The Existence of Intelligent Life

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The Existence of Intelligent Life Bertrand Russell wrote, "There are two possibilities. Maybe we are alone. Maybe we are not. Both are equally frightening (Jakosky 1)." The question of life in the universe is one that leaves many in a state of bewilderment. It becomes even more interesting when it leads to another question -- that of intelligent life in the universe. Finding other intelligent civilizations among the interstellar space would greatly affect every aspect of our existence. Conversely, not finding such a civilization would force us to examine the purpose of our own existence. To help answer the question, astronomers and scientists set up a program in search for extraterrestrial intelligence. This program, or SETI, was set up to verify, by observation that extraterrestrial life does exist. SETI tries to prove this by picking up and analyzing radio signals by means of satellites and advanced computers (Heidmann 116). The history of the SETI program is quite interesting. It started back in 1959 with the help of two famous Cornell University physicists, Guiseppi Cocconi and Phil Morrison. Both claimed that it would be possible to communicate with other potential extraterrestrial life in space by the use of techniques used in radio astronomy (Heidmann 112). Together, they voiced their belief that if other "alien astronomers" elsewhere in the universe possessed radio telescopes, that it would be possible to converse between the two (Heidmann 112-113). A young astronomer by the name of Francis Drake agreed with the theories of Cocconi and Morrison. He proposed building a radio receiver in order to listen for waves of sound being transmitted through space. It wasn't until the spring of 1960 that Dra... ... middle of paper ... ...sity Press, 1992. 2. Jakosky, Bruce. The Search for Life on Other Planets. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 3. Kahney, Leander. "A Search for Intelligent Searchers." Wired News (1999). 29 January 2000 **. 4. Hipschma, Ron. " The Problem -- Mountains of Data." How SETI @Home Works (1999). 29 January 2000 5. "Project Omar." SETI Institute. 1999. SETI Institute. 28 January 2000 6. "History of SETI." SETI Institute. 1999. SETI Institute. 29 January 2000 7. "The Optical SETI Resource for Planet Earth." The Columbus Optical SETI Observatory. 1999. Columbus Observatory. 27 January 2000 8. Ward, Peter. Interview with Lori Stokes. The Debate Over Life Beyond Earth. MSNBC. 10 Feb. 2000.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the seti@ home project allows the general public to get involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data.
  • Explains that the search for extraterrestrial life has become recognized as an interest of the scientific community.
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