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Space Science

SETI Pioneer Jill Tarter Retires 82

ananyo writes "After 35 years, astronomer Jill Tarter is retiring from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) — a field she helped pioneer and popularize, most recently at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Tarter, who inspired the late Carl Sagan to create the fictional character Ellie Arroway, heroine of the book and movie Contact, says she will instead focus her efforts on what she calls 'the search for intelligent funding.'"
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SETI Pioneer Jill Tarter Retires

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  • Intelligent spending (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:21AM (#40097941)

    I respect what Jill Tarter has helped accomplish in terms of constructing a (half-finished) radio telescope optimized for SETI, but overall I must say that the quest she had been entrusted with is in shambles - and her successor likely won't do much better. We're at a point in time in which both human and computer resources are more abundantly available on the internet than ever before. SETI Institute, on Jill Tarter's watch, has chosen to forego the opportunity to utilize these resources to vastly expand the amount of search space [] covered by the Allen Telescope Array, instead opting to keep the real-time data produced by the telescope under wraps and sharing it only with a few, select partners - presumably, to be able to keep the winnings to themselves, if they ever happen upon their big discovery. Is it really any wonder that such a self-interested and greedy scheme is struggling to find support from private benefactors?

  • Re:Results? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @07:34AM (#40098379)

    Unless we find intelligent life living on Saturn, they're going to be a very long ways away. Far enough to be extremely useful in the "stop being solar-centric, stop thinking some magical God invented man, everyone grow the fuck up" kind of way. But so far there's no plausible possibility of external risk at all. I'd be more worried about the religious zealots (of all denominations) and how they're going to react to having their minds forcefully opened to a bigger world.

    The three scenarios you listed have essentially zero possibility of happening. Science rules the universe, not science fiction.

  • It breaks my heart (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Grayhand ( 2610049 ) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @10:07AM (#40099289)
    In many ways she is SETI and she is definitely the soul of SETI. She isn't throwing in the towel but it still feels that way. It was sad Sagan didn't live to see first contact but to potentially stop looking during Miss Tarter's life makes me feel like it is truly hopeless. The science is there but the will as a society isn't. SETI could be funded for a 100 years for 1/10th of one percent of what we just spent banging our dicks on the table in Iraq and Afghanistan but it'll never happen. Having her retire so she can devote a 100% of her time to look for funding is a crime against science and a serious waste of creative talent. The movie Contact made an excellent point. Hollywood lately is spending more each year making aliens attack Earth films than SETI has spent in it's entire history. EACH YEAR! Most people think there has been a serious effort and they found nothing. What has been done to date is the equivalent of looking under one rock in a dry valley in Antarctica and declaring there is no life on Earth.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva