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Dr. Seth Shostak, Thursday, 3-8-12 March 9, 2012

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Dr. Seth Shostak, Thursday, 3-8-12


Guest:  Dr. Seth Shostak.   Topics:  The SETI Institute, SETI searches, and astronomy.You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  We welcomed Dr. Seth Shostak back to the program for updates regarding the SETI Institute and SETI searches.  Learn more about SETI at http://www.seti.org.  Other websites of interest and that were talked about or mentioned on the program include SETILive at www.setilive.org; the Big Picture Science Radio program at www.seti.org/bigpicturescience, and SETIConII at http://seticon.com.  We began our discussion talking about SETILive and Citizen Science.  We talked about the SETILive website, the basics on looking at the signals in question, and more. This took us to the topic of the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) which now has 42 antennas operating with a plan for up to 350 antennas, each 20 feet across.  We compared this to the VLA inNew Mexico.  Dr. Shostak reported to us that the speed of SETI searches was increasing at a rate similar toMoore’s Law for computers.  Our guest then explained SETI search patterns and methodology.  Several listener questions came in including asking if SETI was better off with public funding, private funding, or a combination of both.  Seth suggested the combination but listen to what he said about each category.  Another listener asked about Optical SETI. Here, we learned that the SETI Institute was no longer doing it but that there was an excellent program for Optical SETI atHarvardUniversity.  This prompted another listener to ask about SETI programs around the world.  You might be surprised to learn just how many programs there are and their locations.

In our second segment, Jim fromAustin asked if there was any correlation to funding for SETI based on how well NASA does with its annual funding from Congress.  Dr. Shostak said there were no correlations but when SETI public funds were terminated in 1993, private funding stepped up to take over.  He also said that it appears SETI does better when related topics are in the news or the media, including TV shows such as X-Files.  Discoveries from Kepler and other space missions also play a part in driving support for SETI.  We then turned our attention to Active SETI, the idea of deliberately transmitting to space.  Dr. Shostak explained the controversy surrounding Active SETI but was supportive of it.  Terry called in to inquire about the protocol should a signal be discovered.  This brought up a review of the WOW signal matter, then we talked about student internships at SETI.Wayne fromSanta Fe emailed us about the ET worldwide culture which we discussed from several perspectives.  Other topics of interest included pseudo science, science and education, the study of astronomy, and the quality of majorCalifornia observatories given light and air pollution.  Near the end, John called in to ask if an ET starship using fusion or another form of energy/engine propulsion would leave a visible trail as a way of being detected.  Finally, we talked about incoming asteroids, the keyhole, and even painting an asteroid to deflect it.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog.  Dr. Shostak can be reached through the SETI Institute website.