U.K. SETI Project: British Scientists Join Hunt For Aliens
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Astronomers and professor from 11 academic institutions and observatories will not only search for signals from outer space -- "SETI" stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence -- but they'll research other alien topics like how to decipher extraterrestrial messages and how likely it is that alien civilizations exist.
"I don't know whether [aliens] are out there, but I'm desperate to find out," said Alan Penny, coordinator for the UK SETI Network. "It's quite possible that we're alone in the Universe. And think about the implications of that: if we're alone in the Universe then the whole purpose in the Universe is in us. If we're not alone, that's interesting in a very different way."
The UK SETI group is seeking $1.5 million from the government to buy time on seven radio telescopes around Britain, then combing through the space noise to see if any distinctly alien signals emerge.
"We now have the capability to collect radiowaves across a wide swathe of the radiowave spectrum, and that allows us to look at the possibility of searching for the sorts of signals that might be created by ET civilisations," said Tim O'Brien of the University of Manchester.
By collecting those radiowaves, researchers will try to separate promising signals from the normal noise that are created by natural outer space objects and by broadcasts from Earth. The UK SETI team thinks that alien broadcasts would be distinctly different sounds than naturally occurring space noise.
"We also hope that by exposing the whole range of UK SETI activities to the community it will promote a wider understanding of, and activity in, this subject, and the justifications for the allocation of a small fraction of the UK astronomy budget," the group says on their website.
Most SETI work is currently done in the United States. Amateur astronomers looking to contact alien life should check out the new Lone Signal project, which allows anyone to send a text message towards the red dwarf planet Gliese 526 for free.
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