (i.e. a secret key known to both the sender and the receiver) that would make their transmission indistinguishable from the background noise.

            Now, I know that the SETI institute assumes that ET wants to be found so don't read this as a straw

          • by Dwonis (52652)

            Only if you look at it from the perspective of digital 1's and 0's. If you look at it from the perspective of analog signals, you'll see square waves or sine waves on a frequency.

            Actually, if you're using something like direct-sequence spread spectrum modulation [wikipedia.org] over a wide bandwidth, it's really going to just look like noise that's *quieter* than the noise floor at the receiver. Unless you know what you're looking for, you're not going to be able to distinguish the signal from the background noise.

            Of course, if aliens are at least as concerned about battery life as we are, they aren't going to be transmitting signals with so much excess power and with so much redundancy that the s

        • Nah, I trust a couple geniuses among us are pretty good at pointing at something and saying "That's Not Right". (The rest of the decoding is a different problem.)

          I think it's just the crappy distance problem. As a Civilization transmitting waves, we basically have only some 125 years. For the LightSpeed Distance problem, that's a pretty narrow window. Just because *now* we're ready, is the problem. "We want it all, and we want it now." It's our bad luck (for example) a civilization held together for 1000 ye

        • by farble1670 (803356) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @09:01PM (#40536569)

          Unless you know how the digital is encoded/modulated/carried, all you're going to hear is random noise. And who says aliens use anything like we do?

          you miss the point entirely.

          it's not that we expect to overhear their personal or broadcast communications so much, but rather it's about listening for "hello, here we are" broadcasts or even directed transmissions. we can now locate habitable planets. such messages obviously wouldn't be encrypted, and would necessarily be something very simple that would have a high chance of being understood by completely alien species with different thought patterns, senses, and levels of technology.

          for inspiration, check out the pioneer plaque,
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_plaque [wikipedia.org]

          that attempts to describe our location in the galaxy. or, the voyager golden record,
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_Golden_Record [wikipedia.org]

          showing mathematical and physical quantities, the solar system and its planets, DNA, and human anatomy and reproduction.

          • by Calydor (739835) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @02:55AM (#40538889)

            human anatomy and reproduction.

            So our first message to the rest of the universe is porn. Gotcha.

          • by khakipuce (625944)

            Suppose the aliens evolved on the dark side of a tidally locked planet and are busy braodcasting light signals at us?

            More seriously though it's about timing. The longest a human civilisation has survived is a few thousand years. Assume the aliens broadcast "hello universe" for a few thousand years, what are the chances of SETI listening at the same time their broadcast reaches us? If the earth hadn't been hit by a random event 65 million years ago, SETI would be not be here now. SETI may have happened thou

        • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @09:13PM (#40536669) Homepage

          Be better to spend the money actually GOING to the stars than just listening to them, in my opinion. :)

          The Mars rovers including all mission extensions have cost almost a billion dollars and lasted less than ten years, so say $100 million/year. Shutting down SETI would then give you 2% of a Mars rover, want to make a guess at how infinitesimally small it'd be of an interstellar space ship? Not that we have the foggiest idea on how to build one... Space is absurdly big, Voyager 1 is 35 years out but less than 1/1000th of the way to the nearest star. Unless somebody is about to invent the warp drive, the only realistic chance of discovering alien life in the next 100 years - possibly next 1000 years - is to build huge, huge optical and radio telescopes, find earth-like exoplanets and ping them.

        • by wierd_w (1375923)

          I've said this for years, but it makes diehard seti fanatics angry.

          SETI is looking for the wrong things.

          Your argument against radio communications is dead on. interstellar flight capable aliens would almost certainly not be using radio waves as their primary way of making calls.

          Instead, look to hard science and physics to get an idea of something that an FTL capable species would have to be creating, if they travel regularly:

          Gravity waves.

          More specifically, we need realtime analysis of the CBR. An alien shi

      • by pipatron (966506)

        They are probably not looking for direct communication signals. Activity by "intelligent" life forms will most surely create a lot of regular and odd patterns at various high and low frequencies as a side effect, and this is what SETI is/should look for.

      • by ThePeices (635180)

        Or maybe they're not using radio at all. I mean, it's kind of an inefficient slow form of communication over long distances, if you think about it.

        Ummm, ignoring the possibility that you said that statement to be funny, but do you not realize that radio waves travel at the speed of light in a vacuum, and that it is physically impossible to communicate information faster than lightspeed?

        How exactly is that a "slow" form of communication when it is actually the fastest possible?

      • What if we are the first? The first civilization because our planet and solar system is fairly old as compared to many other place in the galaxy.

        Maybe we need to broadcast radio waves, in a grand gesture that some unknown culture in the future will hear us. Am I worried about bug eyed monsters invading us, because we are transmitting a "We are here signal."? - No.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Continuing to fund a search for extraterrestrial intelligence?

      It calls into question the claims that terrestrial intelligence does exist, itself.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        I believe Eric Idle said it best:

        "Our universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding,
        in all of the directions it can whiz;
        As fast as it can go, that's the speed of light, you know,
        twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is.
        So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
        how amazingly unlikely is your birth;
        And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space,
        'cause there's bugger all down here on Earth!"

  • Not now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:23PM (#40535579)

    It's quite sad that this happens now, when with the recent discoveries in exoplanets SETI could have actual targets for the first time instead of trying to find a needle in a haystack.

  • by rockout (1039072) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:24PM (#40535591)
    He started it, he could donate 40 years' worth of new budget and never even feel it.
    • Or at least the Allen Telescope Array. Which was divested from UC Berkeley in April.

      What they did was spend that money on equipment *now*, rather than investing part of it as an endowed fund in a trust to provide ongoing funding for the operation of the equipment, and, on an as overage available basis, additional equipment.

      Maybe they can get him to kick in the funding again, to avoid it being renamed the AT&T Telescope Array or the Oracle Telescope Array, and this time set it up as an endowed trust so

  • Pointless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:25PM (#40535595)

    Most people believe SETI to be pointless at this stage. We have a better grasp of the probabilities involved, and the odds are very high that SETI will never find anything, even if there are 100 other equivalent civilizations to ours within 100 light years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah... I actually feel embarrased now that back in the late 90s, I actualy signed up for and used SETI@Home for a brief period of time. As the years have gone by, the service has just begun to seem like more and more of a joke. I don't even remember what year it was I came to the conclusion that it *was* pretty much a joke... maybe 2004-2008? Of course, I haven't touched SETI@Home since the late 90s, though, but the more I hear about it the worse it sounds. Over the years, I have also gone from wonderi

      • Re:Pointless (Score:5, Interesting)

        by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @08:27PM (#40536281)

        Yeah... I actually feel embarrased now that back in the late 90s, I actualy signed up for and used SETI@Home for a brief period of time. As the years have gone by, the service has just begun to seem like more and more of a joke. I don't even remember what year it was I came to the conclusion that it *was* pretty much a joke... maybe 2004-2008? Of course, I haven't touched SETI@Home since the late 90s, though, but the more I hear about it the worse it sounds. Over the years, I have also gone from wondering "does any other intelligent lifeform exist" to a more skeptical viewpoint, that it's all bullshit and made up by morons who have nothing better to do that spout bullshit.

        Good riddance SETI.

        I did roughly the same, and agree with your conclusion. Folks should just let the dying dog die. There are (many) vastly superior space related projects underway that might actually have interesting or useful results someday. Moreover, it's a project that encourages people to consume as much electricity as their computers are capable of. At scale, I bet SETI produces more carbon output than most coal power plants.

        Good riddance, SETI.

        • Just to support what I'm talking about, SETI reports they are consuming 588Teraflops per second! Source: http://boincstats.com/en/stats/0/project/detail [boincstats.com]

          I know it's not equal (I'm guessing roadrunner is more efficient in terms of flops/watt than the old computers that often are used for seti@home) but Roadrunner produces 1026 terraflops and uses 2.5 million watts.. So using that as a basis for comparison, seti@home is consuming 1,432,500 watts per second. Based on data provided by the EPA (http://www.epa
          • ehrm. 3,556 per hour, not second.
          • Re:Pointless (Score:4, Informative)

            by Idarubicin (579475) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (teiuqslla)> on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @09:44PM (#40536907) Journal

            So using that as a basis for comparison, seti@home is consuming 1,432,500 watts per second.

            No, it isn't--a "watt per second" is a nonsensical unit. The watt is already a rate of energy consumption, equal to a joule per second.

            Based on data provided by the EPA (http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/refs.html ) which reports carbon output as 6.8956 x 10-4 metric tons CO2 / kWh, seti is producing 3,556 metric tons of CO2 per second!

            No, no, no. A kWh (kilowatt hour) is an amount of energy equivalent to drawing one kilowatt (one thousand watts) continuously for one hour: one thousand joules per second, times 3600 seconds per hour, gives 3.6 million joules per hour in one kWh. For comparison, one kilowatt is the amount of electricity drawn by roughly fifteen incandescent light bulbs, or by one smallish toaster. The average U.S. household uses on the order of 1000 kWh per month.

            Using your estimate of 1,432,500 watts - 1432.5 kilowatts, trivially equivalent to 1432.5 kWh per hour - for the power draw for SETI@home, we get a consumption of 0.398 kWh per second. Using your figure of 6.89E-4 tons CO2 / kWh, that comes to 0.000274 tons per second, or about 274 grams (a little over half a pound -not three thousand tons - per second). In total it comes to about a ton of CO2 per day.

            That's not a negligible amount of CO2. It comes out to the equivalent of the electricity use of about a thousand U.S. homes. (Note that that doesn't include household CO2 contributions from other sources, particularly fossil fuels burned for home heating, water heating, clothes drying, and transportation.) But it's also not an egregiously large amount of electricity--the U.S. has, what, a hundred million households?

  • Tough times (Score:4, Insightful)

    by addie (470476) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:25PM (#40535605)

    I'm a supporter of SETI in principle, though I can't say I've ever supported it materially (other than a brief run at SETI@home when I was in university). Unfortunately I think it's simply a matter of priorities during economic downturn.

    Up here in Canada, we have a program that also costs $2 million a year - the Experimental Lakes Area research station - and it's getting its funding cut [www.cbc.ca] by the federal government. It's upsetting to me, as I see valid science being disregarded in the name of fiscal responsibility.

    That aside, the SETI program is likely to run, in one form or another, for the entirety of human existence. It may get shut down periodically, but this is not a question that's going to go away. Ever. Perhaps when our collective economies rejig themselves to be less focused on growth and more on sustainability, we can find room for a relatively cheap, pure science initiative. Until then, either donate directly to those initiatives you find appealing, or take whatever action you can at the ballot box. Or both, if you're feeling less apathetic than most of us!

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:27PM (#40535633)

    . . . the intelligent life will probably NOT want anything to do with us anyway.

    They'll just avoid us, like tourists not stopping in a bad neighborhood.

  • What does "Getting on board a spacecraft" have to do with SETI? Are we going to nip on over to recently discovered exoplanets and yell "any intelligent lifeforms down there???"

    • Sorry, misunderstood the article on the first read. Still seems a rather silly comparison, as far fewer people are willing to fork over the cash for space tourism than donate to SETI.

      SETI just doesn't seem that useful thanks to the inverse square law. Even with an antenna the size of Earth we couldn't pick up on background radio transmissions from neighboring star systems. For SETI to detect anything, all the following would have to happen:

      * A reasonably advanced alien civilization would have to concurre

      • If you allow the first premise, the odds on the rest are pretty good.

        An alien "good enough" to get here at all would then have good scans.For humor's sake, let's even suggest a "sloppy" infrared scan. "There's billions of heat signatures moving around. That's Not Right."

        So then faced with absolute proof, why not just land the thing? Why get all freaked and stay hidden?

        The ultra depressing thing is that if they actually did that, it would be some time like 4,000 BC and fuel the writings of Erich von Daniken.

  • by joeflies (529536) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:30PM (#40535681)

    The money spent on space programs produce measurable, visible results. It also has milestones to show whether a project is on track, off track, or slipping.

    For someone to support SETI, on the other hand, has to have faith that maybe tomorrow will lead to results and all those years spent waiting for something to happen wasn't lost opportunity cost.

    Donating to SETI is perhaps more closely modeled on charity for religion rather than vis a vis to other space programs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The "results" are spinoffs, such as trailblazing the use of distributed computing in research (SETI@home). Maybe that's how SETI needs to sell itself to funding bodies? Sell itself as a computing or sensing research project (for example), that just happens to be looking of extraterrestrial life as a way of testing its results.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      A negative result is also a result.

      • Yeah, but we already got it. How many more negative results do you want?

        If a negative result from SETI meant that there is no inteligent life out there, I'd agree that we should look further. But it doesn't even mean that. There could be a technologicaly advanced civilization at Proxima Centauri, and SETI may not be able to find it.

    • by Shadowmist (57488)
      SETI is quite frankly based on questionable premises. It's one thing to claim that life is out there in the universe, but that intelligent life is out there anywhere near where we could actually pick up a radio signal, up is an article of faith that borders on religion. Earth spent most of it's history with monocellular life. Much of our more complex development may very well hinge on the relatively unlikely possibility of having a nice big moon at the right size and distance to stabilise our polar axi
  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:40PM (#40535797)

    When I think SETI, I think of searching for radio signals. If that's changed, they need to put some effort into telling people what new methods they're using. Because their website still talks about signal processing and detecting alien technology. We now know that untargetted radio signals are not going to bridge the gaps between stars. The distance is just too great. We'll never pick up the Alpha Centauri version of I Love Lucy. So why is SETI still focused on trying to pick up alien radio signals?

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:41PM (#40535815)

    The seti project was always a bit silly.

    • by snarkh (118018)

      Do you care to explain why it is silly?

      FYI the budget of NASA is approximately $18bln/year. $2mln is not even the rounding error.

      • by Calos (2281322)

        Many people think it's silly because of the odds involved.

        And the fact that we could be wasting a huge sum of money on something that is expected to give no benefit is not made better or less silly by the fact that other projects have larger budgets. No matter your feelings on SETI, that is a silly notion.

  • by Sepultura (150245) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:43PM (#40535825)

    Why should I, or anyone else, donate money to the SETI institute? What tangible returns can I expect for my money?

    It's nice that you feel they're involved in "the greatest quest of all," but I expect that most people would not agree. Besides not having much of a chance in succeeding any time soon, even if they did find evidence of extra terrestrial intelligence it would make almost no difference to people's daily lives. And the way things are going even if we did find ETI we'll be extinct as a species long before we could ever even communicate with them, let alone actually contact/meet them.

    Besides, SETI Institute =/= SETI

  • What else could we be spending our money on? Projects like the James Webb Space Telescope or sending to humans to Mars would have certain benefits to humanity while spending money on SETI is likely to be a waste of money. If there were plenty of money to go around then I would have no problem spending the relatively meager 2 million USD on it. However, with things like they are, let's shelve SETI and direct our resources elsewhere.

    Is there life on other planets in the galaxy? Probably.
    Is there intellige

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      If we find intelligent life then what? Presumably we're going to try to engage in a dialog. Is that really a good idea at this point in human development?

      Whether a dialog is a good idea or not won't really matter to you since you will likely die of old age before we could exchange the first message.

      But if incontrovertible proof of life on other planets is found, even if you can't talk to them, can you think of a more profound scientific discovery?

      On theory is that the aliens will encode plans in their communications stream that teaches us how to build a spaceship that will let us reach their "planet". Of course, skeptics will claim that the spaceship is a fr

  • I stopped participating (and donating) when they switched to BOINC after having some bad experiences on a few machines. Every once in awhile I get a plea from Seti to return, and each time I respond "bring back the original screen saver and I'd love to".

    • The old screen saver became a breeding ground for people gaming the system in the name of cranking up their work unit totals. Their scientific vision suffered. The pretty screen saver was replaced by a framework that has been adopted by dozens of other projects that didn't have the wherewithal to create such a process on their own.

      In terms of the ever famous slashdot-brand car analogy; You won't buy another Ford until they bring back the Pinto.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        The old screen saver became a breeding ground for people gaming the system in the name of cranking up their work unit totals. Their scientific vision suffered. The pretty screen saver was replaced by a framework that has been adopted by dozens of other projects that didn't have the wherewithal to create such a process on their own.

        In terms of the ever famous slashdot-brand car analogy; You won't buy another Ford until they bring back the Pinto.

        I won't argue that the original screen saver was a Pinto. It was reliable for me, and the replacements weren't, for me. As always, your mileage may vary, and it's just not that important an issue to argue terminology.

        So, it's more like, I had to get rid of the Pinto (if you will), and so I bought five new Ford Escalades and they all exploded. When I mention that, I'm told "have you driven a Ford lately?" to which I have to answer truthfully, no, I haven't. But I really have no inclination to do so. Fir

  • Jodie Foster should be getting plans for an interstellar transport streamed to her any day now.

  • by cathector (972646) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @08:01PM (#40536003)

    we humans may wipe ourselves out,
    which from one point of view is just fine because we can't wipe out all terrestrial life.
    however, it is quite conceivable that an extinction event could make us the last space-faring species this planet will ever see.
    and if you accept the principle that 'life is a good thing',
    then this implies that we have a moral imperative to get life itself off-planet and into the galaxy asap.
    we should be building little bio-bombs full of spores, pollen, algae and other primary producers which are capable of handling
    a few hundred years or millenia in interstellar space, and launching swarms of them to the top 200 closest planet-bearing stars.

    somebody point me to kickstarter.

  • So uh, is it useful if we all dig up all the old Satellite dishes we can find and hook up software-defined radios to them, and share them via the internet? Or would that just be a jerkoff waste of time?

  • The article makes an analogy with physical exploration of outer space, but that doesn't quite work. The "space race" happened because both sides in the Cold War wanted a propaganda victory. After the Cold War ended, projects like the ISS and the shuttle continued because of pork-barrel politics.

    SETI is qualitatively different. If the Allen Telescope Array manages to keep going and then succeeds, it won't be a propaganda victory for any national government, and it won't put any aerospace company on the feder

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @08:37PM (#40536385)
    Perhaps they can get extra funding by searching for this Higgs Boson thingy I keep hearing about.
    There's got to be one out there some where...
  • As a race becomes more advanced their communications technology will move from being a high powered shotgun to a low powered shotgun or highly targeted rifle. This will make them very difficult to detect. However, what we will be able to detect will be the gamma ray bursts of nuclear weapons used in their space battles. This is what we should be looking for because those races that have not developed and does not practice this type of space warfare, this is is a peaceful race, is just going to be someone e
    • Uhh...no. Warfare is a negative-sum game. Both parties in a war usually lose far more than they gain. A successful race will have the technological and military tools needed to make sure that any potential foes face a serious deterrent against attacking, but said race will not initiate an attack themselves unless it is one of the rare scenarios where fighting yields more benefits than trading.

  • Everything we know now about technology and technological progress says that SETI is a total waste of time. Unless our understanding of the universe is fundamentally flawed, there is nothing we will be able to find. This is why :

    1. As radio technology advances, the signals become closer and closer to noise. Already, most digital radios today would be totally indistinguishable from noise when observed from lightyears away. Also, as the radios get better, the signals become more and more directional. I

  • For some reason, the narrative that's been built around it is that if we put money into it, aliens fall out.

    On not seeing results RIGHT NOW, it loses funding.

  • Based on all the negative comments above concerning SETI, it sure seems like the Slashdot crowd has sure changed a lot. I base this on what the comments this topic might have engendered a number of years ago. I'm not criticizing, just commenting on my subjective observation. Now get off my lawn...

  • I was actually just wondering the other day if this would happen soon. They didn't really seem like a very solvent operation. However I do hope that they can get funds together. Private funds that is, the Government can't even afford to operate right now. I think a Kickstarter would be ideal, I'd like to see them give it a try. However, the rewards might be a bit tough.

    "$1000 level - Dibs on a meet and greet with the first Aliens we find."

  • priorities (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ridgecritter (934252) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @10:49PM (#40537373)

    Stories like this contribute to my growing generalized cynicism and pessimism. I have no connection to SETI, but it seems to me like an honest, modest effort at discovery which could change humanity's perspective forever - one way or the other. And it's starving for funds that represent less than the annual property tax bills of Larry Ellison, Steve Ballmer, and Bill Gates on their homes. To me, this is a bright red flashing light on the societal annunciator panel that something's wrong with our priorities. If I had a $10 million net worth, I'd include $10K to SETI in my annual donation program. As it is, it will be much less. I hope that those of you who can do more, will. Thanks.

Repel them. Repel them. Induce them to relinquish the spheroid. - Indiana University fans' chant for their perennially bad football team

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