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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2004 > Mar > Mar 26

Are We Alone?

From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul>
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2004 07:21:14 -0800
Fwd Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2004 06:59:23 -0500
Subject: Are We Alone?

Source: Iowa City Press Citizen


March 24, 2004

Are we alone?

Speaker tells of technology hunt for extraterrestrials

By Kristen Schorsch
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Spaceships shaped like Frisbee discs. Skinny beings with large
heads, long fingers and oval-shaped eyes.

Nope. Not for Kevin Hansen.

While he doesn't know what extraterrestrial life looks like or
in what form it exists, he doesn't think it's a big-headed
monster or cruises the universe in a spaceship.

Maybe extraterrestrials are a machine. Maybe a form of energy,
he says.

Either way, Hansen, like many, thinks the possibility of life
elsewhere in the universe is exactly that - a possibility.

"It's pretty pointless if this planet has the only living life
forms on it," the Kirkwood Community College student said.

Jill Tarter, director of the Center for SETI (Search for
Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research at the SETI Institute in
California, spoke to a crowd of about 200 people Tuesday in the
University of Iowa's Van Allen Hall. The topics: Finding
technology from intelligent life, and "Hollywood" ideas like

Tarter's visit to UI was part of the school's Distinguished
Public Lecture Series, which brings nationally known scholars to
campus to discuss ideas in forefront sciences.

Talk of extraterrestrial life has become more mainstream lately
with two rovers, or robots, sent a few months ago to Mars in
search of life - maybe in the form of water - that might have
existed on the Red Planet. Research for the project involved UI
faculty members and students, who worked to develop software to
help people who control the robots.

SETI is building a new radio telescope that will assist in
finding technology from life elsewhere, Tarter said, similar to
how the twin rovers are searching for microbes, or living
organisms, on Mars. Before SETI's newest project, their
researchers shared telescopes such as the Arecibo dish in Puerto
Rico, sometimes giving them only weeks to work.

And while no one has offered concrete evidence so far of
intelligent life, Tarter said the radio telescope could help.

"What's been happening is that we're finding microbial life on
Earth is far more tenacious and able to live in a much wider
range of environments than we've ever conceived before," she

Radio and optical telescopes look for signals, like a flash in
the sky, that could come from other civilizations. An almost
natural sound, such as pulsating tones, also could be signals,
she said.

Linda French, an associate professor of physics at Illinois
Wesleyan University, also has used radio telescopes in search
for intelligent life.

She was one of several graduate students at New York's Cornell
University in the late 1970s that worked with professors to
decode messages that might have been sent from intelligent life.
French now teaches a course for first-year students about
portrayals of alien encounters in science fiction and popular

"Most of my students think probably that it's more likely than
not that there's life out there," French said. "I think that is
probably true, but it is kind of perplexing that we haven't
found anybody."

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