The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

I’m speaking at a Specialist Discussion Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society at their HQ Burlington House in London next Friday, 12 May.

Following a brief look at the history of SETI, the meeting will consider our present thoughts on the likelihood of other intelligent civilisations existing in our galaxy and our current attempts to receive any possible signals they might be transmitting.  This will include the University of California’s SETI@home project and the newly inaugurated Harvard University’s All-Sky Optical-SETI programme.  On a more philosophical note, I will discuss the history of Extraterrestrialism, and Ian A. Crawford will talk of the prospect of finding evidence of space debris from other civilisations in the lunar regolith.  Finally the meeting will look at the future of Radio-SETI, with the first phase of the SETI Institute’ s Allen Telescope Array being commissioned this summer and plans for perhaps the ultimate SETI instrument, the Square Kilometre Array, now being laid.

The full schedule is:

10:30  Ian Morison (Manchester)

SETI – From 1959 to the present day. A review of the key events in the history of SETI: Project Ozma, the Drake equation, the WOW signal, SETI at Harvard, SETI@home and Project Phoenix

10:50  Monica Grady (OU):

A Duck for Drake?  Could the number of other communicating civilisations in our galaxy really be zero?

11:20  Mark Brake (Glamorgan):

A Brief History of Extraterrestrialism.An evolution of the culture and science of astobiology

11:50  Ian A. Crawford (Birkbeck):

The Search for Alien Artefacts on the Moon – constraining the Fermi Paradox.Could the Lunar Regolith contain particles of space debris from other civilisations?

12:20  Paul Howowitz (Harvard):

Optical-SETI at Harvard.Targeted surveys and the, newly-inaugurated, All-Sky survey searching for pulsed laser signals

12:50  Peter Backus (SETI Institute):

The SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array. Phase 1, comprising 42, 6.1 meter antennas, is being commissioned this summer to complete the first dedicated Radio-SETI instrument

13:05  Ian Morison (Manchester):

The Square Kilometre Array. Design studies of an array providing 1,000,000 sq metres of collecting area are now underway – capable of detecting intelligent signals from across the galaxy

13:15  End of Meeting 


    Malcolm Smith, FBIS

    May 6, 2006

    Hi Mark:

    The British Interplanetary Society has just had a one-day conference on “Archaeology for Space” and alternative (planetary) SETI strategies this 10 May. The programme may still be online at:

    A special JBIS issue will follow. Cheers, Malcolm

    Isaac Koi

    May 6, 2006

    My goodness. It’s been a busy week for those in Britain interested in SETI and ufology.

    We’ve had a British Interplanetary Society covering SETI on 10 May, we’ve had the SETI Discussion Meeting at the Royal Astronomical Society on 12 May, and tomorrow the British Ministry of Defence is releasing a full copy of a four year study (“the Condign Report”) into UFO reports.

    This was mentioned fairly extensively last week in the British media when the Executive Summary was released. The main text of the Condign Report (several hundred pages long) is not yet generally available to members of the public, but from my sneak preview of it I think some of you might be interested in its content.

    Even if you are not interested in UFOs, it contains other material relevant to SETI and interstellar travel. For example, Working Paper 6 (“Exotic Technologies”) in Volume 2 of the Condign Report discusses the possibility of interstellar travel. Frankly, I think the author in the Ministry of Defence is a bit confused. For example, Paragraph 3 of that Working Paper is set out below. This is the complete text of the relevant paragraph. The preceding, and subsequent, paragraphs relate to different topics.

    “Intergalactic travel requires [approximately] four million years for a return trip (travelling at just less than the speed of light), or three years, even to a nearby planet at 20Km [per sec] – a planet on which we can determine no signs of life in the form which would indicate ‘beings’ and their technology”.

    In case anyone is interested, I’ve posted my initial comments (about 25 pages of material) on the content of the Condign Report at:

    [ ]

    All the best,

    Isaac Koi


    May 6, 2006

    Are transcripts likely to be available?


    May 6, 2006

    Podcast it?!


    May 6, 2006

    Same here, podcast/ transcripts very welcome!


    May 6, 2006

    Podcast, now there’s an idea! Will try.

    In the meantime, I’ll post the presentation.

    Isaac Koi

    May 6, 2006

    The Royal Astronomical Society has previously made available webcasts of some specialist discussion meetings. I would have thought this talk was an ideal candidate for such a webcast, since it is probably of wider interest than many other RAS discussion meetings.

    Perhaps this needs to be raised before the meeting, so that any necessary equipment is present?

    In case it helps, I note that the RAS webpage relating to webcasts invites comments to be emailed to :

    Kind Regards,

    Isaac Koi


    May 6, 2006

    Thank you, Isaac!

    Very helpful

    Isaac Koi

    May 6, 2006

    No problem Mark.

    By the way, I’ve recently completed a draft SETI Chronology which is about 350 pages long. This document may be of interest to you since it has a reasonably strong emphasis on tracking frequently discussed SETI events alongside frequently discussed events in popular culture relating to extraterrestrials (e.g. movies etc).

    I’ll be making this SETI Chronology available free of charge on the Internet in the very near future.

    All the best,

    Isaac Koi


    May 6, 2006

    Blimey, Isaac, ever thought of trying to get that published?

    Isaac Koi

    May 6, 2006

    Hi Mark,

    I don’t think there would be much of a market for a long reference document such as my SETI Chronology.

    Basically, it largely comprises of references for certain events, books, movies etc. Pretty dull stuff in itself, but hopefully useful for anyone that wants to look into various aspects in more detail.

    While I’m not quite ready to make my SETI Chronology publically available yet, I’m happy to email you a link so you can have a glance at the current draft to see what I mean. I’ll send you a short email in a moment.

    Kind Regards,


Leave a comment


Email(will not be published)


Your comment

Designed by Forte Web Solutions